Eating: Panera Bread Country Style Mushroom with Truffle Soup

So I got talked into it.  I was in a Panera to finish up some school work, and take a call.  I was going to get what I ALWAYS get, and then entered the helpful man behind the counter.

Counter Man: “Hey? Do you like mushrooms?”

Me: “Uh, what…well, yeah.  Why?”

Counter Man: “No pressure but I really like the Country Style Mushroom soup.  It’s creamy, and a little sweet but I really like it.  Want to give it a try? *puppy dog eyes*”

Me: “Um, okay.  Sure.  I’ll take that.”

So there I sat with articles, highlighters, MacBook, and a bowl of Country Mushroom Soup.  According to Panera it’s “Country Style Mushroom with Truffle Soup features tender white mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes simmered with sweet cream and flavored with truffle, shallots, and red wine.”

I wish I would have known that before I got it.

So it’s not like it was horrid.  But something about a creamy mushroom soup with tomatoes is what got me I think.  I couldn’t even take a photo of it — that and it isn’t’ a very attractive soup.

It just made the flavor a bit off.  A bit awkward.  I was expecting this silky smooth bowl of mushroom goodness — come on it had Truffles in it!  But I got something that for my tongue was clunky, and like that girl at the party who is trying TOO hard to appear luxe.

So would I order it again — nope.  Did I survive it, yes….barely.  Thankfully it’s time on the menu has passed — so now onto the next time someone talks me out of my favorites.

Nutrition Value in 1 Cup:

Calories: 240 | Fat: 18 | Sodium: 610 | Protein: 4

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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?

Seriously: Me vs Drive Thru Service

So seriously; this is the second time in one week where I find myself staring at a quick service order with a salty smirk. Working at a fast food/quick service restaurant has to be difficult. Low pay; erratic hours; possibly no benefits unless you are management; and cranky customers. So I try my best to remember I am Southern and be polite. I say yes and now with ma’am and sir attached if I can discern gender through the scratchy squak box. I say thank you and please. I try not to be picky, but if I need to I make sure my requests are clear.

However things just are not going well deputy my politeness. First this week; I went to one if my favorite quick service joints — Panera Bread. I ordered a pick two of a Big Kid Grilled Cheese and a BBQ Chicken Salad. It was literally about to thunderstorm so I went through the drive thru and headed home only to get caught in the car. Once I got in, I showered since I had taught dance fitness earlier then sat down to nosh. The sandwich was okay –but due to my delays it had gotten cold. No harm no foul. So then I popped open my salad. My fantastic salad….that HAD NO CHICKEN on it. Umm how do you forget the chicken on a BBQ Chicken Salad? It’s in the name! I was just through. They also forgot my extra dressing — but the missing chicken was more of an issue. *facepalm*.

Then there is today — right now. I usually never go to Burger King but I’m running errands and it was on they way. So I ordered a Whopper Jr. with no lettuce and heavy onion. Pretty simple yeah. Guess not. As I got a sort of warm burger with a glob of ketchup, two pickles, and lettuce. I checked my receipt — no no it literally says “no lettuce; heavy onion”. *sigh and salty face*. I just wrapped it back up and put or in the bag.

So seriously fast food workers….my politeness gets me chicken-less salad and lukewarm burgers with the one extra I don’t want on it? Am I just expecting too much?!

And I’m still hungry! *grumble*

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Food: Today’s Just a Hungry Day at Panera

So here I sit in one of my local paneras. I had a lunch meeting where I talked more than I ate — so I decided that food before teaching fitness might be a good idea. I also have a homework assignment due in my nonprofit management class that I intended on completing while here— yeah that clearly is not working out.

However, after my blah review of the blah Panera Summer Shrimp Salad sandwich (see that HERE) a reader asked what I normally eat. Well that is a great question. So I really do kinda eat the same five things at Panera. As a lap-band patient at any time leafy greens, raw veggies, and breads may or may not work. However, I do stick mainly with cafe salads (greek specifically and cafe soups here at Panera. I tend to get the “Pick 2” option as well. However, today I am not only starving but not feeling well. A dangerous combo for a band-ster. So I decided to pick the lowest calorie soup option and pair it with a very boring sandwich.

So today’s Pick 2 is — Vegetarian Low-Fat Black Bean Soup and 1/2 a classic grilled cheese. I also treated myself to a shortbread cookie (horrible stats, just horrible — but then again I haven’t eaten today) and an unsweetened Hibiscus Iced Tea (with one packet of equal in it — I know I know fake sugar will kill me — but I saved calories to eat the REAL sugar in the cookie).

I had intended on photographing the fresh plate with my phone — but my buzzer malfunctioned so I missed the original call. And by the time I looked up from my work (e.g. Facebook and downloading the new Nathalie Maines album (of Dixie Chick fame) it had been sitting there for a while and I was ravenous. So the photo is of a mostly demolished plate. I also like dipping my bread chunks in the soup — so yeah thats a hunk-a burning carbs sitting in a bowl of carb goodness.

Unlike a lot of people who are in fitness — I eat like a normal person. As a lap band patent I throw up so much food, I just go for anything that might stay in my stomach. So I eat rice, and black beans. A LOT. I eat bread sometimes — certainly with delicious cheese and my fiance’s homemade garlic olive oil. I drink full sugar sodas, and I put white sugar & real half/half in my coffee (there are somethings I can do fake sugar with – like diet coke or in ice tea — coffee is sacred and deserves the good stuff). And even with ALL OF THAT on a normal basis my doctor is disappointed in my diet because I am starving myself. Not on purpose — but just because I forget to eat — or something doesn’t work and out it comes. So sometimes in a day I might have had a bowl of cream of wheat and a Starbucks coffee drink. So yes world — fat (since size 10-12 is clearly HUGE media and internets :P) people can suffering from malnutrition!

Anyhow so back to my carbalicious meal. I didn’t even think how carb heavy it was until now honestly, but that will be good as I will have fuel to take a fitness class AND teach one. Here are the stats [it is 22 TOTAL Weight Watcher Points for everything listed (soup, sandwich, shortbread and ice tea (which is 0 poins)]:

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So I get 35 points a day and I STILL have 13 points left over not counting any activity points. I suppose the point of this is not only to talk about kinda what I may get on a random rainy Thursday at a quick service place. But to discuss how sometimes you can eat what you like — and still be okay. Again, I have 13 points left because what you see above is ALL I’ve eaten today minus a few bites of another bowl of soup. Now this is not idea — and normally I would have eaten some sort of morning meal and a real lunch. But life got in the way. Anyhow, I plan to do a few more of these random postings about things I — as a real person (who likes carbs) eats. Until then…enjoy my massacred plate!

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Blah Bites: Review of Panera Bread Co. Shrimp Roll Sandwich

So Panera and I have a love/hate relationship.   Panera Bread is one of the healthiest fast food choices you can make.  They have salads, soups, and sandwiches that depending on your choices can be a healthy meal.  However, they are expensive and sometimes things are simply just misses.  So I find myself eating the same meal over and over again.

However, recently — for the summer months they released their Shrimp Salad Roll sandwich.  They describe it as:

Shrimp tossed with lemon tarragon mayo, leaf lettuce and avocado served in a freshly baked New England roll and topped with chopped basil and Old Bay seasoning. Served with choice of half a cafe salad or cup of cafe soup.

I thought I would give it a go, with a cup of their Corn Chowder Soup.  I was not looking for a low-fat, low-carb, low anything meal.  I wanted something to perk up my bored taste buds.  Here are the stats for the sandwich (the entire sandwich is 17 Weight Watchers Points):

Summer Shrimp Salad Roll Sandwich

 

Now let me also say that I had been on a no-shellfish moratorum prior to this as well, and was having some heavy shellfish cravings.  The Hubbs-To-Be has some skin/allerge issues where when it flairs up — shellfish only makes it worse.  He isn’t alergic to shellfish per se, it’s more that it can make a flair up 10x worse.  I had wanted his flair up to clear up, so I had taken us off of shellfish.  No oysters, no shrimp, no crab.  Sad because we both LOVE oysters, shrimp, and crab….. Yet I digress.  I figured I could eat this tasty treat, and then sooth the savage beast.

 

Sadly.  No.

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The sandwich was….well.  Not what I had hoped for.  The bread was this huge, thick roll — but it just only frustrated me.  It didn’t add anything to the sandwich like  hear New Englander’s state about the roll that makes up the Lobster Roll sandwich.  It was just blah.  I have to give snaps to Panera for having perfectly cooked shrimp however.  Moist, not chewy, and plump.   But the rest of the salad was also very — well blah.  Blah mayo, blah avocado   It tasted very….bland.  Like the spice fairy had forgotten to visit it — and the veggie fairy too.  Maybe some crunchy veggies and a good tangy dressing might have saved it from the blah roll.  But as is — I was utterly disappointed    I hate it when my full fat treats turn out to be bombs.  So I picked out a few of the shrimp to eat, and then I ate the soup (which was pretty nondescript as well — I didn’t even take a picture ….)

 

Oh well.  Next time I think I’ll just order my usual…in my humble opinion it is SO not worth 17 weight watchers points.

Fit Eating: Panera Bread Co. Egg, Bacon and Cibatta — Meh.

So I decided to treat my taste buds to something rich, evil, and certainly off any diet plan I’ve ever been on!  As I pulled into my local Panera Bread before work, I decided that I will not get the power sandwich, or the hidden low-carb bowl!  Oh no!  Today I want good bread, I want cheese, I want BACON!

So I pulled into my friendly Panera Bread and ordered the Bacon, Egg, and Cheese on Cibatta:

All-natural egg — freshly cracked every morning — a thick slice of Vermont white cheddar and Applewood-smoked bacon all grilled on freshly baked Ciabatta.

Here it is in all it’s non-diet glory!

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And that is about all I ate of it.  No really.  Seriously.  It was MEH.  It was the most MEH breakfast sandwich I had had in a long time.  And I have eaten protein bars — this was more MEH.  Really really just blah.
 
So here we go — lemme try to review this….more about the meh sandwich after the jump….