The Healthiest (and Least Healthy!) Things to Eat at Le Pain Quotidien
Trying to make healthy choices at Le Pain Quotidien? Here's our breakdown of the popular chain's menu.
I’m a long-time fan of the Belgian chain Le Pain Quotidien, and I was over the moon when I heard they would open in Philly a couple of years ago. LPQ is still one of my favorite spots in the city for a healthy breakfast, brunch, lunch, or anytime snack break. And brunch at LPQ is my post-Broad Street Run tradition.
Overall, most LPQ menu items are on the healthier side, except those that are obvious indulgences (hello, plate-sized chocolate chip cookie and spoonfuls of hazelnut chocolate spread). When it comes to the calorie counts on menus, remember they don’t include additional bread (and LPQ has some great bread), which can easily add couple of hundred calories to your meal.
That said, here are some of the healthiest (and least healthy) things you can order on your next visit to Le Pain Quotidien.
BREAKFAST & BRUNCH
Sunny Side Breakfast Bowl (510 calories) — This bright bowl provides a super nutritious boost. The egg is a great protein source. Kale is high in multiple vitamins — A, C, K, and folate. The red cabbage gets its beautiful color from anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant pigment. Avocado adds that healthy unsaturated fat. The vegetables combined with ancient grains give this bowl a high fiber content, which keeps our digestive system efficient, and makes those gut bacteria happy. Did I forget to mention this bowl is totally delicious?
Dragon Fruit Smoothie Bowl (480 calories) — Oh, sure, the Toasted Paris Ham & Gruyère Croissant is high in saturated fat, and the Warm Belgian Waffle with fresh berries, cream, and Belgian chocolate are high in sugar and simple carbohydrates. But you already knew that! The Dragon Fruit Smoothie Bowl, however, is one of those seemingly very healthy dishes — which does indeed have some nutritious ingredients — but also has a sugar content (from the granola especially) that’s likely on the high side. Since this dish is made from coconut yogurt, the protein content is most likely low, even though the chia seeds give some protein. A thick coconut yogurt is also high in saturated fat. The calorie count of the bowl is similar to the Sunny Side Breakfast Bowl, but satiety would be lower, and your energy wouldn’t last as long. I would share this bowl with a friend as a fun dessert, rather than having it as my breakfast or brunch.
Whole Wheat Sourdough — Their Whole Wheat Sourdough bread is a great choice for a couple of reasons. The fermentation process makes it easier for us to absorb minerals in the bread, increases folate content slightly, and also starts the digestion of gluten. For a sweet treat, get a side of sourdough and top with a smidge of that heavenly hazelnut spread.
Blueberry Muffin (490 calories) — The blueberry muffin is high in calories and sugar. Yes, there are a couple of blueberries in there, but not enough to make it a healthy treat.
Sweet Potato & Black Bean Toast (550 calories) — Black beans add fiber and protein, and several minerals important for bone health. The sweet potato gives you complex carbohydrates, fiber, and beta-carotene. The vegan chipotle aioli gives a spicy touch. This is one I’d happily re-create at home.
Prosciutto, Ricotta & Fig (500 calories) — I have a hard time picking a “worst” option here, because I like all the tartines. The Prosciutto, Ricotta & Fig tartine is a higher sugar choice than the other tartines, and the prosciutto and ricotta combination makes it high in saturated fat.
Lentil & Avocado (630 calories) — This salad is a super nutritious choice, with the lentils providing a nice source of plant-based protein and fiber, and the avocado giving you healthy mono-unsaturated fat. (You can add salmon for a higher-protein meal). Radish, carrot, and fennel add extra fiber.
Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai (230 calories) — All the salads on the LPQ menu are healthy options in my book. However, the Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai salad is very low in calories unless you add protein, and I would not recommend it as a lunch all by itself. Add chicken or salmon (to get those Omega-3s in), split that Dragon bowl for dessert, and you’ll be full for longer.
Super Green (170 calories) — The Super Green daily blend is a great way to get some additional fruit and veggies into your meal. I love the refreshing addition of ginger, which may help with digestion, and antioxidant-rich mint.
Iced Belgian Mocha (300 calories) — This drink falls into the category of Frappuccino-style drinks that can very easily add a large amount of calories and sugar to our diets in the summer. Calories we drink are not as satiating as the calories we eat, as a general principle. Go for a simple unflavored iced latte instead, made with non-fat, almond or soy milk, and if you need a little sweetness, add a teaspoon or two of honey, to taste.
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