According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 90 percent of adults do not consume the daily recommended dose of vegetables. The veggies from coleslaw can count toward your recommended daily amount. Further, you don’t have to drown your coleslaw in mayo. In my cookbook, The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day, I explain how you can use a 50:50 ratio of reduced-fat mayo to nonfat plain Greek yogurt to get the flavor you love for a fraction of the calories. Or instead of using a half-cup to one cup of mayo, you can use a quarter-cup.
Coleslaw can also go beyond cabbage, so don’t be afraid to think outside the coleslaw box and use shredded veggies like carrots, kohlrabi, radishes or cucumbers as the base for your slaw. You can also make a slimmed-down slaw like those in the recipes below:
Coleslaw with Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette
Bobby Flay uses lime juice, olive oil, garlic and cumin as a lighter dressing.
Classic Coleslaw with Caraway
Ellie Krieger uses a combo of yogurt and low-fat mayo for 110 calories and 7 grams of fat per serving.
Asian Red Cabbage Slaw with Peanuts
The chefs in Food Network Kitchen give their coleslaw an Asian flair for less than 120 calories per serving by using toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, spicy mustard and grated ginger.
One cup of regular mayonnaise contains a whopping 916 calories, 78 grams of total fat and 12 grams of saturated fat. It also provides an alarming 1,671 milligrams of sodium. Even if your slaw serves six to eight people, that’s still a lot of unnecessary calories, fat and sodium for one dish.
If you order coleslaw at a fast-food or sit-down joint, the calorie count can run around 300, with 21 grams of fat. And keep in mind that this high-fat side is also typically served alongside already high-calorie foods like fried chicken or seafood.
The Verdict: Yes. Coleslaw can absolutely be part of a healthy eating plan as long as you choose your dressing carefully.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.