Five Summer Temptations…Disarmed

Though summer certainly offers plenty of opportunities for eating light—what backyard picnic would be complete without a healthful, nutrient-packed watermelon fruit salad?—outdoor party season also dangles many decadent treats in front of us (just look at the offerings at the average beach snack stand). But there are plenty of ways to match the flavor and texture of those delicious cheat foods by swapping out a few troublesome ingredients and substituting healthier cooking methods to indulge your summertime cravings while consuming far less fat, sodium, and sugar.

Temptation 1: Ice Cream Sandwich
Ice cream is loaded with saturated fat and sugar and the classic chocolate cookies holding it all in place are formidable sugar-delivery systems in their own right.

Delicious Alternative: Sorbet Wafflewich
This recipe relies on fat-free or reduced fat ice cream or frozen yogurt to knock down the calories, fat and sugar in its main ingredient. Many of these products have become almost indistinguishable from whole ice cream as they were perfected in the last decade or so, and there is no shortage of flavor offerings. The chocolate chips in this recipe lend the healthier waffle cookie classic ice cream sandwich flavor, while giving you total control over how much or how little chocolate you want to indulge in.

1/2 cup miniature dark chocolate chips
8 waffle cookies
1 cup fat-free sorbet or frozen yogurt, or reduced fat ice cream
(e.g., mango, strawberry, coffee or vanilla)


  1. Place the chocolate chips on a plate. Arrange 4 cookies on a work surface, and, using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop, top each cookie with 1 scoop ice cream. Top the ice cream with the remaining cookies, and press down gently until the ice cream covers the cookie. Roll sides of the cookies in chips, pressing gently to adhere.

  2. Place cookies on a baking sheet, and freeze for about 10 minutes or until firm; serve.

Temptation 2: Onion Rings
When the otherwise healthy onion is dipped in flour and eggs, thrown into a deep fryer, then salted, the resulting side dish is one of the least healthy things you can eat. 

Delicious Alternative: Faux Fried Onion Rings
The idea of “faux frying” onion rings comes from Rocco DiSpirito, celebrity chef and author of Now Eat This!

2 cups sliced yellow onions
1-2 egg whites, to coat
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Cooking spray


  1. Coat sliced onions with egg whites and a mixture of grated Parmesan cheese, whole wheat flour, and panko breadcrumbs.

  2. Spritz with cooking spray and bake in a 450-degree oven for about 15 minutes. 

Temptation 3: Potato Salad
This mayonnaise-soaked staple of summer picnics can be completely reconceptualized into a flavorful, low-fat side that travels just as well and will have everyone coming back for seconds.

Delicious Alternative: Mayo-free Potato and Cabbage Salad
This dish uses no mayo at all and substitutes a little bit of oil instead, relying on the crispness of vinegar and mustard to achieve its rich flavor. It can also be made by substituting roasted radishes for the potatoes, if you want to completely avoid the starchy heaviness of traditional potato salads.

Ingredients (makes 6 cups):
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
2 cups diced red cabbage
1 bag (about 24 oz.) tricolor baby potatoes, scrubbed and sliced
2 tablespoons safflower or canola oil
1/4 cup minced chives


  1. In a bowl, stir vinegar, sugar, pepper and 1/2 tsp. salt until sugar dissolves. Stir in mustard seeds and cabbage.

  2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes, return to a boil and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes.*

  3. Drain potatoes; let cool slightly. Fold into cabbage mixture with oil and chives. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*To try roasted radishes instead: Arrange washed radishes on a foiled baking sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray. Roast at 450 degrees for 20 minutes or until radishes are tender, but firm in the center. Let them cool and fold into the cabbage mixture as you would the potatoes.

Temptation 4: Daiquiris
Daiquiris are a summer classic, evoking as they do tropical paradise and a beach chair parked in the sun-bleached sand.  However, these rum-based drinks are loaded with sugar.

Delicious Alternative: Bombay Magic
This drink gets its sweetness from the triple sec but saves on sugar by using club soda and lemon juice instead of high-calorie daiquiri mix.

½ oz Cointreau
¼ oz tequila or vodka
juice of ½ lemon
club soda
mint leaf


  1. Stir first 3 liquid ingredients into a glass with ice.

  2. Top off with the club soda. Garnish with mint leaf. 5: Deviled Eggs

    Delicious Alternative: Undeviled Eggs
    By eliminating not only mayonnaise but also the egg yolks from this classic party hors d'oeuvre, you can feel a lot better about reaching for two. And the vinegar adds tanginess without adding sodium (beyond the sodium in the mustard).

    Ingredients (serves 6):
    12 eggs
    1 to 2 16-oz package of silken (soft) tofu
    Yellow mustard to taste
    White wine vinegar to taste


  1. Boil eggs and shell.

  2. Slice eggs in half the long way and discard yolks.

  3. Combine drained tofu and 1 Tbsp mustard in a food processor and blend on low. Taste mixture, adding more yellow mustard and the white wine vinegar in gradual amounts until desired tanginess results.

  4. Spoon tofu mixture into cooled egg whites.

  5. Garnish liberally with paprika. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Mayo-free Potato and Cabbage Salad adapted from Health,” Powered-Up Potato Salad,”,,50400000128408,00.html

Bombay Magic by Shaheen Lokhandwala, San Francisco, CA

(return to front page)