Bonnie: Ever reach into the back of the fridge and find a half-used jar of pasta sauce, only to pull it out and see the telltale mold growing in the jar? Then these new Ragu Fresh & Simple Pasta Sauce pouches, containing about half the amount of sauce as in a 32-ounce pasta sauce jar, could be for you. They cook in the microwave in just 90 seconds with no pot to wash. And the smooth texture should appeal to both young children and seniors with teeth issues. I'm not sure of the need for three flavors, though, as the difference in taste is quite subtle.A half-cup portion provides a full serving of veggies, about 80 calories, 3 grams of total fat, 3 grams of fiber, 450 milligrams of sodium and 7 grams of sugar (from the veggies). Nice going, Ragu.
Carolyn: Ragu has just started putting pasta sauce in the shelf-stable pouches previously used to store snack foods and precooked rice. You can microwave and pour the sauce right out of this package, meaning sauce that's ready to eat in 90 seconds and no dirty dishes unless 13.5 ounces is too big for your household. That's why I'm hoping Ragu expands this line to include single-serve pouches and that it (or some other company) will package pre-cooked pasta that could be ready as fast.
Honey Maid Mini S'mores; $3.99 per 9-ounce box.
Bonnie: They just don't give up. Food company after food company has tried to re-create s'mores in packaged form. They include such failures as Hershey's S'mores Candy Bars, General Mills S'mores Crunch Cereal (aka S'mores Grahams), Skippy S'mores Trail Mix Bars, E.L. Fudge Blasted S'mores Sandwich Cookies and Haagen-Dazs S'mores Light Ice Cream.
I had hopes for Honey Maid Mini S'mores, as they start with real graham crackers. But these taste as much like real s'mores as Spam tastes like smoked ham.I'd recommend that companies give up on trying to re-create a campfire treat that's as much an experience as a flavor. No packaged product can compete with a gooey, roasted marshmallow and melting Hershey's chocolate sandwiched between two graham crackers enjoyed outside under the stars. No, nothing.
Carolyn: These are supposed to be s'mores in neat, nondrippy form. They're really more like Mini Oreos with a graham cracker base rather than a chocolate cookie base. The stripe of white filling that's supposed to stand in for marshmallow tastes just as much like canned frosting as the chocolate stripe beside it. Not that I'm complaining. These are addictively delicious even if they have little to do with s'mores.
Frieda's Garlic Delights. Original, Sun Dried Tomato, Chipotle and Green Olive; $4.99 per 7-ounce tub.
Bonnie: Frieda's calls these Garlic Delights. But I think "For Garlic Lovers Only" would be a better name. I like garlic, but using these "straight" as a dip with fresh veggies is too potent. I recommend instead using no more than a tablespoon as a spread on sandwiches or as part of a marinade, salad dressing or veggie dip in place of mayonnaise or oil (whose nutritionals these resemble) that is, if you like the flavor of garlic.These are all natural, made with canola oil, USA-grown garlic, lemon juice, salt, herbs and the variety's eponymous ingredient. Although garlic has been touted as heart-healthy, the scientific evidence is not yet conclusive. So just enjoy these for their flavor, not their health benefits.
Carolyn: Potent is right, Bonnie. I also liked the flavor of these, especially in the ones featuring chipotle and sun-dried tomatoes. But Frieda's probably should have watered these down with other ingredients or else packaged them in much smaller containers. This size would be perfect only for a vampire-slayers' school cafeteria. The rest of us will use a tablespoon to liven up a turkey sandwich, another few to make a delicious shrimp appetizer, and then leave the opened container in the refrigerator until it spoils and has to be thrown away.
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