The traditional pasta salads that you find in picnic baskets and at BBQ’s around Australia are slathered with mayonnaise, which is neither healthy nor conducive to being served outside on a hot summer day. So when you’re preparing for a summer picnic or afternoon BBQ, why not try making one of these healthy yet tasty alternatives to the classic pasta salad?
How to make pasta salad healthy
Add healthy protein – Any lean protein works well in pasta salad, such as grilled chicken, canned tuna, grilled salmon or canned beans. These are all examples of healthy protein that add flavour to pasta salad dishes, without adding loads of fat and calories.
Load up the veggies – One of the best ways to make pasta salad healthier is to add plenty of vegetables. Tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, broccoli and avocado all make great additions to a pasta salad. No matter what kind of pasta salad you are making, try and toss some veggies in for extra bulk, texture, flavour and nutrition.
Herbs add flavour – Chopped fresh herbs sprinkled over the pasta salad or added to the salad dressing adds great fresh flavours, again without adding fat, calories or sodium. Be sure to always use fresh herbs over dried for the best results. Try basil, rosemary, thyme, dill or parsley to make your pasta salad pop.
Swap mayo for mustard – Mayonnaise is loaded with fat, but if you still want to achieve that creamy consistency that mayonnaise delivers, consider substituting it with dijon or whole grain mustard. Not only is mustard lower in fat and calories than mayo, but it will also add a delicious tangy flavour.
Make your own vinaigrettes – Vinegar-based dressings are the best way to go, as they are low in fat and calories and don’t need to be chilled. Go for a simple olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing with lots of herbs and spices that will add bold flavours and keep the calories at bay.