One of the hardest things about switching to a clean eating lifestyle is those times when you have to ... or want to... eat out. Panera had always been my go to. Fresh salads, beautifully crafted soups and sandwiches. Looked like a win to me. Until I researched the ingredients. Imagine my chagrin when I discovered that they weren't nearly as clean as I had hoped. I wasn't naive enough to think that it would be like making it at home. But the amount of added junk really put me off. I mean, why does there need to be any sugar in the chicken that's in my salad? Let alone all the other things that I'm not even sure what they are!
The chicken cobb salad (my favorite!) description reads like this:
All-natural, antibiotic-free chicken, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, applewood-smoked bacon, Gorgonzola and hard-boiled egg are all tossed with herb vinaigrette then topped with fresh avocado.
Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?
Well, the ingredients list reads like this:
Romaine lettuce, citrus & pepper chicken (antibiotic free all natural boneless skinless chicken breast fillets with rib meat, water, seasoning [lemon, mangosteen, natural smoke flavor], sea salt, dehydrated garlic, dehydrated onion, sugar, dry lemon peel, spices, dehydrated rosemary, dehydrated basil, citric acid, malic acid and paprika for flavor, vinegar, rice starch), avocado, tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, Greek dressing (soybean oil, water, olive oil, distilled and cider vinegar, salt, contains less than 2% sauterne wine, spices, corn starch-modified, dehydrated garlic, hydrolyzed soy and corn protein, lemon juice concentrate, xanthan gum, propylene glycol alginate, polysorbate 60, calcium disodium EDTA added to protect flavor), Gorgonzola cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes, natamycin [preservative], penicillium roqueforti, powdered cellulose to prevent caking), applewood smoked bacon (cured with water, salt, sugar, sodium phosphates, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite).
So I asked my friends at Panera why they add so much extra stuff to what could be pretty awesome, clean, natural menu items. I am waiting to hear back. And if I do, I will share their response with you. I know that part of it has to do with being able to keep things fresh for their customers. They found a way to offer fresh bread and baked goods daily. I bet they can figure this one out too!
I still don't think this is the worst thing out there, but I think Panera can do better.
What's your favorite Panera menu item?