Fast food is not ideal nutrition, obviously, but if you must grab a quick bite on the go, here’s how you can avoid diet disaster.
At Panera: Turkey chili
Panera uses no artificial sweeteners, preservatives, flavors, or colors. They even have a “No No List” of some 80 ingredients such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), sucralose, and BHT. One of their more healthful entrees, and a nutritionist favorite, is the spicy Turkey Chili, a nutritious and filling choice for lunch. With a large bowl containing only 260 calories, you can warm up guilt-free with a healthy punch of 16 grams of fiber and 17 grams of protein. Beans are known to be nutrition powerhouses, packed with complex carbohydrates, iron, B vitamins and fiber. They’ve also been shown to lower blood pressure. Find out the eight most unhealthy meals you can order at restaurants.
At Panera: soups and salads
Panera soups can be tasty and healthful, as long as you avoid the calorie bombs (we’re looking at you, New England Clam Chowder and Broccoli Cheddar). My absolute favorite lunch at Panera is half a Thai Chicken Salad with a cup of Low-fat Vegetarian Garden Soup with Pesto. These two tasty dishes add up to fewer than 400 calories, with 9 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein. Pesto stirred into the soup adds an earthy, herbal, elegant flavor, and the spicy peanut dressing with edamame for the salad is to die for. Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, owner of nutritionstarringyou.com, likes to order a “You Pick 2” with garden vegetable or black bean soup, half a salad with dressing on the side and an apple. “That’s 4 to 5 servings of fruits and veggies in one meal for around 400 calories,” she says. Natalie Rizzo, MS, RDN, of nutritionalanatalie.com, opts for the seasonal salad. “I love that it changes with the seasons, so you know the food is at the peak of freshness,” she says. “Right now, it’s beet and citrus and in the summer, it’s watermelon. If you always choose the seasonal salad, you can’t go wrong.”
At Panera: Wonton Bowl
The Asian-inspired Thai Garden Chicken Wonton Bowl at Panera delivers loads of veggies such as broccoli, spinach, and Napa cabbage, in a delicious broth, for fewer than 300 calories. The ginger-chicken wontons pack 23 grams of protein. Ginger, a known immune-booster, packs extra nutrition into this warm savory lunch. Find out the healthiest things to eat at 25 fast-food restaurants.