Supermarket Sampler: Bagel Thins nothing more than low-calorie bread

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 9 2010 3:48 p.m. MST

Thomas' Bagel Thins. 100 Percent Whole Wheat, Everything, and Plain. (Cinnamon Raisin also now available in the Northeastern and Southeastern parts of the country.) $3.29 to $3.69 per 13-ounce package of eight.

Bonnie: New Yorkers like me don't consider any Thomas' Bagel a real bagel, and these new Thins even less so. These are instead round, thinly sliced pieces of bread with a crust on the outside and a hole in the middle.

On the plus side, all varieties of Bagel Thins are a good source of fiber (4 to 5 grams), are low in fat (1 gram) and contain only 110 calories. By comparison, regular authentic New York City bagels have about 80 calories per ounce, can weigh up to 10 ounces and generally contain no fiber. That means a delicious crusty plain bagel can provide up to a whopping 800 calories before it's spread with cream cheese or butter.

If you're trying to cut back on calories, Thomas' Bagel Thins, as unbagel-like as they may be, would be a better way to go. I suggest the Whole Wheat variety especially, as you get an added bonus of 21 grams whole grains per bagel, or more than one of the three whole-grain servings recommended daily.

Carolyn: Bagels are defined as much by their chewy texture as their doughnut-like shape. That is, unless you're talking supermarket Lender's and Thomas' bagels, which have made quite a success of selling bagel-shaped bread to people who've never had the real East Coast thing.

So, like Bonnie, I would never buy Thomas' bagels if I were looking for bagels. But I might very well buy these new thinned-down versions if I were looking for a low-calorie bread.

There is no corollary to the law that bagels must be chewy saying that they need to be as thick as they are, especially when the people who are eating them are as thick as we are. And with their greater surface crust, Thomas' Bagel Thins deliver a lot of satisfaction for their modest 110 calories. Just realize that these are not bagels, but rather slimmed-down bagel-shaped bread.

Buitoni Riserva Complete Frozen Meal for Two. Four Cheese & Spinach Ravioli With Tomato Basil Sauce, Five Cheese Cannelloni With Tomato Basil Sauce, Braised Beef & Sausage Ravioli With Creamy Marinara Sauce, Chicken & Mushroom Ravioli With Marsala Wine Sauce, Grilled Chicken & Spinach Cannelloni With Alfredo Sauce, Shrimp & Lobster Ravioli With Garlic Butter Sauce, and Southern Italian Style Meat Lasagna. $8.99 to $9.99 per 22- to 26-ounce box.

Bonnie: Buitoni has moved its pastas and sauces into the freezer with these seven new upscale Italian entrees for two (and two even newer varieties released too late for this review). The cannelloni and lasagna are baked in the oven; the others are cooked stovetop. To make them, you toss the sauce pouch into the pot as you bring the water to a boil, then add the pasta, so they cook together for easy cleanup.

All are made with premium flavorful ingredients, have hefty portions and even heftier nutrition profiles. A serving of these tasty pastas serves up 500 to 560 calories and 16 to 27 grams of total fat. Of that total, a substantial 9 to 15 grams are saturated and half to 1 gram is trans-fat. These also tip the sodium scale with 1,090 to 1,560 milligrams, or 45 percent to 65 percent of the current recommended daily maximum — a limit the government is talking about reducing even further, given current research about the effect of sodium on heart health.

If you decide to try one, I'd recommend the Shrimp & Lobster Ravioli With Garlic Butter Sauce, which is the lowest in calories and fat, and among the lowest in sodium. It's also quite tasty and has huge chunks of lobster in the ravioli.

Carolyn: It doesn't take a genius to figure out how to make a great-tasting Italian meal: Use endless amounts of heavy cream and/or olive oil. That's been the recipe for the success of the refrigerator-case pastas and sauces that Buitoni has just started putting into supermarket freezers.

One difference between Buitoni's Frozen Meals for Two and the gourmet frozen skillet meals from competitor Bertolli is packaging: Buitoni comes in freezer-hogging big boxes instead of the more flexible bags, and includes hard-to-bag entrees like cannelloni and lasagna.

Still, all these frozen offerings keep a lot longer than refrigerated ones, and so can provide a delicious, highly indulgent meal any night you don't have the time or energy to go buy or make anything else. Imagine having Shrimp & Lobster Ravioli With Garlic Butter Sauce or Grilled Chicken & Spinach Cannelloni With Alfredo Sauce on a Monday night.

For the average overweight American, this is Buitoni Riserva's big plus as well as its greatest danger.

V8 Spicy Hot Low Sodium 100 Percent Vegetable Juice. $3.99 per 46-ounce bottle.

Bonnie: This new low-sodium version of Spicy Hot V8 vegetable juice provides two vegetable servings per 8-ounce glass and is zesty, but taste-wise (and I can't believe I'm saying this) it actually needs more salt. Right now, it's flat, with a spicy after-kick.

I'd recommend it only to people on a very low-sodium regime. Everyone else should mix it half-and-half with regular Spicy Hot V8 to make it palatable while halving the sodium.

Carolyn: Do you drink vegetable juice? Would you pay the higher price to drink V8 instead of cheaper plain tomato juice? Do you like it hot? Are you trying to cut down on salt?

If you answered yes to all these questions, then you must be a V8 executive on a low-sodium diet. I can't imagine many other people wanting to buy anything as niche as V8 Spicy Hot Low Sodium.

Bonnie Tandy Leblang is a registered dietitian and professional speaker. She has an interactive site (www.biteofthebest.com) about products she recommends. Follow her on Twitter: BonnieBOTB. Carolyn Wyman is a junk-food fanatic and author of "The Great Philly Cheesesteak Book" (Running Press). Each week they critique three new food items.) © Universal Uclick

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