By Contributor Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN, The Small Change Diet

As summer approaches so do all the barbecues, picnics and just plain, old hot summer days. And when the temperature starts to rise, a lot of people want to eat more salad and veggie side dishes. But what they don’t realize is that they could be sabotaging all their hard work they have done to gear up for bathing suit season. You see, not all summer side dishes are created equal. Some are very healthy and make for an excellent choice, while others are basically a calorie and fat trap waiting to happen.

When preparing common summer side dishes use these helpful tips:

  • Make your potato salad with olive oil and vinegar vs. full-fat mayonnaise. Choose red potatoes and do not remove the skin. The added fiber from the skin will help keep you fuller longer. Also try adding some mustard (personally love spicy) and cutting back on the amount of oil you would use.
  • Pass on the mayo too with coleslaw, unless you wish to make with low-fat mayo or non-fat/low-fat greek yogurt (can use for potato salad as well). Try flavoring with vinegar and horseradish for something new.
  • Instead of pouring the oil on your veggies for grilling, put the oil in a spray bottle and spritz on the veggies. You will find you use a lot less and don’t even miss it.
  • Nothing tastes better than a mixed green salad made with a variety of lettuces and tomatoes fresh from the garden simply tossed in olive oil (spritz again, not pour) and balsamic vinegar with a squeeze of fresh lemon. No need to disguise its delicious flavor with a creamy high-fat dressing.
  • Lastly, one of my summer favorites is a black bean salad. I like to make mine with leftover corn, chopped tomatoes, red onion and black beans with a drop of cilantro, olive oil and pepper.

By serving up healthy sides this summer not only will you waistline thank you but also so will your heart.

For more waistline-friendly summer recipes, see the Healthy Diet page on MyRecipes.

Recipe: Black Bean Salad, Southern Living