Q: My family loves the traditional side dishes at picnics, but I worry that most are so full of fats that they aren't good for us. How can I lighten up these dishes?
A: It seems like no picnic would be complete without a pasta salad. To make it lighter, cut the mayo. A typical 1/2 cup serving of classic macaroni salad contains 310 calories, about two-thirds of which come from fat. Fat isn't the enemy, but keep it to about one tablespoon of oil or two tablespoons of low-fat mayo or dressing per serving.
Once you've lightened the dressing, add a nutritional punch. Use whole-wheat pasta to up the fiber and lower overall calories, and load up on veggies such as tomatoes, onions, celery, bell peppers and scallions.
With potato salad, make your own with a flavorful vinaigrette, pesto sauce, sundried tomatoes, Dijon mustard or lots of fresh herbs. If you favor the traditional creamy texture, a combo of mayonnaise and low-fat yogurt has flavor with much less fat.