My go-to side dish to bring along wherever I'm invited-pasta salad-is simple to make and easy to tote. It seems to have been invented for summer picnics, potlucks and backyard barbecues!

But typical versions consist of white pasta drowning, often tastelessly, in a heavy mayonnaise dressing. Luckily, it's easy to make a light and creamy pasta salad with a lot less fat that's still super-yummy!

Here are 4 of my simple tips to help you make your favorite pasta-salad recipes healthier.

  1. Replace regular white pasta with whole-wheat pasta to add fiber-you'll more than double the fiber per cup of pasta.
  2. Use a combination of low-fat mayonnaise, low-fat plain yogurt and olive oil instead of regular mayonnaise and you'll cut calories and saturated fat.
  3. Double the veggies and use a variety of colorful ones. Some of my favorite pasta-salad veggies: shredded carrots, finely chopped broccoli and cauliflower, cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes and diced bell pepper.
  4. Add fresh herbs! They boost flavor without fat or sodium. Fragrant basil is always a hit, or try tarragon, dill or cilantro.

EatingWell's Garden Pasta Salad incorporates all these healthy tricks. One pasta salad recipe that's, dare I say it?, more delicious than most of the pasta salads I've eaten at potlucks. If you share it with friends, I bet you get asked for the recipe as often as I do!