I’m not sure who has the authority/desire to establish an entire calendar year of “(Inter)National ___arbitrary food item___ Days,” but their known existence is one of those things that all of us in the food media industry lackadaisically observe and occasionally tout on Twitter when we’re low on fodder. That said, last week when I saw that National Bagel and Lox Day was rapidly approaching (FYI it’s today--merry B&L Day!), you best believe I pounced on that bandwagon. I wholeheartedly support bagels and lox as an entity deserving national celebration... they're dagum delicious. While bagels and anything tend to earn some understandable flack from a nutrition standpoint, a masterfully crafted bagel and lox stack offers a hearty serving of protein, vitamins, minerals, and happiness. That’s nothing to feel guilty about. Build the following 5-layered beauty for a delicious celebration of this classic deli delicacy for just about 220 calories.

Layer 1: The BagelFor me, it’s everything or nothing. The sesame, the poppy, the garlic, the onion, the caraway, the salt… the everything bagel is just, everything. I couldn’t ask for a better bed to lay my luscious lox upon; however, if a pungent flavor base isn’t your game or you happen to be more socially aware than I and want to avoid showing off a seed studded gum line, any other non-dessert-like bagel will work here (i.e. layering smoked fish on top of a blueberry or cinnamon raisin bagel is ill-advised). Since this is going to be a super stacked bagel, you really only need ½ of it for a filling entree. Either make two open faced sandwiches--this is a national holiday, don’t hesitate to share the celebratory love--or save the other bagel half for another time/purpose. Pop your bagel, cut side up, under the broiler for about 1 minute. That way you get a nice crusty surface, but maintain the chewy hull.

Layer 2: The SchmearGoing with neufchatel cheese is going to save you quite a few calories and fat g’s over standard cream cheese. It’s still tangy, and creamy, and a completely valid part of the bagel experience--seriously, no worries. For B&L, I like to spruce my spread up with a touch of acid and herb. Combine 1 ounce softened neufchatel with ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice and ½ teaspoon chopped fresh dill in a small bowl, then whisk until well combined. That'll be enough for two bagel halves.

Layer 3: The VegThick slices of ripe juicy tomato and thin slices of sweet crisp red onion are where it’s at. Cut two slices of vine ripened tomato, then cut each slice in half. Arrange your mater halves over the schmear, around the circumference of the bagel. At this point, you’ll want to sprinkle those slices with freshly ground black pepper. Scatter thin red onion shavings evenly over top of the tomatoes.

Layer 4: The LoxNo need to do anything here except extract from the packaging and lay 1 ounce over top of your veggies. You can’t perfect upon perfection. You can find packaged smoked salmon at the seafood counter of your favorite grocery store, I’m a fan of Duck Trap brand. Or if you’re a boss and want to smoke your own, go right ahead… you’re awesome.

Layer 5: The finishing touchesComplete your masterpiece with a sprinkle of capers and pinch of chopped fresh dill; exuberantly enjoy.

Photo: Gina Yu 

Serving Size: 1 bagel and lox stackCALORIES 221; FAT 5.4g (sat 2.2g, mono 1.5g, poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 12g; CARB 30g; FIBER 2g; CHOL 17mg; IRON 1mg; SODIUM 743mg; CALC 35mg