Panera Bread (called St. Louis Bread Company in the St. Louis metropolitan area) is a chain of bakery–café quick casual restaurants in the United States and Canada that sells breads, sandwiches, soups, salads, and other bakery items. This site will provide copycat recipes and recipes using products sold at the Panera Bread restaurants. Panera Bread Co. has 1,736 bakery cafes in 45 states and Canada under the Panera Bread, Saint Louis Bread Co. and Paradise Bakery & Cafe brands.
Here are some of the standards we set…and how you can use them to make your own super-smoothies at home.
Start with fresh fruit. It’s best to blend fruits at the peak of ripeness. One exception: bananas, which should be so ripe that their skin has turned black. Can’t use them quickly? When they turn black, Myrna pulls back a strip of the peel, slices the flesh into chunks, returns the peel to its former position, and puts the whole thing in a plastic bag in the freezer. “These frozen banana chunks are easy to use when you need them,” she says. If you must use bagged frozen fruits, look for ones that are labeled “unsweetened,” then use a bit less ice when blending.
Ensure a smooth blend. “After adding your ice and fruit to the blender, make sure to cover it with a liquid before blending,” Myrna says. Panera Bread smoothies all incorporate organic low-fat Stonyfield Farm® vanilla yogurt, which adds creaminess, sweetness, and flavor. You can also try Greek or flavored yogurts in your blends. For more protein, Myrna suggests adding silken tofu, too. Other liquid options: fruit juice, fruit puree, half-and-half, yogurt, almond or hazelnut milk, soy milk, or fat-free milk.
Keep calories and fat low…and nutrients high. At Panera Bread, all of our smoothies are 300 calories or less per every 16 ounces. They’re also low in fat, are an excellent source of calcium and vitamin C, and provide 100 percent of the daily value of vitamins B6 and B12. To keep your homemade smoothies in the better-for-you range, sweeten them only slightly, using agave nectar or honey, which will blend better than dry sweeteners.
Watch the timing. Don’t overblend. “Stop when you hear a change in the blender’s pitch,” Myrna suggests. Also, remember that smoothies are meant to be enjoyed right away, before the ingredients begin to settle.
If you wind up with smoothie leftovers, simply pour them into a container, put it in the freezer, and chill it for a few hours. It may be more like a granita or sorbet, but it will be just as delicious, Myrna says.
Smoothie Recipes to Try
When you can’t enjoy a Panera Bread smoothie at one of our bakery-cafes, try one of these flavor combinations—or create your own using similar ingredients. Add ice if you’re using fresh fruits.
Tropical Paradise Smoothie: 1 papaya, 1 cup plain yogurt, ½ cup pineapple chunks, and 1 teaspoon coconut extract
Green Tea Smoothie: 3 tablespoons brewed green tea, 2 teaspoons honey, 1 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/2 banana, and 3/4 cup vanilla soy milk
Banana-Ginger Smoothie: 1/2 banana, 6 ounces (1/3 cup + ¼ tablespoon) vanilla yogurt, 1/3 tablespoon honey, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
Creamsicle Smoothie: Sections of 1 navel orange, 1/4 cup vanilla yogurt, and 2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate