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4 easy ways to lighten up your summer barbecue staples

TODAY show nutritionist Joy Bauer is here to help enjoy summer, without overloading on calories.
Summer sides and desserts from Joy Bauer
/ Source: TODAY

Summer means sunshine, picnics, cookouts, and campfires (hello coleslaw, potato salad and s’mores!). Whether you’re playing host or guest at a warm-weather soiree, try these lighter offerings. They will surely be the hottest picks at the party.

1. Coleslaw

Crunchy coleslaw is by far one of my favorite sides, but traditional versions douse innocent shredded cabbage in heaps of fatty mayo and sugar. The end result is a summertime mainstay that packs about 300 calories per cup. Instead, try my skinny coleslaw recipe for only 50 calories per cup. It uses better-for-you ingredients that provide nutrition plus loads of fantastic flavor. Dig into the deliciousness.

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S'mores Pops

2. Potato Salad

After hours of testing in my kitchen, I’m excited to share my revamped potato salad recipe — because let's be honest, no cookout is complete without this rich and creamy side. My version is slimming, satisfying and will definitely have spud-lovers reaching for seconds. Want my secret? I replaced half the potatoes with carrots to cut back on the calories and carbs while boosting the fiber. Bonus: it provides a shot of beta-carotene for radiant skin—double score!

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3. Baked Beans:

Say “bah-bye” to canned baked beans that are often loaded with sodium, sugar and junky additives. My new and (greatly) improved version requires only four simple ingredients that you can feel good about feeding your family. Plus, I added one pantry staple that delivers a serious depth of flavor and takes this dish to a whole 'nother level.

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4. S'mores:

S’mores bring back so many great memories of sitting around a campfire telling scary stories while roasting marshmallows. If you’re looking for a slimmer fix, make my s’mores pops for just 60 calories each. You get to enjoy two for the price of one—and they’re super fun to assemble. S'more dessert, less problems.

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For more healthy tips and recipes, follow Joy on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and check out her cookbook From Junk Food to Joy Food. Watch her on NBC's Health + Happiness every weekend. ​