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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Calorie Conservation at Panera Bread

My last job was sort of in the middle of nowhere.  We didn't have a ton of options for lunch, but we did have a Panera Bread nearby.  It was the unofficial meeting place of the company.  On any given trip there you were bound to run in to at least one coworker (not always a good thing).

That said, I ate there alot.  I enjoy their food and think you get a good amount of food for your dollar.

One day I decided to take a look at their nutrition facts.  They have them easily accessible on their website.  Let's just say I was surprised.  Surprised to learn just how many calories I had been taking it at lunch.

But as I always say, knowledge is power and by knowing calorie contents of various items on the menu I was able to make some changes and/or substitutions and lower those calorie counts.

Here are my tips...
  • Skip the cheese - My favorite sandwich (the asiago roast beef) has cheddar cheese on it.  However the other components are flavorful enough that if you take the cheese out you won't even miss it.
  • Swap the bread to Rye or Whole Grain - These choices are lower in calories and have fiber
  • Watch your dressing - the Reduced Sugar Poppysead Dressing has the fewest calories, I used to sub it on any salad I ordered.  There are a few that aren't too calorie dense, so just educate yourself and know that you can customize everything
  • Soup it up - Calorically speaking, your best bets are the Chicken Noodle Soup and the Onion Soup (with no cheese or croutons).  If you're concerned about sodium, skip the soup
  • Sides - the whole grain baugette has 150 calories and more fiber than it's calorically even French sister.  The Baked chips are another option, they're usually Lays and have around 120 calories.  But of course the apple is your best choice.
These are just a few things I keep in mind when ordering at Panera.  Check out their menu, here's a link to the nutrition facts PDF.

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