What To Eat For Health – Part 6: At Panera Bread

what to eat for health

Welcome back to my series on what to eat for health at various restaurants! If you are unfamiliar with this group of articles, the purpose here is to give you the tools you need to help you eat well when eating at home isn’t an option (or even if eating out is your first choice).

As you can see by the title, this is Part 6 in this Restaurant Survival Guide series, so if you want to catch up on everything that has come before, be sure to check out the previous posts by following any one of these links:

Now, I know what some of you may be thinking. There are a lot of you who look at the very word “Bread” in Panara’s name and think that this article is not for you. I would just ask that all those on low-carb diets keep reading until the end. You may be surprised to find out that there is something for you!

If this is your first time reading one of these types of posts, here is how it generally works. I start by giving a rundown of the history and values of the company behind the food. After that, I will give you what kinds of food and drink they offer with links to each so you can see what I am talking about.

After the information is given, I will then move on to give several of my picks for meal options that I think represent the best and healthiest you can get at the restaurant.

As a note, I am not saying that you always have to abide by these meal options when you go there. Here at Get Fit On A Budget, I have always stressed getting rid of extreme diets in favor of a more balanced approach. Part of that balance is allowing yourself to indulge once in a while.

If you are someone who only goes to Panera once in a blue moon (like me) then I have no problem with you getting whatever you want.

This article’s purpose is two-fold. If you are someone who finds that they have to eat out of the home often, I want to give you the tools to successfully do so in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The second purpose is to give the once-in-a-while visitor a look at some items that they might not normally go with, but could find to be delicious.

With all that being said, let’s start our journey down the path of discovery and get into who Panera Bread is and where they came from.

The Bread Era Begins – How Panera Got Its Start

what to eat for health

Photo by Asnim Asnim on Unsplash

The story of Panera actually is one that begins with cookies. You see, Ron Shaich founded a small bake shop in Boston, Massachusetts in 1980. In due time, he partnered with Louis Cane to open up another restaurant you may be familiar with: Au Bon Pain.

This was the focus until the middle of the 1990s when Ron and others got the impression that people wanted not only affordable food, but more healthy options and a rewarding experience. That’s when they came up with Panera and opened their first store in Kirkwood, Missouri.

Since then, the restaurant has grown to have locations all over the United States and Canada, eventually opening their 2,000th store in 2016.

However, the company isn’t all about expanding and profits, though. They value quality, clean ingredients and since the 2000s began, they have been gradually moving more and more in that direction.

In 2004, they started using chicken in their dishes that was raised without the use of antibiotics. In 2007, they made the move toward completely removing all artificial trans fats from every menu item (Here’s looking at you, Burger King and Arbys’).

2010 saw a big move toward informing the public, that has since been copied by nearly every restaurant, by becoming the first establishment to display calorie counts for their food. In 2014, they made it their mission to help in reducing confinement of pigs, giving the animals a healthier and better life.

The followed that up in 2015 with making a commitment to reduce the confinement of chickens, which included the use of cage free eggs.

Then, a big move came in 2017 when they announced they would no longer be using any types of artificial preservatives, flavors, sweeteners, or colors.

With these moves and more, they have striven to create a fast-casual restaurant experience that features real and sustainable ingredients (as well as transparency about those ingredients), a friendly atmosphere, and foods rich in nutrients.

They also have created certain menu items that adhere to both Vegan and Gluten Free diets.

If you want to learn more about Panera and their values, check out there “About” page or their “Values” page for more information.

You can also visit Panera’s homepage if you CLICK HERE.

If you want to learn a little more about Panera and what they are doing, check out these two videos from their official YouTube page:

Positive Impact of Panera Bread:

Clean Ingredients:

More Than Bread – What Panera Offers

what to eat for health

Photo by Foodie Factor from Pexels

Though bread is in the name, as you will soon find out, they have expanded their menu to include so much more, which means if you are looking for salads, bowls, and soups in addition to sandwiches, you’ll be able to find it.

There website’s menu can be a little confusing at times, but I have found that you can break it down into the following categories: Bakery, Breakfast, Sandwiches, Pasta, Soups, Salads, Bowls, Beverages, and Sides. I will be listing and giving a link for each item so you can get a visual of what you are interested in firsthand.

Now that you know what Panera has to offer, it is time for me to give some healthy options. As you will probably guess, the Mac & Cheese and pasta dishes are most likely out.

As with every other survival guide, nutritional information will be presented in a way that reflects the percent daily values (DV) for a 2000 calorie diet. Here is an example of how it will be written:

Calories: 750 (37.5%)

For more information about the recommended daily value numbers, check out the FDA website.

Meal Option #1 – Breakfast: Avocado, Egg White, And Spinach Sandwich with Summer Fruit Cup and Light Roast Coffee

This is definitely the obvious breakfast choice. The combination of whole grains, high protein egg whites and veggies makes this a winner and a decent way to start the day.

  • Calories: 430 (21.5% DV)
  • Total Fat: 14g (21.5% DV)
    • Saturated Fat: 6g (30% DV)
    • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 25mg (8% DV)
  • Sodium: 720mg (30% DV)
  • Total Carbohydrates: 58g (19.3% DV)
    • Dietary Fiber: 7g (28%DV)
    • Sugar: 14g
  • Protein: 21g

As you can see, this has some really good qualities about it. You are not getting too many calories to start the day, but you are getting a very good amount of fiber and protein. The biggest concern that I have is with the amount of saturated fat.

Meal Option #2 – Sandwich: Turkey Sandwich with a Banana and Spindrift Raspberry Lime Seltzer

The winner for sandwiches is this Turkey sandwich which is served on whole grain bread with tomatoes, red onions, and greens.

  • Calories: 640 (32% DV)
  • Total Fat: 17g (26.1% DV)
    • Saturated Fat: 3g (15% DV)
    • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 55mg (18.3% DV)
  • Sodium: 1,180mg (49.1% DV)
  • Total Carbohydrates: 89g (19.3% DV)
    • Dietary Fiber: 12g (48% DV)
    • Sugar: 22g
  • Protein: 38g

This meal provides you with a good amount of calories, almost half your daily amount of fiber, and almost 40 grams of protein! That is definitely enough to keep you full and going through the day.

Meal Option #3 – Soup: Southwest Chicken Tortilla Soup with an Apple and Spindrift Lemon Seltzer

If you are looking for a soup, this is the best of the bunch as it has lots of veggies and won’t break you calorie budget.

  • Calories: 330 (16.5% DV)
  • Total Fat: 8g (12.3% DV)
    • Saturated Fat: 1g (5% DV)
    • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 30mg (10% DV)
  • Sodium: 1,080mg (45% DV)
  • Total Carbohydrates: 55g (18.3% DV)
    • Dietary Fiber: 6g (24% DV)
    • Sugar: 19g
  • Protein: 14g

As a lighter option, you can’t do much better. It is low in calories and saturated fat, but possesses a good amount of fiber and protein. The only concern is sodium.

Meal Option #4 – Salad: Asian Sesame Chicken Salad with a Banana and Sprindrift Mango Orange Seltzer

For your salad (which you can also get without chicken should you so desire), you won’t be lacking flavor with this option.

  • Calories: 530 (26.5% DV)
  • Total Fat: 22g (33.8% DV)
    • Saturated Fat: 3g (15% DV)
    • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 80mg (26.6% DV)
  • Sodium: 550mg (22.9% DV)
  • Total Carbohydrates: 54g (18% DV)
    • Dietary Fiber: 9g (36% DV)
    • Sugar: 20g
  • Protein: 34g

Normally, when you start talking about salads at restaurants, you are talking about calorie and fat bombs. Especially when you add dressing! That is not the case here.

Meal Option #5 – Bowl: Baja Grain and Chicken Bowl with an Apple and Spindrift Raspberry Lime Seltzer

You are definitely going to get your whole grains in with this option as brown rice is the foundation.

  • Calories: 830 (41.5% DV)
  • Total Fat: 33g (50.7% DV)
    • Saturated Fat: 7g (35% DV)
    • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 55mg (18.3% DV)
  • Sodium: 1,340mg (55.8% DV)
  • Total Carbohydrates: 106g (35.3% DV)
    • Dietary Fiber: 18g (72% DV)
    • Sugar: 28g
  • Protein: 31g

While this is definitely the most unhealthy option if you are looking at it from a calorie, fat, and sodium perspective, it gets somewhat balanced out by the fiber and protein. I would say to eat this after a workout perhaps.

In addition, for those looking to go Vegan or Gluten Free, there are various options that are available to you. Click the links provided to read up on how to eat your way at Panera Bread.

Which Option Is For You?

what to eat for health

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

If you are trying to figure out what to eat for heath at Panera Bread, there are definitely a good amount of options. Whether you are in the mood for a sandwich, salad, soup, or more, you can find something that incorporates clean, healthy ingredients that won’t completely derail your diet plans!

I hope that this post has given you some knowledge, tools, and options that will help you out next time you walk into a Panera store.

Now it’s your turn! Have you ever been to a Panera Bread restaurant? If so, what is your go-to meal? If you haven’t visited one, do you think you would try any of the above options?

Is there a restaurant that you want me to take a look at for a future Restaurant Survival Guide? Leave me your thoughts and suggestions down in the comments below! I’d love to give you and your website a shout if you get picked!

If you have any questions for me, please feel free to leave those down below as well!

If you are looking for ways to eat better when you are at home, check out these recipes and nutritious food additions:

If you want to read about certain diets to avoid, check these articles out below:

Finally, are you looking to make some extra money or potentially start your own business to fund your next trip to Panera Bread? Check out my suggestions!

How Can I Earn Money Online? It’s Possible With Wealthy Affiliate!

Make Money With Survey Junkie? Is It Possible?

Online Personal Trainer Certification – No Better Than ACE Fitness!

I hope you get some good reading out of this and the other articles mentioned! If you enjoyed what you read, I’d really appreciate it if you do two things. The first is place your email in the “Subscribe” box to be notified of each new post I make. Secondly, take a moment to hit those share buttons if you know someone who loves Panera. I’d appreciate it!

That’s all for now! As always, God bless and Happy Eating!

Steve