Yes, that’s right—breakfast salads! They’re a thing, and they’re fantastic. If this concept is new to you, just hear me out, please. A salad in the morning is a great way to work in a serving or two of veggies (or whole grains, or fruit—more to come in this series!) right off the bat. They’re light, fresh, and balanced, preventing that all-too-familiar carb/sugar overload that’ll have you crashing an hour or two later.

For me, the breakfast salad is ideal because I’ve never been too fond of traditional breakfast foods. I just have a few guidelines for how to build a great one:

 In general, avoid really strong flavors. A mouthful of raw garlic isn’t exactly what most folks take to first thing in the morning.

 Be sure to include protein and fat for satiety. That protein can come in the form of an egg, a little cheese, some leftover bacon, a sprinkle of nuts, a pile of canned beans, or a bed of whole grains. Unsaturated fats (think olive and nut oils, avocado, or nuts) are ideal and go a long way to keeping you satisfied longer.

 Keep it fast and simple. This is breakfast, after all, and on weekdays you don’t have time to fuss with a lot of prep. I’ve strived to keep things nice and easy.

 Pay attention to texture. Ideally your salad will include something crispy-crunchy, creamy-silky, juicy-fresh, and/or meaty-chewy.

 Vary the base. Sometimes, go with greens. Other days, opt for beans, whole grains, or shredded or chopped fresh veggies.

Tomato and Avocado Stack Breakfast SaladThis is a fantastic summer breakfast—when heirloom tomatoes are at their juiciest, sweetest-tangiest peak. It’s full of satiating healthy fat and fiber, thanks mostly to the avocado. If you don't have olive tapenade on hand, no problem; just chop up 4 or 5 olives and sprinkle between the layers.

1 heirloom beefsteak tomato, trimmed and cut into 3 thick slices1/2 ripe avocado, sliced2 teaspoons olive tapenade1 cherry tomato, quartered (optional)1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar1 large egg, poached (see easy how-to video here)Dash of saltDash of freshly ground black pepper

1. Arrange the stack on a small plate. Layer 1 tomato slice, half of avocado, and half of tapenade on plate; repeat layers once. Top with remaining tomato slice. Arrange cherry tomato (if using) on plate. Drizzle stack with vinegar. Top stack with egg; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

SERVES 1CALORIES 282; FAT 20.5g (sat 3.8g, mono 11.7g, poly 2.9g); PROTEIN 10g; CARB 19g; FIBER 9g; CHOL 186mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 356mg; CALC 63mg

More Breakfast Salads: