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Waffles have own syrup, but flavors are artificial

SHARE Waffles have own syrup, but flavors are artificial

Pillsbury Waffle Sticks With Dippin' Cups. Homestyle, and Blueberry. $2.29 per 17.3- to 17.8-ounce box containing eight (three-stick) waffles and eight syrup containers.

Bonnie: Pillsbury Waffle Sticks are waffles with indentations so you can break each one into three sticks. Each waffle comes with a tiny cup of flavored sugary syrup. The waffles, the syrup and some of the blueberries are all artificially flavored.

Pillsbury is hoping that you'll give these to your kids. I'm hoping you reach for more natural ones such as Eggo NutriGrain or Buttermilk waffles.

Carolyn: Fast-food chains sell French toast and waffles in stick form so they can be eaten on the go, without utensils. But I doubt many people are going to take a frozen waffle and syrup container to work or school. In other words, Pillsbury is introducing waffles in stick form solely because of new breakfast habits formed at Burger King.

These waffles are more notable as the first frozen ones to come with their own syrup. (It comes in little cups similar to what you get in restaurants but frozen so they have to be warmed in the microwave.)

This is a good idea for occasional waffle eaters who don't want a big syrup bottle hogging their closet space, and an even better one for syrup lovers who need to limit their per-waffle syrup intake.

Nestle Carnation Hot Cocoa Mixes With Calcium. No Sugar Added, Fat-Free, and Fat-Free With Marshmallows. $2.59 per 2.25- to 4.23-ounce box containing eight single-serve envelopes.

Bonnie: With box labels like those on these new calcium-enriched Nestle hot cocoa mixes, it's no wonder shoppers get confused.

Stay with me here, this is bewildering. All three are fat-free, although only two claim to be. The No Sugar Added Reduced Calorie version contains twice the calories and more than twice the sugar of the Fat-Free. All three mixes contain artificial sweeteners and added calcium.

So what do I suggest? The plain Fat-Free, whether your concern is sugar, calories, fat or calcium — that is, if you want to buy a cocoa mix.

You could also make your own almost as quickly by combining 1 tablespoon skim milk, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa and a pinch of salt in a small mug. Fill with skim milk and microwave on high about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes until hot. (To reduce the sugar, use a sugar substitute.)

Carolyn: Bonnie's right that these new hot cocoa mix names don't have a lot to do with what they contain. The fact remains that all three offer the comfort of one of the world's most indulgent drinks for less than 50 calories. Here is yet another reason to be grateful for aspartame.

Del Monte Petite Cut Diced Tomatoes. Original, Zesty Jalapenos, and Garlic & Olive Oil. 99 cents per 14.5-ounce can.

Bonnie: In terms of size, Del Monte Petite Cut Tomatoes are somewhere between diced and crushed tomatoes. I like using this new petite-cut size for dishes such as jambalaya, chili and soup and — when fresh tomatoes aren't flavorful — nachos or bruschetta.

Zesty Jalapeno is my favorite of the three; the original, my next favorite. The added corn syrup makes the Garlic & Olive Oil a bit too sweet.

Carolyn: The package flag and recipes imply that these new Petite Cut Diced Tomatoes are great for making dips and other appetizers. That's fine, but I wish this label would also offer some guidelines for people who want to use diced tomatoes to make chili or spaghetti sauce. In fact, I've always wondered why supermarkets don't display charts linking canned tomato products to their usage the way department stores offer charts to help you find the right battery for your watch. I had to pull out a cookbook to make dishes with these.

The most notable difference between these and regular canned diced or sliced tomatoes? The ease and speed with which they blended with the other ingredients.

Bonnie Tandy Leblang is a registered dietitian and professional speaker. Carolyn Wyman is a junk-food fanatic and author of "Jell-O: A Biography" (Harvest/Harcourt). Each week they critique three new food items. © Universal Press Syndicate