Being known for bread, bread, and more bread, it's no surprise that a meal at Panera can rack up calories pretty fast. We're here to get you through the wild (and delicious) world of Panera!
Rules To Chew By...
* Half-orders are a good thing. And Panera offers them for salads and sandwiches. Nice!
* Ask to swap Ciabatta or Foccacia bread for, you know, just about anything else, and it will be lower in fat. We suggest something with "Whole Grain" in the name.
* "You Pick Two" is probably the BEST thing Panera has going on. Pick two items -- a half-sandwich, half-salad, and/or a bowl of soup -- and you'll be eating in well-rounded style!
* When it comes to sandwiches, why not ditch the top half of the bread, and enjoy the thing open-faced? You'll save a lot of calories that way, and you'll never miss that bread.
* Always custom-order your salad by selecting your salad dressing! Some dressings have INSANE amounts of calories and fat, and that can ruin an otherwise perfectly good salad. We handpicked the best dressings below.
A School of Salads
If we were giving the peeps at Panera a report card, their salads would get a "Needs Improvement". They've got the right idea, but we've got tips to help them fulfill their potential. Here's the 411 on our favorites...
Add Chicken to Almost Any Salad! For Full Salad: 110 - 120 calories, 1g fat, 24g protein -- POINTS® value 2* For Half Salad: 50 - 60 calories, 0g fat, 12g protein -- POINTS® value 1*
The chicken here is lean, boneless, and skinless, so go for it. And if you're feeling crazy, get extra chicken in place of those fatty extras, like nuts and cheese. (It may cost a little more, but it's so worth it!) Swapping protein for fatty stuff is one of our little salad secrets.
Classic Salad (without dressing) Full: 40 calories, 1g fat, 10g carbs, 4g fiber, 3g protein -- POINTS® value 0* Half: 30 calories, 0g fat, 5g carbs, 2g fiber, 1g protein -- POINTS® value 0*
You can't go wrong with this veggie-loaded basic. Tomatoes, cukes, and red onions on top of mixed field greens and romaine. A perfect candidate for topping with chicken!
Fandango Salad (without dressing) Full: 340 calories, 27g fat, 15g carbs, 5g fiber, 13g protein -- POINTS® value 8* Half: 175 calories, 14g fat, 8g carbs, 2g fiber, 6g protein -- POINTS® value 4*
If you lose the cheese and nuts (or just go easy on 'em), you'll save loads of fat and calories, and you'll still have a salad full of field greens, romaine, and mandarin oranges. Yum!
Asian Sesame Chicken Salad (without dressing) Full: 320 calories, 11g fat, 25g carbs, 5g fiber, 32g protein -- POINTS® value 7* Half: 165 calories, 6g fat, 13g carbs, 2g fiber, 16g protein -- POINTS® value 3*
Not too bad. Nix the crispy wonton strips and you'll save a slew of calories and fat grams. This sassy salad'll still be stocked with citrus-herb chicken, cilantro, almonds, sesame seeds, and lotsa romaine lettuce.
Greek Salad (without dressing) Full: 220 calories, 15g fat, 14g carbs, 6g fiber, 10g protein -- POINTS® value 5* Half: 110 calories, 8g fat, 6g carbs, 3g fiber, 5g protein -- POINTS® value 2*
Go Greek with vine-ripened tomatoes, feta cheese, peperoncini, red onions, and Kalamata olives, all on top of romaine. You can shave some fat and calories off this one by eating only half the feta and olives.
Fat-Free Raspberry Dressing For Full Salad: 30 calories, 0g fat, 8g carbs, 0g fiber, 0g protein -- POINTS® value 1* For Half Salad: 15 calories, 0g fat, 4g carbs, 0g fiber, 0g protein -- POINTS® value 0*
Fat-Free Reduced-Sugar Poppyseed Dressing For Full Salad: 15 calories, 0g fat, 4g carbs, 1g fiber, 0g protein -- POINTS® value 0* For Half Salad: 5 calories, 0g fat, 2g carbs, 1g fiber, 0g protein -- POINTS® value 0*
Light Buttermilk Ranch For Full Salad: 80 calories, 4g fat, 9g carbs, 1g fiber, 1g protein -- POINTS® value 2* For Half Salad: 40 calories, 2g fat, 4g carbs, 0g fiber, 0g protein -- POINTS® value 1*
Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette For Full Salad: 60 calories, 2g fat, 9g carbs, 0g fiber, 0g protein -- POINTS® value 1* For Half Salad: 30 calories, 1g fat, 5g carbs, 0g fiber, 0g protein -- POINTS® value 1*
Reduced-Sugar Asian Sesame Vinaigrette For Full Salad: 90 calories, 8g fat, 6g carbs, 0g fiber, 0g protein -- POINTS® value 2* For Half Salad: 45 calories, 4g fat, 3g carbs, 0g fiber, 0g protein -- POINTS® value 1*
Dressing Disasters! Avoid the Balsamic, White Balsamic Apple, Caesar, Greek, and Cherry Balsamic dressings. Those each contain 60 - 110 calories and 5 - 12g fat (POINTS® value 2 - 3*) for a half-salad serving, and they've got 130 - 220 calories and 10 - 24g fat (POINTS® value 3 - 6*) for a full-salad serving!
Sandwiches Worth Saving
Many of the full-sized sandwiches have 700 - 1,000+ calories, SO ALWAYS stick with the half. These particular sandwiches have their hearts in the right place, but they need a little HG guidance. Check out our picks and tips...
Smoked Turkey Breast Sandwich on Sourdough Bread Half: 240 calories, 9g fat, 25g carbs, 1g fiber, 15g protein -- POINTS® value 5*
This doesn't need much tweaking at all, and we love that the turkey is 99% fat-free. Just swap the mayo for extra mustard, and those fat grams will whittle down to practically nothin'!
Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich on Tomato Basil Bread Half: 310 calories, 7g fat, 51g carbs, 5g fiber, 11g protein -- POINTS® value 6*
This one sounds straight-up GOOD as is. Zesty peppers, feta cheese, cucumbers, cilantro hummus, and more. It's one of the lightest options straight off the board. Yum!
Smoked Ham & Swiss on Stone-Milled Rye Bread Half: 390 calories, 16g fat, 38g carbs, 3g fiber, 22g protein -- POINTS® value 9*
Okay, we know the stats look high, but hear us out. This thing features 96% fat-free smoked ham, a total deli score. So skip the mayo (and maybe even the Swiss), and you'll have a great sandwich on your hands!
Chicken Salad Sandwich on Whole Grain Bread Half: 290 calories, 13g fat, 35g carbs, 8g fiber, 15g protein -- POINTS® value 6*
Not the best, but not too bad -- especially for a deli salad sandwich. This one's made with all white meat, red onions, mayo, and spicy mustard. If you're craving creamy deli salad, it's certainly better than the tuna, which packs 23g fat into a half-serving!
Plenty of good stuff to spoon here...
Low-Fat Vegetarian Garden Vegetable 90 calories, 1g fat, 17g carbs, 3g fiber, 4g protein -- POINTS® value 1*
Low-Fat Vegetarian Black Bean 150 calories, 1g fat, 28g carbs, 6g fiber, 8g protein -- POINTS® value 2*
Low-Fat Chicken Noodle 100 calories, 2g fat, 16g carbs, 1g fiber, 6g protein -- POINTS® value 2*
French Onion (without cheese and croutons) 90 calories, 3g fat, 13g carbs, 1g fiber, 2g protein -- POINTS® value 2*
Soup Shock! Do NOT slurp the Baked Potato, Broccoli Cheddar, Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice, Vegetarian Creamy Tomato Soup with or without croutons, French Onion WITH cheese & croutons, New England Clam Chowder, or Vegetarian Summer Corn Chowder. Those each contain 200 - 320 calories and 10 - 28g fat (POINTS® value 4 - 9*) per serving. Eeeks!
All salads, sandwiches, and "You Pick Two" orders come with a choice of side. The baked chips and apple are both awesome options, but skip the baguettes. And for a little extra, you can get a small fruit cup off the salad menu.
Fresh Fruit Cup Small: 70 calories, 0g fat, 19g carbs, 1g fiber, 1g protein -- POINTS® value 1* Large: 150 calories, 0g fat, 37g carbs, 2g fiber, 2g protein -- POINTS® value 3*
The Skinny on Breakfast
Hmmm, how do we say this? There are really no great breakfast options at Panera, the one exception being that large fruit cup (we like that!). The pastries are crazy-high in calories. The egg soufflés are... well, egg soufflés, with around 30g fat each. Even if you got a plain bagel and topped it with reduced-fat veggie cream cheese (the lightest option they have), it would still run you 370 calories and 6.5g fat. Not worth it for a boring breakfast. Just say no!
You Will Survive! The HG cookbook is packed with SOOO many survival guides for eating out. Chinese food! Coffee shops! Even airplanes! And (of course!) it's loaded with delicious, guilt-free recipes. Order online or grab your copy from the nearest bookstore!
CHEW ON THIS: Today, October 16th, is World Food Day. So eat things... Woohoo!
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*The Points® values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe or its manufacturer or developer by Weight Watchers International, Inc., the owner of the Points® registered trademark.