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.

Simple Salad with Honey-Lemon RicottaLightly sweetened, citrusy-floral-flavored ricotta makes this breakfast salad feel quite indulgent. You don’t have to stick to strawberries; use any in-season fruit you have on hand. You also don’t have to go with a sweet flavor profile; use chopped veggies in place of berries, and flavor the ricotta with herbs.

1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese1 teaspoon honey1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind2 cups mâche or baby spinach1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice1/8 teaspoon kosher salt3 strawberries, quartered2 tablespoons coarsely chopped, lightly salted almonds1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl; stir well to combine.

2. Combine mâche, oil, juice, and salt; toss gently to coat. Arrange on a plate. Top with ricotta mixture, berries, and almonds. Sprinkle with pepper.

SERVES 1CALORIES 223; FAT 13.2g (sat 3.9g, mono 4.7g, poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 10g; CARB 16g; FIBER 3g; CHOL 19mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 405mg; CALC 227mg

More Delicious Breakfast Salads: