Most blueberry bagels contain gluten and are not gluten-free. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Traditional bagels are made from wheat flour, which contains gluten. However, there are some gluten-free blueberry bagels made with alternate flours like rice flour or almond flour. Always check the ingredients list to confirm if a blueberry bagel is gluten-free.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. When flour from these grains is mixed with water, the gluten forms an elastic network that gives structure and chewiness to baked goods like breads, cakes, and bagels.
People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity cannot tolerate gluten. When they eat gluten, it triggers an immune response that damages the small intestine. This can cause symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, fatigue, headache, and anemia. The only treatment is a strict lifelong gluten-free diet.
Sources of Gluten
In addition to wheat, barley and rye, sources of gluten include:
- Breads, cereals, crackers made with wheat, barley or rye
- Pasta, couscous
- Malt vinegar
- Soy sauce, teriyaki sauce
- Gravies, sauces thickened with wheat flour
- Baked goods – cakes, cookies, pie crusts made with wheat flour
- Breading and coating mixes
- Soups, broths, canned foods containing barley
Reading ingredient labels is important to watch out for hidden sources of gluten.
Are Blueberry Bagels Typically Gluten-Free?
No, traditional blueberry bagels are not gluten-free. Here’s why:
Main Ingredients in Bagels
The main ingredients in a standard blueberry bagel recipe are:
- Wheat flour – The gluten protein in wheat flour gives bagels their chewy texture.
- Water – Hydrates the wheat flour and helps form the gluten network.
- Yeast – Leavens the bagels and produces air pockets.
- Salt – Adds flavor and controls yeast fermentation.
- Sugar or malt – Feeds the yeast and contributes to browning.
- Blueberries – Added to the dough or used as a topping.
Since the main flour used is wheat, most blueberry bagels contain gluten.
How Bagels Are Made
Authentic bagels go through a process of:
- Mixing and kneading the dough to develop gluten
- Fermenting the dough to allow flavors to develop
- Shaping the dough into rings
- Boiling briefly in water
- Baking at high heat to set the shape and crust
This bagel-making process relies on the gluten in wheat flour to create the unique, chewy bagel texture. Without gluten development, bagels would have a much different, bread-like crumb.
Risk of Cross-Contamination
Even if a bakery makes some gluten-free items, there is a high risk of cross-contamination if wheat flour is also used. Gluten can spread through shared work surfaces, utensils, and airborne flour dust.
For people with celiac disease, a small amount of cross-contamination can trigger symptoms and intestinal damage. They need to avoid any products not certified gluten-free.
What Makes a Bagel Gluten-Free?
For a bagel to be gluten-free, it must be made without wheat, barley or rye. Here are some key characteristics of gluten-free bagels:
Instead of wheat flour, gluten-free bagels are made with flours like:
|Rice flour||Mild tasting flour made from ground rice. Light texture.|
|Tapioca flour||Extracted from cassava root. Provides chewiness.|
|Chickpea flour||Nutty, bean-like flavor from ground chickpeas. Protein-rich.|
|Almond flour||Made from ground almonds. Flavorful and nutritious.|
|Sorghum flour||Made from sorghum grains. Adds texture.|
These gluten-free flours each add different properties to recreate the texture and flavor of wheat-based bagels. Often a combination of flours is used.
Since there is no gluten development in gluten-free dough, other ingredients are added to help bind the dough and add elasticity:
- Dairy like yogurt or milk
- Hydrocolloids like xanthan gum or guar gum
- Starches like tapioca starch or potato starch
Binding agents mimic some of the functions of gluten to improve the structure of gluten-free bagels.
The bagel-making process needs to be adapted for gluten-free dough:
- Less kneading to avoid overworking the delicate dough
- Shorter proofing time since there is no gluten development
- Often baked instead of boiled, to prevent them falling apart in water
- May have a different texture – more cake-like crumb
Gluten-free bagels typically require more tender handling compared to traditional wheat bagels.
To prevent any chance of cross-contamination, gluten-free bagels need to be made in a dedicated gluten-free facility. All equipment and production areas must be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized first.
Validation and Testing
Reputable brands producing gluten-free bagels should have their products tested to verify non-detectable levels of gluten, below 20 parts per million. This ensures no cross-contamination occurred.
Where to Find Gluten-Free Blueberry Bagels
Here are some places to look for gluten-free blueberry bagels:
Dedicated gluten-free bakeries will offer a variety of fresh bagel flavors like blueberry, cinnamon raisin, pumpkin, and more. Look for a bakery with dedicated equipment and precautions against cross-contamination. Ask to see if they have third-party testing.
Health Food Stores
Many health food stores like Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, and Earth Fare stock fresh gluten-free bagels from specialty bakeries. Look for unique flavors and varieties made with nutrient-dense gluten-free flours.
A wide selection of gluten-free bagels can be ordered online and shipped frozen. Brands like Katz Gluten Free, Canyon Bakehouse, and Schar offer gluten-free blueberry bagels. Check their manufacturing practices.
Major grocery stores often have a gluten-free aisle with packaged gluten-free bagels and bread products. Udi’s, Canyon Bakehouse, Gutsy, and Trader Joe’s are some brands found there.
Make Your Own
You can make gluten-free blueberry bagels at home using purchased gluten-free flour mixes or your own flour blend recipe. Add fresh or frozen blueberries for homemade flavor.
Nutrition of Gluten-Free Blueberry Bagels
Here is a comparison of the nutrition in one plain or blueberry bagel (around 4 ounces or 110g):
|Wheat Bagel||Gluten-Free Bagel|
- Gluten-free is slightly lower in calories and carbs
- Gluten-free tends to be higher in fat due to nut flours, eggs
- Wheat has more protein compared to gluten-free
- Fiber content is similar
Gluten-free flours and starches impact the nutrition profile compared to wheat flour. But both types can fit into a healthy diet in moderation.
Blueberries add beneficial nutrients like:
- Vitamin C
Choose blueberry bagels more as an occasional treat, not a daily breakfast item. They are high in carbs and best enjoyed in moderation.
Healthier Bagel Alternatives
Bagels made from refined wheat or gluten-free flours are not the most nutrient-dense choice. Here are some healthier bakery-style breakfast alternatives:
Look for bagels made with a blend of whole grains like whole wheat, oats, millet, buckwheat. The fiber will help slow digestion and balance blood sugar.
Ezekiel Bread Bagels
These are made from sprouted whole grains and legumes for more nutrients. Brands like Food for Life offer sprouted grain blueberry bagels.
Use large lettuce leaves like butter lettuce or Boston bibb to wrap around blueberry cream cheese for a low-carb, high-protein breakfast.
Rather than a bagel, use a whole grain English muffin, sandwich thin, or gluten-free bread alternative as the base for breakfast sandwiches.
For a fiber-rich breakfast, top your favorite oatmeal or overnight oats recipe with fresh or thawed frozen blueberries and sprinkle of cinnamon.
The Verdict on Blueberry Bagels
- Most conventional blueberry bagels contain gluten from wheat flour
- Gluten-free blueberry bagels are made with alternate flours and need special handling
- Check labels carefully for gluten-free certification and manufacturing processes
- Gluten-free and wheat bagels have slightly different nutritional profiles
- Blueberries add beneficial antioxidants and fiber
- Eat bagels in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet
While blueberry bagels can be a tasty breakfast treat, balance them with more wholesome gluten-free or sprouted grain options too. Be sure to read labels closely and look for reputable gluten-free brands if avoiding gluten. With so many gluten-free baking options available today, you can still enjoy the sweet flavor of blueberries on a bagel without the gluten.