You’ve probably seen lovely pictures of butter boards on social media in the recent weeks as you scrolled through your page. In case you somehow missed the craze, butter boards are exactly what they sound like.
Take a tray or board, pour melted butter over it, then top with your preferred garnishes, such as nuts, dried fruit, honey, edible flowers, or herbs. Then, using crackers, bread, or dunkable vegetables like radishes or carrots, you scoop up the butter and toppings.
What is the issue with butter boards? To begin with, the butter base isn’t particularly healthy. Nothing beats a little butter as a garnish or as a spread on warm toast. But butter doesn’t make the ideal option as the foundation of a board that is being scooped up with each bite, according to Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, founder of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table. Butter is not the type of fat that is greatest for your heart because it is high in calories and saturated fat. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 1 tablespoon of butter has 7 grammes (g) of saturated fat on its own (USDA).
Furthermore, using butter boards makes it difficult to avoid soiled double dipping. According to Taub-Dix, “double-dipping could leave you with a side of germs that you didn’t figure on, as with anything that you’re scooping up off a board or a bowl.” This was supported by a short study that showed double-dipping markedly enhanced the number of bacteria in dips. Additionally, she adds, “if the board is not thoroughly cleansed before the butter is spread on it, you could also be ingesting some old bacteria from the board itself.”
But rather than completely missing out on this great trend, give it a try with these ingredients instead. They’re just as festive and far healthier. They will also look just as good thanks to these brilliant serving ideas. To reduce the spread of germs, utilise serving utensils.
Cottage Cheese Board
Why It’s a Good Decision Given its low calorie and fat content—just 81 calories and 1 g of fat per half-cup of lowfat cottage cheese, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture—this cheese is practically synonymous with weight loss (USDA). Taub-Dix also notes that according to USDA data, cottage cheese has 14 g of protein and 69 mg of calcium per half cup, making it a respectable supply of both nutrients.
Getting enough calcium is associated with lower blood pressure in young individuals, lower cholesterol, osteoporosis prevention, fewer colorectal tumours, and a lower risk of blood pressure issues during pregnancy, according to research published in Nutrients in July 2019.
Serving Instructions Although there are many ways to enjoy cottage cheese, many people choose to ignore it. Serve the spread with apple or pear slices or triangles of whole-wheat toast to scoop it up, and consider garnishing it with grapes, dried cranberries, almonds, a dash of cinnamon, and a drizzle of honey. Additionally, a serving of mango chutney can be enjoyed with the cottage cheese.
Why It’s a Healthful Decision Hummus can promote heart health in contrast to butter. Taub-Dix asserts that hummus offers fibre, plant protein, and a variety of minerals that lower cholesterol. In May 2021, a study outlining the health advantages of chickpeas—the primary ingredient in hummus—was published in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. They could aid in the battle against cancer and inflammation in addition to lowering cholesterol. Additionally, they have antibacterial and antifungal qualities and contain antioxidants.
You may experiment with the flavours to create a vibrant beet hummus or serve it with a small amount of pesto, which, according to USDA statistics, includes better fats as well as fibre from the nuts and protein and calcium from the grated cheese.
How to Serve Top your hummus with green or black olives, red onion slices, parsley, and scallions. Whole-wheat pita crackers are also a great accompaniment for dipping.
Despite having the word “butter” in their name, nut butters couldn’t be more unlike, according to Taub-Dix. Chunky nut butters also give a pleasant crunch to your boards. “Nut butters like almond butter are rich in plant protein, and they include unsaturated fats that help your heart rather than hurt it.”
Nut Butter Board
Why It’s a Good Option Nut butters may have the term “butter” in their names, but Taub-Dix explains that they couldn’t be any more dissimilar. Chunky nut butters also give a nice crunch to your boards. Unsaturated fats found in nut butters, such as almond butter, “benefit your heart more than harm it.”
If you have an allergy, you might have to avoid this choice, but research from the International Journal of Molecular Sciences in May 2021 indicates that tree nuts have a number of health advantages. They can aid in maintaining a healthy microbiota, managing body weight, lowering cardiovascular risk, improving cognitive function, and controlling blood sugar levels. Choose a natural, sugar-free nut butter for your board, and be mindful of your portion sizes because the calories can add up quickly.
Serving Instructions Serve with celery sticks, apple slices, or whole grain cinnamon raisin toast and top with small dark chocolate chips, banana slices, and cinnamon.
Whipped Ricotta Board
Why It’s a Good Decision Ricotta that has reached room temperature is combined with milk, a tiny bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper to create whipped ricotta. Taub-Dix stated that “whipped feta or whipped ricotta provides a hearty serving of protein and calcium.” Additionally, it can be served warm. According to the USDA, a quarter cup of ricotta cheese has 110 mg of calcium and 5 g of protein.
Protein may support cardiovascular health, maintain energy balance, and enhance bone health, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Serving Instructions Combine your spread with slices of cucumber, cherry tomatoes, walnuts, mint, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Serve it with whole-grain baguette slices or pita chips for dipping and a side of pickled vegetable chutney.
Why It’s a Good Decision Eggplant serves as the primary component of this Mediterranean dip. According to Taub-Dix, “Creamy eggplant spread could provide a terrific base for your board.” Eggplant has extremely few calories and is high in fibre and a variety of nutrients. According to USDA data, a cup of cubed eggplant only contains about 20 calories.
Fruit fibre, which technically includes eggplant, has a number of health advantages. Research from Nutrients in November 2018 found a connection between fibre and better weight management, wellness, and healthy ageing. Additionally, fibre supports gastrointestinal health, lowers the risk of depression and diabetes, lowers the risk of heart disease and diabetes, and may offer some protection against some forms of cancer.
Serving Instructions Serve with small peppers, mini cucumbers, and whole-wheat pita chips for dipping, along with figs or dates, pistachios, and pomegranate seeds on top.
Why It’s a Healthy Option Use this green spread to upgrade your toast. Avocado is as smooth as butter, but Taub-Dix said that it is high in heart-healthy fat as opposed to dangerous saturated fat. According to USDA data, avocado has 3.35 g of fibre and 4.9 g of monounsaturated acids per serving, providing almost 20 vitamins and minerals as well as being a good source of fibre and aiding in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Additionally, a tiny study published in The Journal of Nutrition in February 2020 found that eating one avocado per day results in a rise in the amount of fat-soluble vitamins in the body.
Along with the above-mentioned health advantages of fruit fibre, avocados’ monounsaturated fatty acids, a type of fat, are also beneficial. According to research published in the May 2020 issue of Frontiers in Nutrition, these fats may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. However, because of those lipids, avocado can be calorie-dense, so moderation is key when using this board.
Serving Instructions The mellow, buttery flavour of avocado goes nicely with so many different foods. Serve with whole-grain tortilla chips and go Tex-Mex with black beans, cilantro, sliced red onions, and a squeeze of lime juice.