Hungry? Panera: Whole30 Style

Yeah, you heard me right. Panera: land of the turkey sandwich with more calories than a Big Mac. If you can stand to enter one of these establishments where you’ll see pastries and smell bread you can’t have before you even get through the second set of double doors, there are actually some really great options! Paleo and Whole30 Veterans will already know what I’m about to tell you … but for others I may be expanding horizons, eh?

… there’s a Hidden Menu at Panera! Did you know? Some of the people that work there don’t even know, so it’s no surprise if you didn’t. I’m not joking, I’ve had to walk the people behind the register through their on-screen prompt to find my meal on multiple occasions. But it’s worth it! Panera is a popular spot for work lunches and they are absolutely everywhere, so it’s nice to know those of us watching our weight actually have options and don’t have to sit at our desks glaring at a sad Tupperware of steamed vegetable while the rest of your department is skipping happily over to Carb Country whilst giggling and gossiping. Now, one caution, while these are much healthier choices than the regular menu, not everything is perfect for Paleo or Whole30 dieters “as is.” You DO have to make some adjustments here and there, but if you know your guidelines, they are easy adjustments to make.

For example, the photo above is of my dinner last night. On my way home from the gym, I called the significant other to see what was on the brain for dinner. A confession that Chick-Fil-A had been consumed for the second time that week (so supportive) sent me on a hunt to find a no-cook meal on my way home. No easy task, as fast-food options are pretty much limited to this Panera menu and Chipotle for me so far. I wasn’t in the mood for the only compliant option at Chipotle last night, so Panera it was. I had the Power Steak Lettuce Wraps (which I treat as a salad and just cut up, personally) and the listed ingredients are: seared top-sirloin, leaf lettuce, cucumbers, diced tomatoes & red onions, basil pesto and finished with fresh lemon juice. *clears throat obnoxiously, warms up pipes*

One of these things
Is not like the other
One of these things
Does not belong
Can ya tell me which thing
Is not like the other
Before I finish this song?

That’s RiGHT, boys and girls! Basil Pesto is NOT allowed on the Whole30! Great job! :) No Parmesan for this compliant chick. One of the other bowls has hummus … we’re banned from chickpeas for a month, remember? Do yourself a solid and ask for “no basil pesto, plus avocado and extra lemon.” Load it up with pepper and a dash of salt, squeeze the lemon juice all over it, BAM! Your taste buds are happy and you don’t feel an ounce of guilt. I brought mine home so I was able to kick it up another notch by adding basil-infused olive oil, balsamic vinegar and some extra romaine, but I have eaten this in the restaurant with just the lemon juice as a topping and was not disappointed.

Help me think outside the deep fryer and send me your go-to choices for quick & compliant lunches you can pick up if you’ve overslept and didn’t bring anything to work for lunch. Please, I beg you. I will be eternally grateful – and so will others on our adventure.

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Book hoarder. Red lipstick aficionado. Compulsive shopper. Crazy cat lady. Adores alliteration; couldn't give a @$%& about an Oxford Comma.

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