Out on the Town: Panera Bread’s Secret Healthy Menu

Heads up! Panera Bread has a secret healthy menu. Click to read up on all of the details! | The Slender Student The other day I was looking for something to do instead of writing my paper. Per usual, I ended up on Pinterest, browsing for recipe inspiration. What I found, though, was something entirely different.

Panera Bread has a secret. It’s huge. It’s a game changer. It’ll mean that I want to eat at Panera for every meal… Well, I already kind of do (guilty pleasure, don’t ask, it’s weird) but now I can do so without guilt. Panera’s secret is its secret, healthy power menu. You won’t find these items on any menu board but, since you’re a Slender Student, you’re obv in the know about all things nutrition.

Self Magazine and Fit Sugar have given us the full scoop:

  • Power Breakfast Egg White Bowl with Roasted Turkey: Roasted all-natural, antibiotic-free turkey, egg whites, warm baby spinach, roasted peppers, and basil pesto. (The Skinny: 180 calories, 7g carbs, 25g protein)
  • Power Breakfast Egg Bowl with Steak: Two all-natural eggs, seared top sirloin, sliced avocado and tomatoes. (The Skinny: 230 calories, 5g carbs, 20g protein)
  • Power Mediterranean Chicken Salad: All-natural, antibiotic-free chicken, baby spinach, romaine, tomatoes, apple-wood smoked bacon, diced eggs, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil. (The Skinny: 360 calories, 12g carbs, 35g protein)
  • Power Mediterranean Roasted Turkey Salad: All-natural, antibiotic-free roasted turkey, baby spinach, romaine, tomatoes, red onions, kalamata olives, fresh squeezed lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. (The Skinny: 320 calories, 12g carbs, 22g protein)
  • Power Chicken Hummus Bowl: All-natural, antibiotic-free chicken, with cilantro jalapeno hummus, baby spinach, cucumbers, diced tomatoes & red onions finished with fresh squeezed lemon & fresh chopped cilantro. (The Skinny: 330 calories, 23g carbs, 33g protein)
  • Power Steak Lettuce Wrap: Seared top-sirloin, leaf lettuce, cucumbers, diced tomatoes, red onions, basil pesto and finished with fresh lemon juice. (The Skinny: 280 calories, 7g carbs, 28g protein)

What do you guys think about the secret menu? Looks pretty bangin’ to me. However, this whole healthy menu being under wraps thing does bother me a bit. Shouldn’t the most nutritious, health-conscious meals be at the forefront of the menu? Seems to me like nutrition is a high price to pay for a little hype.

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Out On The Town: Salad Bar

I’m not a sadist but I do find it disturbingly fun to watch people making their own salads under the assumption that they’re making a healthy choice, only to cover the undeserving bed of lettuce with fatty, calorie-laden toppings.

Before you realize that I’m a terrible person and close your browser, let me make up for it by giving you my tips on how to stay slender while you’re out on the town at a build-your-own salad bar.

Slender choices at a make-your-own salad bar! | The Slender Student[image]

Ok, it’s pretty hard to go wrong here, but I’ll tell you this much: iceberg is the barren wasteland of the lettuce world. You’re not going to get fat from choosing iceberg over romaine or baby spinach, but you will be missing out on some vitamins, minerals, and other disease-preventing compounds. Laaaame.

vegetable toppings
I basically go buck wild on the raw, non-starchy veggie toppings when I’m making my own salad. They’re low calorie, full of nutrients, I like the way they taste, and I love not having to wash and chop them myself. An easy tip is to get as many different colors going on in your salad as possible. The different colors are indicative of different nutrients. Eat the rainbow or whatever. When it comes to starchy vegetables (corn, potatoes, beans, squash, etc.), I’ll usually pick one or two and have a total of about 1/2 cup.

Lately I’ve been adding avocado whenever I can, aiming for about 1/4 of a small fruit (yeah, I know, this is supposed to be the vegetable section). This is about 40-80 calories, but it’s packed with healthy fats that I know my body needs. Now, guacamole that looks like neon green paste? That I’ll pass on.

protein toppings
I stick with what I know when I get to the protein. This means grilled chicken, turkey breast, hardboiled eggs, black beans, baked salmon, or tuna. Anything breaded, fried, or mysteriously marinaded is likely to pack in more calories than you realize. I try and eyeball a 3 ounce serving, which is about the area/thickness of the palm of your hand.

I have very firm thoughts on cheese as a component of salads, sandwiches, wraps, et cetera. If I can’t taste it, then why have it there at all? A serving size of cheese is 1 ounce (usually a slice, or the size of your thumb if it’s a block cheese), so I go for the strong cheeses that’ll deliver flavor in that small of a portion. This usually means a spoonful of goat cheese or a sprinkle of feta. Cheapy cheddar cheese shreds just don’t do anything for me.

Other sneaky extras you might want to be aware of are dried fruit, nuts, seeds, croutons, and wonton strips. How come? Here:
1/4 cup of dried cranberries = 100 calories
1/4 cup of peanuts = 210 calories
1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds = 50 calories
1/2 cup of croutons = 90 calories
1/2 cup of wonton strips = 115 calories

If I’ve been “good” with my salad (no nuts, cheese, mostly lean protein and vegetables), then I’ll have 1-2 tablespoons of whatever dressing looks best to me on the side. I’ll then dip my fork in my dressing first and stab around my bowl for the goods. You’ll be surprised by how much less dressing you end up needing that way as opposed to pouring or dipping.

If I’ve decided to amp up my salad with more delicious toppings, I’ll opt for a splash of plain balsamic vinegar or soy sauce (something I picked up in Spain…weird…but try it). Nothing wrong with an essentially 0 calorie dressing.


Did I miss something you always scoop into in your salad bowl? Want to see another restaurant or type of cuisine featured in the Out On The Town series? Leave a comment!

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Out on the Town: Starbucks

Answer this week’s new QOTW!

In keeping with last week’s coffee post, midterm season, and my admitted dependence on caffeine, I thought it was time for an Out on the Town: Starbucks. If you’re not familiar with my Out on the Town series, this is where I break down how and what to order at various restaurants. Please leave a suggestion in the comments if you want to see another type of restaurant covered on The Slender Student!

K, back to business. I view Starbucks as one of those tricky places where everything is presented as healthy– you know, with the post-consumer packaging and words like “seasonal,” “classic,” and “harvest,” in the product names. But if you do a bit of nutritional research, whether it’s here on The Slender Student or while you’re waiting in line during the 8 am rush surfing your iPhone, you’ll begin to see that things are not always as they appear. The suggestions I have listed here are what I consider some of the best and worst items to choose.

As you might already know, my general rule is that I don’t like to drink my calories. But, because many have a hard time ignoring the craving for a warm, creamy latte on those brisk walks back from campus, I included some of the better choices from that category. I’ve also pointed out some of the more nutritionally surprising menu items.

Since what’s available at your Starbucks will vary and because it’d be overwhelming for us both to go over every food or beverage they’re selling, it’s always a good idea to do your own investigating. Also, take advantage of your barista (you know what I mean) and customize the living daylight out of your drink. Yeah, be that person.

Without any further adieu…

Want the official Slender Student opinion on your favorite drink? Leave it in the comments and I’ll let you know what I think!

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Out On The Town: Tex-Mex

Answer this week’s QOTW!

Alright, sit down and take a deep breath. Are you sitting? Good, because what I’m about to say is going to surprise you. K, brace yourself… I’m telling you it IS possible to stay slender while going out for Tex-Mex. You’re going to have to make some different and possibly difficult decisions, but you can do it, and I’ll be holding tu mano all the while.

 2 fajitas, each with: 1 corn tortilla, 2-3 strips of chicken, fajita veggies, salsa, and 1 T guacamole
- chicken tortilla soup without tortilla chips or strips; ask for cheese on the side so you can control the portion (I’d add 2 T or so)
– taco salad with no tortilla chips or strips, no sour cream, and guac, cheese & dressing on the side

- tortilla chips = 20-25 calories EACH
 queso = 135 calories per 1/4 C
– refried beans = 60 calories per 1/4 C
– sour cream = 25 calories per 1 T
– Mexican rice = 80 calories per 1/4 C
– flour tortilla = 150 calories per 8″ tortilla
– frozen margarita = 300 calories per 6 oz.

ask your waiter for a side of cilantro or a lime wedge to add flavor to your meal
– instead of avoiding eye contact with the tortilla chip basket to keep yourself from eating them, start with a cup of tortilla soup or a side salad to stay in check
–  stray from the sugary, calorie-laden frozen margaritas and see if your waiter can whip you up a lower calorie version with tequila, lime juice, club soda, and Splenda. Many restaurants now also serve pre-made low calorie margaritas, like the Skinny Girl brand.