Healthy Eating Recipes

Super Easy Veggie Tray

Taking just a few minutes to prepare fresh veggies over purchasing a prepared tray at the grocery store is well worth the time and effort.

Crudités are my favorite contribution to a get together and are guaranteed to be the healthiest thing on the buffet.

Here are a few reasons why I take the time to prep everything myself:

Taste

The veggies in the plastic trays often take on the taste (and smell) of the container and the other veggies they are paired with.  The outcome is either an odd chemical taste or a rather bland tasteless vegetable.  Neither option is appealing.

And honestly, I rarely see those trays getting finished off. Then all that just goes to waste.

Filling the Veggie Tray

Selection

Most pre-packed trays include a pretty vanilla selection of vegetables and are heavy on carrots and celery.  I find my guests LOVE radishes, so I always include them on my trays.  On the other hand, they don’t love cauliflower, but I love the shape and color of white it adds to my tray.  So I add just a bit and I usually end up eating it myself.

Have you noticed those trays are heavy with broccoli?  I never put raw broccoli on my trays because that is a very unattractive look between the teeth at a party.  And that’s where those little broccoli florets end up.  Between every tooth.

Dip

Mayo is not on the list of things I like to eat.  I detest the mayoie dip that tastes like plastic preservatives that come in prepackaged veggies trays.  We like to make a dip with light sour cream and about 1 or 2 tablespoons of powdered ranch dip mix.  Everyone always loves it.

No bottled dressings for us either.

Another good option for dipping is hummus.  There are so much options of flavored hummus these days, you could actually put two or three on your platter and have a lot of fun with it.

Cost

When I prep veggies for a tray, I prep extra – enough for entertaining and enough for snacking right out of the fridge.  I have this huge container and a smaller, old Tupperware serving tray. Do you know those things run $45? What?!?

Purchasing a one-time use packaged tray from the store’s fridge aisle runs close to $15.  And a larger one from the deli $40, $50 or even more.  We generally get our veggies from Sprouts and pay nothing close to that.

Things to Watch Out For

When prepping for my tray, there are a couple of things I have learned over the years that need a bit of caution.

Separating Strong Veggies

Prepping can be done several hours or even a day or two ahead of when you need a tray.  But.  Keep peppers separated.  If they are stored with the other vegetables, everything will taste like pepper by the time it’s served.

Our smaller tray will fit in the vegetable crisper and that’s the best place to store cut vegetables.  Because guess what?  Vegetables placed on the fridge shelf and near the back will freeze.  Especially cucumbers.  That is not a happy discovery when you get ready to put your tray together.

If you must put your vegetables on a shelf, move them as close to the front as you can and place heartier vegetables such as carrots and cauliflower towards the back.

Messy Cauliflower

The order you prep in is important too. For instance separating cauliflower florets makes a big mess. Slicing celery makes hardly any mess. I start with the neater vegetables and keep the messiest for last.

This preparation may ruin your manicure. You might want to leave this job for the last day of your mani, or have the touch-up paint close by. Small detail, but honesty is a good policy.

Filling Trash Can

Use the garbage disposal sparingly. This is kind of gross, but you really want to put as much of the vegetable trash into compost or in the trash. All this matter can really snarl up your disposal and that’s one mess you don’t want to fool with ever – especially not if you’re expecting company.

Make it Even Easier

Not always, but often organic “baby” carrots and celery stalks have already been peeled and trimmed and rinsed are ready to go.  I always give them another good rinse, but they’re ready for the tray. 

Mini peppers, snow peas and cherry tomatoes just need a little bath and no knife necessary.

Cucumbers look best when their peels are striped, but English cucumbers don’t need to be peeled at all and can just be sliced.

Presentation

It’s fun to get out pretty trays, platters or serving dishes and get creative with placing colors and shapes around dips.  Using a hollowed purple cabbage or colored pepper as a dip bowl is so pretty.

Radish Dish

I have an antique garage-sale find my mom gave me YEARS ago in the shape of a radish and it holds just enough for a small gathering.  It’s so easy to line up everything and Ta Da!  A crudité plate fit for company or for your own personal nibbling.

I hope this inspires you to take the time to regularly treat yourself with fresh crudités.