Healthy Cobb Salad with Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Bacon…bacon bits…ranch dressing…cobb salad…‘Merica.

Healthy Cobb Salad with Yogurt Ranch Dressing 5

Wow, my mind is clearly a little foggy. Today was just one of those days for me. It started when I accidentally dropped my freshly washed organic gala apple in the garbage; which I might have picked out and washed again had I been at home but this happened at work.

When you work in the medical field, you don’t mess around with garbage. You stop and stare at the can, mutter the word “shhhii…” and cut your losses.

Healthy Cobb Salad with Yogurt Ranch Dressing 9

I know, losing your daily apple isn’t really a big deal but when you’re OCD like me, it throws your whole day off.  Wait…what were we talking about again? Oh yeah, cobb salads. I’d say a cobb salad with ranch dressing is about as American as it gets in my book. 

However, I’m not too crazy about the traditional American diet these days and I find myself in search of ways to healthify our fatty, sugary, meaty ways. So that’s what I did and it tasted awesome. The ‘bacon bits’ you see on the salad are made with fiber-packed red beans, ground-up oats, nutritional yeast and a little bit of flavoring to imitate that delicious bacon flavor that we love.

Healthy Cobb Salad with Yogurt Ranch Dressing 1

In my humble opinion, it’s just as satisfying as real bacon and tastes wonderful on top of crisp romaine with boiled egg, avocado and creamy homemade ranch dressing.

I might be a little off today but you can trust me when I say this salad rocks. It’s full of flavor, satisfying, and is something you can feel good about eating.

Healthy Cobb Salad with Yogurt Ranch Dressing 14


Healthy Cobb Salad with Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Click to Print this Recipe!



  • 3 cups romaine, chopped
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 eggs, hardboiled and diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced

Vegan Bacon Bits

Loosely Adapted from No Meat Athlete

  • 1 (15 ounce) can small red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

Yogurt Ranch Dressing

  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup nonfat milk + 2 teaspoons white vinegar (allow to sit for 5 minutes)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley or 1/2 teaspoon dried

Makes 2 large dinner salads


Start by preheating the oven to 400°F. Place the oats in a food processor and pulse for several seconds. Then add the beans along with the rest of the ingredients for the vegan bacon bits and pulse until well combined but still chunky. You may have to scrape the bowl and pulse again to get it to blend properly.


Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour bean mixture on top. With the back of a spoon, spread the mixture out flat like pizza dough and then bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Healthy Cobb Salad with Yogurt Ranch Dressing (18)

After 15 minutes, remove from the oven and fluff with a fork so that chunky pieces form. Continue to cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, until slightly crispy.

bacon bits

While the bacon bits are baking, start preparing the dressing. I like to finely mince the garlic and herbs (assuming you use fresh herbs) with a processor but you can also do that by hand.

In a food processor or a bowl, combine minced garlic and herbs with the rest of the ingredients listed under the dressing and pulse or stir until well combined. yogurt ranch

Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Lastly, prepare the salad by arranging the romaine and spinach with the avocado, egg and tomato on top.

Divide about 1/2 cup of the warm vegan bacon bits on each salad, top with dressing and serve.

**You will likely have left over bacon bits that you can use in a sandwich, wrap or on top of a baked potato. You might even have enough for two more salads. They can be stored for up to 3 days in an airtight container and to save time, you can make the dressing and/or bacon bits ahead of time and then reheat when ready to use.

Healthy Cobb Salad with Yogurt Ranch Dressing 13

Healthy Cobb Salad with Yogurt Ranch Dressing 8

You want a bite, don’t you? Hah? You know you do. Alright, I’m done.

Do you like bacon? The maple kind?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

{ 34 comments… add one }

  • Davida @ The Healthy Maven August 22, 2013, 3:45 am

    your opening line…classic!!! I absolutely love this recipe. I’m always looking for creative and delicious looking salad recipes since mine can be pretty bland! I love me a good kitchen challenge and vegan bacon bits sound right up my alley!
    Davida @ The Healthy Maven recently posted…Strawberry Shortcake Baked OatmealMy Profile

  • Amanda @ .running with spoons. August 22, 2013, 3:50 am

    I -definitely- want a bite! I love a salad with a yogurt based dressing, and those vegan bacon bites look super intriguing! I have to admit that my salads have been looking a little boring lately, so this is definitely the kind of inspiration I need.

    Fingers crossed that the fogginess clears!
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…. WIAW … playing favourites .My Profile

  • Jo @ Living Mint Green August 22, 2013, 4:02 am

    I LOVE cobb salads! I just bought a slab of bacon last night, too. You know, up until recently I didn’t like maple bacon but now I do. I buy my pork from a local free-range farm and it doesn’t taste artificial at all. So, so good. I need to try your veg version and put both in my salad. Mmmm
    Jo @ Living Mint Green recently posted…WIAW: PMS EditionMy Profile

  • Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness August 22, 2013, 4:32 am

    YUM! i lovvve cobb salads (i mean really, whats not to love?) i love this health version!! and that throwing away of a perfectly good apple story – i can totally relate!! last week when i was adding sugar to my coffee i opened the sugar packet and then mindlessly poured it in the garbage instead of in my coffee! i dont normally use sugar, so i took it as a sign i dont need it and continued on :)
    Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness recently posted…Top 8 Reasons I’m Jazzed Summer Is OverMy Profile

  • Sam @ Better With Sprinkles August 22, 2013, 5:10 am

    You can never go wrong with a Cobb salad! And I am positively drooling over that dressing – I adore ranch and buy the conventional stuff for Eric, but I’ve been looking for a good yogurt-based version. Definitely going on my must-make list!
    Sam @ Better With Sprinkles recently posted…Kitchen Sink S’mores Bars.My Profile

  • Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat August 22, 2013, 5:22 am

    Can I have some now!?! This salad looks so tasty!!! Sometimes a salad is just the most perfect light meal. The yogurt ranch dressing sounds amazing!
    Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat recently posted…{Guest Post} BPA Free is the Way to BeMy Profile

  • Katie @ Daily Cup of Kate August 22, 2013, 5:37 am

    I love chopped salads in the summertime, especially cobb salads. Yogurt dressings are the best too!
    Katie @ Daily Cup of Kate recently posted…Feta Fruit SaladMy Profile

  • Carly @ Snack Therapy August 22, 2013, 5:49 am

    ‘Merica is where it’s at. I can totally get on board with this salad, but that dressing in particular is just killing me. It looks ridiculously AMAAAZZZZING.
    Carly @ Snack Therapy recently posted…Girl RulesMy Profile

  • Ashlee@HisnHers August 22, 2013, 5:55 am

    Oh yum! I’ve never seen a vegetarian recipe for bacon bits!

  • Alisha @ Alisha's Appetite August 22, 2013, 6:03 am

    WOW! This looks incredible! Super impressive! I was planning on making a taco salad tonight and I am definitely going to make your ranch dressing for it :)
    Alisha @ Alisha’s Appetite recently posted…WIAW (How I Eat When Traveling)My Profile

  • Christine@ Apple of My Eye August 22, 2013, 6:42 am

    BACON! Give me all the bacon :D. This looks absolutely delicious!

  • Meghan @ fitnesscrEATures August 22, 2013, 7:25 am

    Oh wow, this sounds and looks amazing! I am not a meat eater myself and I love and miss bacon so much! This sounds like such a great alternative! Oh my! And I miss ranch dressing SO much (I try and avoid it, because, duh) so this alternative sounds awesome! Your foodie pictures are beautiful and I just want to jump through here and eat that for lunch… :)
    Meghan @ fitnesscrEATures recently posted…I Cooked and the World Still Spins!My Profile

  • Erica {Coffee & Quinoa} August 22, 2013, 7:47 am

    Looks delicious! I love the idea of the vegan bacon bits. I usually steer clear of cobb salads for exactly the reasons you mentioned, but this looks like a game-changer!
    Erica {Coffee & Quinoa} recently posted…Peach GuacamoleMy Profile

  • Emily @ The Good Era August 22, 2013, 8:17 am

    I can’t wait to try these bacon bites!! I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 5 years and still occasional (ie, when hung over) miss bacon. This whole salad sounds perfect and I have to make it, you know, for ‘Merica!
    Emily @ The Good Era recently posted…Quick and Easy: Quinoa Protein BowlMy Profile

  • Nicole August 22, 2013, 8:54 am

    Yogurt ranch dressing sounds yummy! So you’re a fan of No Meat Athlete too huh?

    RIP poor uneaten apple haha well if it makes you feel any better, cups have been mysteriously flying out of my hand over the past week. I’ve dropped THREE full glasses for no reason, breaking 1 into a million little pieces. Sheesh right!

  • FitBritt@MyOwnBalance August 22, 2013, 9:57 am

    I have never seen anyone healthify (made that word up) like you did here! I am impressed with a capital “I”!!! Also, can we talk about your photos for a second? They are always so amazing! How do you get them to turn out so great? You obviously haves many talents!

    I hear ya on the apple thing. :)
    FitBritt@MyOwnBalance recently posted…Keeping Calm and Carrying on With Be More YogicMy Profile

    • Sarah August 23, 2013, 8:10 am

      Thanks Brittany! I think I still have so much to learn when it comes to food photography. It gives me a lot of anxiety.
      The most important thing I have learned this far is to use natural light in the morning. The afternoon light is too harsh and full of warm tones. Therefore, I am slave to the light on my days off. So much fun! ;)

  • Sarah @ Sweet Miles August 22, 2013, 11:21 am

    Oh I just love a good big salad! Last night we were juuuuust about to order a take out pizza, but decided to fix up a nice big garden salad instead :) Ahhh we felt so much better! A little green in your life goes a long way, including some green avocados :)
    Sarah @ Sweet Miles recently posted…10 Ways To Be Happy Right NowMy Profile

  • Alex @ Kenzie Life August 22, 2013, 11:48 am

    When I first saw bacon bits, I thought, “Oh this would be a great salad minus the bacon, since I don’t eat meat.” Then I realized they were vegan bacon bits and got excited! I’m most excited about that yogurt ranch dressing since I’ve had a craving for creamy salad dressings lately.
    Alex @ Kenzie Life recently posted…4 Beauty Products For FallMy Profile

  • Kelly @ Kelly Runs For Food August 22, 2013, 12:26 pm

    Mmm this looks delicious. Good job on the dressing, I usually just buy the yogurt ranch from the store! I actually love bacon, ESPECIALLY the maple kind. Something about the smell of it on the weekends just makes me happy.
    Kelly @ Kelly Runs For Food recently posted…Easy Chicken ParmesanMy Profile

  • Nicole @ FruitnFitness August 22, 2013, 12:44 pm

    I’m sorry to hear about your apple, that would have made me so sad. Especially since I would have planned on that and then probably not had enough snacks. This salad sounds fantastic! I love Cobb salads.
    Nicole @ FruitnFitness recently posted…Miami and Key West FloridaMy Profile

  • Katherine August 22, 2013, 2:55 pm

    Can you do no wrong? I am drooling! And girl…if your current career doesn’t work out, become a photographer. FOR REAL! Oh, and I would totally buy your cookbook if you ever got around to making one!

    • Sarah August 23, 2013, 8:07 am

      You have to stop spoiling me with your compliments Katherine. Really… ;)

  • Christine @ Gotta Eat Green August 22, 2013, 4:03 pm

    Mmmm looks so delicious! I’m definitely going to be making those ‘bacon bits’!!
    Christine @ Gotta Eat Green recently posted…Engagement Party Signature DrinksMy Profile

  • Alexis @ Hummusapien August 23, 2013, 6:43 am

    Oh man, those vegan bacon bits sound absolutely incredible! Same goes for that ranch–and I actually have fresh chives and parsley on hand, for once! Can’t wait to try.

  • Dana @ Conscious Kitchen Blog August 23, 2013, 7:12 am

    Shh… don’t tell anyone, but I’m actually not that crazy about bacon. I know crazy. I’d love to try your bacon substitution – such a great idea. It gives the salad the crunch without all the other “bad stuff.”
    Dana @ Conscious Kitchen Blog recently posted…madison mini race recapMy Profile

  • Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table August 23, 2013, 12:15 pm

    What a cool bacon idea!!! I make vegan bacon bits, but totally differnet – I do them with TVP. Real bacon is good too. I don’t discriminate – any bacon is good bacon in my book. ;)
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted…Jicama & Tofu NachosMy Profile

  • Tara August 23, 2013, 12:23 pm

    Look at you getting all creative. :) I never thought I could be jealous off a salad but I would love for you to make that for me today!

    I love bacon but don’t eat it very often. In fact, I rarely cook it at home and the days I do eat it is brunch out in the city.
    Tara recently posted…Comes And GoesMy Profile

  • Jillienne @ ChasingRaspberries August 23, 2013, 2:36 pm

    What a beautiful salad! I love the bacon bites. They look very tasty and healthy!
    Jillienne @ ChasingRaspberries recently posted…Target Practice + Tasty Bite WinnerMy Profile

  • Jan @ Sprouts n Squats August 23, 2013, 7:09 pm

    Yum this looks like another winner!! I love Cob Salad or at least the healthy version of it.
    Jan @ Sprouts n Squats recently posted…Sun Warrior Protein Powder ReviewMy Profile

  • Kelly @ Femme Fitale August 24, 2013, 7:05 pm

    Vegan bacon bits?!!! This is absolutely genius. I can’t wait to try this, Sarah!
    Kelly @ Femme Fitale recently posted…There Are More Important Things…My Profile

  • dishing up the dirt August 25, 2013, 8:49 pm

    Sorry about the apple incident! On the bright side this cobb salad is off the hook! those “bacon” bits? Yes! The dressing? Love it! so creative and delicious!
    dishing up the dirt recently posted…miso-glazed veggie kebabsMy Profile

  • elise September 1, 2013, 9:38 am

    never heard of a red bean take on bacon like this! love it :)

  • Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli September 3, 2013, 6:49 pm

    As a fellow medical professional slash extremely clumsy person, I totally feel you on the apple and will now take a moment of silence to mourn with you…

    Ok, now that THAT’S done let’s talk about this salad…or more importantly, the BACON that’s NOT BACON!! I’m a meat eater, I love bacon, but as a single gal living on her own, it’s not exactly easy to eat through an entire package of bacon before it starts to bear that sheen glisten (aka, refrigerator slime)…ok, plus the fact that cooking that stuff totally skeeves me out! 8O Anywho…all that just to say, YOU’RE A GENIUS! I’ve made tempeh bacon…eggplant bacon…and I’ve had TVP bacon on my to-do list for a while now, but this is the first I’ve ever heard of bean bacon! Love it!

    Oh and PS, I just about fell out of my chair with that bacon video…absolutely LOST it when he’s all like, “Yeah? Covered it with whaaaaat?!” Bahahah! Thanks for the belly laugh girlie! :)
    Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli recently posted…Forgive Me and I’ll Give You a Cookie!My Profile


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge