Eating Out: Panera Bread

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Since going paleo (and generally trying to be healthier in the time that came before the switch), I’ve struggled, as I’m sure many of you have, with going out to eat.
It used to be one of my favorite things to go eat at a restaurant! It was a treat and I could basically get anything I wanted. But lately….eating out is a pain!!

 

As much as it’s a hassle, being prepared is the best way to approach eating out. 
These tips aren’t anything new, I’m sure, but here’s how I approach it:

  1. DO. YOUR. RESEARCH! I cannot stress this enough. If possible, know where you’re going or at least your options. I know sometimes it’s spur of the moment or you’re not calling the shots, but if possible, get your input heard about dining options
    In doing so, look at the menu before you head out. This will give you an idea of what to expect (if you’re able to eat anything at this particular location at all…) and will prepare you to ask the right questions and make the best substitutions and choices when you arrive. Which leads me to my next point…
  2. Prepare to ask lots of questions/interact with your server: I know, I know…it sucks being “that person” when you’re eating out, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. If you are upfront with your dietary concerns or at least ask politely which oils, sauces, etc the food is prepared with, it’ll be easier in the long run. Most places will be willing to cater to your needs i.e. Preparing an entree grilled without sauce/dressing, letting you order extra veggies or no starchy sides, etc 

    And make sure you’re nice and friendly about it to the waitstaff! 🙂

  3. Resist temptation: This is the toughest part, probably. Especially when everyone else at the table is eating from the breadbasket and noshing on caramel-chocolate-smothered everything. I usually order a cup of tea or sometimes, if it’s not too late, I order a coffee as an after-dinner treat for myself. A cup of tea fills me up and still allows me to sit and enjoy the company of who I’m eating with without feeling awkward just sipping water and not indulging in whatever they’re digging their forks into.

Or, if you’re a braver soul than I…use eating out as your “cheat” or splurge day/meal. I, for one, can’t do this. It’s too easy for me to fall off the wagon PLUS I beat myself up with guilt afterwards

Those are just some of my tips for dining out. I’ve been compiling a list in my head and also been checking other great resources for tips and related advice for eating out and sticking to your eating plan!

 

Now…for the main event

 

One of my favorite options for eating out is Panera Bread. It’s not always a “dinner option” for really “going out” but it’s a great option for lunch or a light dinner or meeting up for a drink or light bite

I’ve loved Panera for years now, but now that I lead a healthier lifestyle, I love it even more because I can still get light, healthy, deilcious, filling options! Mmm

I almost always opt for a salad these days. 

  • Their salads are big and filling and basically can fill any craving for any type of cuisine
  • The soups (although SCRUMPTIOUS) don’t fit the paleo style
  • Sandwiches and the like are out for me

Giant panera salads are my go-to
Their Greek Salad is my favorite, although since cutting out cheese and cutting down (virtually cutting out, with a few exceptions like this one) on my dressing intake, it’s not really the same. But when I splurge/cheat, I do it with things like feta and greek vinaigrette– YUM!

Sometimes I just get their classic salad or a caesar, modifying of course. The steak salad is delicious as well. 
But my favorite is the fuji apple chicken salad (pictured first, below– Daryn’s smoothie and salad are pictured following)

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I order it without the gorgonzola and with the dressing on the side. If y’all haven’t tried it, the white balsamic fuji apple vinaigrette on this one IS TO DIE FOR! I get it on the side and dip the apple chips in, just a couple dips and I’m satisfied. Although I could eat this stuff with a spoon…..for days…… 😉

My other favorite is their summer fruit salad and I’ve been drooooooling just thinking about its return once it gets warmer! Now that I eat TONS OF FRUIT, I’m going to be spending lots of time at Panera….

 

When my boyfriend Daryn and I went, they were advertising a new salad. I mentioned it and he was sold the second afterwards

I didn’t try it, but it looked darn delicious and with some modifications, I’m sure I would enjoy that one too– there’s always next time!
Having a Panera 10 minutes from my house may start to get dangerous now that I remember how much I love those gourmet salads….because, you know, making a big, exciting salad like one of these at home just isn’t the SAME, am I right?

He also got a smoothie, which was deeeeelicious! I’ve enjoyed Panera smoothies in the past, but haven’t indulged in one in a long while. I had a sip of his and it was wonderful– perfect consistency, great blend of flavors, hint of ginseng aftertaste, and refreshing! Oh, and he loved it, too 😉
From a smoothie junkie, I say you pass, Panera!

BONUS: Chipotle is also a good option for eating out! Their ingredients are fresh and healthy as far as 

Until next time, stay well, friends!

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