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Duncan Hines 100 Percent Whole Grain Muffins

19 August 2009 1,538 views No Comment

StarKist Sandwich-Ready Tuna Salad. Chunk Light, and Albacore. $1.37 to $1.99 per 3-ounce pouch.

Bonnie: StarKist is taking another stab at selling flavored tuna in a pouch. We reviewed some of its Creations six years ago. This new “deli-inspired sandwich-ready” tuna is tuna mixed with crunchy water chestnuts, celery and myriad unappealing additives. Those include xanthan gum, potassium sorbate, artificial flavors, titanium dioxide and more.

Each pouch contains 90 to 100 calories, 2.5 to 3.5 grams of total fat, 370 to 460 milligrams of sodium and 11 to 13 grams of protein, and is a source of omega-3 fatty acids. These are convenient to keep in your desk in case of a hunger emergency along with some crackers, although I still prefer my tuna plain. Sorry, Charlie.

Carolyn: These new StarKist Sandwich-Ready products don’t remind me of the company’s Creations, Bonnie, so much as the canned tuna salads that both StarKist and competitor Bumble Bee offered in the mid-’90s. Creations are barbecue, lemon and herb and garlic-flavored tuna; these pouches contain tuna salad made with celery and mayo-like salad dressing, or something closer to StarKist Lunch To-Go tuna snack kits, with its packets of mayo, relish and crackers. But this product comes premixed, requiring nothing more than opening up the single package.

StarKist has neatly avoided the biggest potential problem of this approach by using, what is to me, just about the perfect amount of dressing.

These would be ideal for brown-baggers who hate soggy sandwiches enough to be willing to pack bread slices separately or for anyone to keep in the cupboard at home for a super-quick solo sandwich or snack.

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Newman’s Own Organics Signature Chocolate. Super Dark, and Mocha Milk. $2.99 per 2.25-ounce and $3.69 per 3.25-ounce bar.

Bonnie: I’ve always admired the way Nell Newman ran her organic company, specifically for the money it’s raised for the charitable foundation of her late father, Paul. I haven’t, though, been wild about her products until now.

These new chocolate bars are made from cocoa beans from Rainforest Alliance-certified farms. To be certified, those farms must meet standards for not only sustainable farming that protects the soil, waterways and wildlife habitat, but also the welfare of their workers.

Add to that the creamy texture and intense flavor of each of these chocolate bars, and she’s got a winner! I’m usually a dark chocolate lover, but Nell’s melt-in-my-mouth, coffee-flavored Mocha Milk is my favorite of these two new varieties.

Carolyn: Newman’s Own Organics recently expanded its chocolate bar line by two in conjunction with a line reformulation seeking better taste and greater political correctness via the Rainforest Alliance certification Bonnie just mentioned.

In press materials accompanying the redesign, company president Nell Newman is refreshingly candid about the cost of these improvements, saying that “we are paying a premium above and beyond the market price for organic cocoa beans.” So will you. In fact, these bars even cost more than gourmet brand Ghirardelli.

Is it worth it? In the case of the Mocha Milk, with its smooth texture and coffee background, maybe, for people who have active consciences and large bank accounts.

The Super Dark is too bitter for out-of-hand eating, although some people might like to use it in recipes that call for bittersweet chocolate. In fact, a Ghirardelli bar with the same 70 percent cocoa bean content is one for baking that’s labeled Extra Bittersweet.

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Duncan Hines 100 Percent Whole Grain Muffins. Triple Chocolate Chunk, and Apple Cinnamon. $2.79 to $3.49 per 20.1-ounce to 20.5-ounce box.

Bonnie: “100 Percent Whole Grain” is all the marketing rage to grab consumers’ attention and dollars.

Yes, health professionals have told us to include three servings of whole grains in our daily diet. But brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, barley and whole wheat breads are what we mean, not high-fat muffins that happen to be made with whole wheat flour.

To be fair, 100 percent whole grain muffins are better than ones made with all-purpose flour. But don’t fool yourself into thinking these calorie- and fat-laden Duncan Hines muffins are a healthy breakfast.

One muffin contains 210 to 240 calories and 8 to 10 grams of total fat. At least they also contain a decent 3 grams of fiber.

Making your breakfast from actual whole grains (whole wheat toast or a bowl of oatmeal) is a much better way to fulfill your daily whole grain needs.

Carolyn: I grew up in a Duncan Hines household. While the brand was sold in the intervening years, it has retained its best-quality-baking-mix status, at least until now. In a sop to the health-conscious, Duncan Hines has reformulated its whole muffin mix line to include whole grains and has introduced two new Whole Grain muffin varieties.

Frankly, I can’t think of a worse combination than Chocolate Chunk Whole Grain. The name alone sounds oxymoronic. Apple Cinnamon and whole grains is less of a culture clash, but in both cases the whole grain hurts rather than helps the taste.

If I want whole grains, I’ll have a bowl of oatmeal, like Bonnie just suggested. Muffins — especially chocolate ones — are all about enjoyment, which these Duncan Hines ones, I’m sorry to report, are now delivering less of.

(Bonnie Tandy Leblang is a registered dietitian and professional speaker. She has an interactive site (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.)

COPYRIGHT 2009 UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE

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