If you're stopping at Panera Bread when hunger strikes there are plenty of healthy options, but, as at any restaurant, what
you choose to order is important. While Panera offers many meals packed with vegetables, whole grains, high-quality protein
and fats, it isn't hard to go overboard with your food and drink choices.
Before you go, check out Panera's menu ahead of time. This tactic helps you plan your meal without being overwhelmed by
hunger or all the tantalizing options you see when you walk in the door. Panera's website
makes it easy to compare different menu
items, nutrition facts (including calories and sodium) and ingredients.
To help you out even more, here are some registered dietitian–approved choices at Panera Bread to keep you on track
nutritionally and satisfy your taste buds.
Power Almond Quinoa Oatmeal
Breakfast kick-starts your day, giving you energy to power through until lunch (or snack) time. We like this Power Almond
Quinoa Oatmeal because it's made with whole-grain steel-cut oats, which are packed with fiber to keep you full. Quinoa, also
a whole grain, boasts a higher protein content than most grains. Protein is another nutrient that helps you stay satisfied,
and most of us don't get enough at breakfast. Sliced almonds add a nice crunch, more protein and healthy fats. If you're
trying to cut down on sugar, you can request this with no honey, but the small amount they drizzle on top can definitely fit
into a healthy diet.
Power Almond Quinoa Oatmeal: 300 calories, 6g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 8g protein, 52g
carbohydrates, 220mg sodium, 9g fiber, 7g sugar.
Ancient Grain & Arugula Salad with Chicken
Panera offers a lot of different tasty salad options. Just remember, a salad is only as healthy as the toppings piled on it.
In general, opt for those topped with high-quality protein, like beans or grilled chicken (skip breaded or fried chicken).
Also, you can always ask for your dressing on the side, which can shave off a lot of calories, sodium and even sugar.
Panera's Ancient Grain & Arugula Salad with Chicken is packed with fruit, veggies and whole grains and topped with
antibiotic-free, skinless chicken. Getting the dressing on the side, or ordering olive oil and vinegar as your dressing
instead, can help cut down the total sugar in this meal.
Ancient Grain & Arugula Salad with Chicken: 410 calories, 14g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 25g
protein, 41g carbohydrates, 290mg sodium, 6g fiber, 19g sugar.
Roasted Turkey Cranberry Flatbread
If you're craving a sandwich, the Roasted Turkey Cranberry Flatbread is a great option. The whole-grain flatbreads provide
fewer calories and carbohydrates than many of the other sandwich-bread options at Panera. Their antibiotic-free roasted
turkey is high in protein and a good source of many B vitamins. Spinach adds some green and nutrients like iron and fiber.
Choose an apple on the side for a balanced meal.
Roasted Turkey Cranberry Flatbread: 310 calories, 12g total fat, 6g saturated fat, 11g protein, 34g
carbohydrates, 480mg sodium, 3g fiber, 7g sugar.
You-Pick-Two: Creamy Tomato Soup and Greek Salad
Soup can be a great way to fill up on vegetables at a meal. Unfortunately at Panera the soups can also be very high in
sodium. A bowl of their French Onion Soup has almost 2,000 milligrams of sodium. You may want to avoid the soups altogether
if you're closely watching your sodium intake. The you-pick-two option at Panera is a healthier way to enjoy soup because it
comes in a cup, rather than a bowl, making the sodium count more reasonable. The soup with the lowest sodium is Panera's
Vegetarian Creamy Tomato Soup. Pair that with a salad like the Greek Salad, packed with high-fiber vegetables and a little
feta cheese, which adds calcium. To cut back on added sugar, sodium and calories, get the dressing on the side or ask for
light dressing. Here is the nutrition breakdown for the you-pick-two meal.
Creamy Tomato Soup: 200 calories,
9g total fat, 5g saturated
fat, 4g protein,
25g carbohydrates, 640mg sodium, 3g fiber, 11g sugar.
Greek Salad: 200 calories, 18g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 4g
protein, 7g carbohydrates, 510mg sodium, 2g fiber, 4g sugar.
You-Pick-Two Lunch Total: 400 calories, 27g total fat, 9g saturated fat, 8g protein, 32g carbohydrates, 1,150mg sodium, 5g
fiber, 15g sugar.
Petite Chocolate Chipper
As for dessert options, many at Panera (including muffins, scones, brownies and pecan rolls) stack up over 500 calories for
one serving. That's more than many of the actual meals at Panera! If your meal leaves you hankering for something sweet, opt
for their Seasonal Fruit Cup (at just 60 calories) or the Petite Chocolate Chipper. While the regular chocolate chipper
cookie comes in at 440 calories and 22g of fat, this more modest-size chipper gives you the chocolate fix you crave without
setting you back.
Petite Chocolate Chipper: 100 calories, 5g total fat, 3g saturated
fat, 1g protein, 14g carbohydrates, 75mg sodium, 1g fiber, 8g sugar.
In addition to watching what you choose to eat, be mindful of your drink choices. Many drinks can clock in unneeded (and many
times unnoticed) calories. A lot of the yummy-sounding drinks are more like dessert. Their hot chocolate comes with whipped
cream, caramel sauce and chocolate-chip marshmallows—and clocks in at 510 calories. If you still want a flavored
beverage, try one of the unsweetened options at Panera like the Acai Berry Green Iced Tea or Plum Ginger Hibiscus Tea.
One meal isn't going to completely derail your healthy eating, but it may be helpful to keep these tips and menu items in
mind so you can eat a little healthier the next time you're at Panera Bread. When you do order, many meals come with your
choice of side: apple, chips, roll or baguette. Guess which one tops the list nutritionally? The apple. Don't forget that you
can customize your order, asking for light dressing, no sauce, extra vegetables or even a sandwich sans bread, to make your
choices exactly what you want.
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