Sampling Smoothies, Salads, and More at Panera

Panera Bread has always been a go-to venue when I’m in the mood for a cafe style lunch. You know, something light but substantial. In this review, I’m sharing four items that I’ve been snacking on during recent visits to this casual bakery-cafe.

Low-Fat B-Green Smoothie

Low-Fat B-Green Smoothie

Nicole got me started with green smoothies at home. She makes a killer one based on kale and fruit juices. But I’ll admit, they take a lot of work. When I’d rather just grab one while I’m out — instead of having to juice and blend back at home — Panera’s Low-Fat B-Green Smoothie is a good stand-in. It weighs in at only 250 calories and is low in fat so I can feel pretty good about the caloric intake. High-card though (62g) so I do keep that in mind. The flavor is good; The green veggies (kale, celery, cucumber) are present in the flavor profile but the banana take a strong lead. Perfect for my tastes!

Mediterranean Shrimp Couscous Salad

2 Panera's Shrimp Salad-South Bay Foodies

I’m never much of a salad person in Panera. They have some good ones but the sandwiches always win me over. So when I was invited to try* their new Mediterranean Shrimp and Couscous Salad, I was eager to give it a shot. The shrimp was good; maybe not as flavorful as restaurant shrimp but the texture was great. I focus on texture when it comes to shrimp and get quickly turned off when they are mushy or grainy. The shrimp in this salad were plump and firm, holding up nicely to the crisp baby spinach and romaine lettuce. The dressing, a lemon balsamic vinaigrette, was also a nice touch; the salad felt light but was dressed enough that I didn’t need to ask for more dressing. I’d try it again, but like I said, Panera’s sandwiches are what keep me coming back.

Roasted Turkey & Avocado BLT

3 Roast Turkey and Avocado BLT-South Bay Foodies

Ever since I can remember going to Panera — which has been almost 15 years now — I’ve been a sucker for their Bacon Turkey Bravo sandwich. If you see me at Panera, having a sandwich, chances are crazy good that I’ll be eating a Bacon Turkey Bravo. So it was far from the norm for me to try the Roasted Turkey & Avocado BLT. Well, maybe not too far. Its a turkey sandwich, after all, and like the Bravo it also has apple-wood smoke bacon. Then it adds avocado, which makes a great sandwich topping. As I ordered I knew it would be a sandwich that I would enjoy. I made one small change, though: instead of the stock sourdough bread, I swapped it for the tomato basil…the bread used for the Bravo sandwich. In the end, biting into this sandwich was like a new, but familiar experience. Maybe next time I’ll get it with Bravo sauce…

Turkey Chili

Panera's Turkey Chili-South Bay Foodies

Similar to the salads, I don’t venture into soup territory too often at Panera but I was intrigued by the Turkey Chili soup. Most turkey chilis I’ve had use one type of meat, usually ground turkey. Panera’s chili has ground turkey AND chunks of roasted turkey. Nice touch. Then beans area also kind of fancy being a mixture of garbanzo and kidney beans. Heck, they even throw in some edamame! The flavor profile is peppery but there’s not too much heat generated by the spices. Its just enough to know that this chili is distinctly chili, but also a special kind of chili. Yes, I’d order it again.

You can find more information on these and other items from Panera on their website,

* Some items mentioned in this article were provided on a complimentary basis for the purpose of this review; specifically the smoothie, the salad, and the chili. Menu items mentioned are subject to change. This story was accurate when it was published and reflects the uninfluenced opinions of the reviewers.

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About the Author

Michael loves grilling, rum, and has a weakness for key lime pie.

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