A bagel is made of wheat-based pastry or bread, which is first boiled or steamed before being baked. Once kneaded and shaped, the bagel is proofed for at least 12 hours then boiled in water for a few minutes. It is then drained and baked accordingly.

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Some Brief Bagel Background

With it approximated that 209.48 million Americans enjoyed a bagel in 2018, it is safe to say that America loves bagels, but then again, who doesn’t? Well, we still have a few weeks until 2018 comes to an end, but this shows just how much America appreciates this wheat-based delicacy with Jewish origins.

Yes, just in case you thought bagels were an American food, now you know that their origins are strongly believed to be in the heart of Poland. While the exact period of their invention remains unknown, it is believed that bagels were already being made and consumed by some Jewish communities as early as 1610.

The basic or traditional bagel is made of wheat flour, yeast, salt, water, and sweetener.

The production or cooking procedure usually involves-
1. Mixing the ingredients.
2. Kneading and shaping the dough.
3. The hole-in-the-middle shape is the traditional and most popular shape or design.
4. Proofing the bagel. This particular step takes 12 hours at the least.
5. Boiling the bagel.
6. Baking the bagel.

Through the above steps, the bagel acquires its traditional, distinctive taste and glossy appearance.

But, what’s up with the hole in the middle? Does a bagel really have to have this hole to be a bagel?

The truth is that there’s really nothing binding about the hole, a bagel can still taste and smell like a bagel without it. It’s just that the hole-design is hundreds of years old and many Americans grew up with it. So, for many of us, a bagel without a hole isn’t a bagel. Besides, this hole does come with a few advantages. For starters, it allows easier handling. Secondly, it makes the bagel more appealing.

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Bagel Varieties

As expected, the bagel has evolved over time and what was consumed back in 1610 is not what many Americans are consuming today.

Common variations and varieties you are likely to find in any American deli include-

- The Montreal-style Bagel - this one contains sugar, malt, and no salt. Honey-sweetened water is used to boil the bagel.

- New York-style Bagel - this one contains salt, unlike the Montreal-style bagel. Water is used to boil the bagel, not honey water.

- East Coast-style Bagel - this one shares most of its characteristics with both the New York and the Montreal-style bagel. Its unique feature, however, is that it is made from sourdough.

Many cultures across the world have also developed their own bagel-style bread or pastries. Most have two things in common though, the hole in the middle, and the sesame and poppy seeds toppings.

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The Health Benefits of the Bagel

Do bagels have any health benefits for the human body? We all know they are primarily carbohydrates, but let’s find out!

Truth is if consumed regularly and without exercise, bagels have a way of generating unwanted fat within the body. To be more specific, the average bagel can pack up to 350 calories or more.

This is not to imply that bagels are inherently evil. No, they are not bad, it’s just that they tend to pack empty calories and are, therefore, not of any benefit to the body. The usual deli bagel lacks fiber, minerals, and vitamins. It is rich in carbohydrates, yes, but carbohydrates without fiber amount to nothing but sugar and eventually, fat.

However, there is some good news in the midst of the gloom - whole grain bagels can be said to be of some benefit to the body as they do contain some fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Not much, but enough to be considered a healthier alternative to the regular bagel. One thing though, not all bagels that boast of being “whole wheat” are actually whole wheat or whole grain. Whole wheat means 100% whole-wheat flour, not sub-standard flour, and certainly no food color.

What if you are not particularly crazy for whole-wheat products? In that case, go one regular bagel a day, or better still, a half of a bagel or a mini-bagel, and you’ll be cutting the carbs and calories by half.

If you’re looking for a healthier option for breakfast or an anytime snack, check out our Denny’s Menu Hacks post to learn how to make a Ham and Cheese Omelet like the one on the Denny’s Menu!