Crowd pleasers! Get set for summer with three light and easy potluck salads

For me the best part of potlucks (besides how easy they are) is the fact that you get to nibble on a bunch of different things. I always head straight for the salads.

» Get the recipe: Broccoli-Bacon Salad

Broccoli-bacon salad is one that appears over and over on potluck lineups. But usually it's made with too much mayonnaise and bacon. (Bacon really seems to play an important role in potluck lineups…and for good reason. It's delicious, but needs to be used judiciously to keep things healthy.) We made a healthier broccoli-bacon salad this summer with less bacon and low-fat mayonnaise. Our version has only 1 gram of saturated fat and 200 mg of sodium.

» Get the recipe: Seven-Layer Salad

When we got a request from a reader begging us to "please reduce the fat and sodium" in her recipe for seven-layer salad, we knew this one was a perfect candidate for a makeover. It's basically layered greens, veggies, cheese and bacon, topped with mayonnaise (or "dressing" as Miracle Whip devotees call it). To make a healthier seven-layer salad here's what we did: we used more vegetables, less bacon and reduced-fat cheese. Also, instead of a plain layer of mayo to top the salad, we made a perked-up and slimmed-down dressing with low-fat mayonnaise, nonfat plain yogurt, garlic powder, vinegar and just a touch of sugar, salt and pepper. It's way better than plain old mayo (and it has fewer calories and less fat as well!).

» Get the recipe: Three-Bean Salad

One of my personal favorites is three-bean salad. That is when it's made well. I don't want the syrupy, sweet stuff that tastes like it's straight out of a jar. I like it a little less sweet (who needs a bunch of added sugar anyway) and with a few fresh ingredients to keep the flavors lively. Our version of three-bean salad uses fresh green beans, frozen edamame or lima beans and canned black-eyed peas or chickpeas. Yes, if I were a purist I'd say use only fresh beans and cook your dried chickpeas or black-eyed peas from scratch. But I'm not a purist and I love how the combo of fresh, frozen and canned ingredients keeps this recipe super-quick and easy but also tasty. A touch of fresh parsley and diced red onion also add great flavor.

By Jessie Price

EatingWell deputy food editor Jessie Price's professional background in food started when she worked in restaurant kitchens in the summers during college. She started out testing recipes for EatingWell and then joined the staff here full-time in 2004 when she moved to Vermont from San Francisco.

Related Links from EatingWell: