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We’re here with a friendly service announcement: A fit body should aim to eat at least 3 cups of nutrient-dense vegetables a day. For some people, that’s an easy task. For others, hitting that goal can be challenging—which means you should be looking for any opportunity you can to sneak these nutritional wonders into your diet. And what better place to start than first thing in the morning?
While breakfast is typically dominated by items like cereal, fruits and yogurt, the groceries lingering in your crisper can also play a starring role. Veg-heavy salads aren’t only for lunch or dinner. Yes, we said salad. When done right, they can be exciting enough to get you jumping out of that comfy bed to jumpstart a day of healthy eating.
Need a little more convincing to crunch your way through spinach at first light? Rise and dine on these crave-worthy breakfast salads that don’t stray too far from tried-and-true breakfast staples.
Sausage Granola Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette
Serve up this morning glory and you’ll never settle for a bowl of granola and milk again. Featuring lean turkey sausage for a dose of muscle-friendly protein, a quick skillet granola hack and sweet blueberry dressing—which is loaded with brain-friendly antioxidants—this is a boredom-busting breakfast if there ever was one.
Future assets: The granola, blueberry dressing and sausage can be prepared three days in advance. Chill the dressing and cooked sausage. Store the granola in a sealed container at room temperature.
Switch hits: Use chicken sausage instead of turkey, make the dressing with strawberries in lieu of blueberries, and swap out walnuts for pecans or almonds.
Makes: 4 servings | Serving size: 1 salad
Total time: 35 minutes | Hands-on time: 20 minutes
- 3 tbsp + 1 tsp canola oil or grapeseed oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- ¾ cup rolled oats
- ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
- 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 lb turkey sausage
- 1½ cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp smooth Dijon mustard
- 4 cups tender salad greens, such as mesclun
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup torn fresh basil
- 2 oz soft crumbled goat cheese, optional
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon honey over medium heat until honey is liquefied. Add oats, nuts, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and pinch of salt to skillet and heat until oats are toasted, about five minutes, stirring frequently. Be careful not to burn oats. Spread mixture on cutting board to cool. The granola will become crispy upon resting.
- Pierce sausage casings several times with fork. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Place sausage in pan and heat until cooked through and an internal temperature of 165 degrees is reached, flipping once. Remove sausage from pan, and when cool enough to handle, slice into ½-inch pieces.
- Blend together blueberries, 2 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons water, balsamic vinegar, mustard and pinch of salt until smooth.
- Divide salad greens, sausage, tomatoes, carrots, basil and goat cheese if using among serving plates or bowls. Drizzle on dressing and sprinkle on granola.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 484, total fat 28 g, carbs 33 g, fiber 7 g, sugar 13 g, protein 28 g, sodium 724 mg
PB&J Toast Salad
This salad is high on nostalgia and packed with nutritional heavyweights: antioxidant and fiber-rich raspberries, protein-packed chicken and peanut butter for plenty of good-for-your-heart fat. It seems almost criminal not to Instagram it.
Future assets: The toasted bread and dressing can be made up to three days in advance. To press the easy button, use supermarket rotisserie chicken.
Switch hits: Swap out chicken for turkey, replace raspberries with sliced strawberries, and make the dressing with almond butter instead of peanut butter.
Makes: 4 servings | Serving size: 1 salad
Total time: 25 minutes | Hands-on time: 15 minutes
- 4 cups whole-grain bread, cubed
- 1 tbsp canola oil or grapeseed oil
- ¼ cup natural creamy peanut butter
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tsp honey
- 2 tsp ginger, grated or finely minced
- 2 tsp lime zest
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- 8 cups baby spinach
- 2 cups sliced cooked chicken, skin removed
- ½ cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
- 1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1½ cups raspberries
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, toss bread with oil and squeeze gently so bread absorbs oil. Spread bread cubes out on baking sheet and bake, stirring once halfway, for 10 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.
- In small bowl, whisk together peanut butter, vinegar, honey, ginger, lime zest, cayenne and 2 tablespoons warm water until smooth. If needed, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until a pourable consistency is reached.
- Divide salad greens, chicken, mint, bell peppers, toasted bread and raspberries among serving plates or bowls. Drizzle peanut butter dressing over top.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 419, total fat 19 g, carbs 30 g, fiber 9 g, sugar 11 g, protein 32 g, sodium 274 mg
Smoked Salmon Egg Salad
Bagel and lox lovers, this salad is for you. The irresistible matchup of peppery arugula, chewy whole-grain farro, velvety salmon, sweet-tart cherries and hard-boiled eggs supplies you with enough protein and fiber to slay morning hunger. And who wouldn’t jump out of bed for a cream cheese dressing? Tip: If the cream cheese came straight out of the fridge, microwave it for about 20 seconds to soften it for the dressing.
Future assets: The farro, hard-boiled eggs and cream cheese dressing can be prepared and chilled up to four days in advance.
Switch hits: Use spelt or wheat berries instead of farro, replace arugula with baby spinach, and try smoked trout instead of salmon.
Makes: 4 servings | Serving size: 1 salad
Total time: 35 minutes | Hands-on time: 15 minutes
- 1 cup farro
- 4 cups arugula
- 1 English cucumber, chopped
- 2 jarred roasted red peppers, sliced
- 8 oz sliced smoked salmon
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, halved
- ½ cup dried cherries, optional
- ⅓ cup cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- 2 tbsp olive oil or walnut oil
- juice of ½ lemon
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds
- Bring 3 cups water and farro to a boil in medium-size saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer covered until farro is tender, about 25 minutes. Drain any excess liquid and set aside to cool.
- Divide arugula, farro, cucumbers, roasted red peppers, smoked salmon, hard-boiled eggs and dried cherries if using among serving plates.
- Whisk together cream cheese, oil, 2 tablespoons water, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder and couple of pinches each salt and pepper until smooth. Add more oil or water, if needed, to reach a pourable consistency. Drizzle cream cheese dressing over salad and sprinkle on sesame seeds and poppy seeds.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 483, total fat 22 g, carbs 46 g, fiber 9 g, sugar 4 g, protein 26 g, sodium 678 mg
Burrito Bowl Salad
This deconstructed breakfast burrito delivers a delicious mix of textures and nutritional bell-ringers. Research shows that bean eaters have an easier time shedding extra pounds (gracias, hunger-fighting fiber and plant protein), so work them into your morning menu when you can.
Future assets: The mashed avocado can be made the night before if covered tightly and chilled.
Switch hits: Replace sour cream with plain yogurt, use pinto beans instead of black beans, and swap cheddar cheese for jack cheese.
Makes: 1 Serving | Serving size: 1 salad
Total time: 20 minutes | Hands-on time: 20 minutes
- 2 eggs
- ¼ avocado
- 2 tbsp low-fat sour cream
- 2 tsp fresh lime juice
- 1 cup chopped romaine lettuce or baby spinach
- ⅓ cup cooked or canned black beans
- ⅓ cup jarred salsa
- ⅓ cup grated cheddar cheese
- ⅓ cup crushed tortilla chips
- Heat nonstick skillet over medium-low. Whisk together eggs with pinch of salt and pepper and place in pan. Cook eggs, frequently dragging eggs gently with wooden spoon or spatula, until soft, glossy curds form.
- Place avocado flesh in small bowl and mash with sour cream and lime juice until nearly smooth.
- Place greens in large serving bowl and top with beans, eggs, avocado mixture, salsa, cheese and tortilla chips.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 493, total fat 24 g, carbs 38 g, fiber 12 g, sugar 6 g, protein 33 g, sodium 570 mg
Sweet Potato Salad with Maple Apple Chutney
With the perfect mix of sweet and savory, this salad gets your day off to a resounding healthy start. Sweet potato is loaded with immune-boosting vitamin A, kale is loaded with bone-building vitamin K, yogurt gives you creamy protein and apples are a source of age-defying antioxidants.
Future assets: The roasted sweet potatoes, simmered apples and massaged kale can all be made up to three days in advance, if chilled.
Switch hits: Replace apples with pears, swap out kale for Swiss chard, use summer sausage or cooked Canadian bacon instead of prosciutto, and try ricotta cheese in lieu of yogurt.
Makes: 4 Servings | Serving size: 1 salad
Total time: 40 minutes | Hands-on time: 20 minutes
- 2 large sweet potatoes, cubed
- 2 tbsp canola or grapeseed oil
- 2 apples, chopped
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp chopped rosemary or thyme
- 8 cups chopped kale
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 2 oz prosciutto, sliced
- 1½ cups plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup unsalted roasted pumpkin seeds
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss sweet potato cubes with 1 tablespoon oil and spread out on baking sheet. Roast until potatoes are tender, flipping once, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place apples, maple syrup, lemon juice and pinch of salt in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until apples are very tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in rosemary or thyme.
- Place kale in bowl and drizzle on 1 tablespoon oil, cider vinegar and pinch of salt. Use your hands to massage leaves until tender.
- Divide kale among serving plates or bowls and arrange sweet potatoes, prosciutto, apples and yogurt on top. Sprinkle on pumpkin seeds.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 410, total fat 16 g, carbs 51 g, fiber 7 g, sugar 15 g, protein 22 g, sodium 359 mg