The Paleo diet is all the rage these days. The restrictions on a Paleo diet includes no wheat, no grains, no soy, no beans, and no dairy. Fans of Paleo get used to cooking from scratch and eating at home, because that’s the only way to avoid the soybean oil, grains, chemicals, sugar, and dairy products that are everywhere in restaurant cooking. Sometimes if you’re with a group of friends or just really hungry away from home, eating out can be a real struggle.
The good news is that it is possible to eat well at a fast food restaurant. Next time, don’t skip out when your friends are making a Panera pit stop. Here is a list of the best Paleo things to order at Panera to avoid spending hours picking off that cheese from your salad.
Freshly Baked Bread, Bagels, and Pastries: No
For a place with “bread” in the name, you unfortunately can’t have any bread if you’re Paleo. Any food containing gluten is a no-no. I know the smell of fresh pastries is irresistible, but try not to get tempted into eating baked goods. There are other great Paleo options waiting for you that will make you forget all about those delicious cookies.
Just be sure to order salads minus the cheese and wontons or tortilla strips. Ask to swap in veggies like olives and pepperoncini at no extra cost.
Obviously the sandwiches are not Paleo because of the bread (and many come with cheese). There is currently no option to wrap your sandwich in lettuce like at In-N-Out or Shake Shack. You could just eat the insides of the sandwich if you wanted to, but what’s the fun in that?
Surprisingly, there are no Paleo soup options at Panera. Almost all Panera soups have either pasta or cheese in them so they are not a good option. No soup for you.
Secret Menu Items: YES
Like Starbucks, Chipotle, or Chick-fil-A Panera does have a secret menu. The best news is that items on this menu are all Paleo-friendly. Here are some of the options:
- Power Breakfast Egg White Bowl With Steak
- Power Mediterranean Chicken or Turkey Salad
- Power Steak Lettuce Wraps
Okay so you went through all the trouble of choosing a Paleo-friendly entreé. Now you have to choose to something to drink. Freshly brewed coffee at Panera is a great option, but I prefer the teas or smoothies.
Only get the fresh brewed black coffee (including iced), because all other coffee/ caffeine options are filled with sugar and milk.
Teas & Smoothies: Only Some
If the idea of drinking black coffee grosses you out, then Panera has lots of great smoothie and tea options. The best drinks to get are the Peach & Blueberry Power Smoothie with Almond Milk, Green Passion Power Smoothie, and the Passion Fruit or Açaí Iced Green Tea. The teas are a great choice because they are 0 calories and are a customer favorite.