Paleo Vegan Bagels Exist and They’re Actually Pretty Good
In my opinion, there is no better breakfast than a bagel. Whether you’re dressing it up as an egg sandwich, enjoying it with cream cheese and lox or smothering it in butter, this round bread won’t let you down.
Unlike Ice-T (who has never had one), I have been eating bagels since I started teething, and my mother would string frozen mini-Sarah Lee’s on a piece of yarn for me to gnaw on. Since then I’ve consumed seemingly thousands of bagels at brunches and hungover breakfasts all over Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and absolute bagel-mecca New York.
I have had good bagels, bad bagels, and store-bought bagels, so yes, I do consider myself a connoisseur. I am no Cynthia Nixon, meaning I find sweet bagels disgusting. My order typically smells like onions and garlic and includes some sort of fish. Major shout out to the Shtetl sandwich with smoked sable and goat cream cheese at Russ & Daughters. (Pro tip: Get it on an onion bagel.)
It’s freshly 2019 and many people have New Year’s resolutions bouncing around their heads about eating more healthfully, cutting carbs, or going on diets. While I am resolving to do none of the above, I am resolving to try more things, so when Bedrock Bakers emailed me about trying their paleo, gluten-free, vegan, grain-free, and dairy-free bagels I thought eh, what the heck.
Bedrock Bakers’ everything-free bagels are called “pagels” because they are paleo-bagels. (Or perhaps pretend bagels? I’m not entirely sure.) The pagels came to me in trendy little color-coded bags. What I learned very quickly is that they spoil in a matter of days if you don’t freeze them. So my second batch of pagels came to me in trendy little bags and immediately went into the freezer.
I was given one everything pagel, one plain pagel, one cinnamon raisin pagel, and one sesame pagel. All pagels are roughly the size and shape of a hockey puck, which is much smaller than any bagel you’re going to get from, say, Noah’s Bagels or East Coast Bagel (shout out to Calabasas). They are more caloric than a regular bagel — Google tells me your average bagel is 245 calories, while Pagels are 270 and up — but I don’t count calories anyway.
Bagel-bagels are typically made with yeast, brown sugar, salt, gluten-rich wheat flour, baking soda, etc… however pagels are made with cassava flour, almond flour, potato starch, organic tapioca syrup, yeast, and sea salt.
I first attempted to de-frost the sesame pagel in my toaster oven — no dice. Then I popped it in the microwave and nuked it. Success! Then I put it back in the toaster oven to toast. I decided that for my first pagel ever, I would enjoy the sesame seed option with butter so I could truly taste the pagel and not just whatever toppings I was piling on it.
My first bite of the pagel was more like a bite of gluten-free toast than that of a bagel. It was softer than GF toast but had that same chewy density that gluten-free items have (and that I personally enjoy). The flavor was actually pretty tasty, and all the sesame seeds didn’t come off in the toaster oven. I considered this pagel definitely not a bagel but definitely a win for the health food baked-goods scene.
The next morning, I woke up craving an everything bagel sandwich. I defrosted my bagel and then popped it in to the toaster oven. I fried an egg, and while it sizzled in the pan I began to suspect it might be too big for my bagel. I was correct. After spreading veggie cream cheese on my toasted bagel, I attempted to put my fried egg on. It did not fit. The pagel was essentially wearing an egg tutu.
Most likely, if you’re the type of person who is eating a pagel for health reasons, you are probably also not topping it with a fried egg. So if you are this person, you will not be facing this issue. If you are me, you will eat all the stick-y out-y bits of the egg first (roughly 3/4 of the fried egg) and then consume your sandwich.
The everything pagel was, in a word, delicious. For some reason it was fluffier than the sesame pagel, perhaps due to the way I prepared it. It has roughly all the same ingredients as a sesame pagel, but with the addition of onion, garlic, and sesame and poppy seeds. As a bagel sandwich, the normally slightly dense texture of the pagel soaked up all the oil from my fried egg and made the “bread” much softer. If I were to order more pagels, they would probably all be of the everything variety.
On day three of my pagel-a-day diet I decided to try the cinnamon raisin version. As you may remember, I’m not really a sweet bagel person. I’m not really a dessert person in general, to be honest. I put cream cheese on my cinnamon raisin pagel, however, because I am a dairy person. The raisins in this one were nice and juicy, and the overall pagel was pretty good, but like I said — I prefer my bagels to be savory.
My last pagel was the plain one. This one was the most like eating gluten-free bread, which, like I said, I enjoy. It toasted well, it paired expertly with the cream cheese, cucumber slices, and red onion that I was able to sprinkle atop it.
If you’re looking for some sort of magically paleo, gluten-free, vegan, grain-free, and dairy-free item that tastes, looks, and has the mouthfeel of a real bagel — you’re not going to find it. If it exists, it’s probably in a make-believe supermarket next to nutrient-packed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and calorie-free chocolate frosting.
However, if you open yourself up to the possibility of gluten-free bread and a smaller and better-for-you breakfast, the pagel is a great and tasty option. If you’re looking to buy your own pagels, they’re available online. If reading this instead made you immediately crave a gluten-y, gigantic bagel sandwich but you don’t know where to grab one — these are the best bagels outside of New York.
Food for review was provided by the producer at no cost to the writer.