Even with the holiday rush fast upon us, don’t forget to take time to eat a little something for breakfast even if it is just a bagel and cream cheese.
But what brand of bagel? And which cream cheese: regular, light, or fat-free?
This was a job for The Spokesman-Review’s reader food panel, which graciously spent its dinner hour the other evening sampling some of the options.
Its verdict: You can spend less money, and forego some fat grams, and still do just fine.
The best bagels, of course, come fresh from the bagel shop. But if you’re looking for something with a longer shelf life, not to mention a lower price tag, the supermarket offers a few choices.
We decided to try some raisin-cinnamon selections. Somewhat surprisingly, the panel’s pick was the cheapest (and smallest in size): Lender’s traditional bagels from the freezer case. They had the biggest raisins and the best flavor and texture, if you prefer chewier, more authentic bagels, anyway. (And if you’re more partial to the cinnamon than the raisins, be sure to check out Lender’s new cinnamon swirl flavor.)
Between the other two bagels, both breadier (which seems to be the style these days), Braun’s - whose hallmark is individual wrapping, for freshness - was a slight favorite over The Daily Bagel, with its tiny raisin bits. And while Braun’s bagels cost more, they were also bigger, making them a little less expensive ounce for ounce.
Among the cream cheeses, all from Kraft, the light version was rated just as tasty as the regular, with half the fat (5 grams per serving, versus 10 grams) and 30 percent fewer calories.
As for the chalkier, nonfat stuff - which, for some perverse reason, actually cost more than the others - well, let’s just say it was nobody’s idea of a white Christmas.
Lender’s Frozen Bagels, Cinnamon Raisin
Price: $1.29 for 12 ounces (6 bagels).
Nutrition: 160 calories (6 percent fat calories); 240 milligrams sodium per bagel.
Comment: “I like the raisins in this bagel - nice and chewy.” - Jarretta Manning
Braun’s Bagels, Cinnamon Raisin
Price: $2.13 for 18 ounces (6 bagels).
Nutrition: 210 calories (5 percent fat calories); 360 milligrams sodium per bagel.
Comment: “Doesn’t have the right texture, but the flavor is not bad.” - Ken Peters
The Daily Bagel, Cinnamon Raisin
Price: $1.99 for 16 ounces (6 bagels).
Nutrition: 190 calories (11 percent fat calories); 280 milligrams sodium per bagel.
Comment: “Someone forgot to put the cinnamon and raisins in this. Tan in color; maybe they put the raisins in the blender.” - Jan Robison
Kraft Philadelphia Brand Light Cream Cheese
Price: $1.79 for 8 ounces.
Nutrition: 70 calories (64 percent fat calories); 150 milligrams sodium in 2 tablespoons.
Comment: “Good cheese! Great for a lite one. Could make a ‘lite’ eater out of a person.” - Bob Bates
Kraft Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese
Price: $1.79 for 8 ounces.
Nutrition: 100 calories (90 percent fat calories); 100 milligrams sodium in 2 tablespoons.
Comment: “Very flavorful, excellent texture. Easy to spread.” - Helen Span
Kraft Philadelphia Brand Fat Free Cream Cheese
Price: $1.99 for 8 ounces.
Nutrition: 30 calories (no fat); 180 milligrams sodium in 2 tablespoons.
Comment: “Thirty calories and no fat and almost no taste.” - Ken Peters
, DataTimes MEMO: Products sampled by The Spokesman-Review’s reader food panel are prepared in a test kitchen according to package directions. Panelists are not aware of a product’s brand name or price until after they have tasted it. Products are rated from one to five stars for taste and for value, based on quality compared to price.
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