What To Eat For Health – Part 8: At Au Bon Pain

what to eat for health

For this next installment in my series of restaurant survival guides, I am making a return to a casual, sandwich shop style establishment. This month, we are going to find out what to eat for health at Au Bon Pain!

It’s hard to believe that we have already made it to the eighth post in this series, but there are a lot of places to eat in America (some even go global), so there is a lot of material to cover! If you happened to miss the previous restaurants I’ve featured, feel free to click on any of the links below!

The purpose behind these articles is that I realize many people are not able to eat home cooked meals all the time during the work week. If you are on the go or on the road, you might need to stop in a restaurant along the way. For those of you who want these quick meals to not be a total gut bomb, I want to help!

Others of you might not go to restaurants out of necessity, but just like going out to eat. This article is for you too! Whether you are a frequent visitor or a once in a while patron, you may want to know what the healthier (yet still delicious) choices are at these establishments.

That’s why in each of these posts, I take a deep dive into the background and menu of the highlighted restaurant. I want to give you an idea of their history, practices, and offerings so that the next time you step through their doors (or in some cases decide to never visit again), you are armed with the knowledge it takes to have a healthy meal!

As always, I’m not saying that you always need to get the salad (which aren’t always the best option anyway). These posts are here for those who want to make a healthier food choice. I am not a huge proponent of very restrictive diets without ever taking a break from the super healthy foods.

In my opinion, that which isn’t ever enjoyable, also has a hard time becoming sustainable!

Now, let’s get ready to feel the Pain (sorry…bad joke) and learn more about this month’s restaurant!

Bringing The Pain, One Meal At A Time

Those of you who read my post on surviving a trip to Panera Bread might remember that it was actually created by the same people (Ron Shaich and Louis Cane) who started Au Bon Pain! That’s good since we found several options from that place.

The name Au Bon Pain is literally translated “from good bread” and those who run the company truly believe that good bread is a foundational food. From sandwiches to soups, if you have good bread, you have a potentially filling, hearty, and healthy meal.

Like me, Au Bon Pain is all about balance, which is why they strive to offer both healthy and indulgent selections featuring ingredients that are natural and can be found in most home kitchens.

The business started, like I mentioned earlier, with Louis Cane. He was walking the streets of Boston when he stumbled upon a display that was offering French bakery ovens. The key was that they were baking bread at the same time.

This motivated him to purchase one for his own store that he proudly displayed in the open so people could see and smell everything. Customers began to come in droves, but it wasn’t until some asked him to start slicing the bread so they could make sandwiches that the gears started turning even more.

From this, Au Bon Pain was born and since 1978, over 250 cafes have opened up around the world, offering quality food and even catering services.

If you want to check out how Au Bon Pain has evolved for 2020, watch the video below:

From Snacks To Meals – What Au Bon Pain Offers

Like Panera Bread, Au Bon Pain has a wide selection of foods that either utilize bread in some way or go beyond it. They offer everything from breakfast and bakery selections to soups and sandwiches.

Their menu can easily be broken down (via their website) into the following categories: Breakfast, Sandwiches, Soups (and Pasta), Salads, Bakery, Bon To Go and Snacks, and Beverages. I am going to be taking a look at each of these and listing what they’ve got.

Unfortunately, unlike other restaurants I have highlighted, each offering does not have its own page, so I won’t be able to provide an easy link to individual meals. I will however, provide the overall link to the menu and you can investigate further on your own via drop down menus! Click here to be taken directly to their menu.

  • Bakery:
    • Bread:
      • Asiago Breadstick
      • Ciabatta
      • Country White Bread
      • Rustick Baguette
      • Ancient Grain Breadstick
      • Semolina Bread
      • Multrigrain Baguette
      • Tortilla Wrap
      • Whole Wheat Tortilla Wrap
    • Muffins:
      • Blueberry
      • Corn
      • Chocolate Chip
      • Raisin Bran
      • Banana Walnut
    • Scones:
      • Blueberry
      • Cinnamon Chip
    • Croissants:
      • Almond
      • Apple Cinnamon
      • Chocolate
      • Hot Ham and Cheese
      • Plain
      • Sweet Cheese
      • Hot Spinach and Cheese
    • Cookies:
      • Chocolate Chip
      • Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Almond Macaroon
      • Classic Oatmeal Rasin
      • Double Chocolate Mudslide
      • English Toffee
      • Mini Chocolate Chip
      • Palmier
      • Candy
      • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup
      • Lemon Blueberry
    • Brownies:
      • Brownie Bites
      • Chewey Marshmallow Bar
      • Double Chocolate
    • Bagels:
      • Asiago
      • Cinnamon Raisin
      • Everything
      • Ancient Grain
      • Jalapeno Cheddar
      • Plain
      • Sesame
      • Skinny Wheat
    • Danish:
      • Sweet Cheese
  • Breakfast:
    • Sandwiches:
      • The Good Egg
      • Egg Whites and Cheddar on a Skinny Wheat Bagel
      • Egg Whites, Cheddar, and Avocado on a Skinny Wheat Bagel
      • Smoked Salmon Wasabi
      • Southwest Egg Wrap
      • Power Protein Wrap
      • Egg and Turkey Sausage on a Skinny Wheat Bagel
      • Egg with Bacon on a Bagel
      • Egg on a Bagel
      • Egg and Cheese on a Bagel
      • Egg and Ham on a Bagel
      • Egg with Bacon and Cheese on a Bagel
      • Egg with Cheddar and Sausage on a Skinny Wheat Bagel
      • Egg with Cheddar and Ham on a Skinny Wheat Bagel
      • Egg with Bacon and Cheddar on Ciabatta
      • Egg with Sausage and Cheddar on Ciabatta
      • Egg with Turkey Sausage and Cheddar on a Skinny Wheat Bagel
      • Edd with Sausage and Cheddar on an Asiago Bagel
      • Classic Oatmeal

        what to eat for health

        Photo by Cayla1 on Unsplash

  • Soups and Pasta:
    • 12 Veggie
    • Baked Stuffed Potato
    • Barley and Creamy Lentil
    • Beef and Vegetable Stew
    • Brocolli Cheddar
    • Chicken Noodle
    • Clam Chowder
    • Corn and Green Chili Bisque
    • Harvest Pumpkin
    • Lemon Orzo Chicken
    • Macaroni and Cheese
    • Roasted Eggplant
    • Chicken Florentine
    • Turkey Chili
    • Tomatoe Basil Bisque
    • Turkey, Kale, and Wild Rice
    • Tuscan White Bean
    • Wild Mushroom Bisque
  • Salads:
    • Chicken Cobb Avocado
    • Vegetarian Deluxe
    • Chicken Caesar Asiago
    • Thai Peanut Chicken
    • Chef Salad
    • Southwest Chicken
  • Sandwiches:
    • Cafe Sandwiches
      • Herb Chicken Salad
      • Tuna Salad
      • Turkey Club
      • Prime Roast Beef
      • Extra Bacon BLT
    • Signature and Oven Hot Sandwiches:
      • Two Tomato Caprese
      • Chipotle Turkey and Avocado
      • Ham and Two Cheese
      • Newport Turkey
      • Toasted Chicken and Avocado
      • Chipotle Black Bean Burger and Avocado
      • Country Grilled Cheese
      • Classic Grilled Cheese
      • Cordon Bleu Sandwich
    • Wraps:
      • Napa Chicken with Avocado
      • Thai Peanut Chicken
      • Chicken Caesar
      • Veggie and Hummus
      • Sweet Turkey
  • Bon To Go and Snacks:
    • Fruit, Egg, and Nuts
    • Smoked Salmon
    • Sweet Turkey Wrap Pack
    • Cheese and Fruit
    • Caprese Chicken
    • Hummus
    • Turkey and Cheddar Picnic
    • Signature Granola
    • Greek Vanilla Yogurt and Wild Blueberry Parait
    • Greek Vanilla Yogurt and Straberry Parfait
    • Hard Boiled Eggs
    • Fruit Cup
    • Fresh Grapes
    • Strawberry Cup
    • Fresh Watermelon
    • Mixed Nuts
    • Overnight Oats
    • Chocolate Covered Almonds
  • Beverages:
    • Hot Coffee and Espresso:
      • Decaf French Roast
      • French Roast
      • French Vanilla
      • Hazelnut
      • Morning Blend
      • Caffe Americano
      • Caffe Latte
      • Cappuccino
      • Chai Latte
      • Espresso – Single or Double Shot
      • Mocha Late
      • Vanilla Late
      • Hot Chocolate
    • Hot Tea:
      • Decaf Ceylon
      • Earl Grey Supreme
      • English Breakfast
      • Hot Cinnamon Spice
      • Organic Green
      • Organic Peppermint
    • Iced Coffee:
      • Cafe Americano
      • Caffe Latte
      • Caramel Macchiato
      • Chai Latte
      • French Roast
      • French Vanilla
      • Mocha Latte
      • Vanilla Latte
    • Iced Tea:
      • Black Tea
      • Sweet Tea
    • Cold Beverages:
      • Coke Zero
      • Caffeine Free Diet Coke
      • Diet Coke
      • Coke
      • Homestyle Lemonade
      • Orange Juice
      • Sprite
      • Sprite Zero
      • Strawberry Lemonade
    • Smoothies:
      • Berry Pomegranate
      • Mango
      • Strawberry

Hopefully that gives you a good idea of what Au Bon Pain has to offer. I will be focusing on building meals from the various categories that present what I think are the healthiest, yet still delicious options.

I will present the meal as well as the combined nutrition facts for them. Each percentage given will be based off of a 2,000 calorie diet. As an example:

Calories: 750 (37.5%)

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

what to eat for health

Photo by Vitaly Vlasov from Pexels

Meal Option #1 – Breakfast: Egg Whites and Cheddar on a Skinny Wheat Bagel with Strawberries and Green Tea

If you are looking for a satisfying meal that will give you high quality energy to start the day, this is your best option. You are getting whole grains, protein, fiber, the right amount of fat, fruit, and a great antioxidant boost with the green tea. Here are the nutritional stats for this meal:

  • Calories: 260 (13.0% DV)
  • Total Fat: 7.0g (10.7% DV)
    • Saturated Fat: 4.5g (22.5% DV)
    • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 20mg (6.6% DV)
  • Sodium: 505mg (21.0% DV)
  • Total Carbohydrates: 33g (11% DV)
    • Dietary Fiber: 9g (36%DV)
    • Sugar: 8g
  • Protein: 20g

What you may notice is that the calorie count is not all that high. For those who aren’t looking to have a high calorie breakfast, this is great. What is nice about this is that because it is so low in calories, you might be able to add a sweet item as well!

Meal Option #2 – Soup: Turkey Chili with Strawberries and Iced Black Tea

You are going to notice a trend with all these meals: Strawberries and tea. However, as far as sides are concerned, I really like how they don’t add a ton of sugar to the meal and give a good nutritional boost. Here are the full stats:

  • Calories: 380 (19% DV)
  • Total Fat: 9g (13.8% DV)
    • Saturated Fat: 1.5g (7.5% DV)
    • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 30mg (10% DV)
  • Sodium: 700mg (29.2% DV)
  • Total Carbohydrates: 57g (19% DV)
    • Dietary Fiber: 18g (72%DV)
    • Sugar: 13g
  • Protein: 14g

What immediately jumps out to me is the sheer amount of fiber! It has been known for years that people are not getting enough fiber in their diets. However, in a recent article from GQ, they have now started to call fiber an actual super food! That’s good news for this meal.

The only disappointing aspect of this is the low amount of protein.

Meal Option #3 – Salad: Southwest Chicken Salad with Strawberries and Black Iced Tea

From my calculations, this is the overall winning meal from Au Bon Pain. Normally, you have to eliminate dressing in order to just make salads reasonable at restaurants. However, they’ve done a great job with this one that makes it a healthy, yet still extremely satisfying option that checks pretty much all the boxes.

  • Calories: 430 (21.5% DV)
  • Total Fat: 13g (20% DV)
    • Saturated Fat: 2g (10% DV)
    • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 70mg (23.3% DV)
  • Sodium: 400mg (16.6% DV)
  • Total Carbohydrates: 52g (17.3% DV)
    • Dietary Fiber: 12g (48%DV)
    • Sugar: 16g
  • Protein: 33g

With a reasonable calorie count, a high amount of good fats, fiber, and protein, this is one salad that will keep you full for a while.

Meal Option #4 – Sandwich: Tuna Salad with Strawberries and Black Iced Tea

It was a tough call between the Tuna Salad and the Chicken Salad, but sea ended up being a slightly better option than land. Check out why:

  • Calories: 510 (25.5% DV)
  • Total Fat: 11g (16.9% DV)
    • Saturated Fat: 2g (10% DV)
    • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 65mg (21.6% DV)
  • Sodium: 880mg (36.7% DV)
  • Total Carbohydrates: 66g (19% DV)
    • Dietary Fiber: 11g (44%DV)
    • Sugar: 13g
  • Protein: 39g

With the highest total for protein as well as good fats from the tuna and fiber from the multigrain bread, you can’t go wrong with this meal. The only concern for me is the amount of sodium. However, if you watch yourself the rest of the day, you should be OK.

Meal Option #5 – Vegetarian: Veggie and Hummus Wrap with Strawberries and Iced Black Tea

For those who want a vegetarian option, there is definitely something for you. If you are going full vegan, please note that this wrap does include feta cheese, so you’d have to ask them to take that out. However, let’s take a look at the stats:
  • Calories: 630 (31.5% DV)
  • Total Fat: 27g (41.5% DV)
    • Saturated Fat: 7g (37.5% DV)
    • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 25mg (8.3% DV)
  • Sodium: 960mg (40% DV)
  • Total Carbohydrates: 80g (26.7% DV)
    • Dietary Fiber: 16g (64%DV)
    • Sugar: 13g
  • Protein: 22g

It always surprises me when a vegetarian meal packs the most calories and fat. Most likely that is because of the hummus and cheese, though a lot of that fat is the good kind. I love the fiber and the protein number is pretty decent.

Meal Option #6 – Build A Snack Meal: Fruit, Egg, and Nuts Meal with a Black Iced Tea

Should you not be in the mood for one of the above options or you have kids that want a variety of options in one meal, this might be one to look at:

  • Calories: 500 (19% DV)
  • Total Fat: 35g (13.8% DV)
    • Saturated Fat: 10g (7.5% DV)
    • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 195mg (10% DV)
  • Sodium: 320mg (29.2% DV)
  • Total Carbohydrates: 32g (19% DV)
    • Dietary Fiber: 5g (72%DV)
    • Sugar: 19g
  • Protein: 21g

At first, some of the numbers look concerning. However, the fat is coming from the egg and nuts, the cholesterol is coming from the egg, and the sugar is naturally occurring in the fruit.

Which Option Is For You?

what to eat for health

Photo by Lucie Liz from Pexels

When looking for ideas of what to eat for health at Au Bon Pain, I think there are definitely options for you. I think the overall winner has to be the salad option from a nutritional standpoint, but that doesn’t mean that you’d be going wrong with any of the others presented. Hopefully this has been helpful to you for your next trip!

Now it’s your turn! What do you think of Au Bon Pain? Have you ever visited one? Tell me what it was like and what you usually order! I’d also be curious to know what you think of their sweet treat options. Let me know all your thoughts and questions in the comments section below!

If you are looking for ways to eat better when you are at home, check out these great resources!

Recipes:

Food Analysis:

Ingredients / Nutritional Additions:

Diet Analysis:

Finally, are you looking to make some extra money, save money and get free gift cards, or potentially start your own business? Check out my suggestions!

Additionally, want to know what I sound like when I sing? Check out this post to find out!

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

Steve