03/04/2012Dole Frozen Fruit Single-Serve Cups. Blueberries, Sliced Strawberries, and Pineapple. $2.49 to $2.79 per two 3-ounce cups. (photo sm120304a.jpg)
Bonnie: Dole has just introduced a new frozen product that will make every parent -- and all dietitians -- very happy. Actually, Dole's new single-serve frozen fruit should please any fruit lover.
These cups are filled with a full serving of nutritious fresh fruit, frozen at its peak of freshness for on-the-go convenience. Nothing has been added to the pineapple; natural flavor has been added to the berries. The pineapple has the freshest taste and texture and is my favorite.
I wish this product had been available when my kids were growing up, as I would have put one of these frozen cups into their lunch box alongside some cottage cheese or yogurt to function both as a nutritious food and as a freezer pack.
Carolyn: Nowadays you can buy fresh strawberries, blueberries and pineapple in supermarket produce departments year-round. The problem is that this fresh fruit doesn't stay fresh.
Hence the beauty of quick-frozen fruit that lasts practically forever and tastes almost as good as fresh (and much better than canned or other shelf-stable fruit).
Bags of frozen berries have been sold in supermarkets for years. But this is the first time single-serve cups of frozen fruit have been available to enhance your cereal breakfast or yogurt snack or pound-cake dessert at work.
Packaged as they are, without even their own juice, I think these are a little boring to eat by themselves.
Milka L'il Stars Chocolate Confections. Crispees, Hazelnuts, and Raisins. $2.49 per 3.88- to 4.58-ounce bag. (photo sm120304b.jpg)
Bonnie: The Milka brand milk chocolate confections originated in Europe in 1901, so it took a mere 111 years to get here.
Notice I said milk chocolate "confection" and not just milk chocolate. That's because the only fats allowed in anything called milk chocolate in the U.S. are cocoa butter and milk fat, not the vegetable oils found in Milka. Hence the wording in light lavender color on the bottom of these bags: "... covered with milk chocolate confection."
All three of these Milka L'il Stars also contain hazelnut paste, although that flavor is not as strong as it is in Nutella, the chocolate hazelnut spread also from Europe.
Of the three, I'm preferential to the raisin, as I feel a bit virtuous getting some fruit with my chocolate -- uh, chocolate confection.
Carolyn: The American food company previously known for Cheez Whiz, Shake 'n Bake, Cool Whip, Tang and Minute Rice is now also behind the la-dee-dah European candy brands Toblerone and Milka. It's a sign of globalization, America's increasing food sophistication -- or maybe just snobbery.
These new L'il Stars are just slightly more upscale versions of the Goobers, Raisinets and Whoppers that Americans have been eating for years. I say that because Milka's L'il Stars' Goobers equivalent features hazelnuts instead of peanuts, and Milka's chocolate is smoother than Nestle's American and also contains a whiff of hazelnut. L'il Stars' Whoppers counterpart has only a little malt flavor and a whole lot of Nestle Crunch-like crispiness.
People who like smooth milk chocolate with a touch of malt and/or hazelnut might want to try these. Everyone else should follow Dionne Warwick's lead and just "walk on by." Note to the L'il Stars' plant superintendent in Slovakia: Here in America the shape of these candies is called balls, not stars.
Nabisco SnackWell's Snack Packs. Cinnamon Creme Drizzled Caramel Popcorn, and Peanut Butter Pretzels. $3.19 per 4.68- to 5.03-ounce box of five or six packets. (photo sm120304c.jpg)
Bonnie: SnackWell's debuted in the 1990s as a brand of diet cookies. Its latest incarnation is portioned snacks designed to appeal to "your naughty side" because these treats "let you be bad and still be good."
But are these really good? I say no. A half-cup of Cracker Jack has less sugar and none of the saturated fat found in SnackWell's artificially flavored, cloyingly sweet, cinnamon-creme-drizzled caramel popcorn.
And you could enjoy an ounce of plain pretzels for similar calories and sodium as in this pouch of the Peanut Butter flavored ones without the 3 grams saturated fat, which is 15 percent of the recommended daily limit. Skip these.
Carolyn: Nabisco has just expanded its SnackWell's pre-portioned snack-pack line by two, including its first dipped pretzel, and adding cinnamon flavoring to the previously available White Fudge Drizzled Caramel Popcorn.
As I have never thought Cracker Jack needed cinnamon flavoring, the Cinnamon Creme Drizzled Caramel Popcorn seemed odd. I could recommend it only as a change of pace for SnackWell's Fudge Drizzled Caramel Popcorn addicts.
The Peanut Butter Pretzels are also unusual, but potentially more appealing. Instead of the more common chocolate or vanilla coating, Nabisco has dipped these pretzels in a sugary peanut butter one. Although sweeter, the experience is similar to peanut-butter-filled pretzel nuggets -- in other words, quite good.
(Bonnie Tandy Leblang is a registered dietitian and professional speaker. She has a blog (www.biteofthebest.com) about products she recommends; follow her on Twitter: @BonnieBOTB. Carolyn Wyman is a junk-food fanatic and author of "The Great Philly Cheesesteak Book" (Running Press). Each week they critique three new food items.)