Recipe: This coleslaw has a fraction of the sugar found in most recipes |

Recipe: This coleslaw has a fraction of the sugar found in most recipes

Apples, cider vinegar and a bit of agave nectar replace the sugar in this coleslaw recipe.
Krista Driscoll / |

In an effort to eat healthier, I’ve been scouring the Internet for recipes to replace things that my fiancé and I commonly eat. One of our favorites to pair with sandwiches and pulled-pork barbecue is coleslaw. The base of coleslaw is cabbage, which is a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants, but that’s generally where the health benefits end.

The main culprits in most coleslaw recipes are mayonnaise, which is high in calories and fat, particularly saturated fat, and sugar. Your body needs sugar for fuel, the best sources coming from naturally occurring sugars in fruits and vegetables that also contain fiber, which helps slow the digestion of the carbohydrates in the sugar. The problem with sugar is that it’s added to everything from salad dressings to pasta sauces to cereals, not to mention sodas and other sweets, meaning we consume way more of it than we should on a daily basis. Added sugar is a major contributor to a slew of health problems, from weight gain and cavities to heart disease.

Many of the recipes I found that cut out the mayo replaced it with a heap of sugar, as much as a cup for four servings. Though agave nectar, which I used in this recipe, is a sweetener that should be used sparingly, it has a much lower glycemic index than refined sugar and a sweeter flavor, which means you can use less of it. I was further able to reduce the amount of added sugar in the standard recipe by adding an apple to the mix of cabbage and carrots (the acidity of the vinegar keeps it from oxidizing and turning brown), and I swapped out white vinegar with cider vinegar, which added more flavor. Studies have found cider vinegar’s health benefits to range from aiding digestion and weight loss to helping regulate blood sugar.

You can shred your own cabbage, but it’s much easier to grab a bag of the shredded stuff that’s mixed with carrots, which not only make it a bit more colorful, but give it an added punch of vitamin A and beta-carotene.

No-mayo coleslaw

½ bag shredded cabbage and carrot mix

½ medium onion, any kind, finely chopped

1 medium apple, finely chopped

½ cup cider vinegar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon agave nectar

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

¼ cup canola oil

In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, onion and apple. In a small saucepan, combine the cider vinegar, salt, celery seed, agave nectar, mustard and oil. Bring to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes. Cool completely, and then pour about half of the mixture over the cabbage, onion and apple and toss to coat. Taste and add more sauce, if desired; some people prefer a stronger flavor than others. When satisfied with the balance, refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to combine.

Makes 6 servings.

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