Panera

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….

Sandwich

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

Salad

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

Soup

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

Sweets

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

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