My weekly Fast Food Fix posts have become very interesting to me. In fact they’ve actually made me look at food in a different light!
I can’t in good conscious eat food that I know is loaded in calories and or fat – and my findings over the last few months have truly stopped me in my tracks. What are we doing to ourselves as a nation (and world!)
Today’s post is about Panera Bread. I’ve driven by my local branch for years but never stopped in to grab a bite. Recently though, I ate lunch there and had a very tasty sandwich, although I’m afraid it wasn’t very healthy. Upon entering you are overwhelmed by sugary, high fat, baked goods and it took all of my will power to not indulge!
The Panera menu is quite extensive, so today I’m reviewing the lunch and breakfast portion of the menu, as I don’t need to tell you that cookies, cakes, and various other junk food items aren’t a smart choice. Do I?
Here’s the best of the bunch…
1. Half Turkey Artichoke on Focaccia– This one’s from the Hot Panini line of items and is a half sandwich. It has 340 calories with 13 grams of fat, of which only 4 are saturated. It also has 21 grams of protein and a little over 40 grams of carbohydrates. The fiber is a bit low at just 2 grams, but some is better than none!
I’m taking a few points away for the sodium though as the sandwich has half a days worth at 1,100 mg! It’s still a good choice though, and comes in at around 30% fat, which is right on par for those of you on the South Beach or Zone diets.
2. Full Size Smoked Turkey on Country- This one’s a great choice! It has just 3 grams of fat with 420 total calories! It has 33 grams of protein and a few more carbs than other options with 66 grams. Remember my trick of trimming the bread to save calories? Now’s a good time to use it! This choice also has 3 grams of fiber, which is ok, but the sodium is still a bit too high at 1,650 mg. It seems quite challenging to eat out and not get a lot of salt in your meal, but at least this option is ultra low fat and has a generous amount of protein. 2 out of 3 is pretty good.
3. Jalepeno & Cheddar Bagel w/Smoked Ham- This is one of the Breakfast Sandwich selections. It’s super rare for me to suggest for you to eat a bagel, but this meal in its entirety is actually decent. It’s 500 calories, of which 144, or about 28%, are fat. The ham adds in almost 30 grams of protein and because it’s a bagel, it has 58 grams of carbohydrates. The sodium falls right in line with the other options at 1,280 mg.
I highly recommend that when you get your food, that you scoop out the inside of the bagel, and toss all of the doughy, minimally nutritious center sections. You can easily knock off 100 or more calories in doing so, and still have great taste.
Okay – now on to the bad stuff!
Here we go, Caution: Avoid at all costs! I’m serious.
1. Signature Mac N Cheese– A large portion has nearly 1,000 calories and 61 grams of fat! As if being more than 50% fat wasn’t bad enough, what’s worse is that almost half of the fat is saturated, making it a true heart stopper. Enough said.
2. Full Italian Combo on Ciabatta – Again we find ourselves near the 1,000 – calorie mark, although with less fat at 40 grams. This ciabatta also has nearly 100 grams of carbohydrates and more than a full days worth of sodium with 2,620 mg. So it’s your choice – would you like to suffer from diabetes, hypertension, or hardened arteries?
3. Full Sierra Turkey on Focaccia with Asiago Cheese – These Panini’s are giving sandwiches a bad name! This little monster has 920 calories and 50 grams of fat. Half of what you’d be eating is literally fat, that’s just gross and truly unhealthy.
Panera Bread is a mixed bag of nutrition. You can certainly make great choices but you need to know what you’re ordering. There’s a wide range of foods; from soups and salads, to full and half sandwiches, and a breakfast menu.
I would eat there again as I know what’s good, and what’s not. I encourage you to check out Panera Nutrition yourself and be an informed consumer.
But what do you think of my suggestions? Do you have a different recommendation? Any questions – fire away!