Bonnie: Ore-Ida's new Roasted Potatoes are a step up from the microwave potatoes with foil crisping trays we've tested recently, because they don't taste like a cardboard tray. But they're certainly not as delicious as homemade roasted potatoes, which are so simple to make.Just toss potato wedges in olive oil, some salt, pepper and whatever seasoning you're in the mood for, and bake in a 400-degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes, turning once or twice during the cooking time. (Conserve electricity by roasting meat, root vegetables or whatever at the same time.) These do take more time than the frozen kind, but they have none of the additives that make Ore-Ida Roasted even saltier than frozen french fries.
Carolyn: I have recently become a convert to the wonders of high-heat roasting. As Bonnie just suggested, it does take time and quite a bit of electricity but not much work beyond chopping. And the method brings out the sweetness in the starches that, when combined with the slightly burnt edges, make veggies taste great.
I wish I could say Ore-Ida's new Roasted Potatoes tasted like that. The Original variety tastes more like oversize hash browns; the Garlic and Parmesan wedges, like steak fries with some cheese added as a flavor booster.The problem? Potatoes are just about the least interesting veggie to roast. Combining them with parsnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions or even zucchini would be much more appealing. It could also be that it's impossible to get a just-roasted flavor out of the freezer. I can testify that it's impossible to get it out of these Ore-Ida Roasted bags.
Corazonas Tortilla Chips. Margarita Lime, Cilantro Salsa Fresca, and Baja Bean Dip. $2.99 per 7-ounce bag.
Bonnie: February is American Heart Month. What better time to tell you about Corazonas chips, a product touted to be heart healthy and named after the Spanish word for heart.
It's true that these chips can be heart healthy. Corazonas all-natural chips are made using oats and are fortified with plant sterols, both of which have been shown to reduce blood levels of LDL (the bad) cholesterol. Plant sterols, though, must be consumed at 0.8 grams daily to have this effect. One serving of Corazonas chips supplies half that amount of sterols plus 140 calories, 6 to 7 grams of total fat, 150 to 230 milligrams of sodium and 3 grams of fiber.So although these chips can be heart healthy, I wouldn't advise eating two servings of any chips a day. If, though, you need to supplement the cholesterol-lowering plant sterols you're getting from other sources, then these would be a good chip choice.
Carolyn: Garlic and tomato, apple and cinnamon, and peanut butter and jelly are natural flavor combinations. Corn and oats are not. Still, when combined to make Corazonas Tortilla Chips, they're not as bad as you might imagine.The oats change the texture of the chips more than the flavor. They're denser, moister, slightly less crisp and much more filling than all-corn chips. In the case of these three new Corazonas, the oat flavor is at least partly obscured, for better or worse, by black bean, salsa and lime flavors. The worse include the dull Baja Bean Dip and the odd and spicy Cilantro Salsa Fresca. The better is the very limey Margarita Lime it's nearly as addictive as the drink.
Progresso Healthy Favorites Reduced-Sodium Soups. Chicken & Wild Rice, and Italian-Style Wedding Soup. $2.49 per 18.5-ounce can.
Bonnie: I love how both Progresso and Campbell's have begun lowering the sodium in their soups. Chicken & Wild Rice and Italian-Style Wedding soups, the newest such soups from Progresso, have 45 percent less sodium than their regular versions.As for flavor, they're both fine and will warm your innards on cold snowy days, like the ones we're experiencing here in the Northeast. I only wish Progresso had added more veggies or whole grains to boost both the nutrition and the measly 1 gram of fiber.
Carolyn: Reducing sodium in soups is one of the few nutritional improvements that I don't mind. Another is reducing the fat in sausage. It could be because there is so much fat in sausage and so much salt in canned soup that taking some out still leaves plenty.
The broths of these two new Progresso reduced-sodium soups, for instance, just taste more like chicken than salt. That's why I'm happy Progresso decided to make a reduced-sodium version of Italian-Style Wedding, one of my favorite canned soups (because it is so filling and flavorful try it!).In fact, I wouldn't object if Progresso expanded this line further or even replaced some of its regular soups with lower-sodium offerings, as competitor Campbell's has done with some of its kid-oriented ones.
Bonnie Tandy Leblang is a registered dietitian and professional speaker. Carolyn Wyman is a junk-food fanatic and author of "Better Than Homemade: Amazing Foods That Changed the Way We Eat" (Quirk). Each week they critique three new food items. For previous columns, visit www.supermarketsampler.com, and for more food info and chances to win free products, visit www.biteofthebest.com. © Universal Press Syndicate