Restaurant Reveal #2: Panera Bread

When many of you readers asked for my next restaurant reveal to be Panera Bread, I couldn’t wait to go check out the nutrition on this comfort food chain restaurant! Although I have only been there a few times, everything I have ordered has been delicious, and I love their wide salad selection. Offering a more gourmet alternative to fast food, there are plenty of aspects of Panera I love, but I have always been curious of exactly how healthy their food really is. I collected ingredients and nutrition facts of two of their popular sandwiches and soups, and also threw in the stats for their Carrot Cake and Fuji Chicken Salad. Because Panera has a range from very healthy to super unhealthy, I arranged the menu items in alternative “Bad”, “Good” style. Here’s what I found….


An okay sandwich….

Mediterranean Veggie on Tomato Basil:

Calories: 590 Fat: 13 Sat. Fat: 3.5 Sodium: 1400 Carbs: 96 Fiber: 8 Sugar: 12 Protein: 22

Tomato Basil XL Loaf (unbleached enriched wheat flour [flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], tomatoes, water, salt, crumb topping [sugar, enriched wheat flour {flour, malted barley flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid}, palm oil, natural flavor, honey, salt, water, mono & diglycerides, polysorbate 60], garlic [garlic, water, phosphoric acid, and sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate added as preservative], yeast [yeast, sorbitan monostearate, ascorbic acid], basil), cilantro jalapeno hummus (garbanzo beans (garbanzo beans, water,salt), water, tahini (ground sesame seeds), cilantro, canola and extra virgin olive oil blend, jalapenos (jalapenos, water, vinegar, salt), parsley, garlic, salt, roasted bell pepper powder (roasted bell peppers, potato maltodextrin, rice flour, roasted red bell pepper concentrate, sunflower oil, ascorbic acid and tocopherol as antioxidants, natural flavor), lemon juice concentrate, spice, stabilizer (tara gum, carrageenan), citric acid, phosphoric acid, potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate as preservatives, malic acid, vinegar, natural flavor, spices, oil of lime), cucumber, tomatoes, peppadew (sweet piquante peppers, water, white sugar, vinegar, salt, ascorbic acid, calcium chloride), red onion, lettuce, feta cheese (pasteurized part-skim milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes, powdered cellulose to prevent caking), salt, black pepper

A better pick? Tuna Salad on Honey Wheat


A good salad pick…

Fuji Apple Chicken Salad:

Calories: 560 Fat: 34 Sat. Fat: 7 Sodium: 700 Carbs: 37 Fiber: 6 Sugar: 22 Protein: 33

A more unhealthy pick? Steak and Blue Cheese Chopped


A good soup…

Low Fat Garden Vegetable with Pesto:

Calories: 150 Fat: 5 Sat. Fat: 3.5 Sodium: 930 Carbs: 26 Fiber: 12 Sugar: 6 Protein: 5

Garden vegetable soup (water, tomatoes, yellow wax beans, zucchini, onions, barley [may contain wheat], cauliflower, red bell pepper, Swiss chard, seasoning [modified corn starch, sugar, autolyzed yeast extract, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, natural flavors], tomato concentrate [roasted tomatoes and tomato paste, salt, sugar, natural flavoring, and cilantro], tomato paste, basil), basil pesto (basil, canola oil, water, romano cheese [pasteurized cow’s milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes, powdered cellulose], extra virgin olive oil, chopped garlic, salt).

A more unhealthy pick? Creamy Tomato with Crutons


An unhealthy dessert….

Carrot Cake with Walnuts:

Calories: 650 Fat: 26 Sat. Fat: 9 Sodium: 670 Carbs: 98  Fiber: 4 Sugar: 62 Protein: 8

A better pick? Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake

You can see how Panera Bread can be your best friend or your worst enemy, with plenty of pros….and cons. The pros include offerings of healthy, fresh veggies, amazing taste, and a big menu. The downfalls? They seem to be a bit heavy on the salt shaker and cream, and a few of their ingredients I have no hope of ever pronouncing. So, whether you proclaim this restaurant as healthy or unhealthy depends on what you’re comparing it to. Obviously, it’s not nearly as good for you as homemade or a health cafe, but it’s a health freak next to McDonald’s or Taco Bell.

I really enjoyed looking into Panera Bread, which was easy since they displayed all of their nutrition and ingredients right on their website! 🙂 It really comes down to making the healthiest choice while also satisfying your cravings, and there are plenty of options at Panera where you can do just that!

Pics from Panera and Flickr

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “Restaurant Reveal #2: Panera Bread

  1. My friends are obsessed with panera, unfortunately I can’t eat anything there. I think it does have some good choices though, obviously! 🙂

  2. I love Panera (especially their Hazelnut Coffee) but my one complaint is the amount of calories in their baked goods. I honestly have NO idea how anyone can squeeze 500 calories into an iced pumpkin cookie. It makes no sense. You think they would consider that before coming up with the recipe!

    • I was blown away by some of those stats too! I think it has to do with their heavy hand on the butter and cream in the baked goods. Greek yogurt would be such a good solution! Thanks for visiting!

  3. I just found your blog in the comments of another, so how funny the first I read is devoted to one of my favorite “easy food” restaurants (I say “easy” rather than “fast” since they’re a bit different than your run of the mill fast food places). My now-husband actually worked at Panera after we first started dating–he got to bring home paninis that would normally get thrown out, which was awesome for college students. I tend to avoid their baked goods because I’m sure they’re loaded with calories/sugar, but I’m a big fan of their salads and their black bean soup. Thanks for sharing some of their better choices!

    • That’s great that he was able to bring dinner home!:) I was wonder what all the restaurants do with the extra at the end of the day! Thanks for visiting and have a great Thanksgiving week:)

  4. We just got a Panera Bread in my town! To me it seems kinda pricey for its quality, but some people really like it

  5. The Paneras near me started posting their calorie counts on the menus, which is really helpful when ordering. There aren’t too many things I can eat there, but I do love their black bean soup!

  6. There aren’t many vegan options, but Panera is definitely a “lesser evil” sort of chain, as they go. There’s one opening up just a few blocks away from me within a week or two, so I’ll give it a fair shot at least.

    • Definitely! Since they do offer some greens and real food, it’s without a doubt a better option than other chains and a good place to keep in mind when driving:) Thanks for visiting!

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