Here are all the excuses you need to start your morning with a bed of greens—in bed, if possible
Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

That teetering pile of dishes after a dinner party doesn't really bother me.

I don't mind scrubbing off those infuriatingly stubborn stains on electric burners, either. And I'm more than happy to spend time really cleaning my oven when I need to. But if there's one kitchen task that I detest, it's cooking (and cleaning up) breakfast.

Don't get me wrong: In the great breakfast debate, I'm firmly Team Don't Skip It. And besides being important for your metabolism, breakfast is one of the most delicious meals.

But I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that there's literally no worse time than first thing in the morning to be making a mess in your kitchen. And that's what many of the best breakfast dishes are—big ole messes, with their own sets of disgusting side effects to boot. Who wants to smell like eau de omelette for the rest of the day, amirite?

Which is why most days you'll usually find me zipping through the Starbucks drive-thru or reaching for a piece of fruit at my desk to supplement the toasted bagel or plain old bowl of cereal I made at home. I mean—there's no way to have a real meal in the morning, without tons of prep, right? Wrong.

I first heard of the breakfast salad when one of Cooking Light's writers dished on how the meal helped her overcome serious gut issues. And yet I didn't contemplate the (admittedly strange) idea until the opportunity presented itself last weekend, when I woke up extra hungry and, realizing I was fresh out of glazed corn flakes, scanned my fridge searching for something to nosh on—while staying in bed, of course (it was the weekend, after all).

And that's when I saw it. It was all there: A container full of pre-chopped romaine, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, cucumbers, and some leftover chicken breast from a previous sheet pan dinner.

It came together in just about five minutes, all in one bowl, with a drizzle of olive oil and a splash of fresh lemon. And there I was, sporting a goofy smile and absentmindedly shoveling my breakfast salad onto a fork while watching Bravo in my pajamas.

Why on earth hadn't I considered fresh greens as a vehicle for a speedy breakfast before now? I've thought of all the reasons why this breakfast was one of the best I had ever had—and why it'll now be in regular rotation in my kitchen from now on.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

You don't have to cook a single thing.

The greatest perk of enjoying a breakfast salad is that you don't have to whip out three different frying pans (or any pans, really) for the meal.

Credit: Photo: Ann Pittman

Many of our best breakfast salads come together with ready-to-eat ingredients. You can still enjoy classic elements of your favorite breakfast—chopped eggs are the easiest addition to any breakfast salad—without using a single burner, which saves you real time and effort when you need it most.

And you won't make a mess.

Speaking of time and effort, my first breakfast salad came together in just one bowl. I didn't need to run the dishwasher immediately after making this one meal, which is always a plus. Choose a few ingredients, toss them together in a single dish, and voila.

Credit: Photo: Ann Pittman

You won't smell bad.

Yes, really. The number one reason that I hate making breakfast in my kitchen is that breakfast proteins (read: eggs) smell absolutely awful and the scent clings to everything it touches.

I can't tell you how many times I've gagged thanks to the lingering smell of eggs on plates that I used, glasses I drank out of, and even the clothes that I wore in the kitchen. I'm a firm believer in showering after breakfast because egg stench can also perfume your hair. You can simply skip all of this when you make a breakfast salad—and if you're dying to put egg in it, boil them.

The crisp texture and cool consistency is so refreshing.

Okay, so maybe I'm delving into my most intricate food vulnerabilities, but I'm in love with breakfasts that are cool—as in temperature. You know that amazing feeling when you swallow a spoonful of cereal bathed in cold milk? If you do, we're totally on the same page.

It's that exact same sensation when you bite into a forkful of crisp, cool romaine and a medley of your favorite veggies—I can't think of a better way to gently wake up my taste buds and jumpstart my metabolism in the morning.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

The most important benefit of a breakfast salad? They're healthy.

Ann Pittman, Cooking Light's executive food editor, points out that a tactfully composed breakfast salad can deliver more than 20 percent of your daily protein, 2 to 3 whole servings of fruits and veggies (or both!), a serving of whole grains, and upwards of 10 grams of fiber—before you even leave the house.

Credit: Photo: Ann Pittman

You can make it a million different ways.

Burnt out from endless bowls oatmeal? A salad is a meal that breaks up the monotonous routine. You can make each one its own very special thing, and incorporate as many staples as you want, from eggs to bacon to nuts or beans and whole grains. Play with different textures: One day add a meaty protein on a pile of chewy kale. The next, drizzle some creamy avocado dressing alongside silky smooth fruits. The bowl is your canvas—have fun with it!