Coleslaw, pasta and potato salad are staples of any summer picnic. With more people becoming health-conscious than ever before, how can you still enjoy your summer favorites without blowing your diet?

Not to worry! Here are healthier versions of your favorite side dishes without all the saturated fat and cholesterol. After you try these healthy summer side dishes, they might even be elevated to “main course” status!

Photo © Jason Lugo

Jill Skeeme's Healthy Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

When I go to a picnic, I am SO tired of the same ol’ pasta salad. So I decided to take it up a notch with my Mediterranean pasta salad. You can use any shaped pasta you prefer and if you use whole-grain pasta, you will add more fiber to this dish.


1 16 oz. pasta, (bow tie, orzo, corkscrew etc.)
1 cup red onion, diced small
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1 small container of grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup of kalamata or black olives, pitted and sliced in quarters
1/2 cup Cilantro or basil, chopped finely

Dressing ingredients:
2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
1 clove of garlic, finely diced (optional)
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Preparation of pasta:

Cook the pasta al dente. Rinse when it is done and let cool before adding the vegetables and dressing.

Preparation of dressing:

Put everything except the olive oil in a bowl or a jar. If using a bowl, combine the other ingredients and slowly drizzle the olive oil into the mixture while whisking until creamy. If using a jar, add all other ingredients first, shake to combine. Then add olive oil, and shake vigorously until well mixed. When dressing is ready, add vegetables to pasta and gently stir in dressing. Garnish with cilantro or basil.

Photo © Jason Lugo

Jill Skeeme's Healthy ColeSlaw

Healthy Coleslaw

Nothing complements a hot dog or burger better than coleslaw. Coleslaw should be light and refreshing, but traditional coleslaw recipes are anything but, as they are laden with mayonnaise.

In this recipe, I use a product called Vegenaise, which is now available at most grocery stores. It is a non-dairy, egg- free product and has the same texture and taste similar to Miracle Whip. Since it is a plant-based product, it does not contain cholesterol or saturated fat. This recipe actually allows you to taste more than just the dressing…. the veggies! Now this coleslaw is definitely light and refreshing.


1/2 head green cabbage, finely sliced
1/2 head red cabbage, finely sliced
4 stalks of celery, finely sliced
1 carrot, grated
1/2 red onion, sliced in half moons
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced in half moons
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped


1 1/2 cup Vegenaise Dressing
1 1/2 Tbsp. Brown Rice or Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper


Combine the dressing in a separate bowl then add to the cabbage mixture. Using tongs, gently combine the cabbage mixture with the dressing. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes prior to serving.

Photo © Jason Lugo

Jill Skeeme's Healthy Potato Salad

Potato Salad

This is not your grandmother’s potato salad. Using a dill, mustard vinaigrette instead of mayonnaise or sour cream not only lightens this dish dramatically, but you won’t have to worry about it spoiling in the hot sun.


2 lbs. of red bliss, white, sweet or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
3/4 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup, scallion, finely sliced
1/4 cup, fresh dill, finely chopped
Sea salt (optional)


Place cut potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. (If you cook your potatoes with salt, this is the time to add it.) Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain and place in a large bowl.


1 Tbsp. apple cider or brown rice vinegar
6 Tbsps. olive oil
2 Tbsps. Dijon mustard or natural mustard
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. dried dill
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Combine the ingredients, except olive oil. Whisk olive oil into the vinegar mixture until the dressing is creamy.

How to combine the Potato Salad:

Pour half the dressing onto the warm potatoes and gently mix the salad. Add celery, scallion and fresh dill. Stir gently. Add rest of the dressing. Gently mix together.  You can serve this potato salad at room temperature. If you prefer it chilled, chill at least a half hour prior to serving.


Order your copy of Jill Skeem’s new hardbound cookbook today. Comfort Food Gets a Vegan Makeover has over 60 delicious vegan comfort food recipes!