Bonnie: No need to reach for a cup of java in the afternoon to get your caffeine boost. At least that's what the makers of the new Snickers Charged are hoping. This new, limited-edition candy bar with added caffeine is available only through the end of March that is, unless lots of consumers substitute it for their afternoon brew.
I'd say Masterfoods is trying to ride a bull, specifically the popular Red Bull energy drink containing caffeine, taurine and B vitamins. Snickers Charged contains those same ingredients, but with only 60 milligrams of caffeine to Red Bull's 80. Those numbers are on par with the caffeine in a weak cup of coffee, or one-fifth the kick of a 16-ounce Starbucks Grande.
Carolyn: The first thing I think of when I'm in need of a caffeine kick-start is coffee. I guess I'm old-fashioned, because today you can get a similar buzz from energy drinks and bars, gum, mints, lip balm, beer and now this limited-edition Snickers Charged.
The deliciousness of a Snickers cannot be disputed, and the addition of caffeine, taurine and B vitamins doesn't change that. On the other hand, Snickers Charged does contain a lot more calories and fat than most of the other caffeine alternatives.
Bonnie: Ronzoni's new Smart Taste Pasta contains three times the fiber of regular pasta, as much calcium as an 8-ounce glass of milk (300 milligrams), and tastes good. I do recommend Ronzoni Smart Taste Pasta over regular durum wheat pasta for its extra calcium and fiber. However, the main ingredient of Smart Taste is white flour, and its extra fiber comes from a modified (or resistant) wheat starch.
Thus, genuine whole-wheat pasta is even better. Tossed with broccoli and cheese, it will be naturally calcium-rich. I especially like Barilla's whole-wheat Pasta PLUS. It contains extra protein and fiber from lentils, chickpeas, oats, spelt and barley. It's also enriched with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and costs about the same as Smart Taste.
Carolyn: The appeal of whole grains is now so strong that a big mainstream company like Stouffer's recently replaced the regular pasta in all of its Lean Cuisine entrees with the whole-wheat kind. And although whole-wheat pasta isn't bad, its heartier texture and flavor can clash with some delicate pasta sauces.
Bonnie: What's not to like about fire-roasted tomatoes that are diced and ready to use in cooking? Absolutely nothing.
Hunt's smoky taste is very subtle, as is the garlic in the garlic flavor and that's a good thing. I find most canned tomato products with garlic too "garlicky."
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