Bonnie: You now have the option of purchasing "candy" in 100-calorie portions. I put the word candy in quotes, as these little balls are not your typical candy but are balls of the namesake cookies enrobed in a candy shell. I didn't like the taste of either, especially not compared to Nabisco's 100-calorie cookies and crackers.If nothing else, seeing how much (or, I should say, how little) a sugary treat you get for 100 calories just might send some folks to the produce aisle for a much more nutritious and satisfying, but no more "fattening," apple or pear.
Carolyn: These Chips Ahoy! Candy Bites in 100-calorie packs are as big a hit as the Oreo ones are a bust. The Oreo Candy Bites are essentially Cocoa Puffs covered in cheap chocolate. They taste nothing like Oreos nor like any kind of treat.Although not quite as indulgent as traditional candy, the Chips Ahoy! Candy Bites are delicious, have less than half the calories of a similar-sized bag of M&M's, and are true to the Chips Ahoy! taste and name.
Curves Cereal. Whole Grain Crunch, and Honey Crunch. $3.49 per 11-ounce to 16.5-ounce box.
Bonnie: Curves is that fitness franchise designed for women to spend 30 minutes, three times a week, at their gyms. Combined with a Curves workout, these two new Curves cereals from General Mills can purportedly help women manage their weight.
I like it that Curves combines exercise and diet, with the boxes offering helpful tips to help you lose weight and keep it off. That includes the self-serving advice to "eat breakfast" and include more whole-grain foods in your diet because, according to a General Mills dietitian, "Women who have diets rich in whole-grain foods tend to have healthier body weights ... and gain less weight over time."
I say self-serving because these breakfast cereals are rich in whole grains. Still, these statements are generally true, and these cereals are generally good for you.Both varieties contain about 200 calories, 1 gram of fat, 5 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar and 28 grams of whole grain per realistic 53-gram serving. The Honey Crunch tastes better, although I can recommend both.
Carolyn: These cereals are one of two sets of new General Mills products sold under the name of those enormously popular women-only gyms (the other product is granola bars).
Curves cereals are similar to Total and Special K, except that these are puffed flakes that stay crunchy longer in milk. Like the Curves program of exercising three times a week in 30-minute sessions, these cereals are sensible, reasonably healthy and fairly appealing. In fact, they're much more sensible, healthy and appealing than the shakes, nutritional supplements and diet foods sold at the gyms.Could that explain the glaring absence of any reference to the gyms on these Curves cereal packages and press materials?
Lean Pockets Whole Grain Sandwiches. Turkey, Broccoli & Cheese, Turkey & Ham With Cheese, Three Cheese & Broccoli, and Chicken, Broccoli & Cheddar. $2.46 per 9-ounce box of two pockets.
Bonnie: Lean Pockets have way too many additives and way too little flavor to ever make it into my shopping cart. I didn't like the flavor of them at all. That said, this sub-line does feature two improvements worth mentioning.
First, the makers of Lean Pockets turned the microwavable "crisping" sleeve into something that can both cook the Lean Pocket and function as an eating "holder" for it. That's creative.And second, as the name implies, these Lean Pockets are made using whole grains. In fact, one pocket contains at least 16 grams of whole grains, or one of the three recommended daily servings. And each one also has 4 grams of fiber. I like that. For this second reason alone, I recommend these over other Hot Pockets, though not over a freshly made turkey- or chicken-and-veggie sandwich on whole-grain bread.
Carolyn: These Whole Grain Lean Pockets aren't really new. They are Hot Pockets' old low-carb "Ultra" line revamped and expanded in light of the current whole-grain craze. And the Ultra line definitely needed revamping. In its previous incarnation, containing almost twice the fiber, Ultra's punishingly dry and healthful crusts totally overwhelmed the mild, highly processed meat and cheese in Hot Pockets.
By contrast, the crispier parts of these new Lean Pockets with whole-grain crusts have an almost pastrylike texture as well as a sweetness and complexity that make them more interesting than conventional Hot Pockets crusts. All this in 260 or fewer calories.As for having the sandwiches' cardboard cooker double as a holder: It's a good but flawed idea. Lean Pockets feature too much drippy cheese to eat them anywhere other than over a plate.
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