Sweet Potato Breakfast Salad with Almond Butter Protein Dressing


In December, I blew all of your minds when I posted a “breakfast salad” with banana and a chocolate dressing. As unconventional as this may have seemed, it was just the equivalent of having put a green smoothie into a mixing bowl–and most of us are green smoothie devotees already! Breakfast salads are a wonderful way to come up with new and unconventional salad combinations and to pack some greens in–all before 9 am.

I’ve been thinking a lot about breakfast salads, because two of my class days this semester leave me essentially no time for lunch. I can bring something to school and devour it between my 10-12 lecture blog and my 1-5 lab block, but rarely can I eat anything that’s as hands on as a salad. Instead, I usually rely on raw snack bars, kale chips, fruit, green smoothies in a thermos, and almond butter and banana on sprouted grain bread. These foods get me through the long days, but they don’t give me much room for fresh, raw vegetables, and so my plan lately is to have more breakfast salads on days when I know that my lunches will be less vegetable-centric than I’d like.

Today’s breakfast salad is a total winner. It involves sweet potato, which is already a favorite breakfast vegetable in my book (I love that it provides carb-y comfort and satiety along with a ton of micronutrients), baby romaine, and an almond butter dressing. I first thought the dressing would be almond butter, almond milk, a few dates, and nothing more, but then it occurred to me that my breakfast would be a little low in the protein department. So I added a full serving of Vega natural flavored whole foods optimizer to the mix, which adds 26 grams of protein as well as a full day’s RDA of calcium, iron, and an ideal EFA ratio.

You could use virtually any favorite vegan protein powder here instead: hemp would be great, as would be vanilla flavored rice protein. And for a more complete protein that has a cheaper price point by far than Vega, I really like Rainbow Light’s vanilla blend.

If you don’t feel compelled to add protein at all, that’s fine: the sauce will taste great on its own!


Sweet Potato Breakfast Salad with Almond Butter Protein Dressing (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Serves 1; dressing makes 1 1/2 cups

1 small sweet potato, baked and cubed
3 cups baby romaine or spinach
1 tbsp dried cranberries

For the almond butter protein dressing:

1 cup almond milk
4 tbsp almond butter
3 pitted dates
1 serving vegan protein powder (I used 2 scoops Vega whole foods optimizer)

1) Blend all ingredients for the dressing on high.

2) Toss the vegetables and cranberries together and top with 2-3 tbsp sauce (I used more, but I was probably a little too liberal). Serve and enjoy!

Check out the colors of this salad! So beautiful.


But if you’re wondering about the color of the dressing, well, it’s only green because of the hemp and chlorella in the protein!! If that’s a turnoff, you can of course make sure to use neutral colored rice protein. Or none at all. I don’t think green-hued anything is going to be a problem for any CR reader, though!

If you make the dressing and bake the potato ahead of time, this recipe is as easy as it is satisfying and delicious. I hope you enjoy it, and I would love to hear your ideas for more breakfast salads!

On that note, a long lab and exam day draws to a close. See you guys tomorrow!


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Categories: Salads
Ingredients: Sweet Potato

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  1. This looks lovely, and I love the idea of adding protein to the dressing. It’s not something that I would do for most salads, but breakfast always benefits from a little extra staying power.

  2. It’s me again, Ellani. Hope you read this even though it is so late. This was an amazing breakfast salad! So satisfying and delicious! I had to use cashew butter because my almond butter was out, but that didn’t make any difference to the yum factor. I would also recommend purreeing the dates first and then adding the rest of the dressing ingredients!

  3. Very pretty recipe and great idea…but your salad is STILL lacking in protein for a breakfast meal. Your salad dressing makes almost 2 cups worth of protein-rich dressing (from the milk, almond butter, and giant Vega scoops… all equating to maybe 40 grams of protein total) but then you only use 2-3 tablespoons of dressing on the salad, meaning a total protein content per salad of 5-7.5 grams of protein. Too me that seems very low, especially when protein is so good at providing satiety, which is important in a morning meal.

    • I used a 50/50 combination of whey and collagen protein (since I’m not vegetarian), which, gram-for-gram, provides protein with greater bioavailability. And for those who are troubled by the green color this protein won’t do that.

  4. This looks AMAZING and is such a great alternative to the green smoothie. Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂

  5. my co-workers have been poking a bit of fun at me lately because I have been going without my green smoothies (am temporarily without a blender!) and have been trying to survive on my other go-to breakfast of oatmeal with strawberries and chia seeds. But what they find so amusing is the fact that every day I put a monster salad or veggie sandwich in the communal fridge for lunch only to end up retrieving it within the hour for breakfast! I really need to just give in to my veggie-noshing urges and pack two verdant meals!

    • Mikaela,
      I do the same thing! Even if my breakfast is filling, it’s like I still want the feeling of that salad in my belly!

  6. I’m not big on vegetables at breakfast, but I could definitely see making this for lunch, dinner, or an afternoon snack. Yum!

  7. This looks awesome! Have you tried Garden of Life RAW Sprouted Grain protein? That’s what I have for smoothies I wonder if it will work with this dressing.

    Also, I hate sweetened dried cranberries (HATE) but I think I would like unsweetened ones, if only I could find them! Any ideas?

    • I am in the same boat, Amy. It seems dried cranberries, cherries, etc. are always coated in some form of sugar and oil for preservation purposes. The best I’ve found are Eden Organic’s dried cranberries, which use apple cider as the sugar preservative – a good alternative in my mind. (They are packaged in small 4 oz. snack bags and can be found in the raw food aisle at Whole Foods.)

      • Amy and Karen,

        Eden organic is what I used! Not ideal, I agree, but better than most, and a good reminder from both of you to try dehydrating some today…


  8. I just tried to comment: “Genius. Want.” but apparently your website thought my comment was too short, lol. Instead, I will say hi. 🙂 Hope you are well, friend! And I want this salad.

  9. Thanks Gena for this! I really like the idea of putting protein powder in the dressing. I actually love breakfast salads but haven’t been eating them that much because my family thinks I’m weird enough as it is with my green smoothies in the morning. Why should that ever stop me though?! I’ll take this as motivation and start back up again.

  10. I’ve really been digging the breakfast salad idea since you first posted it, but only got around to trying it last week. I’m so glad I did, because besides being super-nutritious, it was really refreshing!
    I’ve been topping mine with some form of soy-yogurt-coconut flour-hemp protein-rice protein mixture, papaya or banana chunks, and some berries, pomegranate arils, and cacao nibs, for good measure. I’ve also thrown in some green peas the last couple of tries, which added an interesting element…perhaps not for everyone, but I liked the added legume-y factor.
    Sweet potato or squash will definitely be the next characters to come into play.


  11. This sounds so good! I may start having brunch salads before my late shifts so that at least I get one decent meal in. x

  12. I love this post-I have been loving breakfast salads this winter! As a grad student with an increasingly hectic schedule, I agree that they’re a great way to pack in fresh vegetables first thing in the morning, before the rest of the day gets crazy. Lately I’ve been making many of my breakfast salads with a Sunshine burger and/or garbanzos, avocado, and tons of fresh veggies. Yum!

  13. Your salads always look so pretty! And that Vega stuff has impressive stats, too. Every time I’ve tried his products, though, I’m not that impressed. Maybe it tastes too chalky or green for me? There are so many different protein powders from Vega so I cannot remember if I tried this one or a different one, but is the taste of the powder masqueraded by the dates and almond butter?

  14. I dig salads for breakfast, but I admit I’m still a little hesitant with the sweet salad combinations. This one is a bit tempting because you’re right that it’s essentially like a green sweet potato almond butter smoothie! When I do salads for breakfast, it’s usually when I eat my savoury Lebanese-inspired breakfast (basically rice, sauteed zucchini, hummus, and a salad of tomato and cucumber…my husband adds Lebanese bread), but I haven’t had that one in ages!

  15. Looks great, Gena! I love how you added the protein powder to your dressing! Sometimes I find it cumbersome to bring separate containers for greens, toppings and dressing, so if one could sneak that into breakfast, while still at home, that sounds perfect!!

  16. I’ve had a lone sweet potato in my cupboard for weeks now – what do you do with just ONE? Can’t wait to try this with maybe pumpkin seeds and hemp in the dressing to sub for protein powder.
    I’d love to try a tropical themed breakfast salad – maybe mangos and bananas with a coconut milk dressing?

  17. on weekends i started savouring nice breakfast salads. they really satisfy me and make my mornings. sucha great idea but i can see how many people cant even get the idea of eating a salad at 8am. its something you have to get used to but once you are hooked, ou get addicted to it! last weekend i had a beetroot and carrot salad with raisins and gojis and a tahini, hemp, orange juice dressing. sounds crazy but soo delicious!

  18. This is such a great idea! I’m not sure I’ll be able to stomach it early in the morning but on the days that I wake up on the later side it will be on the menu!

    Quick question: do you purchase your almond butter or do you make your own? if you purchase it, do you have any suggestions? brands or what to look for/watch out for would be helpful.


    • A combination — I make it sometimes, purchase it sometimes. I really like Maranatha almond butter, or Trader Joe’s.

  19. Breakfast salads…raisins or dried fruit on top of greens or like a quinoa/wheatberry/greens mixture with a fun dressing…that just popped into my mind. And the chances of me making it are nonexistent but it sounds good 🙂 Breakfast time is SO RUSHED and harried here. No time for anything elaborate!

  20. He Gena, don’t you think that the green color of the Vega Optimizer comes more from the Chlorella than from the hemp seeds?
    Sorry if I seem pernickety, but indeed I LOVE your blog; you are always so accurate and scientific in your writing! And you gave me an excellent idea to make sure I get enough protein the days I do not have a morning green smoothie enriched with vegan protein powder. I already like adding hemp or other (butter) seeds in my dressing.

    • You know, I totally forgot that there’s Chlorella in there! I’m sure that’s what it was, though hemp protein also turns everything green…

  21. Interesting idea. The dressing alone is enough motivation to try this!!

    Do you dry your own cranberries in the dehydrator? Have yet to try this…

  22. Man, you are so busy! I cannot fathom days when I do not have time to eat what I want to eat, but alas, I am very spoiled. I think it is AWESOME that your dressing is green and tastes sweet. So neat.

  23. I love the idea of a breakfast salad! You’re so right that that is actually what’s i my green smoothies anyway – yesterday I basically drank spinach, sweet potato, and a mix similar to your protein dressing. Maybe I’ll try chewing my salad tomorrow. 🙂

  24. Salad for breakfast? I love it! It has been one of my goals this year to incorporate greens into my morning meals, but I’ve gotten pretty sick of green smoothies and sautéed spinach. This is such a lovely idea to bring the healthy greens into this important meal. The sweetness makes it perfect for breakfast. Can’t wait to try!