Macaroni Salad: Is it Ever a Healthy Side Dish?

Macaroni salad is a type of salad which is made from elbow macaroni pasta that has been cooked already. This type of salad is most commonly served cold and with a dressing that consists primarily of mayonnaise. You can find a macaroni salad usually being served as an accompaniment at a barbecue or with other picnic-style entrees, much like potato salad is.

For the most part, macaroni salad involves ingredients that include onions that have been diced, celery and salt and pepper for seasoning. Sometimes, canned tuna is also thrown in just to keep things unpredictable and exciting. A macaroni salad may be turned into a healthier type of side dish, depending on the kinds of ingredients you choose to include.

Healthier Ingredients

The kinds of ingredients in a macaroni salad lend themselves to making the salad more unhealthy than it has to be. For example, the kind of mayonnaise that is commonly put into a macaroni salad is undesirable because the ones called fat-free mayonnaise go through an unnatural, processed preparation, while the mayonnaise with fat is just that much more unhealthy.

An effective type of mayonnaise that you can substitute for the aforementioned is light mayonnaise, with a base that consists of either sour cream or light cream cheese. These fattening types of ingredients, like mayonnaise, can really pack on the carbohydrates and fats, both of which will contribute to giving you a less-than-flattering midsection, among other things.

Healthy Macaroni Salad Preparation

Again, making healthier macaroni salad is possible, but it all depends on using the right ingredients. The use of a lot of fresh and crisp vegetables in your macaroni salad will greatly aid in making it healthier. Use vegetables like carrots and lettuce in addition to the stalwarts like onions and celery. You can also add meats like ham, just for protein purposes and to balance the fats you will get in ingredients like the ever-present mayonnaise.

Another way to supplement your healthy macaroni salad preparation is by including only a light amount of mayonnaise. This won’t affect the taste of your macaroni salad since by adding more vegetables than usual along with the meat, you will get plenty of flavor from those without having to add that much of the fattening mayonnaise.

Focus on Fiber and Protein

The temptation with macaroni salads is to always include heavy, cream-based sauces and dressings that rack up the pounds, so to counteract this, focus on using ingredients for the salad that focus instead on both fiber and protein. For example, choose whole wheat macaroni for your pasta since this is not only full of fiber, but also great taste, not to mention that it lasts longer in a salad dish than other kinds of pasta. Vegetables are also a good source of fiber, so add more than just celery and onions. Including meats like chicken and ham in a macaroni salad will take care of the needed boost of protein to make it healthier.


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