This or That Thursday: Panera

The first time I ever went to Panera Bread was with a co-worker over my lunch break. At the time both she and I were “paying attention” to how many calories we were consuming. Right off the bat I saw the Low Fat Chicken Noodle Soup on the menu and that’s what I ordered. . . in a bread bowl. . . with a Grande Frozen Caramel Cooler. . . with whipped cream.

I was ordering the Low Fat Chicken Noodle soup instead of that Creamy Chicken Wild Rice (which is by the way is frickin’ amazing) so I was good right???

What do you mean NO? Oh, you must have done what I eventually did and looked up the nutrition facts huh? The Low Fat Chicken Noodle soup was NOT my problem. The problem was the 590 calorie bread bowl and the 600 calorie coffee cooler. Yep. That was the problem.

Since that was not cutting it, I started making some changes. First off, that bread bowl had to go. I traded the bowl for the baguette they give you. This trade alone saved me 450 calories!!! At first I couldn’t give up the coffee so I just started cutting the whipped cream which does save 100 calories.

These two changes were good but I knew I had to do one better. Even at 500 calories, that coffee was just too much and it had to go too. This saves me a whole meals worth of calories.

Then, the last time I was there, my daughter ordered the Frozen Strawberry Lemonade!! Yum!! It’s 180 calories that you don’t necessarily need but it’s better than 600 calories you don’t need, right?

Now when I go to Panera, I get the Low Fat Chicken Noodle Soup with a whole grain baguette on the side and a Frozen Strawberry Lemonade. This is still as yummy as the first time I had Panera. The baguette still lets me taste their warm, doughy bread. And the drink is just as fantastic and probably more refreshing when I’m out on the patio on a hot day!!

Total Calories: 1320 440 880
Total Fat (g): 26 2.5 23.5
Sodium (mg): 2780 1700 1080
Carbs (g): 237 95 142
Protein (g): 35 15 20

Just look at these savings! Two small changes, no bread bowl and Frozen Strawberry Lemonade instead of Frozen Caramel Coffee, and you’re saving half of your calories for an entire day!! You’re cutting out 90% of the fat. Nearly 40% of the sodium is gone. And 60% of those carbs are out the door!!

As always, I’ll say that I know this is not necessarily a “healthy” meal. Heck, it’s probably not even the healthiest meal Panera has to offer, but it’s sure a lot better than a lot of fast food alternatives and it’s a great substitute for what I was getting!

And beware of the Cinnamon Crunch Bagel!! It is the best bagel ever but it packs a mean punch at 440 calories and 80 grams of carbs for just the bagel!!


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