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Healthier Meals? Bring Back The Relish Tray!

My great grandmother always had a relish tray at every meal. My mother remembers it being filled with homemade pickles, pickled beets, and fresh vegetables from her own garden according to season. It was the perfect accompaniment to every meal. Folks could pass it around and use the contents to add variety and customization to their dinner. Picky kids could always use the relish tray to round out their plates as well … not that kids were really all that picky back in the old days!

Nowadays, with our focus on getting kids to try new things and eating more healthful foods, this is the perfect time to bring back the old custom of having a relish tray at meals, with a modern twist to tailor it to our own tastes. Don’t go thinking this is just for kids though! Adults love relish trays almost as much, if not more, than the wee ones. My mother always slices up cucumbers and carrots while we’re cooking at family get togethers. We nibble … and nibble ... and then have to make a brand new relish tray before the meal because we’ve ate it all!

This also helps keep our portions of more caloric fare to a minimum as we’ve already partially filled up on the good stuff.

My typical relish tray includes: cucumbers, bell pepper strips, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and peanut butter celery (a favorite of my kids).

Now I know some of you are looking at this and thinking, “That’s a veggie tray.” Well, its not. Why? Because I said so.

Oh, I forgot, that doesn’t work outside of my children. (Hangs her head and sighs.) Honestly, it doesn’t work that well for my children, either.

The reason I call this a relish tray is that the dish I am using is called a relish plate and I actually serve these things alongside my meals as a form of condiments so technically, in a highly technical fashion, this is a relish tray. It would just look more like one if my family ate pickles, but we roll with what we got here.
They don’t like pickles but they love cucumbers, which we all know are just premature pickles anyway.

See? It all comes out in the wash.

When the kids want a little snack, just pull the handy dandy relish tray out of the fridge and set it on the table.

This is a GREAT way to get your little ones to try out new things. Just set the tray out and go about your business. Without the watchful eye of a parent, you’d be surprised what kids will try!

When my kids get the munchies and start wanting something, they have to come ask me if they can have whatever it is they are wanting. I do this to keep them from eating junk all day. Most times, if they are asking for a snack cake or pop tart ~sighs~ I give them other options. “No, you can’t have that but you can have a banana or an apple or…”.

BUT, at my house, the rule is, if its on the relish tray, you don’t have to ask if you can have it. This is why they LOVE the relish tray! They enjoy the independence it gives them and I enjoy their eyes getting big as dollars as they look over their snacking feast.

Relish Tray Ideas:

  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes (sliced or mini)
  • Peppers, sliced
  • Green onions
  • Diced onions
  • Jicama (a new favorite of mine)
  • Apples
  • Spiced apple rings
  • Canned fruits or veggies
  • Pickles (all varieties)
  • Banana Peppers (hot peppers if only for kids)
  • Marinated mushrooms (soak mushrooms in Italian dressing ... YUM!)
  • Radishes
  • Grapes
  • Berries
  • Anything you can come up with!

Photo courtesy of Southern Plate

Originally published at SouthernPlate