Sadly, “salad” isn’t a universal synonym for “healthy.” Pasta salad— a classic picnic staple— can pack upwards of 360 calories per serving, not to mention a big dose of fat from the mayo base. But a few simple tweaks can give this salad a new (healthier) lease on life. Switching pasta for quinoa cuts calories and adds protein, while replacing mayonnaise with balsamic vinegar slashes fat. A great side for a 4th of July bash!

Quinoa Salad (147 calories)

Makes 6 1-cup servings


2 cups quinoa

4 cucumbers, diced

4 red peppers, diced

4 portabella mushrooms, diced

4 tablespooons balsamic vinegar


  1. Prepare quinoa as directed on the package.
  2. When quinoa is finished cooking, combine in a bowl with the diced vegetables. Not a fan of these veggies? Use any mixture you like!
  3. Drizzle in balsamic vinegar and mix until evenly coated.

Serving Suggestions:

  1. Place atop a bed of spinach for a simple salad.
  2. Serve alongside a piece of protein for a light side dish.
  3. Mix in some chickpeas and feta and serve as a nutrient-rich main dish.