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Laura Dolson

Panera's Hidden Low-Carb Menu

By January 12, 2013

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panera Have you heard of the "hidden menus" many restaurants have? These are menus that are not necessarily "secret", but the items usually aren't super-popular, so the company doesn't take up space on the menu board or printed menu with them. A surprising number of restaurants have hidden menus, but most of them won't be appealing to low-carbers. (A "Starburst Smoothie" at Jamba Juice sounds fun, but a similarly-concocted smoothie there has 70 grams of carb in a "small" - that's over 1/4 cup of sugar!)

A refreshing change is Panera -- yes, that Panera, known for its bread and sandwiches. They have recently unveiled a hidden menu with healthy low-carb options such as the Power Mediterraneian Chicken Salad (9 grams of net carb), the Power Breakfast Egg Bowl with Steak (2 grams net carb) and the Power Steak Lettuce Wraps (5 grams net carb). We can only hope it catches on!

I'm a fan of the "hidden menu" of In-N-Out Burger (a chain in the Western U.S.) -- freshly-ground beef patties, and any of their burgers can be ordered "protein style" -- wrapped all the way around with lettuce. The hidden menu also includes ordering as many burgers or hamburgers in your sandwich as you want, though I've never tried it (a "3X3" is 3 cheeseburgers together; a "3 by meat" is three hamburgers, together with tomatoes and sauce). More on the In and Out Hidden Menu

Do you have any low-carb "hidden menu" favorites? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo @ RiverNorthPhotography

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January 13, 2013 at 7:52 pm
(1) Nancy says:

Red Robin will prepare any of their burgers protein style – and they use nice thick pieces of lettuce. Love it.

January 14, 2013 at 1:07 pm
(2) Lorena says:

I love Red Robin too! An extra patty is $2 I think, and they sub in salad for fries. Iced tea with splenda rounds it out nicely.

January 14, 2013 at 2:53 pm
(3) Joyce says:

Cracker Barrels have a decent low-carb menu.

January 14, 2013 at 3:35 pm
(4) Susan says:

I generally hate Panera. They have no “protein” or dressing that doesn’t have gratuitous sugar, corn starch, etc. I have tried to find something I can eat besides lettuce there when friends want to go there. Even the crumbled egg that they put on salad has all kinds of starch. I don’t like corporate chains where everything is trucked in with all kinds of carbs to make the food taste good. Chipotle is great. They make everything fresh, right there and nothing has sugar or starch.

January 14, 2013 at 3:37 pm
(5) susan says:

Back to Panera – they have no plain olive oil. You have to bring your own or have one of their dressings with sugar.

January 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm
(6) lowcarbdiets says:

Susan, at least one of the salads on the new “hidden menu” comes with olive oil, so that might be a new thing. If they have it for one, I’m sure you could get it for others.

January 14, 2013 at 3:58 pm
(7) wendy says:

Jimmy Johns has an “Unwhich”.

January 14, 2013 at 6:37 pm
(8) mcfaery says:

Carl’s Jr offers a lo-carb burger, too, with a side salad instead of fries in the combo.Most Del Tacos have a small salad (not on menu) which is only meat, lettuce tomato, and secret sauce (sr Cream-mayo combo). It is also way cheaper than the regular taco salad (which has beans and taco shell)

January 14, 2013 at 11:05 pm
(9) JJ says:

Wow! This is totally new to me. We have Panera’s here in Houston but not the other places people mention in the comments ( I don’t think so, anyway…). I’ll write this down for the next time I go there. Thanks for a great article, Laura!

January 15, 2013 at 9:55 am
(10) Melissa says:

chick-fil-a #5 get grilled nuggets and a side salad!

January 15, 2013 at 11:42 pm
(11) Lilu says:

Always love reading your newsletters and blog, Laura. Thank you! Just when I think I’ve run out of ideas for recipes, eating out, weight loss, etc. your newsletter appears in my inbox and you get me going again!

January 16, 2013 at 10:30 am
(12) L2Wbookhand says:

Outback Steakhouse has a c)ode word for ordering food lighter(the term is escaping me now, just ask the waitstaff, they can do great things to make your meal enjoyable for your eating plan.

January 16, 2013 at 4:10 pm
(13) MES says:

Burger King will do your burger Lo Carb. It comes without the bun but you still need to ask for no sauces as well. They will do a small side salad instead of fries as well.

January 22, 2013 at 4:28 pm
(14) Sandy says:

At McDonald’s you can a grilled chicken breast and a side salad.

February 7, 2013 at 7:19 pm
(15) Christina says:

At Which Wich you can order your sandwich wrapped in lettuce instead of bread

February 11, 2013 at 3:18 pm
(16) Kathy says:

I’ve tried the Egg and Steak bowl on Sundays for 3 weeks now. The first couple of times the cashier needed help finding the hidden menu and the woman who made the egg bowl forgot the steak. Last Sunday everything went smoothly. I like the egg bowl a lot, and the woman who makes them said you can substitue bacon or whatever for the steak.

I have been making the egg bowls with bacon or sausage at home, and they are very tasty. I’m getting an Edward’s Petite Ham tomorrow and can’t wait to try that in my egg bowl, I was getting so tired of scrambled eggs.

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