Fit Eating: Panera Bread Chilled Shirimp & Soba Noodle Salad

So recently I’ve been kind of hard on Panera – and then I abandoned her. I think I eat more Panera during the school year (because I can work the trip by the quick service restaurant into my commute) than normal. The closest one to my home is at our local mall, so parking is a nightmare. Further, in all honesty I’ve been cooking way more now that I live more full-time with my husband-to-be than ever. He only eats one meal a day during the week, so if I can I try to make sure it’s a good, healthy, home-cooked one.

However today, I made an emergency nail salon appointment since my poor shellac had run its course and found myself hungry and near a local Panera.

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Oh what to try, what to try! So I went old school and new school — I ordered the “You Pick 2” combo with a cup of the “All Natural Bistro Onion Soup” and a half of the “Chilled Shrimp & Soba Noodle Salad.” The onion soup was delicious as always. Hot and creamy, with deep onion notes and creamy cheese. They tossed in the crunch croutons right at the perfect time since some still gave me crunch, and a few had began to soak up the soup [Stats: Calories – 190; Fat- 9g; Carbs- 21g; Fiber-1g; Protein – 7g].

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Shrimp & Soba Noodle Salad

So now for the new.  The Shrimp & Soba Noodle Salad is one of the seasonal offerings that Panera has launched for the warmer months. The company describes the salad with a colorful story:

At Panera, our decision to only use the best ingredients often takes us on a journey. Like traveling to Thailand and beyond for the most delicious shrimp we could find. Which inspired us to create our new Chilled Shrimp & Soba Noodle Salad. Our shrimp is cooked with the shell on to keep all of the flavor in. Then, after the shell is removed, we add tender soba noodles tossed with Napa cabbage and peanut sauce and finish it with our orange miso dressing for a taste worth exploring.

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Over all….it’s not half bad. I’ll admit I am

less than enthusiastic about the soba noodles. They tasted crunch at first, and now that they have warmed up a bit the

y are more chewy. Perhaps that is how s

oba noodles are SUPPOSED to be — but I don’t particularly love the mouth feel on a personal level (plus they are getting stuck in my teeth). The shrimp (I had three large ones on my half salad) were plump, juicy and well cooked (e.g. not either underdone or rubbery). The nappa cabbage hiding in the noodles was crisp and refreshing (yes yes I picked some of the cabbage out of the offending noodles) and the peanut sauce was delicious. I also liked the orange miso dressing, which

pairs well with the handfull of crisp spinach that they toss in the bowl. Further, the stats are not half bad [Stats: Calories – 350g; Fat – 11g; Carbs – 44g; Fib

er – 6g; Protein – 19g]. Since this is the second thing I’ve eaten today I still have over 100 calories to eat, not counting the adjustment MyFitnessPal would make based on the exercise I’ll do in a little while.

So is this a totally light bit of Fit eating? No…I’m sure folks could make a 50 calorie salad — but for me the protein stats are impressive for a lapband patient, and the meal generally agrees with my surgery conflicted tummy. Good job Panera — what’s next for fall?

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