I love breakfast foods and I love salads. But it wasn’t until one day just recently that I decided to merge the two into one. Hallelujah for that flash of genius! Because now breakfast salad bowls are becoming a favorite morning staple for me. They’re nutritious, filling, yummy, and super customizable! All characteristics that make a great dish.
Now I know raw veggies (or veggies in general) for breakfast might be a completely way out there concept for a lot of people but don’t worry, I have some guidelines to make your breakfast salad bowl experience as wonderful as it should be!
Let’s deconstruct the breakfast salad bowl and talk about each component:
- Base greens. Use a more gentle/delicate kind of leafy green for the base. Meaning greens like baby spinach are preferable to greens like romaine hearts, kale, or iceberg lettuce. I’m a hardcore veggie girl and even for me it can be tough to get through coarse, mega woody vegetables for breakfast. Your digestive system may not appreciate those harder-to-process veggies so soon after waking up. Bottom line: spinach is quite neutral and my base green of choice.
- Protein. Any meal salad should include a protein source to keep you feeling properly full and fueled. Tofu and tempeh are great options for a breakfast salad. They’re both a great source of protein, and there are so many ways to prepare them! Tofu has a more neutral canvas for flavor, but tempeh can easily (and tastily) be transformed as well. The protein is kind of what ties together the savory and sweet components of a breakfast salad. So when you prepare your protein, you need to do it in a breakfast-y way. Example… Crispy Cinnamon Tofu! More about that later.
- Fruit. This is where the main sweetness comes from, so fruit is a must! If you can, try to choose 3 different types of fruit; that gives you good flavor variety but doesn’t overwhelm your tastebuds. Fruits I recommend are berries, stone fruits (e.g. peaches or plums), non-sour citrus (e.g. oranges), apples, and certain tropical fruits (e.g. mango or kiwi). Fruits I don’t recommend are bananas, melons, and sour fruit (e.g. grapefruit or granny smith apples). Of course, it’s totally your preference though!
- Something crunchy. This doesn’t have to be anything major; it’s just nice to have something with a contrasting texture to all of the other soft components. I often add chia seeds, which adds only a slight texture contrast. Sliced or chopped nuts are also excellent. If you’re feeling really wild, granola would also be a delicious choice.
- Something creamy/saucy. Salads need dressing. Period. But for this type of salad, traditional dressings aren’t quite right. Instead, you want something closer to the breakfast food realm. My favorites are non-dairy yogurt (plain, vanilla or appropriately flavored), coconut aminos, pure maple syrup, or nut butter (cashew is amazing). If choosing a nut butter, I like to thin it out slightly with almond milk (NOT water) so it can be drizzled more easily.
- Other vegetables. This is optional. I’ve made breakfast salad bowls with and without an extra veggie, and both ways are great. If you’re going the extra veg route, I recommend adding only one and I recommend that it be cooked. My favorite is bell pepper because it has a natural sweetness. To prepare it, I very thinly slice the pepper, sauté it until super soft, and at the end of its sauté time flavor it with pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Cooked carrot ribbons would also be a good option.
Now about that crispy cinnamon tofu…
There are two ways I’ve made it, but grilling is my favorite. The alternate way is to pan “fry” the tofu, but I follow as slightly different method for that. For today, we’re going with the grilled method!
Here are the directions:
To grill the tofu, first preheat whatever grill you’re using (of course). I like to use my old school George Forman grill. Meanwhile, slice the tofu (I use about 6 ounces total for 1 bowl) into bite-size pieces (see photos for size reference). You want the pieces to be semi-thin (1/4 – 1/3 inch) so the majority of each piece can get crispy. It’s not as yummy having a crispy outer layer with a thick, squishy, stereotypically-tofu-ish inside.
I then arrange the tofu pieces in a single layer on a cutting board and cover with paper towel and press out as much liquid as I can (this is an important step!). Next, I drizzle on balsamic vinegar and use my fingers to rub around the vinegar so all surfaces are coated. Make sure to flip over the tofu and coat both sides. The last prep step is to sprinkle on a healthy dash of cinnamon (on both sides). Finally, grill the tofu pieces until they’re brown, crispy, and have lovely dark grill marks – with my grill this usually takes about 10 minutes.
After the tofu is grilled, you can let it rest for a few minutes on a cutting board or wire rack which lets it get even crispier. The tofu will cool off during this rest period though, so it’s your choice if you want to eat it hot right away (which is delicious) or a little more crispy but cooler (which is also delicious).
Whew! That was a lot of information.
P.S. What are your favorite ways to prepare tofu? I’d love to know!
- (See notes above in post for extra info on each component)
- Peach slices, blueberries, sliced strawberries, kiwi
- Cinnamon sautéed bell pepper slices
- Chia seeds
- Raw cashew butter thinned with almond milk
- Crispy Cinnamon Tofu
- Prepare tofu following the method explained in post above.
- Fill bowl with desired amount of spinach.
- Creatively arrange all other ingredients on top as desired.