CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Panera Bread has just opened a second location in our area, this one in the Charleston Town Center Mall.
Maybe we should take a look at it as a Healthy Bites eating place to see what's on the menu for those who are watching particular ingredient numbers.
Of course, we pretend that the first thing we see when we enter -- the tantalizing bakery counter with the cookies, fudge brownies and giant sweet rolls -- doesn't exist.
Panera is already a choice restaurant for me since one opened at Southridge a few years ago.
I take advantage of their chicken salads, tuna salad, whole-grain sliced bread or baguette, fresh apple, fresh fruit salads and a cup of the low-fat vegetarian black bean soup. They are usually incorporated someway into the Panera "pick two."
Scanning the menu and nutrition information revealed these additional selections:
The ultimate winners in the salad category are the classic café at 170 calories and 18 carbs, and the watermelon fruit cup with only 45 calories, 12 carbs and zero on all remaining numbers -- sodium, fat, cholesterol.
Along with the black bean soup are the remaining low-fat vegetable, chicken noodle and lemon-chicken soups with good calorie and carb numbers but slightly elevated sodium.
The best health-watch sandwich is a half tuna salad on honey-wheat (240 calories/8 fat, 480 sodium and 32 carbs). High calorie and sodium counts are mischief makers in several other sandwiches on the board.
Surprisingly, some items that we generally regard as being healthy or sounding like they are have numbers that say otherwise, as in the whole-grain bagel. It's 340 calories, 25 grams fat and 67 carbs (four carb choices).
Getting better, a plain bagel has 290 calories and 10 fat grams, yet 59 carbs. However, the cream cheese spreads, always coupled with a bagel, have decent fat and sodium and single-digit carbs.
Muffins fall into that same bagel territory. Surely carrot-walnut has to be good for us, but it has 500 calories and 72 carbs. And 89 carbs lurk in the pumpkin muffin and 80 in the apple-crunch.