Le Pain Quotidien is the sophisticate of fast-casual eating. The bakery-cum-restaurant is a ladies-who-lunch hot spot, for ladies who only have 15 minutes to spare. And the whole place smells like freshly baked bread. Which brings up the big questions all healthy eaters are bound to ask: Is this place, er, even healthy? It's named after carbs!
Okay, first off: carbs aren't all bad. And secondly, yes, it is 100-percent possible to eat healthy here thankyouverymuch—including if you're vegan or vegetarian, following the Mediterranean diet, or gluten-free. Here, Well+Good Wellness Council member and registered dietitian McKel Hill, RDN, gives her top recommendations on what to eat while still following your preferred eating plan.
Keep reading for registered dietitian-approved tips for how to eat healthy at Le Pain Quotidien.
Menu picks: Avocado Toast; Avocado Superseeds Salad; Lentil Avocado Salad
What an RD says: Le Pain Quotidien has a whole menu of tartines (fancy French word for toast) topped with vegan-friendly things like beets, chickpeas, and of course avocado. In fact, the classic avo-toast is one of Hill's top pick for plant-based eaters, though she advises rounding it out with a side for more protein and fiber. Or, you could get the Avocado Superseeds Salad and get all the needed nutrients in one dish. "The seeds in the salad give protein," Hill explains. Another option is the Lentil Avocado Salad; the lentils are a great plant-based protein source while the greens give fiber.
Order tweak: While Hill says the salads are a nourishing complete meal on their own, she says the avocado toast on its own might leave you hungry later. "I would like to see some type of plant protein and a fiber-rich side like a salad," she says. What should you pair it with? Keep reading.
Side dish recommendations: You'll probably want to order an extra something if you get the avo toast, since Hill says most vegetarian dishes don't have enough plant-based protein or fiber on their own to keep a person full. Go for the Gazpacho Soup, which is loaded with antioxidants and vitamins.
Menu picks: Salmon and Ricotta Tartine; Avocado Superseeds Salad
What an RD says: All of these menu picks have a balance of protein, healthy fats, vegetables, and carbs—score! "The salad in particular is rich in vegetables," Hill says. (Yet another win for the Avocado Superseeds!)
Order tweak: If you're going for one of the salads, Hill says to opt for olive oil as the dressing to get extra healthy fats. And if you're getting the Salmon and Ricotta Toast, she says it's a great option—just don't have it every day. "Vary your fish sources throughout the week, so maybe go for tuna tomorrow," she says.
Side dish recommendations: Once again the Gazpacho comes out on top as a good source of antioxidants and vitamins A, C, and E.
Menu picks: Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad; Smoked Salmon Bowl; Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai
What an RD says: For a place with the word "bread" in its name, Le Pain Quotidien is actually pretty GF-friendly. They even have zoodles! "The Smoked Salmon Bowl and Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai are both solid choices," Hill says, pointing out the protein-fiber balance. The Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad is also full of veggies, protein, and healthy fats. If you're really craving a toast (because come on, that salmon and ricotta one sounds so good), LPQ's website says that they can make any of their tartines on gluten-free crackers.
Order tweak: If you have Celiac disease, you should definitely talk to your waiter before ordering to ensure that all the ingredients don't have sneaky gluten in them (like the Pad Thai sauce, Hill says).
Side dish recommendations: All the soups at Le Pain Quotidien lack wheat (although again, check with your waiter to ensure that there are no traces of gluten) so Hill says to have your pick. Just skip the side of, well, bread.
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