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Tasty toppings for fresh bagels 5/12
(This article is adapted from the May 2012 Consumer Reports and ShopSmart magazines.)

Bagels aren’t a bad nutritional choice generally speaking. The large full-size bagels that Consumer Reports tested recently have about 260 to 350 calories, 1 to 4.5 grams of fat, and 2 to 5 grams of fiber. The sodium content can range from 330 milligrams to 660 milligrams, or more in an "everything" bagel. But what you really need to watch out for is the topping—better known as a "schmeer."

Consumer Reports looked at a variety of different "schmeers" including the traditional cream cheese, which is not one of your calorie-friendly toppings. Just two tablespoons of cream cheese racks up 100 calories and 10 grams of fat. And who can use just two tablespoons?

Even worse is butter or margarine. Just two tablespoons of either of these toppings adds up to 200 calories and 22 grams of fat. If you use 2 tablespoons of jam alone, the jam has no fat, but the calories can total 120.

Peanut butter topping is about the same as butter or margarine: two tablespoons will set you back 190 calories and 16 grams of fat.

So what’s a good alternative if you’re looking for fewer calories and good nutritional value?

An ounce of smoked salmon is a good choice. It counts for just 35 calories and 1 gram of fat. (Unfortunately it can have a lot of sodium.) Or you can try two tablespoons of hummus, which has 50 calories with only 3 grams of fat, including very little saturated fat, and up to 160 milligrams of sodium.

For the freshest hummus topping, make your own. The following recipe yields about 2 cups:

In a food processor, blend 2 garlic cloves, 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons water for 30 to 60 seconds. Add a 19-ounce can of organic chickpeas (drained), alternating with 1/3rd cup tahini. With the motor running, add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Purée until smooth, adding more water if needed. Stir in 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt.

Related links

Who makes the best bagels? 5/11

There’s more hummus among us. 7/11

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