Eating to Live on the Outside: Panera Bread

Yeah, we’ve got a toughie on our hands this week. In case you’ve never heard of Panera Bread—and the name didn’t tip you off—this place is very bread-centered. In fact, there’s more dough on this menu than in an entire mafia money-laundering operation—not that there’s such a thing as “The Mafia.” Hopefully we don’t end up sleeping with the fishes with this one. Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s make like Sonny Corleone and hit it.

Now if you view the PDF version of the online menu you can pretty much ignore the first page. Unless of course, you think Artisan Bread, Four Cheese Egg Souffles, Brownies, and Caramel Lattes are Fuhrman-friendly. You don’t, right? Good, lets move on. So what does the second page have to offer? Well as far as Eat to Livers go, not much. There are a few things, but they all come with concessions and could certainly use some alterations. And even then, I’m not exactly confident about them, but, I’ll solider on.

Okay, let’s start with the Signature Sandwiches, more specifically the Tuscan Chicken Sandwich. And yes, right away we’ve encountered a major concession—sandwich bread! If this is too much for you, please look away. Aside from this refined grain concession, there are two other concessions to consider. First you’ve got the chicken. Now I admit. I don’t like ordering chicken at restaurants anymore. It always comes out looking like a piece of white rubber with black griddle marks on it—not exactly yummy. The other concession is the garlic aioli, which means garlic and oil. The garlic is great, but oil isn’t exactly health food. So if you were to order this sandwich, and even though it does come with field greens, tomatoes, and red onions, you’d still be embarking on a serious deviation from your Eat to Live lifestyle. But then again, it’s a heck of a lot better than the PepperBlue Steak, Bacon Turkey Bravo, and Asiago Roast Beef sandwiches. I told you this place was tough.

Personally, I think the Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich is a safer option. It’s prepared with feta cheese, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cilantro hummus, and Peppadew piquant peppers. Just like the Tuscan Chicken Sandwich you’ve got to deal with the bread, but if you throw the feta cheese out the window, than the bread is you’re only concession. After that, stay focused on the veggies and all their phytonutrient goodness.

Alright, if the bread is bumming you out—it’s bumming me out—what about a soup or salad? Well as far as soups goes, you’ve got one option. I’d go with the Low-Fat Vegetarian Garden Vegetable. Who knows exactly what’s in it, it doesn’t say. My guess, it’s probably pretty run-of-the-mill; carrots, peas, onions, celery, potatoes, and, it’s loaded with salt! Again, Panera Bread requires a lot of concessions. I’d order this soup, but I’d definitely be mindful of the salt content. Although, not like being mindful of it will lessen its impact. Might not be a bad idea to check out the nutrition facts for all the food.

But honestly, if I really found myself at Panera Bread, I would just go straight for the salads—better to be safe than sorry. And at least with the salads, I’d have some options. Here’s what I mean. Every salad on the menu has potential, most require ditching something like cheese, chicken, or wonton strips, but overall, there’re plenty of veggies in them to quell my worries. Take the Fandango Salad for example. It’s prepared with field greens, romaine lettuce, walnuts, Gorgonazola, Mandarian orange slices, and fat-free raspberry dressing. Obviously I’m dropping the Gorgonazola and going easy on the fat-free dressing. So, if I do that, I don’t exactly end up with a terrible meal. Same pretty much goes for the rest of the salads, like the Asian Sesame Chicken and the Greek Salad. The Classic Café Salad and the Fresh Fruit Cup appear to be the only ones that I’d order alteration-free. What do you think?

So, do you agree? Panera Bread, not so easy? I look forward to your reactions on this one. Check out Panera Bread’s menu and let us know how Eat to Live on the Outside? Leave a comment or email us at diseaseproof@gmail.com.
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Christine Rapert - March 31, 2007 8:23 AM

I totally agree. Before ETL I was a Panera regular. After consistently eating well for several months I visited Panera with a friend. THE SODIUM is in everything and is so obvious now that I have removed it from my daily diet. When I have been on a trip and Panera was my only option I too ordered the Mediterranian Veggie Sandwich. It tastes great and really is the only option there for me now, but what I request is that they substitute the Feta with extra Cilantro Hummus...good alternative. Thanks for the articles & information!

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