3 Classic BBQ Side Dish Recipes Made Healthier

Macaroni and cheese, potato salad and broccoli salad are popular accompaniments to barbecues, picnics and deli-style lunches. While delicious and redolent of childhood, the typical renditions of these recipes are full of calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium.

Diet experts and nutritionists would tell you to steer clear of these calorie traps, which don't otherwise offer enough nutritional benefit to justify indulging in them too often, if at all. Obviously fruit salad, raw veggies (skip the high-fat ranch or blue cheese that normally sits in the middle of a crudit? platter) or grilled vegetables make healthier side dish options, but sometimes you just want to eat a high-carb, creamy or cheesy dish. Avoid putting yourself or your dining guests in a dietary dilemma in the first place by making the following healthier versions of these classic American recipes.

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Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Pecorino-Romano cheese, grated
  • 2/3 cup regular or Panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat the milk in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat until it just comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cook pasta for two minutes less than the package directions instruct.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour, whisking constantly until the mixture turns light brown. Slowly add milk while whisking until well combined. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of salt. Stir sauce until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle cheeses into the sauce and stir until melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

Drain pasta, and add to cheesy sauce. Dump pasta into a casserole dish and top with breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until bubbling and browned on top.

More: Calcium Sources Better Than Milk

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About the Author

Sabrina Tillman Grotewold

Sabrina Tillman Grotewold is the former running editor for Active.com, and the creator of the Active Cookbook. She runs nearly every day, enjoys cooking and developing recipes, and taking her son for long walks in his stroller.

Sabrina Tillman Grotewold is the former running editor for Active.com, and the creator of the Active Cookbook. She runs nearly every day, enjoys cooking and developing recipes, and taking her son for long walks in his stroller.

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