Why I Eat Bagels

by Andie Mitchell on August 15, 2011

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Every Saturday morning

you’ll find me

with a grande Americano with extra vanilla soymilk from Starbucks, never more than four inches from my right hand…bagel_cream_cheese-3

and a bagel, toasted as tan as is safe by toaster standards, spread with reg’lar ol’ cream cheese from Noah’s.

No need for special ‘structions, other than the gentle reminder to “toast her well” and “hey, I really like cream cheese.”

Thankfully, they know me by now.

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This is how I begin my two favorite days of the week. And when I told a friend that this is my much-delighted breakfast, that this is a sunny spot in all my many Seattle Saturday mornings, she paused.

She smiled.

“I’m so glad to hear you like bagels. I always feel a little guilty eating them.”

I paused.

I smiled.

I thought on it for a moment and I realized,

You know, I eat well. If I were to scan my memory of yesterday and the day before and then even the day before that, I’d find the most beautiful food. Fruits and vegetables and things that conjure the words ‘fresh’ and ‘wholesome.’ My memories of what I ate, of what I drank, would come to me in flashes of food pornography. 

I don’t make bagels the exception. I don’t want bagels to feel like a high-er-light than the rest of the mornings in my week- the mornings where I sit at my kitchen table cross-legged in mismatched pajamas, a pot of tea and a bowl of steaming banana oatmeal before me.

That oatmeal is, after all, an outright joy to eat with a dripping spoonful of peanut butter.

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Bagels are lovable because I’m not buttering and biting them by the baker’s dozen. I keep them special. Because bagels, like spaghetti and meatballs with my parents and popcorn at the movies, taste best when they’re eaten in context. They’d become mundane if I paid no mind to when or where or why or how often I was eating them. Everything would. The beautiful part about those doughy o’s, and any food that I eat, is that I appreciate them most on Saturday mornings in my favorite coffee shop up the street.

I sit, my special seat by the window where the sun casts her sideways glance, and I sip hot, milky coffee and eat that bagel, fluffy-middled and generously spread with regular cream cheese.

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I look out the window. I linger on the chew. I lick the cream cheese that has melted and made its way onto my thumb. I put it down and pick the coffee back up. Wash each bite down before beginning again.

I taste the bagel.

I feel fifteen minutes of delicious and warm and toasty.

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And then, when I’m done I pause and think

gracious that was good.

goodness that was gracious.

And then I write. I put that bagel to work upstairs in my mind. She helps me pen two books for Random House.

A few hours later I move on with my Saturday and my wide open weekend, happy that I had my favorite breakfast on my favorite day, in my favorite corner of Seattle.

I don’t regret things

I feel satisfied

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I don’t wish I had another and oh just one more and hey- can I get another?

Two and three never taste as sweet as one

I don’t pause to consider what I might have eaten, what more I could have had, how any plan of healthy eating has been ruined before noon.

This balance is what my life is about

I feel happy with how delicious and satisfying my day began.

Because I know

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I’ll be there next Saturday, with my coffee, with my bagel, with my big morning hair.

 

What’s your weekend breakfast?

{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

Evan Thomas August 15, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Reading through this, I feel the exact same way about good quality dark chocolate. I don’t have to have it all the time, or even on a regular basis, but when I do it’s its own experience.

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Ashton August 15, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Such an awesome post :)

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Jen August 15, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Thank you for reminding why I am extra excited to move back to New Jersey after 5 long years in Massachusetts. While I loved Antonios, Wings, and the Route 9 Diner (all landmarks that I’m sure you remember fondly :) ), I always missed my beloved Jersey bagels. Those crispy, doughy bagels will find a permanent spot on my weekend breakfast/brunch menu, I’m sure.

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Stacy August 15, 2011 at 6:49 pm

I love this outlook on food: something that you’re eating being just what it is – no more, no less. Bagels and whopping dollops of cream cheese are not the best for losing weight (which is where I am at), but I look forward to eating my bagels and savoring my way through every guilt-free bite when I have finally reached my goal.

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Theodora August 15, 2011 at 7:00 pm

I love this post. (Mostly because I really love bagels.) Like you, I only have them once a week these days, and I completely savor every single second.

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The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh August 15, 2011 at 7:27 pm

I felt the same way when I was eating my wedding cake cupcake from Gigi’s Cupcakes Saturday. There’s nothing better than balance in your eating habits then you never feel deprived and THAT is true happiness!

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Brittany August 15, 2011 at 7:59 pm

You are an amazing writer! My weekend breakfasts are something I don’t usually eat during the week. Something more in-depth such as an omelet.

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Maggie August 15, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Saturday morning heaven: Huevo Rancheros with X-Mas and an Iced Coffee with at least one refill from Java Joes.

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M.J. Jacobsen August 15, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Yum, coffee and bagels are the bomb! :)

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Debra August 15, 2011 at 11:32 pm

If you’re ever down south in Vancouver or Portland you MUST visit Sunrise Bagels! I have dreams about this place. Bagel heaven! It’s one of the few things I miss about living in the Great Pacific Northwest, especially in the winter. There used to be a place here in Maui that made the best pineapple bagels. Sadly, it’s no more.

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Johnny August 16, 2011 at 2:25 am

After waking up with you for the past year you would have thought that at least some of what you say would be good for me to try! I read and am mesmerized, I think about what you just said and think..Oh, that would be a great idea! But I haven’t put any of it to work for me! I need to eat like you write and maybe, just maybe I will loose this unsightly weight I’ve been carriing around.
I will, from this day forward, try to savor my food like you do and excercise more to get feely as wonderful as you do! :)

Oh, and by the way, my weekend breakfast is usually loaded with eggs and potatoes and about a half pound of bacon! That definately needs to change.

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Kristen, Sweetly August 16, 2011 at 4:37 am

you words are amazing all the time. :-) “this balance is what my life is about.”

i didn’t know you lived in seattle! i think i’m taking a vacation to seattle in november! i’m pretty excited.

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Hannah at FleurDeLicious August 16, 2011 at 6:35 am

I love this post. It is exactly how I feel about bagels, and any other food that might be considered a treat. You have to take the time to enjoy it! Otherwise, what’s the point?

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Carol @ Lucky Zucca August 16, 2011 at 7:31 am

love this post. you’ve hit the nail on the head

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Carole August 16, 2011 at 7:31 am

Wish I’d read this yesterday. I made chocolate chip cookies and ate two. They were *amazing*. Then I had two more. They weren’t so amazing. I felt kind of sick, actually.

Rarity is what makes something so wonderful. I knew that, but I needed a reminder. Thank you.

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jackie August 16, 2011 at 7:48 am

You totally have all of this figured out. It’s the balance I strive for every day and hope to have for real eventually. This is exactly why I’m excited to read any book you write :)

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April August 16, 2011 at 8:18 am

thank you for writing this!
i have a dangerous obsession with bagels and cream cheese. i could eat one every single day (and sometimes I do for weeks!) and I usually feel guilty afterwards thinking about what i could’ve/should’ve eaten instead.

i think you made some great points about balance and not feeling guilty. and just enjoying the bagel. i think this is what i need to do. maybe if i just stay present about the bagel instead of feeling guilty about it i wont need one everyday!

now if i could just figure out what to do with my husband and daughter sat. mornings so i can sit out at a cafe enjoying the sun! =)

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Lauren August 16, 2011 at 8:40 am

I can’t wait to feel this way deep in my bones. I’m still trying to find the balance, and you, internet friend, are a huge help!

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Melissa August 16, 2011 at 8:40 am

Oh, to eat a bagel with that kind of abandon. I need to rewire my brain somehow. I love bagels. Used to eat them several times a week in college. Salt slathered in real butter. And I loved them. Maybe it’s time to revisit that love affair . . .

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Carissa August 16, 2011 at 8:47 am

Well spoken! Savoring every bite of your favorite foods is so important. I don’t know how anyone constantly denies themselves the foods they love. It’s all about balance.

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Jennifer August 16, 2011 at 8:54 am

Hi, I just wanted to say that I am really enjoying reading your blog. I stumbled upon it today and I love reading through your posts. Great recipes too, thanks for sharing!

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sarah August 16, 2011 at 8:55 am

perfect as usual! Thanks once again for helping me put myself in perspective. You’ve become a special guide for me….your sweet blog, helps me in my health journey and also my journey as a mom! you are simply wonderful.
xoxo

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Online Sunshine August 16, 2011 at 9:14 am

Our Saturday morning usually includes coffee with hazelnut creamer and the most delectable avocado omelet. Eggs, beaten and cooked until almost done, and then filled with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese, about a tablespoon of sour cream, and half of the most delicious large avocado you can find at the store! And if we’re feeling particularly special, we might even pair that with a slice or two of thick bacon (thank goodness for stores that sell bacon by the slice!)

Weight loss (and weight maintaining) does not mean you have to deprive yourself of good food. It’s about eating less and enjoying more. :)

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Eve August 16, 2011 at 9:20 am

Unlike so many of the others this is the first post of yours I’ve ever read, and i have to say it was lovely on soo many different levels! Thank you for reminding your readers what a beautiful thing balance can be.

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Kimberly August 16, 2011 at 9:41 am

I seriously LOVE your outlook on eating and living a healthy life. I first came across your blog upon a Google search for baked falafels – I couldn’t stop reading your blog since. Thank you for reminding me that it’s ok to indulge and to not beat yourself up over it. Waffles and pancakes would definitely be my weekend breakfast (if I could get up early enough to make them!)

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Gina August 16, 2011 at 9:48 am

My favorite weekend breakfast is blueberry pancakes cooked in butter and served with a generous serving of hot maple syrup…mmm!

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Amanda June August 16, 2011 at 10:09 am

That is precisely what’s hard for me: enjoying something and not wishing I could have another and another and maybe push the limits of my stretched stomach with just-one-more. I have learned enough through 82 pounds to not usually have more than I ought, but I’m still left wanting. There’s something broken in me that tends to find it impossible to enjoy something and really feel satisfied and not lament its over-ness as soon as I’m done.

I have high hopes, though, of becoming whole. Someday.

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Kristina August 16, 2011 at 10:21 am

I just found your blog and I LOVE it!

“Two and three never taste as sweet as one” – I so agree with you! I’ve had people ask me why I “deprive myself” or “hold back” after just a few bites of dessert, or one truffle or cookie – but it’s not about deprivation. Nothing tastes as luscious as those first few bites, just savored and contemplated slowly. It’s about appreciating what you have in the moment, not about wanting more.

My favorite weekend breakfast varies – my husband and I both work a lot so weekday breakfasts are usually oatmeal, cereal or toast, but on Saturdays we wake up early and take the time to make something more substantial (and slightly naughty) and curl up on the couch with a movie :) Sometimes it’s pancakes, sometimes bacon and egg sandwiches, sometimes fruit crumble (yes that totally counts as breakfast)… but it always feels special because of the context – we make it and enjoy it together.

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Suzanne August 16, 2011 at 10:53 am

I love your blog—but I must say I love bagels more. Toasted and delicious with lots of cream cheese paired with a tall glass of orange juice.

That oatmeal looks delicious, and sounds amazing when you said it has peanut butter and oatmeal in it! Do you have a recipe for it? And if so can you post it? Pleaseeeeee and thank you!

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Beth August 16, 2011 at 11:13 am

Thank you so much for writing posts like this. I’m on a weight loss journey that has been stalled for a year mostly because I was tired of feeling deprived and spent 14 months rebelling. Thankfully I only gained 5 lbs. Lately I’ve been giving some serious thought both to how much more weight I want to lost and more importantly to how I want to eat. How I want to feel about food. What I need to feel satisfied and live my food life to the fullest. Never again will I take the attitude that I will start enjoying food again once I’ve reached my goal and I have you to thank for part of that revelation. Losing weight at a slower rate while loving food and learning to indulge reasonably is much more worth it in the long run than stressing myself out with a more restrictive diet. So thank you.

Oh, and my weekend breakfast delight is making pancakes for my kids (and me) on Sunday mornings. Saturdays I often bake muffins to eat with an egg instead of my usual toast but that’s more of a fall and winter thing. Right now I eat a quick breakfast of one of my regular go tos, leave my husband with the kids, and head out to the Farmer’s Market ALONE. Once school starts I’ll be taking my 5 y/o with me before his Saturday morning activity and we’ll probably buy a turnover at the market or stop at Starbucks for hot chocolate and a latte.

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Michelle @ a whole lot of life August 16, 2011 at 11:37 am

Such a wonderful post as always, Andie!

I’m slowly but surely starting to wrap my head around slowing down and enjoying my food. Most times, I greedily gobble it down while reading blogs, twitter, or something equally distracting and then look down at my plate wishing there were more.

For a long time I’ve thought you were crazy when you said that food doesn’t taste as good after the first few bites. (Sorry about that, you know I still love you). Lately, though, I’ve come to agree with you. Gasp!

Now I’m just trying to tackle this lifetime behavior of rushing through every bite one meal at a time, appreciating the journey and growth in the meantime.

Thank you for sharing a peak into your life. I found it inspirational~

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Emma @ La Vie en Ginger August 16, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Being fully present in your indulgences is HUGE. I haven’t had home Internet since I moved two months ago, which has helped me discover a habit I didn’t even realize I had: whenever I was eating something more “treat-like,” I wanted to do it while reading blogs or catching up on my shows. Like a full-on pampering ritual (that would inevitably lead to distracted overeating). When I first moved, I found it very strange and boring to sit and eat without any kind of distraction, even if I was eating something I really enjoyed. But it made me so much more mindful. I decided it that if something was worth eating, it should be delicious and interesting enough to demand my full attention. Learning to enjoy the act of moderation itself and not just practice it because you “should” is such a rewarding journey.

Oh and cinnamon rolls are the ultimate for me. Not so much even a weekend breakfast as a holiday breakfast, because they’re so labor-intensive to prepare properly (no Pillsbury pop-can for me, thanks). But a perfectly spiced cinnamon roll from scratch smothered in cream cheese frosting…oh my. Oh. My.

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Alexa @ Simple Eats August 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Such a wonderful post. Savoring and enjoying the foods you truly love is what it’s all about, right? I just wished bagels filled me up more!

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Alexis August 16, 2011 at 1:19 pm

This is fantastic, and I think everyone – regardless of whether they have/had a weight loss journey – can take something away from this.

I’ve only recently discovered your blog, and the day I did, I spend HOURS going through it (it helps that it was a slow work week). I am amazed by your journey, and I find inspiration in your writing to help myself find peace with my body. Like you, I struggled for a long time with my weight, and managed to lose quite a bit, but I find myself in a constant struggle to find balance (both physically and mentally) in my life. Your blog is helping me to realize some things that I have overlooked in the past, and I want to thank you for that. Keep it up, you are touching more lives than you know!

Also, I’m a Seattle native, and I love El Diablo too! We just might be neighbors! :)

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Sarah@The Flying ONION August 16, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Such a wonderful post! I’m convinced that to truly enjoy food is an art in and of itself. I love that you are reminded of the fact that next Saturday you will return and have this pleasure all over again, with your bagel and Americano in place. What a beautiful way to put it.

One of my greatest breakfast pleasures is cinnamon raisin French toast with maple syrup and blueberries on top. And a sprinkle of confectionery sugar, just to make it look all cozy. :D

Lovely post, as always!! :D

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sarah@spinach and spice August 17, 2011 at 12:11 am

the spaghetti and meatballs I may be able to do without. but the special occassion bagel? oh girl, it’s always been a love of mine. and bagel thins don’t count for weekend bagel treats! a thick, real bagel. with a big ol schmear of cream cheese :)

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Lauren at Keep It Sweet August 17, 2011 at 2:55 am

I love this and actually have a very similar bagel mentality! I love going with my husband for a weekend treat and relaxing breakfast where we enjoy bagels and coffee and sit, catch up, read and relax. It is the experience as much as the food!

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Claire @ Live and Love to Eat August 17, 2011 at 5:22 am

Great example of mindful eating! Things are much more enjoyable when they are savored bite by bite rather than shoveled in while driving and talking on the phone. My weekend breakfast is pancakes, for sure.

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MelissaNibbles August 17, 2011 at 5:50 am

I can’t do bagels. I wish I could. They make me SO full. I ate them when I was gaining weight every day though and they sure are delicious. My weekend breakfast and every day breakfast is oatmeal. I’m boring :(

I want to go back to Seattle. I remember how relaxing it is to sit in the coffee shops or by the water and read. Maybe someday…

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brandi August 17, 2011 at 6:07 am

this is how i want every meal of my life to feel, like breakfast. there is something so special about breakfast, all the time, for me, and i wish i could capture that feeling.

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Catface August 17, 2011 at 6:25 am

Weekend breakfast is french toast with maple syrup, sometimes bacon if it’s there. Christmas/extra special occasion breakfast is smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and great wheaten bread, delicious! By the way, I love following your blog and I’m delighted for you about your book deal!

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Kelly August 17, 2011 at 8:10 am

LOVE this. And I LOVE bagels. A lot. And it HAS to be regular ol’ cream cheese, none of that low-fat or fat-free stuff. Its just not the same.

“I feel happy with how delicious and satisfying my day began” I may have to print this and hang it on the wall in my kitchen :)

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Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) August 17, 2011 at 9:21 am

Reading your words never fails to make me smile and feel calmer (and i’m already pretty calm!), whether you’re talking about bagels or potatoes or marinara sauce. And as for those bagels- I love them. I used to have a ritual much like yours, of bagels every Friday morning. It was glorious, and then I sort of forgot about it.. time to hit the bagel shop again. ;-)

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Rachel @ The Avid Appetite August 17, 2011 at 9:47 am

I love when foods like this are a special treat…something to look forward to…not just another food that you eat all the time. I feel this way about cupcakes.

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Julie @SavvyEats August 17, 2011 at 11:13 am

I love every single word of this post. The language you use. The beauty of a bagel with cream cheese. And the inspiration you have provided me to go upstairs, sit down, and write a piece that I am working on.

Oh, how I wish you were coming to HLS this weekend so we could sit in a coffee shop and write together, bagels in hand.

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JaNelle August 17, 2011 at 11:40 am

And this my friend is why I, and so many others, love you to pieces. You express the beauty behind life and eating with words that dance in my head. Thank you!

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Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray August 17, 2011 at 11:48 am

As always,
great post
beautiful photos
wonderful writing
good reminders/lessons
Thanks Andie!

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Mary @ Fervent Foodie August 17, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I cannot agree with this post more. I eat healthy meals throughout the week — they are delicious and satisfying and (for the most part) wholesome. So, when I want to go to a coffee shop on the weekend and eat biscotti or a slice of sugary sweet coffee cake or hit up a new cafe for lunch it’s OK. It’s life. We should all be enjoying it!

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Sara @ RealFunFood August 17, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I’ve recently discovered your blog and it’s been great! I absolutely loved this post. It’s true, two or three never taste as sweet as the first.

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Natalcho @ Tomatoes Rock August 18, 2011 at 2:48 am

I love bagels – sesame bagels, toasted with salted butter. Nothing better in this world! And even after losing a lot of weight this is one of my special treats that I have on the weekends. Bagels are not evil! Great post as always!

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Laura @ Starting Out Fit August 18, 2011 at 5:32 am

I just love this post! I actually can’t remember the last time I had a bagel because I’d always feel guilty eating them.

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Cynthia (It All Changes) August 18, 2011 at 6:22 am

So true, if you enjoy something in time and places they are wonderful. Going overboard in all things leaves food tasteless (healthy or “not”).

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Katie Squires August 18, 2011 at 9:50 am

Thank-you…its so GOOD to hear the word bagel and it not to be a ‘four’ letter like word. I loved reading how in the moment you are when you eat it, truly enjoying the entire experience including your surroundings….you LIVE a beautifully balanced life :)

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Brooke @ Waiting to Rise August 18, 2011 at 10:13 am

The reason why you eat bagels is the same reason I eat my belgian waffles on Sunday mornings. Just something about that time that just comforts me so. Beautifully written! Hope you are well!

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Lisa @ The Cooking Bride August 18, 2011 at 10:40 am

I do try to make breakfast on the weekends special because during the week I usually don’t have time for more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich hastily eaten while driving to work. My dad just brought me half a dozen poppyseed bagels from my favorite deli in Memphis. I save them for Saturday morning when I know “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” will keep my son entranced for the next 30 minutes and I can enjoy a toasted bagel slathered with butter.

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Meg August 18, 2011 at 11:19 am

My weekend mornings, when I’m not working, are my chance to slow down and savor, too. Breakfasts during the week are grab and go, mostly, so the weekends, I cook (even if it’s just for me. Actually, especially then.). Scrambled eggs, or a bowl of fluffy oatmeal with almond butter, and the luxury of a second cup of coffee. Pure bliss.

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Nicole August 18, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I loved, loved, loved this post!!! :) I have a muffin every Saturday morning. It’s a special treat and something I look forward to. I shall think of you as I’m savoring mine this Saturday. :)

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Anneliesz September 7, 2011 at 5:54 pm

My Saturday breakfast is the bagel too. Blueberry bagel for me if I’m in a sweet mood. Everything if it’s a savory day. I get my bagel once a week and it sure is a treat! This weekend I went fall crazy and got a pumpkin bagel with pumpkin cream cheese. I savored every. last. bite. Yessss.

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Renee September 8, 2011 at 10:12 pm

I feel you with the bagel love, but I feel we are deprived of really great bagels here in Seattle.

I get that part of your whole breakfast is that Starbucks experience, but I’m curious if you’ve tried the bagels from Eltana in Capitol Hill yet. I’m dying to! They sound amazing. But I live on the Eastside and haven’t make the drive in just for bagels yet (ugh. I hate sounding like such an Eastsider. Before I had kids drive to the city was much easier!). But I will. And soon.

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Amanda December 10, 2011 at 6:17 pm

This reminds me very much of my nacho nights with my boyfriend. Granted, a tray of nachos is much bigger than a bagel, but we make it special. Nachos always go with either a specific show (this season it’s Once Upon A Time on Sunday nights) or occasionally when our favourite hockey team is playing a televised game. We put a ton of veggies on, lean ground beef with steak spice mixed in, and the salsa cheese that you can get. Then we bake it all together. It is amazing and I savour it every time.

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Jeniece January 2, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I’ve lived a fairly one sided life for the past year or so. To make up for it I have been spoiling myself like a three year old. I have been filling my stomach with things so that my exhausted brain can have a break from feeling anything.

The new goal is balancing my life. I want to lose weight but experience tells me that throwing myself into 4 day a week 2 mile runs is a bad idea. So I’m starting little. 20 minute walks on my days off. And the realization that a doughnut does not speak to my heart like a mini bag of Stacey’s pita chips. Your blog sincerely helps with that.

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Jennifer January 3, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Like everything else you pen, I love it Andie! You have an amazing way of making “duh” moments seem so poignant. I’m slowly starting to realize I don’t need that second helping, or a piece of each kind of pie at the family dinner. It’s a horrible way of life I’ve grown up with, when in reality my body is supremely satisfied with one portion and one taste of something truly divine.

Thank you for the continual inspiration in all aspects of life.

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*Andrea* April 23, 2012 at 7:24 pm

great post! i think what’s confusing to me about camp #2 is that it assumes the “masses” can’t learn to trust their bodies (eat what they enjoy, savor food, not use food for other reasons).

i’m in favor of learning about whole foods and reducing chemicals/ultra-processed ingredients. however, i also agree that labeling food good vs. bad can be detrimental.

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Susannah April 24, 2012 at 9:12 am

Two words – Love. This.

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Mikayla May 7, 2012 at 9:39 am

Oh my gosh! El Diablo! Cuban coffee is amazing :)

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