It’s pumpkin season, and it seems the North American native veggie has found its way into every possible aisle in the supermarket. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Pumpkins are a nutrition powerhouse. A cup of cooked pumpkin is a great source of vitamin A (50% of the daily value, through its precursor, beta carotene), potassium, fiber and other good stuff. All of this for less than 50 calories!
Let’s see what happens to all that goodness when pumpkin is highlighted as a bagel ingredient. We decided to take a look at Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bagels. The front of pack boasts:
“made with pumpkin flour and pumpkin pie spice bits”.
Sounds yummy. Let’s take a look under the hood, shall we?
Here is the product ingredient list:
Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine, Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Pumpkin Pie Spice Bits (Sugar, Wheat Flour, Dextrose, Sunflower Oil, Wheat Starch, Spices [Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves], Malted Barley Flour, Beta Carotene [Color]), Pumpkin Flour (Pumpkin, Rice Hull Powder [To Prevent Caking]), Sugar, Brown Sugar, Contains 2% or less of the following: Wheat, Gluten, Yeast, Cultured Wheat Flour (For added freshness), Sea Salt, Corn Meal, Enzyme Blend (Wheat Flour, Enzymes, Ascorbic Acid, High Oleic Canola Oil), Spice Blend (Wheat Flour, Annatto and Tumeric [Spice and Color]), Vegetable Mono-Glycerides (with Ascorbic Acid and Citric Acid), Spices (Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger), Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum.
We’ve highlighted the pumpkin ingredients to make it easy for you. Notice that the order of the two pumpkin ingredients is the opposite of what the front of pack says. First we encounter the spice bits (sugar is a spice?), and only then the pumpkin flour.
Needless to say, the main ingredient in this bagel is refined flour, the kind that we should be eating less of because it has no nutritional benefits. The pumpkin flour is so far down the list that we doubt it contributes more than 4% of the total ingredient mass in the product. The nutrition facts label supports this assertion, with vitamin A clocking in at a mere 2% of the daily recommended intake.
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At 250 calories per bagel and with limited nutrient density, this is no health food. Don’t let the “Pumpkin” throw you off. On the bright side, if you do indulge in bagels every once in a while, the rest of the ingredient list read rather tame compared to some of the national brands out there.
What other foods have you seen “fortified” with pumpkin this season?