Are breakfast salads the best way to start the day?

Packed with fresh flavours and deliciously nutritious, it’s no wonder breakfast salads are rising in popularity. Here’s how to add vitality to your morning menu.

So, you wake up, head to the kitchen and open the fridge.

Rather than reaching for milk to pour on your muesli or for eggs to scramble, instead you grab some kale, quinoa, half an avocado, perhaps some tomato, a slice or two of smoked salmon, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of seeds.

Across the US and Europe, a growing number of people are swapping traditional western breakfast fare for a colourful salad.

While the idea might take a bit of getting used to, there are plenty of nutritious reasons to start your day with a salad.

“Eating vegetables for breakfast isn’t typical in the western world but it’s actually quite common in Asian cultures and it’s a great breakfast choice,” Dietitians Australia spokesperson Alice Bleathman says.

“Psychologically, choosing a nutrient-dense breakfast sets you up for the day and you may well be more likely to choose healthier food options later in the day, too.”

Why a breakfast salad could be a good idea

Government figures suggest less than one in 10 adults get enough vegetables in their diet, so a breakfast salad is an opportunity to add a few vegetables to the menu and help reach the recommended five daily servings.

“By swapping out smoothies and cereals we’re more likely to get the right amounts of vegetables and we boost our intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants,” Alice says.

What goes in a breakfast salad?

The ideal breakfast salad probably won’t look like a traditional mix of leafy greens and you’ll need more than simply lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber.

Alice suggests including a mix of complex carbohydrates for sustained energy, protein and healthy fats.

Complex carbohydrates include quinoa, brown rice, pumpkin and sweet potato.

Protein can be found in eggs, beans, legumes, tofu, nuts and smoked salmon.

Healthy fats can be added in the form of avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds.

“About 200 grams of avocado gives you up to 50 per cent of your daily intake of different B vitamins – it doesn’t only contain health mono-unsaturated fats,” dietitian Zoe Bingley-Pullen told House of Wellness radio.

“It is incredibly good for you because it’s packed full of fibre, it has vitamin E and A and it is an incredible energy food.”

When putting together your breakfast salad, add as much colour as possible as this ensures you’re eating a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Pack your breakfast salad with fibre and calcium

While opting for a breakfast salad at least a few times a week is a healthy choice, there are a couple of points to keep in mind, says Alice.

Traditional cereals, oats and toast contain plenty of whole grains and fibre so if you switch to salad, make sure it contains some whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa.

“When we have cereal or oats with milk or yoghurt with granola, that gives us calcium,” says Alice.

“So, add some feta or haloumi to your salad, or make sure you get enough dairy at other times in the day, perhaps by having yoghurt as a snack.”

For more topical health and wellness discussions, tune into House of Wellness radio, Sundays at 8am on Nine Radio.

Written Sarah Marinos.