Universal Press Syndicate

Sara Lee Cheesecake Bites. Original, Chocolate, and Strawberry. $3.69 per 7-ounce to 7.5-ounce container containing 40 pieces.

Bonnie: Sara Lee says these are bite-size cheesecakes with full-size taste. And I must say, I agree.

Each carton contains 40 half-inch cubes of cheesecake, with a modest 20 calories each, enjoyable straight from the freezer. The problem is that most people can't just eat one. I've put a bowlful out on the table for friends who don't usually indulge in dessert, and I never had any left to put back in the freezer. It's just too enjoyable — and easy — to keep eating these.

Five to 10 of these still contain lots fewer calories and less fat than the average cheesecake slice, which makes for a less indulgent dessert. I only wish they contained fewer artificial ingredients.

Carolyn: Time was when you could buy only a whole Sara Lee cheesecake. It was either serve it to a crowd or eat it all yourself. A few years back, waking up to the fact that Americans no longer lived in big families but were themselves getting bigger, the company began selling its cheesecake in individual slices. Although better than eating a whole cake, these slices were hardly a "light" dessert. But these new 20-calorie Sara Lee Cheesecake Bites are a snack even a weight watcher could afford to have in her freezer.

The Bites can also be eaten straight out of the freezer — thus solving frozen cheesecake's other problem: having to wait for it to thaw (although these do taste even better if you set them out a few minutes).

Despite their physical resemblance to the late, great Rondos and Edy's Dibs, Sara Lee Cheesecake Bites are cheesecake and not cheesecake-flavored ice cream. Sara Lee has, in fact, done a remarkable job of capturing the entire cheesecake experience in each bite — cracker or cookie crust, dry cheesy base, jam accent and all.

Anyone who loves cheesecake will love these. And anyone who once liked cheesecake but ruled it out because of its indulgence and inconvenience will now need to give it another look.

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Pace Premium Salsas. Tequila Lime Salsa, Triple Pepper Salsa, Salsa Verde, Pico De Gallo, and Mexican Four Cheese Con Queso. $3.49 per 16-ounce jar.

Bonnie: I've always liked the flavor of Pace Picante. I also like four of these five new specialty salsas. As with the original Pace, these use real ingredients and taste great.

Use any one of the first four not only for serving with nachos or tortilla chips, but also in salad, salad dressings, soups, sandwiches, for topping a pizza or as a marinade for meat. You'll be adding only 10 to 15 calories, zero to one-half gram of total fat, and 150 to 200 milligrams of sodium per 2 tablespoons.

So which of the five don't I like? Only the Mexican Four Cheese, which isn't as good in terms of flavor or nutrition. Two tablespoons of this coats your chips with 90 calories, 7 grams of fat (of which 1.5 grams is saturated), and way too much sodium.

Carolyn: New salsa products are usually just subtle variations on the old watery-tomato-and-onion theme. I wasn't prepared for how different these new Pace Premium Salsas are — a difference that is underscored by their attractive, autographed (by Pace founder David Pace), straight-sided glass jars. The Mexican Four Cheese Con Queso is a cheese sauce, two are green from tomatillos, and the Triple Pepper is chili-like in both thickness and heat.

My favorite, the Pico De Gallo, is more conventionally salsa-like in both taste and texture, but it has more chunks of interesting ingredients than your average jarred salsa has, as well as pronounced cilantro and lime flavors. It tastes even better on a chip that's already been dipped in my second favorite of these salsas, the contrastingly smooth and rich Mexican Four Cheese.

Pair either of them with guacamole and good tortilla chips, and you've got a no-work appetizer good enough to serve to company.

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Pringles Baked Wheat Stix. Pizza, Vanilla, Crunchy Wheat, and Honey Butter. $3.49 per 6.8-ounce box of 10 packages.

Bonnie: Pringles. That word automatically and universally conjures up a picture of preformed potato chips in a tall can. The question is: Is there room in your head for Pringles thin cracker sticks that don't even contain potatoes?

I doubt it. Especially considering the horrid taste of all but the Crunchy Wheat, courtesy of a busload of additives from flavor enhancers to artificial colors and flavors.

A small 0.68-ounce package of these sticks contains 90 calories and 3.5 to 4 grams of total fat (of which 1.5 are saturated), with no fiber, no vitamins, no minerals, no whole grains, and therefore no reason to recommend them.

Carolyn: Natural food fans like Bonnie are satisfied with the foods that were here when the Pilgrims settled America. The people at processed food companies like Pringles-maker Procter & Gamble want to improve on Mother Nature. These new Pringles Baked Wheat Stix are a sterling example.

They're called cracker sticks, but breadsticks are the "natural" food they most closely resemble — though Pringles Stix are thinner and more interestingly flavored than breadsticks and thus better.

The plain is crunchy and salty; the pizza is redolent of Italian spices. The Honey Butter is strong on both named flavors and is a transition between Stix's three savory and one sweet offering: the Nilla Wafer-like Vanilla, which would make a great light treat with coffee.

Bonnie says these aren't good for you — so what? With only 90 calories, they're also not bad for you, especially when compared to potato chips, and despite being almost as delicious and addictive.


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