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    Archive for the ‘Au Bon Pain’ Category

    Calorie Counts Are Helpful, But Not The Answer

    Starbucks caloriesI know, I know.  I have been — and still am — a strong supporter of mandatory calorie labeling at fast food establishments and chain restaurants since day one.

    I am, however, concerned that too many people view caloric awareness as the sole key to health.

    While it certainly helps to know that breakfast item A can save you 400 more calories than breakfast item B, there are other important factors to keep in mind.

    Take a look at some items that are calorically decent but nutritionally horrific!

    Remember that for saturated fat, someone on a 2,000 calorie diet should not surpass 20 grams a day.  While I believe that value can be more flexible if saturated fats are mostly coming from cocoa or coconuts, the items listed below contain vast amounts of the very atherogenic saturated fats in dairy.

    For sodium, the recommended limit is set at 2,400 milligrams.

    Au Bon Pain:

    • Mac & cheese soup: 442 calories; 16.5 grams saturated fat


    • Guiltless Grill chicken salad: 361 calories; 1,385 mg sodium


    • Broccoli and cheddar soup: 374 calories; 19.5 grams saturated fat
    • Chicken wings & buffalo sauce appetizer: 300 calories; 1,940 milligrams sodium
    • Side of everything hash browns with onions, cheese, and gravy: 480 calories; 3,820 milligrams sodium (!!)

    Dunkin’ Donuts:

    • Strawberry coolatta (16 ounces): 300 calories; 16 teaspoons of added sugar

    Olive Garden:

    • Minestrone soup: 100 calories; 1,090 milligrams sodium

    Panera Bread Company:

    • Clam chowder: 320 calories; 18.7 grams saturated fat
    • French onion soup (with croutons and cheese): 174 calories; 1,784 milligrams sodium


    • Chicken noodle soup: 260 calories; 2,580 milligrams sodium
    • Fat-free balsamic vinaigrette: 120 calories; 1,170 milligrams sodium; 4 teaspoons added sugar

    Red Lobster:

    • Broiled seafood platter: 280 calories; 1,660 milligrams sodium

    While calorie counts are helpful for weight concerns, health is about many other factors.  Even if, down the road, all chain restaurants in the entire country provide calorie information, it is not a green light to make them a dietary staple.


    Just ‘Cause It’s Made With Pumpkin Doesn’t Mean It’s Healthy

    pumpkins-main_FullAs autumn proceeds to pepper foliage with orange and red hues, drop temperatures, and add a unique crisp to the air, food chains roll out their traditional seasonal offerings.

    As you can see below, the Fall season brings plenty of nutritional frights!

    • Au Bon Pain pumpkin muffin: 530 calories
    • Au Bon Pain large pumpkin latte: 40 grams of added sugar (as much as a can of Coca-Cola; 160 additional calories)
    • Dairy Queen small pumpkin pie Blizzard: 570 calories, 12 grams saturated fat (60% of a day’s worth)
    • Dunkin’ Donuts pumpkin muffin: 630 calories (130 more than a large order of McDonald’s french fries)
    • Dunkin’ Donuts large pumpkin latte: 44 grams of added sugar (11 teaspoons, or 176 additional calories)
    • Starbucks pumpkin scone: 480 calories, 9 grams (almost half a day’s worth) of saturated fat, 38 grams of added sugar (9.5 teaspoons; 152 additional calories)
    • Panera Bread Company pumpkin-shaped shortbread cookie: 12 grams saturated fat (as much as a tablespoon and a half of butter)

    Enjoy responsibly.

    Any time you purchase a flavored coffee, make it a small, and skip — or ask for half — the whipped cream.

    Similarly, these gigantic baked goods are better off in the “no more than once a week” category.

    The key is to plan accordingly.  If sharing isn’t an option, then make that baked good your only sweet of the day, and be sure that your lunch and dinner that day mainly consist of a protein and plenty of vegetables (ie: grilled fish and sauteed broccoli, three-bean chili, seitan or chicken with a baked sweet potato, canned tuna or grilled chicken over a colorful salad, etc.)


    Why Calories Must Be Posted Nationwide!

    MenuCaloriesIt is my hope that in the not-too-distant future, chain restaurants will be legally required to post calorie information about their products in all fifty states.

    Some know-it-alls like to quip, “Oh, come on, who doesn’t know a triple cheeseburger with large fries is high in calories?”

    What these geniuses fail to understand is that it is not the obvious pitfalls that are a concern.  Consider the following calorie values.  They were certainly surprising to me!

    • Au Bon Pain chocolate orange pecan scone: 580 calories
    • Au Bon Pain crumb cake: 750 calories
    • Au Bon Pain pecan roll: 810 calories
    • Cosi western omelette croissant: 713 calories
    • Cosi garden pesto omelette croissant: 740 calories
    • Cosi carrot muffin: 500 calories
    • Cosi cinnamon-apple pie: 964 calories
    • Uno Chicago Grill chicken & broccoli fettuccine: 1,300 calories
    • Uno Chicago grill individual tomato & cheese pizza: 1,740 calories
    • Uno Chicago grill individual veggie pizza: 1,950 calories

    How many were you surprised by?

    These three chains also offer items with much more reasonable caloric values.  Unfortunately, if that information continues to remain hidden from menus, consumers will continue to be in the dark.


    Numbers Game: Answer

    When comparing an Au Bon Pain double chocolate chunk muffin with a large order of McDonald’s french fries, the muffin provides 70 MORE calories (570 calories vs. the large fries’ 500 calories).

    That’s not all, folks.

    This muffin also provides double the saturated fat of those large fries — and 100 MORE milligrams of sodium!

    Oh, and then there are those 11 teaspoons of added sugar.

    These gigantic muffins truly irritate me because they suck away all the enjoyment from savoring a chocolatey baked good.

    Why can’t these simply be half the size (and calories)? A 285 calorie muffin sounds more reasonable — and easier to justify as an occasional treat.

    And anyone who says “just don’t eat the whole thing!” needs to go up to their bedroom and read Brian Wansink’s amazing book, Mindless Eating.


    Numbers Game: Compare and Contrast

    When comparing An Au Bon Pain double chocolate chunk muffin with a large order of McDonald’s french fries, the muffin provides _____ ______ calories.

    a) 70 MORE
    b) 50 FEWER


    d) 120 MORE

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Friday for the answer.


    Numbers Game: Answer

    Au Bon Pain’s “sausage, egg, and cheddar on an asiago bagel” breakfast menu item contains 810 calories and 115 percent of a day’s worth of saturated fat (for a 2,000 calorie diet).

    I find those numbers quite shocking.

    That caloric value represents half of what some people should be eating in an entire day!

    It is precisely when I see these kinds of figures that I don’t understand how anyone can perceive mandatory calorie posting on menu boards as a “bad” or unnecessary idea.

    By the way, if you’re an Au Bon Pain breakfast person who loves a bagel in the morning, you still have options.

    One of your best? Eggs on a honey 9 grain bagel.

    Not only do you cut calories significantly (down to 360), you also get 4 grams of fiber (the 9 grain bagel offers the most fiber, although I don’t believe it is 100% whole grain) and only FIVE percent of your daily saturated fat limit.

    Additionally, the 21 grams of protein will do their part in helping you feel full well into the late morning.


    Numbers Game: Big Breakfast

    Au Bon Pain’s “sausage, egg, and cheddar on an asiago bagel” breakfast menu item contains _______ calories and _________ percent of a day’s worth of saturated fat (for a 2,000 calorie diet).

    a) 810/115%
    b) 612/81%

    c) 739/150%

    d) 531/92%

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Tuesday for the answer!


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