New York is known for bagels, and New Yorkers all have their favorite place and feel very strongly about his/her opinion. Ess-a-Bagel is a quintessential New York bagel shop that’s been in business since 1976! It first opened on 1st Avenue @ 21st Street, but now has a 2nd location on 3rd Avenue @ 51st Street which is the one I went to.
If I had to vote on my favorite bagel, Essa-a-bagel wins hands down! They are crispy on the outside and super doughy on the inside. They are to die for if you get one fresh out of the oven. My bagel choice is always their oat bran bagel (top right of photo). They have recently added a whole wheat everything bagel that is growing in popularity as well. The only problem with them is how HUGE they are. Bagels are typically large, but these look like they are on steroids! Therefore, I usually eat half, but I know that can be hard to do.
Yesterday I was in midtown for an appointment and decided to stop by Ess-a-bagel for a lunch treat and to bring home some extra bagels for my husband. A very common New York way of ordering a bagel is “scooped out” which means they remove most of the dough from the inside to save calories. Interesting right? So I went for my favorite treat: a hot oat bran bagel scooped out with low fat tuna salad, lettuce & tomato.
This photo gives a good representation of how much it was scooped out – you can tell that most of the doughy area was gone. This is a good tip to save some calories while still enjoying the bagel! I was starving when I got the sandwich, so I had half and took the rest home to weigh later. You can also tell how they load on the tuna salad! I removed some, but was still left with a hefty amount. Even with getting the bagel scooped out and ordering low fat tuna instead of regular, I knew this was more calories than my typical lunch – but that’s ok sometimes.
I called Ess-a-Bagel and they told me the bagels contain 80 calories per ounce. I put one whole bagel on my scale and it came to a whopping 6 1/8 ounces!! That’s the equivalent to more than 6 slices of bread! Now would you sit down to 6 slices of bread? Probably not. But would you eat this whole bagel? Probably. Once you add cream cheese, this simple bagel breakfast clocks in at ~700 calories!
Next up was weighing my half scooped bagel. I removed all the tuna, lettuce & tomato and placed it on the scale. The half bagel scooped out still had 2 1/2 ounces! That means that the half scooped bagel still had 5 ounces – WOW! Therefore, with tuna, this probably had 600-700 calories — even higher if it wasn’t low fat!
By scooping out the bagel you do save some calories, but as you can see, 400 calories is A LOT of calories for bread alone. Some people can use this many calories — think endurance athletes, or people who are trying to gain weight. But most of us do not and if you eat bagels this size on a regular basis you may start to see your waist expanding.
For comparison sake, I decided to buy an oat bran bagel from Whole Foods. Here’s a photo of the Ess-a-bagel on the left & the Whole Foods bagel on the right.
The verdict: 4 1/2 ounces – this is a little bit more “normal.” However, 4 1/2 ounces of grains is a bit too much for most people at one time. If you scoop this one you’re probably at 3 1/2 ounces which is fair.
- 1 Ess-a-Bagel: 490 calories
- 1 Scooped Out Ess-a-Bagel: 400 calories
- 1 Whole Foods Bagel: 360 calories
- 1 Scooped Out Whole Foods Bagel (my guesstimate): ~280 calories
- 1 Starbucks Bagel (4 ounces): 320 calories
- 1 Dunkin Donuts Bagel: 330-400 calories
Keep in Mind: These numbers do not include toppings!
How to Eat an Ess-a-Bagel for Breakfast for only 350 calories!
- 1/2 oat bran, whole wheat or whole wheat everything bagel
- Topped with 1/2 cup egg whites or egg beaters with 2 TB low fat cheese and a slice of tomato
Nutrition Tidbit: Bagels
- If you love bagels, you do not need to be without them
- If you have them once in a while, then get you’re favorite combination, savor it, and stop when you’re full (ie try not to finish it all)
- If you want to include bagels on a more regular basis, then choose a smaller one (3-4 ounce size), choose whole wheat, ask for it scooped out and add a protein for satiety: peanut butter; thin smear of low fat cream cheese & lox; or eggs (this will probably be 400-500 calories).
- For those that keep breakfast calories lower, then only eat half the bagel!