With barbecue season in full swing, healthful eating might not be the first thing on your mind, but this is a great time to experiment with vegetables, lean cooking methods and other smart food choices. Here are some ways to lighten up your next party:

●Grill lean meat, poultry or seafood with a light, homemade marinade: Think chicken or fish kebabs with a citrus-garlic marinade.

●Get creative with vegetables: Try a homemade veggie burger on a lettuce “bun” or prepare a cold vegetable side dish.

●Make smart substitutions when it comes to dessert: Puree frozen fruit with a bit of agave nectar instead of buying a treat with lots of added sugar.

Lime-Agave Tahini Veggie Coleslaw

Side dishes are another good opportunity for a swap. Many coleslaw recipes are drowning in not just mayonnaise but also sour cream and refined sugar. Instead, try tahini. Tahini is made of ground sesame seeds and provides five grams of protein and one gram of fiber per serving (two tablespoons) without unhealthful fats or cholesterol. Tahini also offers calcium and iron.

This slaw is packed with vitamins and minerals from a medley of veggies including purple cabbage, green cabbage, carrots and radishes. The tahini-based dressing brings it all together with a tangy and sweet finish from the fresh lime juice and agave nectar. Plus, the dressing offers a bit of heat from a pinch of cayenne pepper.

But “coleslaw” is derived from the Dutch words for cabbage salad, and cabbage really is the star of this recipe. It is low in calories but filling, because it’s full of fiber. In fact, one cup of cabbage has only 22 calories and provides over two grams of fiber. There is evidence that purple cabbage fights aging, helps with memory and urinary tract health and may reduce cancer risk. Cabbage provides vitamin C (one serving has half your daily intake), folate, vitamin B6, phytonutrients, lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are believed to protect eye tissue from sunlight damage and reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Your body needs fat to absorb lutein and zeaxanthin, and this recipe gets these fats from the olive oil and tahini.

Carrots are a traditional part of most coleslaws. They are low in calories (a half-cup of grated carrot has only 23 calories) and contain lutein and zeaxanthin as well as vitamin A and fiber. Radishes are less common, but they add an interesting bite to this slaw. One serving (seven radishes) has just 10 calories and offers a high amount of vitamin C (30 percent of your daily recommended amount).

The recipe: Lime-Agave Tahini Veggie Coleslaw

Gordon, a master of public health professional and a master certified health education specialist, is creator of the healthful recipe site EatingbyElaine.com. Find her on Twitter at @EatingbyElaine .

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