Top Pick Of The Week

January 8, 2008
Updated October 2008

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Organic Bagel

The guilt-free bagel (we won’t talk about the cream cheese): It delivers two servings of whole grains per day, it’s only 260 calories (regular bagels can be twice that and more)...and it’s delicious. Shown: the Sprouted Healthy Hemp bagel. Photography by Claire Freierman.

WHAT IT IS: Large, whole grain bagels.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Bagels that are good for you, made from whole grains and sprouted grains. Bagels made without sweeteners (your regular bagels probably have HFCS or another sweetening agent). Bagels that are the right size, not overblown, so that you can enjoy the entire bagel for 260 calories instead of twice that. (Check the real weight and calorie count of the bagels you normally eat.)
WHY WE LOVE IT: Low calorie, tasty and a bagel.

French Meadow Bakery:
Healthy, Whole Grain Organic Bagels

Bagels often get a bad rap from nutritionists and others who advise us on good eating habits. Supersized, they’re high in calories.* Made with white flour, they’re stripped of nutrients, no matter that the flour is “enriched.”† Made with sweeteners, they’re a secret source of sugar (often in the form of high fructose corn syrup). Many of them can’t be enjoyed plain, and require that we slather them with cholesterol-laden butter or cream cheese, piling on more calories. But please, don’t ask us to give up that bagel.

*No matter how you slice it, most bread is 70 to 100 calories per ounce; those big boy bagels can be five or six ounces. We laughed when we saw a calorie count for “2-ounce bagel, 160 calories.” Those are the teeny mini bagels, rarely found.

†When refined, the white flour used to make bread is stripped of fiber, magnesium, zinc and several other nutrients. Five nutrients are added back to “enriched” flour: the B vitamins thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and folic acid, plus iron.

French Meadow Bakery, with the wisdom of Solomon, has created the best of both worlds: whole-grain bagels that are large, have a modest number of calories (for the entire bagel, not just half), taste good and meet the USDA mandate of three to five servings per day of whole grains. They’re also USDA organic-certified.

You can use them for regular sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, or as bagels, with traditional or calorie-conscious spreads. We love topping ours with FAGE Total 0% fat yogurt. Thick and creamy, it may not be cream cheese, but it suits these whole grain bagels beautifully. Read the full review below and see these beautiful bagels for yourself.

THE NIBBLE does not sell the foods we review
or receive fees from manufacturers for recommending them.

Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their respective categories.


Enjoy More Whole Grain Foods

The New Whole Grains Cookbook Whole Grains Every Day King Arthur Flour
The New Whole Grains Cookbook: Terrific Recipes Using Farro, Quinoa, Brown Rice, Barley, and Many Others, by Robin Asbell. “No grain is left unturned” in this recipe book, which covers everything from breakfast to dessert. Click here for more information or to purchase.
Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way, by Lorna Sass. A thorough primer on whole grains, including detailed profiles and simple cooking instructions for each. Great recipes for soups and salads, main courses, side dishes, breakfast foods and desserts. Click here for more information or to purchase.
King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains, by King Arthur Flour. The manufacturers of fine flours have assembled 400 tempting, delicious and foolproof recipes with detailed nutritional information. Click here for more information or to purchase.

French Meadow Bakery: Healthy, Whole Grain, Organic Bagels


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Imagine enjoying an entire, large bagel (3-1/2 inches in diameter, 3.5 ounces) for 260 calories, that delivers 20 grams of protein, no sugar and tons of flavor. Think of bagels with so much texture and flavor that they can be enjoyed plain, without a slathering of butter or cream cheese. And, the USDA wants you to eat three to five servings of whole grains daily: One bagel delivers two of them. Your nutritionist would encourage you eat these bagels. And French Meadow Bakery will ship them to you.

French Meadow Bakery has been producing healthy organic breads for more than 20 years—it’s the longest continuously-certified organic bakery in the country. There are 17 different types of loaves, plus pizza crusts, tortillas, even a gluten-free brownie and chocolate chip cookie. While we focused on bagels for this review, we look forward to trying the rest of the fare.

What’s in a regular bagel? Recipes vary from outlet to outlet, but here’s what’s in a Lender’s plain bagel (note that the third ingredient is high fructose corn syrup):

  • Enriched flour (high gluten wheat flour, malted barley, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate [vitamin B1], riboflavin [vitamin B2], folic acid, ascorbic acid [dough conditioner]), water, high fructose corn syrup, yeast, salt, wheat gluten, calcium propionate and sorbic acid (preservatives), diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides, mono- and diglycerides, partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil, wheat starch, enzymes, cornmeal.

What’s sugar doing in a bagel? Look at the label of any enriched flour (white flour) bread you buy: many have sugar (or the cheaper high fructose corn syrup) to add flavor to the blandness of the flour. It adds unwanted calories and refined carbohydrates, too.

By comparison, here are the ingredients of the two closest “plain” French Meadow Bakery bagels:

BagelsIt looks like a “normal” basket of bagels, but these whole grain, high-protein, lower-calorie bagels from French Meadow Bakery avoid the empty calorie trap of standard bagels.
  • Sourdough Bagel: Stoneground organic white flour, filtered water, sea salt.
  • Spelt Bagel: Organic spelt flour (wheat), filtered water, organic spelt (wheat), sea salt.

Which would you rather feed yourself and your family?


Continue To Page 2: About Whole Grains & Sprouted Grains

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