Panera Bread: A Healthy Review

One of the restaurants we frequent at the Village at Sandhills is Panera Bread for a few reasons. The first thing that draws us is the kid-friendly environment/menu since we have two young children and a third one on the way! So what do I recommend there?

1. Broccoli cheddar soup. This may not be the healthiest soup on the menu, but it is the best-tasting. It is one of the best broccoli cheese soups I have tasted anywhere. And my husband (who does not eat broccoli) loves it! He never orders a different soup for his “You Pick 2” meal.  And every time I choose something different, I always end up admitting that his soup is better. Tonight I actually ordered the new Sonoma Chicken Stew (for a taste test), but it is not nearly as good as the broccoli cheddar. That being said, if you like chicken pot pie, you will enjoy the Sonoma stew.
2. Garden vegetable with pesto soup. It is vegetarian yet has protein (with white beans), and of course is full of a wide variety of vegetables in a tomato-based broth.
3. Black bean soup or creamy tomato soup. I have not actually tried these recently, but the descriptions look good, and they are vegetarian dishes. If you really want to be extra-healthy, order your bowl of soup with a side of an apple (choices are bread, chips or apple). But to be honest, I really recommend the bread there (French baguette) unless you are on a no-carb diet.
4. Salads. There are a ton of salad options, but I never actually order salads there because many years ago, when I also was pregnant, I found a dead fly at the bottom of my salad. Usually I do not get emotionally traumatized by food, but it has been 4 years and I still have not recovered. However, the salads always look good when I see other customers enjoying them, and they are pretty big.
5. A lean-meat sandwich on whole grain bread. The turkey they serve is thick-cut and tastes more like fresh-roasted turkey than lunch meat. There are a range of healthy breads to choose from, so select something like whole wheat or rye.

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I am a Physical Therapist and Ergonomics Consultant, based out of Columbia, SC. My passion is to write about and speak about pain/injury prevention. I started Pain Talks as a consulting business in 2018.

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