As far as vices go, Panera's Mac & Cheese is a permanent contender at the top of the list. This creamy, white cheddar-based dish is almost enough to convince me to renege on my dairy-free lifestyle (read: almost), and for those whose digestive system is more forgiving, it provides a heart-warming and soul-fulfilling meal. However, this comfort food comes at a price.
As you might imagine, this meal is overflowing with fat. The small bowl has 39 grams of fat, which is just one gram shy of the amount I eat in an entire day. Since fat provides more energy per gram than carbohydrates or protein does, the calorie count of this dish is also relatively high for its volume — 470 calories in one serving.
Unfortunately, most people looking for a full meal gravitate towards the larger portion size. This aggressively large bowl clocks in at 950 calories and contains 61 grams of fat, or the equivalent of eating four tablespoons of pure olive oil. This is almost 100% of the daily FDA value in one meal.
It also has over 50% of your daily value of cholesterol and more than 100% of your daily value of sodium. If you've read my article on misleading Nutrition Facts labels, then I'm sure you can imagine my reaction when I first glanced at the numbers for this Mac & Cheese. At this point, I might as well bold the entire article.
As a brief aside, I was actually floored by the sheer number of milk products in this bowl of mac & cheese. This includes (but is not limited to) milk, cream, concentrated skim milk, whey, whey protein concentrate, milk fat, skim milk, milk protein concentrate, and dried cream. No matter what aspect of dairy you may be intolerant or allergic to, this meal is sure to have you covered.
Ways to Think About It:
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed nutritionist nor a registered dietician. The opinions expressed in this article are my own, and each individual is ultimately responsible for his/her dietary and nutrition practices. Please consult a physician before starting a new dietary program.