Au Bon Pain: Doing healthy fast-food right

Au Bon Pain recycled paper goods

There is no such thing as healthy fast food. Its existence is about as real as healthy junk food.

However, there are healthiER fast food options…and they really come in handy in certain situations.

Take my present situation, for example. I’m writing this from a restaurant called Au Bon Pain…which happens to be located on the ground floor of an Indianapolis hospital I’ve been living in for 5 days.

My best friend had a freak accident while on his way home from visiting family for Thanksgiving, and I drove up as soon as I possibly could.

Unfortunately you usually find fast-food locations and crappy cafeteria food in hospital settings.

Thank the FSM for Au Bon Pain.

With more than 280 locations in the United States (but none where I live, unfortunately), Au Bon Pain is changing the face of fast food. Health Magazine says,

A pioneer in healthy fast food, Au Bon Pain serves up sandwiches, soups, salads, and hot entrees made with whole grains, veggies, and hormone-free chicken.

New this year: Portions, a 14-item menu of nutritious small plates—from appetizers like apples, blue cheese, and cranberries to salads like chickpea and tomato—all of which are less than 200 calories. Another impressive feature: Au Bon Pain provides on-site nutritional information via computer kiosks, so before you even order you know each option’s calories, fat, and sodium. “It’s a great way to empower customers,” praises judge Amy Jamieson-Petonic.

We love: Yummy low-cal soups, from Jamaican Black Bean to Fire Roasted Exotic Grains and Vegetables. Danger zone: The sodium counts can get high if you don’t pay attention.

Au Bon Pain goes above and beyond the healthier, more natural menu items and hand-made pastries, and also uses paper goods made from 100% recycled content. That just seems like a no-brainer to me, but I’m always amazed at the amount of establishments that do NOT use recycled paper products.

Here on the ground floor of this hospital, I think that the recycled paper goods are an especially good idea.

In this type of setting, washable dishes are just not practical. Many times over the past 5 days I’ve run in on my way to my friend’s hospital room and grabbed food to eat as I help keep him company. Au Bon Pain obviously can’t afford to have more costly dishes flying out the door, so 100% recycled paper goods seem the next best step to me.

Some people wold call Au Bon Pain a Panera Bread wannabe, but I would say it’s about 2 steps above it but at the same price-point. Hopefully as the franchise grows, they can not only maintain their commitment to health and the environment, but expand build on those efforts as well.

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About Jeffrey Davis

Yo, I'm Jeffrey, founder of and editor in chief here at Eco-Snobbery Sucks. I live in Nashville, TN and am a writer, personal trainer, web designer, and wookie hugger. I hang out on Twitter some but you can find me more active on Facebook. Enjoy the site!