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Little Upgrades 2020: Dress Up Your Bagel

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Irvine chapter.

I would love to make this year the best year yet. As would a lot of you, I’m sure. The difficulty, of course, lies in making that actually happen. People are always going on about how they’re going to make big life changes. “This is going to be it!” they’ll say, “The year! Of CHANGE! Of New Beginnings!” Here’s what I have to say to that. When has that really worked for anybody? (If you’ve made it work, I’m proud of you, and keep doing you.) But, if like me, aiming for those big sweeping changes hasn’t really made it work for you, I present to you my new series: Little Upgrades 2020. This series is going to be all about little ways in which you can make your life fuller and happier, centering around ways to take care of yourself, physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. Today, we’re starting small on something really important: food. 

It’s a given that we need nourishing, filling food to have the energy to pursue our days. But I know we all skip meals here and there, or we call in our favorite substitute players: instant ramen and chips. My solution to this problem? Bagels!* It’s the easiest thing in the world to prepare some toppings ahead of time, toast that bagel, and layer those good, good layers on top. Bagels are simple, and done right, they can become the fulfilling meal that gets you through your day! Here are a few of my favorite recipes ranking from Level 1 to Level 3, according to fanciness (aka how much time you have on your hands). Give them a try, and let them be that subtle change that gives you a little boost every day. 


Level 1

  • Sweet: Peanut Butter/Nutella with Fruit and Granola Bagel

    • Ingredients: Bagel, Peanut Butter/Nutella, Fruit of your choice (I recommend bananas, strawberries, and/or raspberries), (optional) kosher salt, and (optional) granola 

    • Step 1: Cut bagel in half into disks and toast bagel. Slice the fruit (if necessary) while the bagel toasts.

    • Step 2: Spread your choice of sweet spread onto the toasted bagel. Add a very light sprinkle of kosher salt.

    • Step 3: Layer sliced fruit and granola on top of the spread.

    • Step 4: Enjoy!

  • Savory: Cream Cheese/Hummus with Assorted Veggies Bagel

    • Ingredients: Bagel, Cream Cheese/Hummus, Assorted Sliced Vegetables (Carrots, Cucumbers, Bell Peppers, Onions, Pickled Vegetables, and/or Cherry Tomatoes), kosher salt

    • Step 1: Cut bagel in half into disks and toast bagel. Slice the vegetables into thin strips.

    • Step 2: Spread your choice of spread onto the toasted bagel. Add a very light sprinkle of kosher salt.

    • Step 3: Layer the sliced vegetables on top of the spread.

    • Step 4: Eat that good, good bagel.


Level 2

  • Sweet: Sweet Cream with Fruit Bagel

    • Ingredients (makes enough spread for 3 bagels): Bagel, ½ cup Cream Cheese, ⅛ cup sour cream, ½ teaspoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon lemon zest, 1 tablespoon sugar/honey, a pinch of kosher salt, Fruit of your choice (I recommend strawberries, blueberries, and/or raspberries)

    • Step 1: Cut bagel in half into disks and toast bagel.

    • Step 2: Vigorously mix cream cheese, sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and sugar/honey until fully incorporated and smooth.

    • Step 3: Spread mixture onto bagel. Add fruit as desired.

    • Step 4: Get that bread.

  • Savory: Smoked Salmon Bagel

    • Ingredients: Bagel, Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese, Cucumber Slices, Tomato Slices, Red Onion Slices, (optional) Capers, (optional) a squeeze of Lemon Juice, Salt & Pepper

    • Step 1: Cut bagel in half into disks and toast bagel.

    • Step 2: Slice cucumber, tomato, and red onion into thin slices.

    • Step 3: Spread cream cheese onto bagel.

    • Step 4: Layer toppings (cucumber, tomato, red onion, capers) onto bagel. Sprinkle with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

    • Step 5: Savor the flavor.


Level 3

  • Sweet: French Toast Bagels with Maple Syrup and Fruit

    • Ingredients: Bagels, 2 eggs, ⅔ cups milk, Spices (¼ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg), ½ tsp vanilla extract, pinch of kosher salt, butter and/or oil, maple syrup, fruit of your choice (strawberries, bananas, blueberries, etc.), (optional) whipped cream, 

    • Step 1: Over medium-low heat, heat enough butter and/or oil in a skillet to thinly cover the bottom of the pan.

    • Step 2: Beat together eggs, milk, spices, vanilla, and salt.

    • Step 3: Cut bagel(s) in half and soak the bagel halves in the mixture for approximately 1 minute per side.

    • Step 4: Add bagel halves to the skillet and cook for about 2 minutes on each side.

    • Step 5: Remove fully cooked bagels from skillet. Plate with fruit, maple syrup, and whipped cream.

    • Step 6: Dig into that golden goodness.

  • Savory: Guacamole, Cheese, and Fried Egg Bagel

    • Ingredients: Bagel, Guacamole, (optional) Cheese of your choice, Egg, Vegetable Oil, Kosher Salt, Pepper optional: hot sauce, ketchup, or kimchi

    • Step 1: Cut bagel in half into disks and toast bagel..

    • Step 2: While bagel toasts, heat approximately vegetable oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, carefully add egg(s) one at a time. Cook egg(s) until the edges are set and slightly browned (about 1.5-2 minutes), tilting the skillet to redistribute the oil around the egg(s).

    • Step 3: In the meantime, spread guacamole onto the toasted bagel. Feel free to add the kimchi at this point.

    • Step 3: Once the egg edges are set, shred cheese or place a thin slice of cheese on top of the egg, and allow to warm to your desired level of softness. Then, remove the egg and cheese from the skillet.

    • Step 4: Place the egg and cheese on top of the bagel. Free free to add the hot sauce and/or ketchup at this point. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

    • Step 5: Enter Flavortown. 


*If, for some reason, bagels are your enemy, feel free to switch them out for your favorite bread. If you hate all bread in general, I don’t know what to say to ya, pal.

Marya Li

UC Irvine '22

Marya (pronounced "ma-RYE-ah," much like the singer of The Iconic Christmas Jingle herself) is an artist, singer, athlete, and podcast enthusiast majoring in Sociology at UC Irvine. While she loves exploring the meandering ravines of social dichotomies and painting to the movements of classical and R&B music, Marya considers her crowning achievement to be her Ultimate Cheesecake Recipe -- because food is life.
Emily Flores

UC Irvine '21

Emily is a third-year student at the University of California, Irvine. She is an English and Spanish Literature double major. She is currently learning Korean and would like to one day teach English in South Korea. In her free time, Emily loves reading, writing, and drawing. "Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; and therefore is winged cupid painted blind." -William Shakespeare