Hilary Meyer

Watch: What's the Healthier Mayonnaise?

I used to be into rock concerts packed with people, and the louder the better. Well, things have changed. I much prefer sprawling out on a checkered blanket on a lawn listening to live classical music. Not only is this more relaxing, but it allows me to do what I do best, pack an awesome picnic. Portability is key. But I also want to make sure what I'm packing in my picnic basket isn't going pack on the pounds.

I've learned a few tricks since working in the EatingWell Test Kitchen that help keep my picnic fare light. I use low-fat mayonnaise and yogurt instead of full-fat mayo in my coleslaw (see the recipe below). I batter my "fried" chicken without skin and cook it in the oven instead of in a huge vat of oil. That way I can relax, eat healthfully and enjoy the music.

Here are a few classic picnic food recipes that I have learned to make healthier and are still delicious. Remember to use plenty of icepacks and a good insulated cooler to keep your picnic fare cool on warm days:

Potato Salad-Lebanese Potato Salad: Dressed with a tangy lemon vinaigrette and fresh mint, this invigorating-and dairy-free-potato salad makes the perfect summer potluck contribution.

Pasta Salad-Garden Pasta Salad: This lightly dressed pasta salad gets lots of flavor from Kalamata olives and basil. A colorful mix of diced bell pepper, shredded carrot and tomatoes adds vitamins and minerals. Serve on a crisp bed of greens. Toss in canned chunk light tuna, cooked chicken or flavored baked tofu (see Note) to add protein and make it more substantial.

Deviled Eggs-EatingWell Deviled Eggs: Deviled eggs are a perennial potluck favorite. Our recipe replaces some of the egg yolks with nonfat cottage cheese-keeping the filling velvety and rich while reducing some of the fat. No one will know the difference.

Coleslaw-Broccoli Slaw: We've lightened this popular potluck classic with a dressing of reduced-fat mayo and yogurt. To speed preparation, use shredded broccoli slaw from the produce aisle.

Fried Chicken-Oven-Fried Chicken: Great news-crunchy, flavorful fried chicken can be healthy. In our Oven-Fried Chicken recipe marinate skinless chicken in buttermilk to keep it juicy. A light coating of flour, sesame seeds and spices, misted with olive oil, forms an appealing crust during baking. And with only 7 grams of fat per serving rather than the 20 in typical fried chicken-that is good news.

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