When you’re on a diet, most people feel so restricted about traveling and ordering out because there are so few healthy options and so many temptations to cheat. Being on a diet however is not the end of your life. You just have to know what to order when you do go out. A popular chain, Panera, was recently visited by a group of nutritionists and here are the dishes they recommend ordering if you’re on a diet.
But clean ingredients and all, it’s still pretty easy to go calorie crazy at Panera. Yes, we want a roll. And the potato chips. And an apple, please. So we asked six nutritionists to share their go-to orders.
The nutritionist: Victoria Holthaus, M.S., R.D.N., founder of YES! Nutrition, LLC
The order: Mediterranean Quinoa Salad or You Pick Two: Black Bean Soup and a Classic Side Salad.
“I love the quinoa salad because it has 19 grams of plant-based protein from golden quinoa, red quinoa, and almonds,” says Holthaus. “But sometimes I just can’t pick one thing. The black bean soup has balanced amounts of carbohydrates, fiber, and protein. I grab a bottle of coconut water for a potassium boost to help balance the sodium in the black bean soup.”
“In addition to the nutritious greens, this salad provides healthy fats from the pecans. It also has 29 grams of protein (mostly from the chicken!),” says Dulan. “Since the oils boost the calorie and fat counts of the salad, I try not to use all of the dressing you’re given.”
The nutritionist: Marie Spano, M.S., R.D., board-certified sports dietitian, certified strength and conditioning specialist, team nutritionist for the Atlanta Hawks
The order: All-Natural Turkey Chili and Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
“The turkey chili is loaded with fiber and protein,” says Spano. “Lots of spices, like garlic and onion powder, give it a delicious kick (though it is loaded with sodium). The quinoa salad has a lot of great textures and tastes, with crunchy almonds and cucumbers, and soft olives and quinoa. The plant-based salad is high in antioxidants, plus the extra-virgin olive oil provides healthy fats.”
The nutritionist: Kristen Smith, M.S., R.D.N., founder of 360 Family Nutrition
The order: Lentil Quinoa Bowl with Chicken
“This is a great well-balanced lunch choice,” says Smith. “The chicken provides lean protein, and this bowl uses spinach and kale instead of romaine or iceberg lettuce. (That means extra calcium and vitamin K!) To keep the sodium in check, I remove about half of the broth.”
The nutritionist: Lauren Harris-Pincus, M.S., R.D.N., owner of Nutrition Starring You, LLC
The order: You Pick 2: Low-Fat Vegetarian Garden Vegetable Soup with Pesto and either BBQ Chicken Salad and a Whole Grain Roll or Chicken Soba Noodle Salad with Peanut Sauce and an Apple
“I love that Panera makes it so easy to enjoy fruits and veggies as part of a delicious meal,” says Harris-Pincus. “These combos clock in around 400 calories and are nutrient-rich with a nice balance of protein, fiber, and lots of produce.”
The nutritionist: Elizabeth Shaw, M.S., R.D., owner of Shaw’s Simple Swaps
The order: Low-Fat Vegetarian Black Bean Soup with a Sprouted Whole Grain Roll
“I love that this soup has over 15 grams of protein and almost 10 grams of fiber to keep me full and satisfied,” says Shaw. “Black beans are filled with vitamins and minerals like iron and folate that make this a nutrient-dense meal on the go.”