Panera is a fast causal cafe serving sandwiches, salads, and bakery items. It was founded in 1987 in St. Louis. The company had a sourdough starter from San Francisco with the goal of serving freshly baked sourdough bread to all. The Panera Bread menu has a multitude of sandwiches, soups, and salads, but what should you get when you visit?
Panera has done its fair share to establish itself as a healthy restaurant. It was one of the first places to remove trans fat from their foods. They proudly use antibiotic-free meats, but. many of their products do come in contact with common allergens.
We're breaking down the worst menu items, so you can make an informed choice on your next visit.
Worst Items On the Panera Bread Menu
Grilled Mac & Cheese
This loaded sandwich is filled with white cheddar mac and cheese and topped with parmesan crisps. If you want to have a productive day after eating lunch, avoid this sandwich.
Cinnamon Crunch Bagel
Panera Bread is known for its breakfast items, including its large selections of bagels. This bagel tops the charts for the highest calories and most sugar. And that's before any cream cheese spread is added.
Fuji Apple Salad With Chicken
With salad in the name, you wouldn't think this chicken salad would be one of the worst items. It's made with apple chips, gorgonzola, red onions, and tomatoes.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Panera has several soup options, with broccoli cheddar being one of the more popular options. The cheddar cheese and chopped broccoli make this soup hearty and delicious. The great taste comes at a price, with one bowl being 900 calories.
If you want to attempt to make this a tad healthier, forgo the bread bowl that it's usually served in.
Chipotle Chicken and Bacon Flatbread
Even though the chicken is made without antibiotics, the overall dish is too high in calories to be considered healthy. The smoked bacon and garlic cream sauce really take this over the top.
Modern Caprese Sandwich
This sandwich appears healthy because it has white bean puree, mozzarella, and Parmesan. It has no deli meat, making it vegetarian, as well. Vegetarian or not, this sandwich is high in saturated fat and sodium.
We hate to say it but dessert is not healthy. Panera's brownies, cinnamon rolls, and scones are all filled with sugar and not the best choice on the Panera Bread menu.
Best Options at Panera Bread
BBQ Chicken Salad
This loaded salad is made with chicken, black bean, and corn salsa, and topped with barbecue sauce. This salad is low in calories and high in protein, making it the perfect lunchtime choice.
Citrus Asian Crunch Salad
This romaine salad is mixed with kale, cilantro, broccoli, and carrots. It's topped with a tangerine soy dressing. Add some sesame seeds for some crunch without the guilt.
Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich
This might be the best healthy option to order at Panera Bread. The sandwich is loaded with hummus, feta, and greens. It's sandwiched between two pieces of tomato basil bread.
Strawberry Poppyseed Salad
This salad provides almost as much fruit as a fruit cup. It's made with strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, and mandarin oranges. The salad is topped with pecan pieces for a nice crunch.
Greek Yogurt Parfait
Instead of wasting breakfast calories on a bagel, reach for a fruit and yogurt parfait. Need some morning caffeine? Add a cafe latte with a shot of espresso for a healthy energy boost.
You Pick Two
The you pick two menu can be great for healthy choices, as long as it's used wisely. Customers can pick from a cup of soup or mac, a half salad sandwich combo, pizza, or a warm bowl.
The greek salad, creamy tomato soup, French onion soup, and Thai chicken soup are safe bets when it comes to choosing a healthier option. If you're looking for the lowest calories combination, choose the caesar salad and chicken noodle soup.
As far as sandwich choices, you can't get more classic than a turkey sandwich on white bread. The grilled cheese is also a good option, especially a half portion.
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