One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident


Panera and Poppers

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I was in NO mood to cook. So I convinced The Husband a trip to Target and Panera would be a fun family outing for a Thursday night.

He agreed.

First, we hit the old Tar-jay and I picked up a foam roller per the physical therapist recommendation. I also had to get some wrapping paper for someone’s 2nd birthday this weekend. That someone was having an awfully good time learning how to push poppers around from Big Brother in the toy department.


We checked out and headed to Panera for dinner. That’s when I remembered the hidden menu! Don’t ask me WHY they decided to hide “the healthy items.” It makes no sense to me. I’m just happy they exist! Here’s the note from the Panera website

Developed by Scott Davis, Panera Bread’s Chief Concept Officer, Panera’s “off-the-menu” dishes offer nourishing options that make sticking to New Year’s resolutions simple. All of these meal selections are an excellent source of protein and contain limited processed carbs. But you won’t find these items on banners in our cafes, or even on the menu board.

Here’s how you get the dishes — just tell one of our associates that you’re ordering from the “Hidden Menu” and they’ll take care of it from there.

The options range in calories from 190-360 and they are all like big salad bowls. Today I had the Power Steak Lettuce Wraps.


It was delicious! To see all the hidden choices and their nutritional values, click here.

I don’t think I’ll order one every time I go. I like their bread and sandwiches too much! My normal Panera strategy is simple: A You Pick 2 with a soup (bean, veggie or chicken noodle) and salad or sandwich. If I get the sandwich, my side is an apple. If I go with a salad, dressing is always on the side and I splurge on the baguette.

Their whole-grain baguette, my friends, is why I’ll never go Paleo. That and those darn chocolate duet cookies! I had half of one for dessert today. Yes, half, because I couldn’t justify double the calories in cookie form than I ate for dinner. It just didn’t seem right. lol

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There are 14 comments so far.

    Fiona Jesse Giffords

    March 15, 2013

    Eating Panera is quite satisfying your stomach after days for craving for delicious foods. The dish makes you energetic and fuller. Really can’t think of anything else in front of this.


    March 15, 2013

    I just hade the power mediterranean chicken salad last night. It was delish, and i did miss the baget, but low carb! I don’t understand why theydon’t advertise these options. They don’t even have them on their menue board.

    Faith Plvan

    March 15, 2013

    Here’s a great blog post about the right way to foam roll–be sure to scroll all the way through the post.

    Faith Plvan

    March 15, 2013

    And here’s that link:


      March 15, 2013


    Karen P

    March 15, 2013

    Never say never. Hit menopause and your bread and cookie consumption may require a second look. Not just for weight maintenance. For sugar/insulin reasons. For overall health.

    Thanks for your review of the hidden menu. I’ll have to try that out. Never say never.


      March 15, 2013

      Never say never is the EXACT reason I won’t go paleo or gluten free or any other “diet” that excludes complete food groups. Because I can’t honestly say I’ll never not eat that again. Does that even make sense. lol I may reduce bread, I may watch carbs, I may limit gluten but to strike it out of my diet forever is unrealistic and sets me up to fail. It also starts my old perfection cycles again. It’s a matter of knowing who I am and what works for me. I want to be able to enjoy a cookie now and then without guilt and if that means I’m a few lbs heaver because of it, so be it.

      That being said try the steak lettuce wraps! Supper yummy! The hummus one is next on my list. :)

      Allison @ With Faith & Grace

      March 15, 2013

      I’ve been Paleo for almost 3 months now and 99% of the people I know who follow Paleo aren’t 100% compliant either. In fact, it’s encouraged NOT to be a 100% follower of Paleo. Read “It Starts With Food” and you’ll see that special occasions, family events, holidays, etc. are times when they encourage folks to indulge in their favorite treats, so long as they do not have any medical reason not to (such as lactose or gluten intolerance).

      I follow Paleo with the 80/20 rule. When we cook at home, it’s all Paleo. When I go out to eat, I pick and choose whether or not something is worth it to me. I would probably skip Panera’s bread (for me personally), but I love ice cream and cupcakes, so I indulge every so often without guilt. People constantly think that people who eat Paleo NEVER eat a certain food. Well, sure, there are probably some people who do avoid those foods because they don’t like how it makes them feel. But that doesn’t mean everyone does it. Most people I know do follow the 80/20 rule because it keeps them focused without feeling like punishment. I hope this helps clear up some misconceptions about how Paleo people really eat. :)


      March 15, 2013

      Thanks Allison! That helps! I guess I’m just in the camp of not having to name my diet then. lol WIth my history it just leads me down an unhealthy path.


      March 15, 2013

      This is exactly me. I pretty much eat Paleo (though I eat more fruit and less meat than most Paleo adherents), but I never call it that. As much as I don’t worry about what other people think, I don’t want to look like a bandwagon diet follower. I’m a Pilates instructor and feel like a health role model, so I don’t want to send my clients the message that “dieting” is healthy. But with that said, I think Paleo is a great option.

      PS: I’m never afraid to have that bread when I want it. I don’t think it will be the occassional bun that kills me. ;)

    Kathy Osburn

    March 15, 2013

    A hidden menu of healthy food? What a silly business decision. The healthy options should be marketed and celebrated rather than hidden. I rarely eat at Panera but would definitely eat there more frequently if they convinced me they had yummy, healthy, low cal food. Hey Panera, say it loud, say it proud “We have some awesomely delicious healthy options!”


    March 15, 2013

    wow! I never knew about the secret menu at Panera! Maybe I will start eating there again. I go and eat way too much bread.

    Jill @ a Girl in Progress

    March 15, 2013

    I always learn a lot from you blog, but I learned something huge today – a hidden Panera menu!! So awesome. I with other commenters, though, not sure WHY they feel the need to hide it, but I’ll take it!

    Jud Kossum

    March 15, 2013

    I had no idea they had that hidden menu! My wife will love it!