So you are on a Keto diet, and are working on cutting out high-carb foods from your diet as much as possible. For that reason, any place that has the word ‘bread’ in its title is likely the last place you would go to when you need a quick snack or a fix for a long day ahead. 

Panera Keto Bread is one of those places whose name does not seem inspiring enough to visit when you want to cut out bread. After all, bread, as well as pastries in general, is the specialty of the company, hence the title. However, take a visit to this eatery and you will pleasantly discover they also have plenty of salads, specialty drinks, soups, and sandwiches.  

Similar to any fast food joint out there, they will also allow you to tweak your food preferences according to what you want. That gives you the freedom to order what you would like even if you are with friends and family. In addition, they also have a delivery and drive-through option, all while featuring great healthy options. In this particular article, we will inform you about the different Panera Keto choices available to you. 

What are some of the useful tips when ordering food at Panera Keto?

One great thing that sets Panera apart from their competition is their integrity. Yes, they are looking to make profits, but they will not deal with low quality meat and cheap ingredients (a common problem with many restaurants). In fact, they even have a list of ‘no-no ingredients’, which are chemicals you will never find in their foods, and you can check out their offerings on their website. 

Some of these ingredients include high-fructose corn syrup, BHT and BHA, vegetable oil, bromated flour, nitrates and nitrates (common in bacon), artificial flavors and colors, corn protein and hydrolyzed soy. This is the reason it appeals so much to vegetarians and vegans, but it unfortunately means you will have to know your way around these to get a low-carb meal. 

Get salads or request for no bread 

While it seems absurd to go to a restaurant that specializes in their own bread and then ask them not to give it to you, it is the only way you can ensure your meals remain low carb. In addition, you need to note that their salads are not the most Keto-friendly, as they contain ingredients that are not allowed like ancient grains, cranberries and apple crisps, and they also have no meat or are made using chicken. 

It is better to get a sandwich, as it features fattier meat such a steak and ham, but make sure to ask them to hold the bread, instead wrapping the ingredients in a lettuce wrap. 

Add avocado, cheese or ham 

Another great thing is the availability of avocado – the restaurant will give you fresh avocado slices on some of their sandwiches and salads, unlike most eateries. That allows you to request for extra avocado slices to all the meals you order to add some fat content. If avocado is unavailable, then you can ask for bacon or cheese. 

Like we mentioned before, the bacon is free of any chemicals, so you are guaranteed it is clean. Even though the charge for the extra might be more, it is definitely worth it to maintain the ketosis state of your body. 

Consider eating a combo 

Regarding combo meals, most of the time, they are considered a bad idea because of all the extra carbs you are consuming. many restaurants include very unfriendly food items  such as fries, and sweetened beverages like soda, which are not exactly the best whether you are on a diet or not. 

However, Panera bread is the opposite, as their combos are nice and Keto-friendly, so you can order them without feeling guilty. There are plenty of healthy options you can consider, and you can check this out under their You Pick Two feature on their website and all these foods are under 600 calories – a win-win situation. 

A classic order would be going for one of the sandwiches (although you need to request for no sauce or bread), and combine this with a side salad that has no dressing, or olive oil and vinegar dressing, and extra greens for antioxidants and fiber. 

Avoid the side dishes and soups 

Note that most of the meals you get here will come with some kind of bread, a bagel or an apple. Even the fruit cup is out of bounds because it has fruits that you cannot eat on a Keto diet, such as grapes. The best advice here is avoiding all side dishes to stay as low carb as possible. If you are on a low carb diet, then these should not pose many problems for you though. 

Soups are also a no-go zone because they might have other ingredients to thicken them or create consistency, yet these are non-Keto-friendly, such as starches or beans to improve the flavor and flour to thicken the soup. Even though they look tasty and attractive, soups are a risky food item to eat out when you are on a Keto diet unless you make your own soup at home using Keto-friendly ingredients.  

What should I order At Panera Keto? 

Breakfast 

You do not need to be stuck with a boring cup of coffee just because the pastries and bread is out of your options. You can get plenty of great breakfast items in a ‘hidden menu’. 

In addition, most of the eggs are over-easy. This means they are fresh and are not cooked with milk, a tactic many restaurants use to make their eggs extra soft and fluffy. Some extra things to keep in mind are: 

  • Their breakfast choices for eggs are great, as you can get several kinds of eggs without the extra milk that many restaurants use to make the eggs soft. You can get your eggs over-easy, scrambled, whole eggs, and even egg whites (although the whole eggs are a better option if you are following a Keto diet). When ordering your egg meal, double the order to get some more satisfaction, since you are not eating the bun. The other choice you can go for is a bun-less breakfast sandwich. 
  • To make it even more Keto-friendly, add steak, sausage and bacon, as well as spinach sandwich and avocadoBoth spinach and avocado will give you plenty of iron and vitamin C, as well as powerful antioxidants that play a major role in fighting cancer. 
Food   Net carbs  Protein (g)  Fat (g) 
Ham, eggs, sausage, avocado, cheese       
Rested turkey and power breakfast egg  2  20  15 
Power egg bowl and steak  2  20  15 

Lunch and dinner 

In some years past, there was a ‘secret power bowl menu’, which has some great dinner and lunch options for Keto dieters. However, it has been discontinued in recent years, so the only option is to become creative with the food you get to get the maximum benefits. 

Note that you will need to tweak these, since the ingredients are not the friendliest to your Keto diet. There are a few things you should keep in mind when ordering your dinner or lunch, which include:  

  • The seasonal greens salad, the Caesar salad, and the Greek salad are all customizable.  
  • The dressings that work the best for your diet plan when ordering the salads are lemon juice, Greek dressing, olive oil, Caesar dressing, Chili Lime Rojo, and basil pesto. 
  • In all the salad options, the low-carb salad greens you will get include radiccio, lettuce, Napa cabbage, arugula, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, and onions. 
  • If you want extra fat in your food, the best sources to add are all cheese toppings. These include American cheese, mozzarella, gorgonzola, Swiss cheese, cheddar, feta, parmesan, and gruyere. All of them have high levels of saturated fat that is great for your diet, except the feta cheese. 
  • The chicken meals and meats, in general, will come with high-carb ingredients by default, so ask if these can be removed when you are making the order. 
  • Bear in mind you won’t find the low fat soups every day. 
  • For all the salads, you can get extra dressing or vegetables, all free of charge. They come with eggs, tuna, sliced almonds, steak and bacon. 
  • The beverage options are great, but you might want to bring your own sweetener with you (the best one to work with is likely stevia). Avoid adding sugar to them, because of the carbs. An alternative you can go for is the Splenda sweetener that Panera offers, which works well without altering the taste in a negative way. 
Salads   Low-fat Soups   Meats   Beverages  
Caesar salad  Chicken noodle soup (you do not need to go for this one always, as the carb count is rather high)  Roasted turkey (this is mainly due to turkey having a higher calcium content than chicken)  Double-shot espresso (full of antioxidants that help with the circulatory system, liver, regulation of glucose, and the digestive system). Has 2g of net carbs and 10 calories. 
Greek salad  Vegetarian garden soup with pesto (includes yellow beans, nut-free basil pesto and zucchini)Not a great choice unless you are planning to load on carbs and won’t eat them again that day.  Smoked pulled chicken (great source of protein that the body can digest easily).  Diet Pepsi – best if you are longing for a fizzy drink. Just keep in mind that diet sodas have plenty of sweeteners like aspartame. 
Seasonal greens salad (includes avocado, cucumbers, radicchio, lettuce, red onion, baby spinach, tomatoes, Napa cabbage and arugula.)    Citrus pepper chicken (the active ingredient is piperine, an alkaloid that improves the absorption of minerals and vitamins in the body)  Almond milk latte – has 30 calories and 0g net carbs. It is a worthy alternative to normal milk, and can be added to your Keto diet. 
      Spindrift lemon seltzer (not the best option unless you will eliminate carbs for that day entirely) 

Other dinner and lunch options At Panera Keto

The good thing about the dinner and lunch options is that they are interchangeable, so you can order them according to your preferences. Just make sure to hold the sauce and bread that comes with all these choices, as well as mayo, since it contains sugars and vegetable oil. 

Note that it might be challenging to eat the Panini sandwiches without the bread, as the cheese is melted into the bread – you might therefore need a fork if you decide to get them. 

Food   What to hold 
Heritage ham and Swiss sandwich  Maple mustard sauce 
The Cuban  Spicy and sweet pickles 
Roasted turkey and avocado BLT  Basil mayo 
The Italian   Basil mayo 
Bacon turkey Bravo sandwich  The signature sauce 
Roast turkey, cheddar and apple sandwich (should only have arugula, cheese and meat)  The slaw and apples 
Turkey sandwich  Mustard sauce and mayo 
Frontega chicken panini  Chipotle mayo 
Steak and arugula sandwich  Horseradish sauce 
Mediterranean vegetable sandwich (ask for extra meat)  Hummus and bread 
Steak and white cheddar panini  Horseradish sauce 
Chipotle chicken avocado melt  Mayo  
BBQ chicken flatbread  BBQ sauce 

Things to avoid 

Food   Components to avoid 
Greek yogurt with mixed berries  Granola 
All the soufflés, soups and oatmeal varieties   
Chicken soup, wild rice soup, broccoli cheddar soup  Very high carb content (about 20g of net carbs for every cup) 
Fresh fruit cup   
Modern Greek salad with quinoa  Quinoa, dressing 
Southwest chili lime ranch salad with chicken  Dressing, crisps, quinoa and corn 
Spicy Thai salad with chicken  Wonton strips, salad dressing and edamame 
Cheese dishes, macaroni and pasta   
Panera bread bowls   
Tuna salad, modern capresse, four cheese grilled cheese, Napa almond chicken salad sandwiches   
All sweetened beverages, smoothies, juice and milk drinks   
Kids yogurt, peanut butter and jelly   

Conclusion 

While Panera keto is not the traditional restaurant that sells burgers, it is still tricky to order food here because of all the bread on offer. However, it gives you a chance to customize your foods and still eat healthy, since there is special attention it pays to its ingredients. 

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