In this series, “Eating out: What’s in it?” we will be going over how you can figure out for yourself if something is unhealthy. Today we are taking a trip to Panera Bread.

1. Check the menu

In more and more urban and developed cities, some nutrition information is being publicly displayed on the menu. Look for numbers or symbols next to the menu item.

Examples:

  • “S/M 360/560 cal” — this could be found right after a salad, indicating that the medium bowl is 360 calories, while a large is 560.
  • “SF,” “EF,” or “DF” — could all be common allergy indicators / show dietary preferences (soy free, egg free, dairy free)
  • “low chol” — your food or drink has a low amount of cholesterol per serving

These indicators are convenient and effective ways of narrowing down choices.

2. Go online

If you are eating at a chain restaurant, you can almost guarantee they will have the nutritional info on their websites. Some even have ingredients, and most include a common allergen guide.

In this case we have an extensive amount of information online for all of Panera Bread’s products.

  1. Go to their website
  2. On the main menu hover over “Menu Items” and select Soups
  3. Find and click on “Turkey Chili.” Here you will find the nutrition details and ingredients.

Summaries- Nutrition (per Bowl):

  • 260 calories

This is more of a snack than a meal.

  • 13 grams of fat, 2.5 of which are saturated, 0 grams of trans fat

Soups are mostly carbs, but the turkey contributes to the fat content. Thankfully there is no trans fat.

  • 50mg of cholesterol, and 1210mg of sodium

This is high in sodium, which is good to know if trying to avoid salt.

There is some cholesterol, likely from the turkey.

  • 32g of carbs, 16 of which are fiber, and 6 of which are sugar (the remaining is starch)

A nice sugar to fiber ratio.

See also: How to Understand and Apply the Nutrition Facts

  • 19g protein (at the time of this post, the website says 59g of protein, but the math adds up to 19, so it is likely a typo)

This is a little low for my liking, but not bad.

  • Lastly, 35% of the DV for Vitamin A, 0% of your daily Vitamin C, 15% for Calcium, and 20% of your Iron

An OK source of vitamin a.

  • 0mg of Caffeine

Oh man!

Our approximate macro breakdown (calculated by calories, not mass): 45% fat, 25% carbs, 30% protein.

See also: How are Nutrients and Calories Rounded?

Summaries- Ingredients:

Our ingredients (to help clarify, I indented ingredients that composed other ingredients, and unique ingredients are blue ):

  1. Turkey Chili With Beans
    1. Water
    2. Turkey Raised Without Antibiotics
      1. Turkey With Rosemary Extract
      2. Turkey Dark Meat With Rosemary Extract
      3. Turkey Broth
      4. Rice Starch
      5. Salt
    3. Garbanzo Beans
    4. Tomatoes
      1. Tomatoes
      2. Tomato Juice
      3. Salt
      4. Citric Acid”Citric acid is the compound 2-hydroxy-1,2,3-propanetricarbo…
      5. Calcium Chloride
    5. Onions
    6. Tomato Paste
    7. Kidney Beans
    8. Carrots
    9. Green Chilies
    10. Edamame (Soy)
    11. Tomatillos
    12. Corn
    13. Soybean Oil
    14. Garlic
    15. Cornstarch
    16. Sea Salt
    17. Cilantro
    18. Dried Pasilla Negro And Ancho Chilies
    19. Tomato Concentrate
    20. Cumin
    21. Brown Sugar
    22. NaturalThis term, to be honest, does not mean much. It simply means… Yeast Extract
    23. Onion Powder
    24. Lime Juice Concentrate
    25. Xanthan Gum”The additive is a polysaccharide gum derived from Xanthomon…
    26. Citric Acid

Contains soy.

Breakdown:

Nutrients

  • Not outstanding in the micronutrient department, from what we can see at least, but it does have about 7/20 of your daily vitamin a.
  • No trans fats.
  • The most common macro is carbohydrates
  • Great on the fiber and sugar but not enough protein.
  • Some cholesterol and high sodium.

Ingredients

  • There are 33 unique ingredients.
  • The sources of carbs are alright.
  • There are no “flavors” added.

See also: Get to Know Your Nutrients

Hope this eating out tutorial / walk-through helps! More coming soon.

Thanks for reading!

It can be tricky to eat well when dining out, but seeking out healthy fare is worth the effort: According to recent research, each meal eaten out is associated with a slight increase in body mass index (or BMI). And who eats out just once a week? Taken with another analysis showing that meals from fast-casual restaurants, including Panera, can have significantly more calories than a fast food meal, a several-times-per-week dining out habit (be it breakfast, lunch or dinner), can lead to a lot of unwanted pounds.

If unwanted pounds aren’t bad enough, restaurant meals are also typically high in sodium, yet low in fiber and whole grains, and many don’t contain adequate produce. That’s true even at Panera, where the health halo of clean ingredients may trick you into thinking that everything on the menu gets the green light. It doesn’t. (Chicken Tortellini Alfredo and Frontega Chicken Panini, I’ve got my eyes on you!) Still, dining out is a convenience we all rely on so to help you avoid the unhealthiness and keep things light, I drilled down into the nutrition information of the Panera menu for the best offerings and looked for ways to make them even better. Here are your healthy Panera Bread picks.

Contents

Avocado, Egg White & Spinach

This sandwich would make a filling and nutritious start to your day. I’m a fan of the flat bagel, which cuts about 20 g of carbs when compared to Panera’s whole grain bagel. Plus, it contains sprouted grains, which are easier to digest than regular whole grain breads. Sprouted grains also make the nutrients in grains more bioavailable. The healthy fat from the avocado together with the 21 grams of protein (mainly from the egg whites) and 7 grams of fiber (from the bagel and veggies) means this is a meal that will curb hunger and fuel busy days.

Steel Cut Oatmeal with Almonds, Quinoa and Honey

The combo of steel cut oats and quinoa gets the thumbs up in my book. I can’t even quibble with the drizzle of honey since it’s only providing about a teaspoon of added sugar. The only thing missing from this meal is produce, so I’d pair it with the Summer Fruit Cup to balance out breakfast.

Steel Cut Oatmeal with Blueberries, Granola & Cinnamon Crunch Topping

The steel cut oatmeal base makes this another winning breakfast. When compared to cold cereal, oatmeal has been shown to increase feelings of fullness and satisfaction, so if cereal is your morning jam, oatmeal is a good choice. However, too much added sugar is a personal pet peeve so I’d skip the cinnamon crunch topping here. You’ll still get one and a half teaspoons of added sweetener from the granola it comes with. To cut back even more, you can skip both toppings and opt for pecans, instead. Doing so boosts your healthy fat intake, which is a nutritious move.

Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich

This sandwich is layered with lots of veggies, which is why it makes the cut. Instead of the tomato-basil bread it’s served on, get it on the sourdough. Doing so brings the sodium down 250 mg — still high at 980 mg, but an improvement. Bring it down another 250 mg by choosing avocado instead of feta. The swap brings avocado’s vitamins and minerals to your meal and ups the fiber another 4 grams.

Roasted Turkey & Avocado BLT

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For those craving a turkey sandwich, this one gets my vote, but I’d suggest eating it open-faced since most adults could do without the extra carbs, calories and sodium from refined breads. Skipping the bacon would shave 200 mg of sodium (and 100 calories) from this meal — worthwhile nutritional savings if you ask me.

Modern Greek Salad with Quinoa

There are plenty of healthy ingredients, like olives, kale and romaine lettuce, in this main-sized salad. Like most restaurant meals, the sodium is high, but 300 mg of salt is coming from the Greek dressing. Order the dressing on the side and drizzle lightly — just enough to add flavor. That will keep the sodium in a healthy range.

Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken

The Caesar Salad is a classic choice, although not without its landmines. As with other salads, my advice is to get the dressing on the side and use just enough to coat your greens. Since the black pepper croutons don’t add anything by way of nutrition, try skipping them and getting your crunch from the optional pecans instead. Whole foods provide a nutritional boost over processed ones, and in this case, pecans stand out with more than 19 vitamins and minerals, including key nutrients like vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Choosing pecans over the croutons also lightens the carb load.

Strawberry Poppyseed Salad with Chicken

This meal meets all of my nutritional requirements: Not too much added sugar, lots of produce, hearty levels of protein and fiber (to keep your belly full), and sodium levels (just 280 mg) that are hard to match in restaurant meals. Have it with the Sprouted Whole Grain roll if you like (yes, you heard me right!).

Black Bean Soup

This bean-based soup is a satisfying, plant-based choice that provides almost 70 percent of your daily fiber needs. Note, however, that it’s really high in sodium — above 1,000 mg out of the 2,300 mg limit recommended for healthy adults. To lighten the sodium load, choose off the “You Pick Two” menu. You’ll get a smaller portion, which naturally lessens the sodium levels. Pair it with the Seasonal Greens Salad and remember to go easy on the side serving of dressing. And make sure you drink plenty of water and meet your fruit and veggie quota throughout the day. Both will help your body flush out the extra sodium.

What makes a good pick?

In general, meals that meet the following guidelines are good choices when you’re dining out. As you’ve seen above, however, it’s often hard to meet these requirements at a restaurant. In those instances, you may have noticed I’ve suggested some hacks to keep these meals more in line with my recommendations. Though I’ve customized them specifically based on Panera’s options, you’ll get ideas for how to upgrade your meals elsewhere, too. Tips like eating an open-faced sandwich, skipping the bacon, ordering dressing on the side, and adding flavor- and nutrition-boosters, like avocados and nuts, are strategies that can be applied no matter where you’re dining. Below are other eat-well commandments to be on the lookout for:

  • Meals have less than 700 mg of sodium
  • Grain-containing dishes are made with whole grains
  • Fruits and/or veggies are included in the meal (and preferably in abundance)
  • Calorie levels are appropriate for most adults (under 550 calories, though those looking to lose weight may want to aim for less)
  • Dishes contain healthy fats from foods like avocados, olives and nuts
  • Added sugars are kept to a reasonable limit

MORE TIPS AND TRICKS FROM A NUTRITIONIST

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Want more tips like these? NBC News BETTER is obsessed with finding easier, healthier and smarter ways to live. Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

We tried all 6 of Panera Bread’s soups to see which was best, and the winner might surprise you

  • We tried six different soups from Panera Bread, including the famous broccoli cheddar and bistro French onion, and ranked them according to taste.
  • Dip-ability was also taken into account, i.e. how well the soup coats and compliments the accompanying bread.
  • After careful deliberation, a winner was chosen — and it may surprise certain Panera loyalists.

Ah, Panera Bread. Is there anything better than walking inside its doors to the smell of fresh foccacia, that giant menu overhead, and those hungry online customers pushing their way to the pick-up counter?

Panera was a staple of my college diet, a beacon of lunch hope that promised fresh sandwiches, coffee, and — you guessed it — soups. Especially around this time of year, Panera’s soups hit the spot: a good broccoli cheddar on a snowy day can cheer up even the bluest of winter blues.

But out of all of Panera’s soups, which one reigns supreme? I trekked to the Panera Bread in Union Square, New York, to find out. They had six soups on their menu (note: soup options vary slightly from store to store). I ordered and tasted them all, and the outcome may surprise certain Panera enthusiasts.

A movable feast. Melina Glusac

As I made my way to Panera, I started to get a bit nervous about ordering so many soups. Would they think I was a weird soup lady, on a mission to drain the store of any and all savory liquid? Maybe (and that’s partially true) …

  • Read more: Panera Bread now has a make-your-own Mac and Cheese bar with 7 different toppings to choose from
  • But the cashier was very accommodating. She even let me use Panera’s You Pick Two option, which lowered the prices of the soups by grouping them in pairs. You Pick Two also includes a free piece of Panera’s French baguette per meal, and since I had three meals (a total of six soups), I got three hearty hunks of bread.
  • Elated, I found a seat, and a server brought the soups to my table a few minutes later.

First up: the famous broccoli cheddar

Broccoli cheddar soup. Melina Glusac

Now would be an appropriate time to mention my bias: I love Panera’s broccoli cheddar soup. I’m not alone, either, and the internet is riddled with copycat recipes (there’s even a keto version).

This time around was no different. The soup delivered its signature cheesy goodness, and generous pieces of broccoli and carrots made for scrumptious texture and taste. Panera’s broccoli cheddar is like a broccoli casserole but only the good part, the part we all love, without the unnecessary bread on top.

Which brings me to the free baguette, the soup’s perfect partner. When dipped, it sopped up an appropriate amount of liquid and tasted harmonious. Broccoli cheddar is definitely the soup to beat at Panera.

Chicken noodle

Chicken noodle soup. Melina Glusac.

I associate chicken noodle soup with being sick, so its taste-potential is often overlooked — if not completely ignored — in my mouth. But Panera’s chicken noodle soup may have just broke the mold.

It’s expertly salted, with large noodles, tender chicken, and veggies. The carrots and green onions amped up the flavor, and there’s just a lot of every ingredient. I could get used to eating chicken noodle soup when I’m healthy, if it tasted like this every time.

Baked potato

Baked potato soup. Melina Glusac

I really didn’t know what to expect from baked potato soup, but when it arrived, it somehow made sense. The texture is that of a potato: dense, starchy, and quite chunky. And the soup tastes like an actual loaded baked potato, replete with bacon bits and an assortment of veggies.

The flavor was great, but the soup itself veered on the thicker side. If you’re in a true soup mood, or if you’re a soup purist, this may not be the best option for you at Panera.

Bistro French onion

Bistro French onion soup. Melina Glusac

French onion soup is an exercise in performative opulence: there’s the breaking of the cheesy top coat, and then the spoon-pulling of stringy, gooey, melted cheese — and this is not to mention the layers of sautéed onions beneath the surface.

Suffice it to say, I had high expectations for Panera’s rendition of the classic dish, but they were not quite met. The flavor was nice and onion-y, but the consistency of the soup was a bit too watery (and strong) for my taste. There also wasn’t enough cheese. Then again, there’s never really enough cheese …

Creamy tomato

Creamy tomato soup. Melina Glusac

Though I’m a huge fan of tomato soup, I’m not afraid to admit that many iterations of it can end up tasting like somebody juiced a tomato and put that in a bowl. Many tomato soups teeter on the verge of being too salty, too acidic, or too watery.

Panera’s creamy tomato soup was none of those things. In fact, it was wonderful: a smooth, addictive blend of rich tomato flavor and garlic spices. I kept trying to move on to the next soup, but I found myself dipping more and more of my baguette into the creamy concoction.

Finding this soup was like falling in love. I immediately imagined our future together, late nights in my living room with grilled cheese nearby. Creamy tomato was a tough act to follow.

Ten vegetable

Ten vegetable soup. Melina Glusac

With morale still high, I tasted my sixth and final soup. It had, as one might imagine, many vegetables: tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, onions, corn, carrots, celery, spinach, poblano peppers, garlic, seasoned vegetable stock, chickpeas, sprouted brown rice and red fife, dried Aleppo chili, and a lemon wheel, to be exact.

What happened with this soup is what happens when you blend too many paint colors together — the final product just kind of ends up being, well, nothing. Dark brown. The flavors get jumbled, and our taste buds get confused.

Though this soup is super healthy (with the lowest calorie count of all the soups on the Panera menu) as well as brothy, it wasn’t my favorite. And the lemon wheel added some bitter acidity to the mix, which the soup didn’t really need.

The final ranking

Decisions. Melina Glusac

1. Creamy tomato

2. Broccoli cheddar

3. Chicken noodle

4. Baked potato

5. French onion

6. Ten vegetable

The reason creamy tomato emerged victorious

So much soup. Melina Glusac

In the end, it came down to two soups competing for the number one slot: broccoli cheddar (aka “old faithful”) and tomato soup (aka “the new kid on the block”). The decision was tough, but ultimately, the new kid won my heart.

Panera’s creamy tomato soup came out of nowhere with its bold, delicious, near-perfect tomato flavor, and I highly recommend it to any soup aficionados out there. It’s the best tomato soup I’ve tasted at a restaurant, and it beats any store-bought kind I’ve cooked in the past.

Though the broccoli cheddar loyalists of the world may disagree, creamy tomato soup might just be Panera Bread’s unsung hero.

Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

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19 Panera Bread Secrets, According To The Employees Who Make Their Food

Panera Bread is known for quite a few things. They have really good soups that always seem to hit the spot. Their sandwich and salad combo can be a lifesaver at lunchtime. Their macaroni and cheese tastes so delicious that it’s basically addictive. Their green tea is kind of legendary. And, of course, their bread is always worth getting. This might be a fast-food chain restaurant, but with the seating arrangements, the seemingly healthier menu options, and the slightly more upscale feel than, say, a McDonald’s, it’s easy to act like it isn’t.

But like any other restaurant, there are Panera Bread secrets that only employees are privy to.

Aside from the various popular menu items, Panera Bread is also know for being a healthier fast food option and for serving up food that is generally more fresh than similar places out there.

But as it turns out, those two ideas about Panera may not be quite as true as everyone thinks…

Panera Bread/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

…And while that shouldn’t turn you off from eating there, it’s still something you should be aware of.

That’s why we compiled a list of interesting secrets about Panera you wouldn’t know unless you worked there — or if you read below.

1. The beloved soups are…frozen.

We don’t mean to break your heart or anything but yes, it is true.

In a thread, Reddit user KasperAura said:

“All our soups are indeed made fresh, but they’re frozen into giant blocks and then dropped into a fridge-like box of really hot water to defrost them.”

All of those soups that you love so much were frozen before you ate them.

They still taste good, but imagine how much better they must be when they’re fresh?

Another Reddit user, Miroku2235, explained:

“The soups are made at a factory/plant/etc., flash-frozen, shipped to us, and we thaw it out in what’s called a thermalizer, essentially a soup-thawer. The bag is never cut open until we pour it into the pans up on the service line.”

Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

But it’s worth knowing that the soup was not made fresh in-house.

2. There’s a good reason why they’re frozen, though.

Panera Bread has provided us with a reason for freezing their soups, and it actually makes sense a lot of sense when you think about it.

Reddit user dlnvf6 explained:

“I know it’s not maybe the best thing to hear, but Panera wants to make sure that the soup is consistent from store to store. If we made it in house, one store might have significantly better soup. There’s really no other way to keep it consistent unless we do it the way we do.”

3. The bread is made fresh in each store.

Well, kind of. More like the bread is baked fresh. Let us explain.

Reddit user Ithaca_Alexandria revealed:

“I do really bake the bread. The bread is just mixed at a big factory and then transported to us every night/morning, so we can let it rise.”

Basically, the bread is mixed together somewhere else…

…but actually baked in the store each day. So long as each store’s oven is set up correctly (and, you know, set to the right temperature), the bread should be consistent between each and every location!

4. The croutons are made in-house, too.

The croutons are also made in each store, which is a pretty interesting detail to consider.

According to an anonymous employee speaking to Refinery29:

“They did make their own croutons! I did that sometimes — you would take a sourdough loaf and put it through the bread slicer both ways, then mix the bread slices with the Caesar dressing, and put them in the oven.”

That explains why they taste so good!

Wonder if they’re easy enough to make at home, too?

5. Panera donates unsold bread and pastries.

Since they bake their bread every single day, it makes sense that there could potentially be a lot of leftovers that go to waste if they happen to have a slow day.

Fortunately, though, Panera donates their unused bread.

Reddit user Miroku2235 explained:

“We never threw our bread out, we always had a person from a local food kitchen, charity, etc. come and get it the following morning.”

6. There are a few items that might not be as fresh as you’d like them to be.

This is probably one of your least favorite things to think about, but the reality of modern fast-food distribution seems ot be that not everything is as fresh as we’d like to think.

Reddit user Cathat52 said:

“Anything with turkey or ham. All of our meats come in these vacuum-sealed bags with this really disgusting smelling liquid we have to drain out.”

She also added:

“Anything with feta. I have accidentally served multiple customers moldy feta because I thought a piece of gorgonzola just slipped its way in.”

Ever wonder what an employee would never order after seeing how things go down?

Well, now you have a pretty good idea what that might be, at least at Panera Bread restaurants…

And, sorry, but the avocados might be suspect as well.

Reddit user angry_jets_fan said:

“Also avocados usually sit out open for a number of hours. They are fine around lunchtime but as the day goes on, they get older.”

7. But the fruit is all freshly chopped daily

So at least you can rest assured that the fruit your enjoying is freshly chopped, even if we still don’t know whether it was previously frozen or not…

One Reddit user explained:

“The fruits are fresh-cut that morning or previous night. The sliced meats and such are in vacuum-sealed pouches until cut open and panned that morning.”

…And as we learned above, those sliced meats also come with a healthy dose of gross juice as well.

8. The tea machines probably aren’t cleaned as often as they should be.

We have one word for you: mold.

One former employee told My Recipes:

“You might end up disturbingly close to sipping mold if you order lemonade or green tea from one of the circulating drink dispensers (usually kept behind the counter).”

If you love Panera’s tea, this might be hard to hear.

Absolutely no one wants to imagine that their delicious iced beverage could have something unsavory floating about in it, but this might just be the sad reality – at least at the Panera this person worked at. Yikes.

The former employee continued:

“While the drink station’s soda machine and tea dispensers are cleaned nightly, the lemonade and green tea dispensers are cleaned maybe monthly. This being the case, black mold builds up between the dispensing tube and the cooling system.

While the mold isn’t actually touching the beverage as it is poured — as my manager loved to point out while I gagged and cleaned it = I still wouldn’t exactly call it sanitary. Obviously, I can only speak to what I experienced at my given location of Panera employment… this may not be an issue at every Panera Bread, but I would be cautious with my beverage order all the same.”

9. There are a few secret menu items that are totally worth trying.

In a Quora thread, one employee shared their favorite secret menu items.

One is called “The Sierra Turkey…

…and is made with “asiago focaccia bread with our chipotle mayonnaise, red onions and smoked chicken, and a couple other delicious ingredients.”

Keep the secrets coming, we’re listening.

The employee also suggested getting a vanilla iced coffee, saying, “ask for an iced coffee, fill it up in the dining room, then kindly ask the associate at the order pickup counter to add a couple pumps of vanilla to it. Best cheap coffee ever.”

They also suggested the BBQ Avocado Flatbread…

…Which you make by replacing “the smoked chicken with avocado in the BBQ Chicken Flatbread, it’s vegetarian and amazing.”

Editor’s note:

I used to work at Panera Bread when I was in high school. The Sierra Turkey was a real sandwich on the menu back then! And so was The Turkey Artichoke panini. They were delicious.

10. There are rumors of a “Mother Bread”

Some Panera fans have heard rumors of there being a mother loaf of bread from which all the existing bread has been made.

One Reddit user tried to get the details, but the mystery continues.

“I think they might be referencing Mother Bread. Maybe the theory that all the bread comes from a single strain.”

Is it possible that every loaf of bread really uses the same yeast or starter from an original loaf of Panera Bread?

Someone out there must know the answer – hopefully they speak up and reveal the truth…sooner than later.,

11. Some employees get lucky and can enjoy some special perks.

What else can you do with a broken pastry but sample it out among your coworkers?

A Reddit user explained:

“Another former Panera employee here. My store was really lax about employees eating the food, so I ate quite a bit. I worked in the bakery so any time a bakery item broke and we couldn’t sell it we’d split it into pieces and share it with everyone. Oh, and I made myself a dirty iced chai every morning. I think my store was an exception, though.”

12. Order early if you want a bread bowl.

There are few things better than hot soup in a toasty, freshly baked bread bowl, but employees recommend getting there early if you want to snag one.

“We only make them in the day and we make as many as we are projected to sell that day based on previous sales and trends.”

Another Reddit user added:

“We run through bread bowls REALLY fast, we prep them at around 10 a.m. or so, preceding the lunch rush. Then we run out at about 4 or 5. Get there early!”

13. You should order your soup later in the day, though.

If you’re looking for soup that’s got more of a “fresh” flavor, then order later in the day.

One employee told My Recipes:

“Panera Bread adamantly promotes a ‘waste not, want not’ philosophy in their kitchens. Because of this, any leftover soups are bagged up each night and stored in the cooler for the next day’s lunch. This means if you’re hankering for soup, it’s better to order around noon or later, instead of 11 a.m. (when they start serving soups) to avoid getting the previous day’s leftovers.”

14. The macaroni and cheese is also frozen.

If you’re a huge fan of the mac and cheese at Panera Bread, you should probably keep in mind that it also isn’t made fresh in the store.

Sorry, it’s sad but true.

Refinery29 spoke to an employee who wished to remain anonymous, and she said that the macaroni and cheese arrives much like the soup does — frozen in blocks that were heated in a hot water bath.

“Macaroni and cheese comes frozen in a small bag, and one of these bags is a small (one portion). We throw 12 at a time into the thermalizers in the back, which is essentially a gigantic boiling pot, with specifically marked sections for soups and macaroni.”

15. Also, the food isn’t really as healthy as it seems.

Panera is often considered to be one of the healthier fast food options out there, but that’s not necessarily the case.

On My Recipes, a former employee wrote that some of the menu items are packed with calories:

“A Bacon, Egg, and Cheese on Asiago Bagel starts your day with nearly 700 calories and over 30 grams of fat. For lunch, the bread bowl of clam chowder comes in at over 1,000 calories and half of your daily sodium allotment.”

They also explained that the soups are super high in sodium, so if you’re watching your salt intake, avoid them.

They continued by noting that:

“…your dessert might taste a little less sweet when you learn the Kitchen Sink Cookie contains 800 calories and 43 grams of fat. If you want to make informed choices, I’d advise downloading the Panera Bread app before your next visit to see all the nutrition facts before you order.”

16. Even the salads can be unhealthy, but there are ways to make them better.

A salad might seem like your best option, calorie-wise, but that’s not always the case.

In a Quora thread, one employee wrote:

“In most salads, your greatest enemy calorie-wise is the dressing. Even the ‘healthier’ low-fat/no-fat options can lead you astray. Many people eat their salads with nothing more than lemon juice as the dressing. Some rely on the flavors of the other veggies and use no dressing at all.”

17. The soup of the day is determined by customers.

Have you ever wondered how they pick the soup of the day?

According to one Reddit user:

“Soup schedule varies by store for a few reasons. My store has potato soup every single day because of how many people requested it. It varies by store/region.”

So, if you want to see more of a certain soup, start ordering it a lot!

As a frequent customer, your dollars can go a long way – so keep that in mind!

18. You can modify almost any menu item.

They might not always advertise it, but according to one Reddit user, you can modify any menu item into what you want it to be.

For example, in a Quora thread, one employee wrote:

“You can change your bread to whatever you want, and I definitely encourage it. Some sandwiches are on breads that just don’t make sense. I’m looking at you Turkey Avocado on Sour Dough. Nobody should have to deal with the hassle of fitting that big sandwich on such a small piece of bread. It’s a mess.”

19. Prices really do increase often.

Do you ever feel like the prices are constantly going up? That’s because they kind of are.

Reddit user Miroku2235 said:

“Prices seemed to jump up every 5-6 months. Seemed like every time we had a new ‘celebration’ to talk about new items, our cashiers would be told about a price increase due to cost of ingredients.”

Interesting!

Do you know have any Panera Bread secrets of your own?

Soup isn’t necessarily considered to be a romantic food, but this Valentine’s Day, Panera Bread is hoping its viral creation may spark a little love.

Panera is launching its “double bread bowl” nationwide on Thursday, Feb. 14, so carb lovers can slurp their favorite soups from the same vessel. And it just gets cheesier from there. Not only can romantic duos and galentines each choose their favorite two soups to be ladled into one large loaf of bread, they can also get a hefty portion of mac and cheese — if they dine in the restaurant.

Panera’s double bread bowl first debuted in Philadelphia in 2018.Panera

Before you cancel that fancy restaurant reservation or throw out all the groceries you bought to make the perfect Valentine’s Day meal, just know there’s a catch. Two catches, actually.

Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY.

First, people trying to get that mac and cheese to go by placing an order online or through the app, will be disappointed. According to a Panera spokesperson, the following combos are the only double bread bowl combos that can be delivered:

  • Chicken Noodle and Broccoli Cheddar
  • Creamy Tomato and Broccoli Cheddar
  • Broccoli Cheddar and Broccoli Cheddar
  • Bistro French Onion and Broccoli Cheddar
  • Ten Vegetable and Creamy Tomato

So unless you’re obsessed with Broccoli Cheddar, bundle up and scoot to the store to order the carb combo of mac and cheese and bread and mac and cheese and bread.

The other heartbreaking side of this Valentine’s Day deal is that it will come to an end on Feb. 28.

Guests who order the double bread bowl in a Panera cafe will be able to choose from 91 different combinations.Panera

When the double bread bowl was first tested in Philadelphia in August 2018, fans fell hard and fast. Now that Panera is letting patrons have a taste of double bread nationwide, who’s to say what kind of mourning period will ensue in March.

When the bowl was first tested, bread fiends were totally in awe of it.

panera creating a double bread bowl is gonna be the best thing that happens to me in awhile

— Mary Clur (@CPalczynski) July 31, 2018

Some were just super, super excited.

IM NOT THE ONLY ONE FREAKING OUT OVER THE NEW DOUBLE BREAD BOWL AT PANERA RIGHT?

— alex is proud of darren️ (@stxrry_klaine) July 31, 2018

And others offered their appreciation and gratitude to its creators.

a double bread bowl is exactly the kind of innovation i expect out of 2018, thank you Panera pic.twitter.com/1eApZfU88F

— Hannah F Caldwell (@MsHannahFrazier) July 30, 2018

Depending on the soup combos chosen and store location, Panera’s double bread bowls start at $10 each.

In this series, “Eating out: What’s in it?” we will be going over how you can figure out for yourself if something is unhealthy. Today we are taking a trip to Panera Bread.

1. Check the menu

In more and more urban and developed cities, some nutrition information is being publicly displayed on the menu. Look for numbers or symbols next to the menu item.

Examples:

  • “S/M 270/550 cal” — this could be found right after a soup, indicating that the small bowl is 270 calories, while a medium is 550.
  • “V,” “DF,” or “GF” — could all be common allergy indicators / show dietary preferences (vegetarian, dairy free, gluten free)
  • “low chol” — your food or drink has a low amount of cholesterol per serving

These indicators are convenient and effective ways of narrowing down choices.

2. Go online

If you are eating at a chain restaurant, you can almost guarantee they will have the nutritional info on their websites. Some even have ingredients, and most include a common allergen guide.

In this case we have an extensive amount of information online for all of Panera Bread’s products.

  1. Go to their website
  2. On the main menu hover over “Menu Items” and select Freshly Baked Breads
  3. Find and click on “Sourdough.” Here you will find the nutrition details and ingredients.

Summaries- Nutrition (per 2 oz):

  • 140 calories

This is low or medium calorieA unit commonly used to measure the amount of energy that is…, depending on the person.

  • 0.5 gram of fat, 0 of which is saturated, 0 grams trans fat

This is to be expected, because bread is mostly carbs.

  • 0mg of cholesterol, and 290mg of sodium

This does have some sodium in it, which is good to know if trying to avoid salt.

No cholesterol. This does occasionally pop up in bread.

  • 28g of carbs, 1 of which is fiber, and 0 of which is sugar

Pretty good sugar to fiber ratio.

See also: How to Understand and Apply the Nutrition Facts

  • 5g protein

Not too bad of a source of protein.

  • Lastly, 0% of the DV for Vitamin A, 4% of your daily Vitamin C, 0% for Calcium, and 10% of your Iron

A pretty good source of these four micronutrientsSomething we need in very small amounts to stay alive. The e…. Unfortunately we do not know the levels of any other vitamin or mineral in this bread.

  • 0mg of Caffeine

Oh man!

Our approximate macro breakdown: 3% fat, 83% carbs, 14% protein.

See also: How are Nutrients and Calories Rounded?

Summaries- Ingredients:

Our ingredients (to avoid confusion, I indented ingredients that composed other ingredients, and did not highlight some ingredients to avoid repetition):

  1. Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour
    1. Flour
    2. Malted Barley Flour
    3. Niacin
    4. Reduced Iron” prepared by reacting ground ferric oxide with hydrog…
    5. Thiamine Mononitrate
    6. Riboflavin
    7. Folic Acid
  2. Water
  3. Salt
  4. Yeast
    1. Yeast
    2. Sorbitan Monostearate”A mixture of partial stearic and palmitic acid esters of s…
    3. Ascorbic AcidAnother name for vitamin c.
  5. Dough Conditioner
    1. Ascorbic Acid
    2. Microcrystalline CelluloseCellulose is a compound that gives plant cells their rigidit…
    3. Corn Starch

Contains wheat.

Breakdown:

Nutrition

  • Alright in the micronutrient department, from what we can see at least.
  • No trans fats.
  • The macros are mostly carbs.

Ingredients

  • There are 13 ingredients.
  • Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, and Folic Acid are all micronutrients
  • Sorbitan Monostearate is an emulsifier
  • Ascorbic Acid is a preservative

See also: Get to Know Your Nutrients

Hope this eating out tutorial / walk-through helps! More coming soon.

Thanks for reading!

Panera double bread bowls will test just how much you love carbs

CLOSE

Indecisive soup eaters rejoice! Select Panera Bread restaurants in Philadelphia will be rolling out a double bread bowl so you can have two different types of soup in one order. USA TODAY

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Panera Bread has come up with the latest menu item to blow restaurant-goers’ minds – and diets: the double bread bowl.

A loaf-sized version of the bakery-cafe chain’s sourdough bread bowl, the double bowl has two circular openings, which you can fill with soup or one of the restaurants’ several mac and cheese options.

Panera Bread’s revelation Tuesday that the menu item would be available starting Sunday through Aug. 31 in the Philadelphia area set the chain’s followers’ lips smacking as they extolled its existence and expressed envy for residents of the City of Brotherly Love.

For a city already world famous for Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, this development “underscores that Philly is culinary heaven,” tweeted Kel Lyons, a Utah-based journalist who went to the University of Pittsburgh.

Other praise from Twitter users included: “This is something I never knew I needed but now cannot live without” and “Gonna dream about that Panera double bread bowl until it gets here.”

This underscores that Philly is culinary heaven

— Kel Lyons (@Kelan_Lyons) July 30, 2018

Women’s culture and news site Bustle, which first alerted readers to the menu item’s arrival, described the double bread bowl as “a loaf of bread (a LOAF!), only this time, it has not one, but two cut-outs, so that you and a friend can each get a soup or mac and cheese and then enjoy it from the same hunk of bread.”

Not everyone committed to sharing their double bread bowl should they get their mitts on one. Rather than share the entrée, by going solo you don’t have to decide between a bowl with chicken noodle soup or bacon mac and cheese.

“I’d prefer to eat it by myself, out of the deep, deep shame I would feel ordering this bread bowl in public,” reporter Frida Garza wrote on the blog Jezebel. That’s because sharing it would require some tough decisions: “Do you and your partner-in-soup sit side-by-side, elbows a’touching, and each claim one (1) bread bowl to yourselves? Or do you sit across from each other, allowing each soup-lover to sample from both bread holes?”

Found out that Panera is testing a double bread bowl. This is something I never knew I needed but now cannot live without.

— Kelsey 🌻 (@k__hogs) July 31, 2018

Gonna dream about that Panera double bread bowl until it gets here 😍 #[email protected]

— amandapuhlease (@sassytexan419) July 31, 2018

Panera did not say whether the double bread bowl could get a national launch but promised more information on new seasonal items in September.

Panera recently expanded delivery to nearly 900 cities in 43 states, and Philadelphia customers can order the double bread bowl for delivery, too. First, they add an unsliced sourdough loaf to their shopping cart, include the special instructions “make the sourdough a double bread bowl” and then choose two soups or mac and cheese options. The price can range from $12 to $21 depending on your filling choices.

More: Delivery boom is changing everything about the restaurant business

More: Olive Garden’s Meatball Pizza Bowl, a massive food mash-up

Many made jokes about how the calorie count and carbohydrate levels would wreak havoc on their nutritional intake.

Panera’s standard sourdough bread bowl with basic mac and cheese weighs in at 1,140 calories and 166 grams of carbs, according to the chain’s nutritional information. (The Food & Drug Administration’s recommended daily caloric intake for adult women is about 2,000 and 2,500 for men. Daily carb intake starts at 300 grams.)

Panera had not provided nutritional data on the double bread bowl, but you could basically double it and your estimate would be reasonable: about 2,300 calories and 330 carbs.

“How am I supposed to start cutting carbs” when faced with such a challenge, one Twitter user asked.

You could share.

how am I supposed to start cutting carbs when Panera just came out with a freaking DOUBLE BREAD BOWL.

— Bulua Jerg (@da_ice_BERG) July 31, 2018

Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.

Don’t order the bread bowl to go! – Panera Bread

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3 Items To Avoid On The Panera Bread Menu

While there are a number of healthy options at Panera Bread (the broth-based soups, Breakfast Power Sandwich and the Asian Sesame Chicken Salad come to mind), there are also a number of caloric bombshells on the menu. While you already know that a bagel with cream cheese or a giant bear-claw pastry aren’t the healthiest items to order, the following three items to avoid on the Panera Bread menu might just surprise you!

3 Tricky Items to Avoid on the Panera Bread Menu

1. Turkey Artichoke Panini. This Panera Bread menu item sounds innocent enough, but with 740 calories, 26 grams of fat and 2,200 milligrams of sodium, it’s certainly a sandwich to steer clear of!

2. Anything in a bread bowl. While Panera does have some healthy soups, if you put any of them in a bread bowl, your meal can quickly go from healthy to full-out calorie-bomb. A bread bowl itself has 590 calories. Dang!

3. Strawberry Granola Parfait. Fruit, granola, yogurt…what’s not to like, right? Wrong. This small parfait has 310 calories and a whopping 28 grams of sugar. It may seem healthy, but it’s no way to start the day!

Image zoom

Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.

  • By Jennipher Walters

Panera’s double bread bowl lets you go crazy on carbs with a loved one — or hoard them for yourself

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Panera Bread has rolled out its double bread bowl nationwide so that you and your loved one can reimagine the classic scene from “Lady and the Tramp” and gobble down both ends of your sodden lunchtime loaf until your lips meet in a collision of crumbs, longing and broccoli cheddar soup.

The bowl is a two-fisted version of the sourdough boule that, for years, has served as a soup pot at Panera, the fast-casual chain that racks up billions in sales annually. With its new offering, Panera has embraced either romance or how the dining public can’t make a decision on what soup to order.

pic.twitter.com/ZVZd0oFMk3

— Panera Bread (@panerabread) February 13, 2019

When I walked into the Silver Spring location this morning and ordered the dish, I wasn’t feeling the love. I encountered skepticism.

“What do you mean, double bread bowl?” the employee asked. I proceeded to explain the dish, and she left in search of someone who could let me know if lunch was on or not.

A few minutes later, I got my double bread bowl, presumably the first one this location had ever sold. The bread is the same semi-crackly sourdough boule as before, but it’s stretched into an oblong, underinflated Tom Brady football of a loaf. The bread has two wells dug into each end that you can fill with your choice of soup or mac and cheese. The spider holes are surprisingly deep. Perhaps not deep enough to conceal a deposed dictator, but deep enough to fill them with generous servings of, say, French onion soup and Baja mac and cheese.

I ordered mine with creamy tomato soup and bacon mac and cheese, not because I was sharing this repast with a loved one, but because I wasn’t. There was no one to question my carb-on-carb indiscretion. I was reminded of a recent tasting of the double bread bowl by the crew over at Business Insider. They mixed and matched various soups and pastas in the bread when the dish was introduced in Philadelphia last year as part of the chain’s test run.

“I think this is great for if you’re having a really bad day, and you just want to eat a lot of carbs,” Irene Kim, an associate video producer for Business Insider, said at the tasting.

The double bread bowl really is perfect for Valentine’s Day: It’s a dish to share with someone special or one to salve lonely hearts. Or at least the hearts not on a Paleo diet.

It also provides an unexpected thrill. At some point, as you scoop out your lunch, you realize that you can dig a tunnel between the two preparations held prisoner in separate bread cells. You could view this as a metaphor for two hearts coming together over a shared meal. Or you could view this as a 12-year-old junior high kid might: as the potential to covertly combine two dishes — like, say, barbecue chicken mac and cheese and broccoli cheddar soup — into one gloriously nauseating bite.

But should you prefer to treat your bread more like the shared plate of spaghetti and meatballs in “Lady and the Tramp,” you might want to consider a possible nightmare scenario to your romantic comedy: After eating all those carbs, you’re more likely to fall face first onto the table than to feel like kissing.

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Panera soup bread bowl

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