Healthy Options at Corner Bakery Cafe, Part 2: Lunch & Dinner

May 16, 2011 1:22 pm
Posted in: Menu Mondays
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Healthy Options at Cornery Bakery Cafe

A couple of weeks ago I offered up my recommendations for The Healthiest Breakfast Choices at Corner Bakery Cafe.  Today I round it out with the rest of the menu.

I’ll be the first to admit, it’s actually fairly easy not to go overboard on calories at Corner Bakery. Unfortunately, though, limiting the sodium is going to be quite a challenge. Indeed, many of the “worst” offenders made in on the red list only because of the astronomical sodium content.

Corner Bakery touts their “100 under 600″ options — even using the domain name (www.100under600.com).  They say right up front, “Cut calories, not the flavor!”  Sure, no problem — that’s because they’re using salt for flavor (instead of relying on fat or sugar). Calories aren’t the only thing that counts, so don’t believe the hype.

Reader Michele was the one who first suggested I review Corner Bakery, and she specifically asked me to highlight the pescetarian- and vegetarian-friendly options.  Considering I, too, am a “vegequarian,” the best way to highlight this is just to share what I would order if I were to eat at Corner Bakery. (There are no whole grain options, sadly, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do!).

What Would Andrew Order?

Panini Combo: Half California Grille Panini & Mixed Greens Salad (hold the dressing)
335 cal, 700mg sodium

Sandwich Combo: Half Mom’s Egg Salad on Harvest Bread, Seasonal Fruit Medley, & Baby Carrots
420 cal, 750mg sodium

Pasta Combo: Penne Marinara & Mixed Greens Salad (hold the dressing, skip the garlic bread)
360 cal, 465mg sodium

Half Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich on Harvest Bread (It’s on the kid’s menu)
365 cal, 470mg sodium

Of the four options above, the Panini combo is my first choice — particularly because the veggie sandwich is stuffed with zucchini, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and spinach. That’s a lot more nutrients than what you’d get in the penne marina, and I already eat plenty of eggs. Even though I didn’t give the California Grille Panini a green checkmark in the comparison below (it missed the “best of the best” criteria by just a few calories), I’d still put it at the top of my personal list. Remember, it’s important to look at the big picture (ie, what else are you eating?) when you choose what to eat.

Below are the more detailed recommendations.  Remember, don’t be afraid to customize your meal — or even order from the kids’ menu! (Careful, though: The kids’ menu combos assume the addition of a salty pickle spear, cookie, and a drink.  Yikes!)

Fresh Hand-Tossed Salads – Better Choice

I’m listing the info for the “Entrée” sizes (the “Cafe” size will be roughly half these numbers). These include the dressings, but do not include the Focaccia Roll, which will add 110 calories and 250mg sodium.

To put it bluntly, the amount of sodium in their dressings is outrageous.  The only — only! — entrée salad under 1,000mg sodium (too high, still) is the basic Mixed Greens Salad. If you skip or change the dressing, that changes things — see the dressings listed below, and note that the Balsamic Vinaigrette is easily the best dressing choice.

Mixed Greens Salad
420 cal, 910mg sodium

Fresh Hand-Tossed Salads – Worst Choices

Not only are all of these far too high in sodium, three of them are over 800 calories. Remember, that’s also without the Focaccia Roll (110 cal, 250mg sodium).

Asian Wonton Salad X
530 cal, 1,920mg sodium

Caesar Salad
710 cal, 1,330mg sodium

Caesar Salad with Roasted Chicken X
820 cal, 1,670mg sodium

Chopped Salad X
790 cal, 1,930mg sodium

Harvest Salad X
760 cal, 1,460mg sodium

Harvest Salad with Roasted Chicken X
870 cal, 1,790mg sodium

Santa Fe Ranch Salad X
810 cal, 1,490mg sodium

The Greek Salad X X
530 cal, 2,800mg sodium (!)
640mg of that sodium comes from the feta cheese… but even if you skipped that (making it no longer a Greek salad), it would still be a full day’s supply of sodium.

Salad Dressings – Better Choices

Balsamic Vinaigrette (Harvest Salad)
130 cal, 330mg sodium
This dressing isn’t bad, actually — the Harvest Salad seems to get most of its 1,460mg of sodium from the Bleu Cheese (620mg) and the Harvest Crisps (440mg).

Light Ranch (Santa Fe Ranch Salad)
160 cal, 440mg sodium
This dressing is too high in sodium, but still better than most of their choices.  The Santa Fe Ranch Salad, at  1,490mg sodium, is getting most of that from the chicken (340mg), the cheddar cheese (360mg) and probably the corn & tomato salsa (not listed).

Salad Dressings – Worst Choices

Asian Dressing (Asian Wonton Salad) X
160 cal,  1,280mg sodium

Caesar X
460 cal, 790mg sodium

House Dressing (Chopped & Mix Greens Salads)
280 cal, 680mg sodium

White Balsamic Vinaigrette (The Greek Salad)
210 cal, 570mg sodium

Trio Salads – Better Choices

Getting the “Trio” plate means you pick three salads (or two salads and a soup) – so you’ll have to do a little bit of math to figure out the totals for your particular combo meal.

Mixed Greens without dressing
30 cal, 70mg sodium

Seasonal Fruit Medley
70 cal, 10mg sodium

Pasta Caprese Salad
140 cal, 170mg sodium

Mixed Greens Salad with dressing
120 cal, 240mg sodium

Avocado Wedge
150 cal, 310mg sodium

Trio Salads – Worst Choices

Some of these are respectably low in calories, but shamefully high in sodium.

Caesar Salad X
230 cal, 420mg sodium

Asian Edamame Salad
90 cal, 560mg sodium

D.C. Chicken Salad X
240 cal, 510mg sodium

Egg Salad X
230 cal, 520mg sodium

Greek Vegetable Salad
60 cal, 590mg sodium

Tuna Salad X
280 cal, 530mg sodium

Soups – Better Choices

Alas, every single soup except one has over 1,000mg sodium in just a cup.  I’m listing these two here because they’re the lowest in both calories and sodium… but the sodium is still far too high.

I’m listing the info for the “cup” size.  The bowl will have about 50% more of everything.

Three Lentil Vegetable
140 cal, 930mg sodium

Mom’s Chicken Noodle
140 cal, 1,080mg sodium

Soups – Worst Choices

Big Al’s Chili with Cheddar Cheese X
390 cal, 1,180mg sodium

Cheddar Broccoli X
370 cal, 1,270mg sodium

Zesty Chicken Tortilla with Tortilla Strips X
230 cal, 1,310mg sodium

Loaded Baked Potato with Cheddar Cheese & Green Onion X
410 cal, 1,030mg sodium
“Loaded” is one of my objectionable adjectives.

Italian Wedding Soup with Parmesan Cheese X
190 cal, 1,100mg sodium

Roasted Tomato Basil with Croûtons X
200 cal, 1,500mg sodium (!)

Country Bread Boule – Bowl Option X X
1,040 cal, 2,990mg sodium
Okay, so I’m not really sure what this is…but even so, I can tell you with certainty that it’s wise to avoid it.

Pasta Entrées – Better Choices

I’m listing the combo size — for the “Entree” size, you can double these numbers to be close.  This does not include the Garlic Bread, which adds 110 cal and 200mg sodium.

If you get the “Pasta Combo” it’ll come with Caesar Salad (bad) or Mixed Greens (good.)

Penne with Marinara
330 cal, 395mg sodium
Considering how high in sodium most marina sauces are (read the label on any jar, and also note the unrealistically-small serving sizes), this dish is impressively reasonable in sodium.  (Even if it’s not whole grain penne…)

Half Moon Cheese Ravioli
330 cal, 620mg sodium

Pasta Entrées – Worst Choices

Chicken Carbonara X
680 cal, 890mg sodium

Pesto Cavatappi
640 cal, 680mg sodium

Sandwiches & Paninis – Better Choices

Every full sandwich on the Corner Baker Cafe Menu is over 1,00mg sodium — and many are over 2,000.  As such, if you want a sandwich, I encourage you to get a combo (half sandwich, along with one of the “better” sides or salads listed above).  So here I’m listing the combo (half) sandwich numbers

Bakery Chips X add 150 calories and 120mg sodium.  Baby Carrots add 30 calories and 60mg sodium, and a Pickle Spear X adds 10 calories and 330mg (!) sodium.

Scroll down for my bread recommendations, and don’t be afraid to ask for a different type of bread!

These Better Choices are under 350 calories and 750mg sodium for the half sandwich. Green checks go to those under 300 cal and 700mg sodium.

Mom’s Egg Salad on White Bread
250 cal, 690mg sodium
I’d suggest getting the egg salad on harvest bread instead.  You’ll add 40 calories, but lose 70mg sodium and also gain more than 2 grams of fiber:

Mom’s Egg Salad on Harvest Bread
290 cal, 620mg sodium

Mom’s Roasted Chicken on Harvest Bread
250 cal, 580mg sodium

Mom’s Turkey on Harvest Bread
235 cal, 705mg sodium

Tomato Mozzarella on Ciabatta Ficelle Bread
340 cal, 705mg sodium

Mom’s Tuna Salad on Harvest Bread
320 cal, 630mg sodium

California Grille Panini
305 cal, 630mg sodium

Sandwiches & Paninis – Worst Choices

Chicken Peston on Ciabatta Ficelle Bread
340 cal, 895mg sodium

D.C. Chicken Salad on Steakhouse Rye Bread
310 cal, 760mg sodium

Ham on Pretzel Bread X X
340 cal, 1,790mg sodium
Salty meat on their saltiest bread.  Pass!

Poblano Fresco Roast Beef on Poblano Cheese Bread X
425 cal, 1,040mg sodium

Poblano Fresco Vegetarian on Poblano Cheese Bread
395 cal, 820mg sodium

Smoked Turkey Cobb
360 cal, 960mg sodium

Turkey on Pretzel Bread X
335 cal, 1,401mg sodium

Uptown Turkey on Harvest Bread
330 cal, 905mg sodium

Mom’s Corned Beef on Caraway Rye Bread X
240 cal, 1,200mg sodium

Mom’s Roast Beef on Sourdough Bread
255 cal, 925mg sodium

Mom’s Smoked Ham on White Bread X
205 cal,  1,150mg sodium

Chicken Pomodori X
370 cal, 1,010mg sodium

Corner Club X
365 cal, 1,090mg sodium

Corned Beef Reuben X
380 cal, 810mg sodium

Green Chile & Chicken
370 cal, 985mg sodium

Grilled Ham & Swiss X
340 cal, 1,255mg sodium

Breads – Better Choices

It’s tricky to compare the breads, since they don’t list actual serving sizes.  They do, however, list numbers for a “slice” or the whole loaf.   I’m listing the reported nutrition information for one slice of each.  There’s no excellent choice here (none of the breads have enough whole grains or fiber to make me happy), but the Brioche is certainly the clear loser.  I’m paying close attention to sodium, for sure.

Raisin Pecan Miche
140 cal, 4g total fat, 7g sugars, 1g fiber, 130mg sodium
This would probably get a green check mark, if it weren’t for the sugars.

Traditional Sesame Baguette
50 cal, 1g total fat, no sugars, no fiber, 95mg sodium
This must be a smaller slice than the other breads.

Country Boule
80 cal, no fat, no sugars, <1g fiber, 230mg sodium

Country Small Oblong
110 cal, no fat, no sugars, <1g fiber, 270mg sodium

Harvest
170 cal, 2.5g total fat, 4g sugars, 3g fiber, 270mg sodium

Focaccia Loaf
110 cal, 1.5g total fat, no sugars, 1g fiber, 250mg sodium

Breads – Worst Choices

Brioche Flatbread X X
330 cal, 13g total fat, 2g trans fat, 3g fiber, 9g sugars, 8g protein, 480mg sodium
Two grams of trans fat is your absolute daily max…and even that is pushing it.

Cinnamon Raisin
220 cal, 7g total fat, 1g fiber, 13g sugars,  220mg sodium

Country Large Oblong
170 cal, 1g total fat, <1g sugars, 2g fiber, 500mg sodium

Mom’s White
130 cal, 3.5g total fat, 2g sugars, <1g fiber, 340mg sodium

White Rye Oblong
180 cal, 1g total fat, 4g sugars, 3g fiber, 460mg sodium

Ciabatta Ficelle (entire item) X
360 cal, 6g total fat, 2g sugars, 3g fiber, 710mg sodium

Poblano Cheese Batard (entire item) X
410 cal, 13g total fat, 2g sugars, 3g fiber, 800mg sodium

Pretzel Demi (entire item) X X
410 cal, 5g total fat, 2g sugars, 3g fiber, 1,600mg sodium (!)

Healthy choices at Corner Bakery Cafe

Menu Mondays are my recommendations for the most healthful options at chain restaurants. Although it may be tough to find “perfect” options when eating out, it’s important to choose “better” whenever possible, and I hope these guides will help make that easier for you.

indicates the “best-of-the-best,” and X indicates the “worst-of-the-worst,” more or less.

See also: Healthy Options at Corner Bakery, Part 1: Breakfast & Bread

Corner Bakery Full Nutrition Information (PDF)

Photos by Rebecca Anne.

9 Comments on "Healthy Options at Corner Bakery Cafe, Part 2: Lunch & Dinner"
  1. Comment left on:
    May 16, 2011 at 2:50 pm
    Michelle says:

    Careful now, don’t be dissing the pickles too much ;-)

    • Comment left on:
      May 16, 2011 at 3:54 pm
      Andrew says:

      Ha! (If the rest of the food wasn’t so high in sodium, the pickles wouldn’t be a big deal… Alas….)

  2. Comment left on:
    May 16, 2011 at 3:17 pm
    LiztheChef says:

    Andrew, I will probably never eat at this restaurant but your reviews help guide me in other San Diego restaurants. Very, very helpful! My husband and I – and our blood chemistry – both thank you!

    • Comment left on:
      May 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm
      Andrew says:

      Wonderful! Hearing that makes it all worthwhile.

      Let me know if there’s any other restaurants you’d like me to review! :)

  3. Comment left on:
    May 16, 2011 at 5:28 pm
    Sydney says:

    Thanks for posting this! I looked up Corner Bakery’s info on their sandwiches last week because we had some leftover from a meeting at work and I wanted to snag one for lunch. I grabbed a basic turkey on whole wheat, which I assumed was a good choice, until I got to the sodium content. Outrageous!!! Sure was tasty though…

    • Comment left on:
      May 16, 2011 at 5:46 pm
      Andrew says:

      Drink lots of water… :)

  4. Comment left on:
    May 22, 2011 at 7:27 pm
    terrin says:

    I love your reviews! I would like to see a review of maoz falafel, or pret a manger, or jamba juice (so confusing! “Healthy” smoothies with so many calories and so much sugar!?) Thanks!

  5. Comment left on:
    May 23, 2011 at 7:37 am
    Andrew says:

    Thanks, Terrin!

    I hadn’t heard of Maoz Vegetarian before. A quick look on their website and I’m most impressed. I wish there was one in Los Angeles!

    The menu is small, but most of the choices look excellent. It’s probably not large enough for me to do a full post on, but I’d say this (at first glance at their nutritional info PDF):

    - Get wheat instead of white.
    - Consider a “Junior” Sandwich to save about 150 calories.
    - Skip the fries, and especially avoid the “Belgian Fries” which are the ONLY item on the menu with over 1,000 mg of sodium. (Impressive!).

    As for Pret A Manger, it’s a bigger menu, so I’ll need to spend some more time on it — thanks for the suggestion.

    I’ve already reviewed Jamba Juice, so be sure to check that out! :)

    Thanks again!

    - Andrew

  6. Comment left on:
    March 7, 2014 at 8:54 am
    Elise Logan says:

    I found your site because I’m trying to find specific sensitivity info – but this is really helpful, so thanks. If you want to have a lot of fun, try to get chains to tell you – for real and back it up – which items have corn syrup, glucose syrup or HFCS in them. I’m super-sensitive to glucose (which means corn syrup and HFCS, too), and finding out this info is really difficult. Bread is a big hiding place for HFCS, as are salad dressings. As a rule, I bring my own dressing.

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