Bagels are one of the first “easy” breakfast ideas people think of. Especially when they need to run out the door in the morning! It’s one of the few breakfasts people will eat untoasted, untopped, straight out of a coffee or bagel shop drive-through!
While the convenience of a fresh but dry bagel is almost unmatched, they are not inherently healthy. Made up of mostly flour, there’s little to speak of for nutrition. That’s the reason we think having some easy, delicious, and healthy bagel toppings up your sleeve are a great idea! Being able to take your bagel from flour to taste and nutrition power is SO easy!
Let’s dive into how to take your breakfast bagel to the next level. It’ll have taste and protein to boot, plus the versatility of fitting in all day long. We promise it’s worth waking up a few minutes earlier to make one of these every morning!
Can bagels be healthy?
As they’re typically made, bagels aren’t exactly healthy — unless you’re calling them healthier than just not eating. Maybe.
Bagels are made with mostly flour, sugar, and water, so there is little nutritional value. Store-bought bagels also always have preservatives in them. This is helpful for retail and corporate bottom lines, but definitely not as healthy as homemade bagels without them.
Either making homemade bagels or buying organic, healthy bagels IS a great option for making them healthier food. And that’s before the healthy bagel toppings are added.
How to choose healthy store-bought bagels
Stuck in the morning time-crunch? Just got to grab a bagel on the go (or grab one out of a bag and run)? We understand!
There are a few things to keep in mind when buying store-bought bagels that make for a healthier choice. Even on those rushed mornings.
A first great option is choosing a whole wheat bagel over a typical white flour bagel. Whole wheat flour is less processed than white flour (like all-purpose flour, bread flour, etc.). The extra processing removes some of the healthy fats and nutrients.
Another way to make your bagel itself healthier is to choose multigrain over just whole grain. These bagels will often have whole wheat as the flour plus many other ground whole grains. Some additional whole grains that you might find included are:
- Whole brown rice
Bagels made with oat flour, for example, are another healthy option for digestive health. These are especially good if you’ve got a sensitive stomach or need a gluten-free bagel! Choosing gluten-free foods can be great for people without sensitivities, too. It gives your body a chance to just digest less difficult foods, without giving up the taste or experience!
How to make healthy homemade bagels
If you’re making your own bagels at home, then you’re in the ideal situation to make the healthiest bagels around! This is the best option for healthier bagels without breaking the bank.
You might find a recipe that includes such healthy ingredients as:
- Greek yogurt (to add protein)
- Raw oats (to increase fiber)
- Flax seeds (for increased fiber)
- Honey (instead of sugar for a beneficial sweetener)
- Butter in the recipe (to boost taste so you skip the high amount of butter on the toasted product!)
- Added superfoods (think blueberries, hemp hearts, etc!)
Most homemade bagel recipes contain far fewer ingredients than store-bought. You might find you don’t even need a sugar source in your recipe! Greek yogurt bagels, for example, often only include 2 ingredients — flour and greek yogurt! They’re tasty without added sugars, healthy with a little protein boost, and so easy to whip up a batch of!
What’s the healthiest type of bagel?
Whether you’re hitting the drive-through or heating up the oven, the healthiest bagels are always going to be:
- Made with whole grains (or gluten-free)
- Light on sugar content
- Light on fatty toppings
As we discussed above, you’ll get more control over the health value of your bagel by making them at home!
Bagels made with healthy whole grains or multigrain will have a better healthy fat content (like omega fatty acids). They’ll also offer better (higher) fiber content to improve your digestive health. Whole grains also offer some heart health benefits, such as improving/lowering cholesterol levels.
The next healthiest type of bagel is simply a smaller one. If your favorite bagel shop is starting to sell bigger and bigger bagels, maybe take a break. While you might be getting a better deal price-wise, they’re just adding calories (and carbs, and sugars, etc.) to your day.
When buying or baking bagels, keep an eye on the nutrition facts. Smaller bagels typically offer fewer calories per serving than larger bagels. Try to pair lower calories with no added sugars, higher fiber, higher protein (if possible), and as few ingredients as possible.
What to put on a bagel that’s healthy?
Buying a healthier bagel is a step in the right direction, but what about toppings? If you’re plastering your bagel with butter or an inch of cream cheese, you’re not doing yourself any favors. This adds taste, sure, but it also adds a LOT of not very beneficial fats.
So how can you top your bagel so it’s healthy but delicious, and still satisfying enough to be filling?
Adding healthy and nutritious fruits like sliced bananas and strawberries will add tons of vitamins and minerals.
Replacing more “empty” fats like butter or cream cheese with peanut butter can be a simple swap to boost nutrition. It has a fatty and satisfying taste but adds fiber, protein, and minerals to your meal.
Blueberries are an example of a superfood that make a great addition to your bagel. They add vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and many immune-boosting components.
Adding seeds — sesame, hemp, sunflower, chia, etc. — adds fiber, protein, healthy fats, and taste!
You can even make a quick, sweet topping out of drizzled raw honey and hemp hearts sprinkled on top!
Below, we have a recipe for healthy bagel toppings that’s perfect for a nutritious breakfast. It would also make a great quick and easy snack, or even a lighter on-the-go dinner in a pinch!
Download our printable recipe here
Healthy Bagel Toppings Recipe
- Sesame bagels (regular or gluten-free)
- 1 T cream cheese (dairy-free favorite works too)
- 1 avocado
- cherry tomatoes
- basil leaves
- 1 tsp hemp hearts
- Chop avocado, basil, and cherry tomatoes into bite-sized pieces.
- Toast bagel
- Spread cream cheese
- Sprinkle avocado, basil, cherry tomatoes, & hemp hearts on top
- Keep in mind how quickly avocados become overripe. If you’re not using the entire avocado on your bagel, be sure to use the rest soon!
- Feeling like it needs some spice? Try sprinkling on some healthy seasonings to customize and suit your tastes. Rosemary, garlic, or even pepper can make an exciting new taste!
- Try mixing up your hemp heart flavors! Try original, spicy, or honey aleppo.
Summary: What goes with a bagel for breakfast?
As you’ve seen, there are SO many great options for what goes with a bagel for breakfast. Whether you’re making a complete, well-rounded meal, or just need a healthy replacement for butter, you can’t go wrong!
If you need to boost calories or protein, add a fried egg to this bagel toppings recipe. The flavor will be a great complement, and you’ll boost protein at the same time.
For a vegetarian protein option, try hummus and an extra pinch of hemp hearts in place of cream cheese!
A piece of smoked salmon can easily take this from a breakfast recipe to a satisfying lunch!
Generally speaking, if it tastes good paired with bread, it’ll go with a bagel! Experiment to find your favorite combinations! We might also recommend:
Remember, the best thing to pair with a bagel is whatever food and taste serve your body’s needs and makes you hum! Food that is good for you shouldn’t be a chore. That’s why we believe in powerful nutrition and making every bite count!
Show us your favorite bagel creations on Instagram by tagging @humminghemp or #humminghemp. And don’t forget to stock up on hemp hearts in our shop or at a store near you!