Labor Day Weekend is on its way and, to me, it's a signal that it's time to put work on the side for a few days. Fall is up next as well as more cooking and baking days and nights. This last week of August, I've had money matters on the brain, thanks to rising costs of food and health insurance. When I go to the grocery store, I've noticed prices are soaring and flashbacks of the sci-fi film "Soylent Green" and vanishing fave fare haunt me. But in the real world, despite inflation woes, I vow to eat healthy - and this takes me back in time.
Going back to my struggling college student days at the SFSU Student Union there was a bagel stand that I frequented. A blackboard, much like at a coffee shop, listed dozens of bagel sandwiches to order. I often chose the cream cheese, tomatoes, and alfalfa sprouts on a poppy seed bagel, lightly toasted. It was heavenly to me because the bagel was fresh, and gave me an energy boost to study and go to my next class.
During this past year on the South Shore, during both the ups and downs as a working author (and feeling more like a "have not" than "have") I, like maybe you, have been coping with the high cost of living. Read: I've gone back to my bagel days. More times than I can count - I flunked math - I've purchased a dozen freshly baked bagels for six bucks at Safeway. After all, there's a wide variety of bagels and just as many ways to prepare them. This week I enjoyed a Bagel Day - kind of like the guy who ate submarine sandwiches to lose unwanted weight. I fixed and devoured bagels for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was a blast from the past but I did it with a bit of finesse.
Cinnamon-raisin Bagel Cream Cheese: Warm up bagel. Slice in half. Spread reduced-fat cream cheese on both slices. Top with fresh strawberries, sliced. Sprinkle with a dash of confectioners' sugar. Slice in fours. (You can also try a Blueberry Bagel for a red, white, and blue effect for the upcoming holiday.)
Tuna Bagelwich: Lightly toast two slices of a plain New York-style bagel. Spread with 3 ounces of water-packed tuna (or two slices of roasted turkey) mixed with 1 teaspoon mayonnaise. Top with mixed salad greens and Roma tomatoes, sliced. Sprinkle with pepper. Slice in half diagonally.
Pizza Health Nut Bagel: Toast two slices of a multigrain bagel. Spread with each slice with all natural marina sauce. Top with a few slices each of sharp cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup green bell pepper and mushrooms, sliced. Place in pan and bake in a 400-degree oven. Once cheese is bubbly it's done.
Bagels, a chewy, dense bread, make for a nice mini meal or snack for people of all ages, rich or poor. They're quick to make, cute, and with good-for-you fixings, you can fill - not out. Of course, baking bagels yourself is possible, but who has the time or money? I'd rather be working or playing. One more thing: Those dozen bagels for six dollars? The price has gone up to eight dollars. And the Baker's Dozen is no longer offered. But hey, it's still a deal during tough times. I think I'm going to purchase another dozen of bagels and freeze them for a snowy day.
Motto: Food can be pricey. But note, there are creative ways to get a decent and healthful meal without overspending.
- Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include "The Healing Powers" series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. (The Healing Powers of Honey and Coffee are offered by the Good Cook Book Club.) "Animal Attraction: A Collection of Tales & Tails" will be released this fall. Her website is www.calorey.com.