When it comes to breakfast, Panera has so many options to choose from. Pass up the soufflés and opt for any of Panera’s steel cut oatmeal bowls. Each bowl is an excellent source of viscous and fermentable fibers to improve your gut health and keep you feeling full. The avocado, egg white & spinach breakfast sandwich is also another great balanced option complete with carbs (sprouted grain bagel flat), fats (avocado) and protein (egg whites).
What is a trip to Panera without one of their signature bagels? The sprouted whole grain bagel flat is one of the healthiest options as it is high in protein and fiber. When it comes to cream cheese, the reduced-fat option is the way to go and remember – don’t feel that you need to use the entire cream cheese container.
3. Sweets & Pastries
But Bailey? What about the mouthwatering display of baked goods? Most options overload the not-so-good nutrients but remember that EVERYTHING is good in moderation. In the meantime, when that sweet tooth hits, look for mini scones, muffies, petite chocolate chipper or split a baked good with a friend.
I know it’s called Panera BREAD, but is a bread bowl worth it? Instead order soup in a normal bowl and have a side of bread. We have to keep in mind portions people! And when it comes to soups, a broth base is the best way to go – the low-fat chicken noodle and black bean soup are great options.
As for salads, you really can’t go wrong at Panera. Be cautious around the dressings and order it on the side so you can control how much is added. The Asian sesame salad with chicken and the spicy Thai salad with chicken both make great options.
Again, there isn’t too much where you can go wrong here. When taking into account saturated fat, protein and fiber content, the turkey sandwich on whole grain wins the race. The Napa almond chicken salad and the steak and arugula sandwich both make great options as well.
Panera mac & cheese is hard to resist, but if you must, the traditional plain mac & cheese is your best bet.
When it comes to sides, look at your meal and see what is missing. A salad might be lacking a filling carb source and a sandwich might be missing a fruit component. The best options are a sprouted whole grain roll or an apple.
*If you request it, Panera will cut the apple for you
One of the relatively newer Panera products are their broth bowls – any of which make a great meal. The lentil quinoa bowl with chicken is high in fiber and protein and the lentils and quinoa provide a great source of carbs.
My Personal Favorites
I have to include this because I am an avid Panera lover. I absolutely love the seasonal strawberry poppy seed salad with chicken in the summer and the autumn squash soup in the fall. I also really love their vegan lentil quinoa broth bowls.