Thursday, June 7, 2012

Healthy Fast Food?

Well my friends, I think it's about time I shared with you a quick little blurb on my favorite fast food.  That's right, I do eat fast food, though I don't think it resembles the greasy burgers and salty fries you're imagining.  In fact, I think it actually tastes a lot better than both of those, and is most definitely a lot more filling.  Oh, and you know if I'm writing about it, then it's actually legitimately HEALTHY!!!!  Too good to be true?  Not at all!

So where is this magical place?  Why, I'm sure it's in your nearest big shopping district.  It's called Panera Bread, and boy do they serve some good stuff.  Panera is famous for delicious salads, sandwiches, and a bakery that will put most others to shame.  The stores are well designed, modern, comfortable, and welcoming.  And while you may be screaming "NOT FAST FOOD!!!" -- you'd be dead wrong.  The food there is remarkably fast.  Often I place my order, get my little buzzer thing, and by the time I'm sitting down the darn thing is already going nuts (and scaring me half to death.)  Believe me, that food is speedy.  

You know what else is great about Panera?  They post caloric information right next to the menu items.  Now while you may be a little leary as to how accurate it really is, I believe they're required by law to put the same portions in each bowl in order to comply with those measurements, so you won't have to give or take too many calories from the stated number.  

Now keep in mind, NOT EVERYTHING in Panera is healthy.  In fact, you can get yourself into a lot of trouble with both the bakery (those pastries are incredible), and certain greasy sandwiches or cheesy soups.  Now don't get me wrong, everything tastes fantastic, but if you want to stay healthy, watch both the number of calories and the content of each sandwich, salad, or soup.  When I'm in Panera, I usually get the Thai Chopped Chicken Salad.  It's 470 calories for a GIANT bowl of tasty salad that's completely loaded with protein and healthy carbs.  Sure, the dressing is pretty sweet, but is completely manageable.  If you want to make it even better, take out the little Chinese noodles (as good as they taste.)  

Want a better idea of the nutritional information in Panera's food?  Here's a link to that exact information for your dieting knowledge:

I believe the best sandwich choices are:

Roasted Turkey and Avacado BLT (510 calories)

Smoked Turkey Breast on Country (420 calories)

And the best salad choices are:

Thai Chopped Chicken Salad (470 calories)

Poppyseed Chicken Salad (340 calories)

Asian Sesame Chicken (450 calories)

BBQ Chopped Chicken (500 calories)

As far as sides go, I'd suggest either an apple or whole grain baguette.  The chips are baked though, so they're not the worst thing going.  

Panera is definitely my favorite fast food joint.  If you keep your head on your shoulders and don't get tempted by the crazy chocolate stuffed croissants or cheesy, creamy soups, you can walk out of that place with a pretty healthy meal in your belly.  Remember folks, not all fast food is bad.

Enjoy your meals, choose wisely, and as always, GOOD LUCK!!!


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