That's right, low-carb dining at Panera Bread. Not only do they have great salads but you can order their sandwiches to be made on fabulous low-carb bread! I had been avoiding this place and was amazed to find that it serves my dietary needs quite well.
A co-worker who suffers from celiac's disease (gluten intolerance) was telling me that Panera had great salads. Friday, I asked my wife to go with me to try their salads. She didn't want to go because she thought it'd be pure torture being tempted by delicious breads and pastries that are off limits to our diet. Reluctantly, she joined me for a salad at Panera. Each salad comes with side items. I explained that I was on a low-carb diet and couldn't eat bread, chips, or fruit and so would have to do without a side item. I must say that the salads were pretty good.
While eating, I sat back and was reading the menu across the room. Holy cow! At the very bottom of their bread menu, they had two types of low-carb bread. I went to the counter and asked for nutrition info. The pumpkin seed loaf had only 5 net carbs per slice and the Italian Herb loaf had 6 net carbs per slice. For some reason, I didn't think to buy a loaf right then.
Saturday, we decided to go back to Panera. This time, we ordered sandwiches and had them substitute the Italian Herb bread for the regular bread. Wow! This bread is awesome. If I wasn't on a low-carb diet, I would still love eating it. The sandwiches come with a choice of high-carb sides. I wanted to try their pumpkin seed bread and they let us substitute pumpkin seed bread for the side on my plate. With my wife's, we got a side of fruit for our 13 month old to eat.
I have to say that the sandwiches were fantastic. We bought a loaf of the Italian Herb bread to take home with us. I plan on taking part of this loaf with me on a business trip next week. When I'm not traveling, I usually work out of home. Panera has free Wi-Fi Internet access. So, I think this coming Friday that I might try using their cafe as my morning office.
I think my wife and I are going to become regulars at Panera. It seems almost too good to be true. Now if only they could invent some low-carb bagels and other pastries.
Added August 30, 2007:
Panera Bread Company has just stopped selling low carb bread. I am saddened by this loss. I feel that the low carb items would have been successful if they were properly advertised and had a more prominent place on the menu. Those on low carb diets typically don't frequent bakeries, so advertising the product might have made a world of difference. Please write to Panera and beg them to return this product!