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Kashi oatmeal full of fiber, sugar

Hunt’s Heat & Serve Sloppy Joe, calcium syrup are tossups

SHARE Kashi oatmeal full of fiber, sugar

Universal Press Syndicate

Kashi Heart to Heart Instant Oatmeal. Golden Brown Maple, Apple Cinnamon and Raisin Spice. $3.29 to $3.49 per 12.1-ounce box containing eight individual cereal packets.

Bonnie: By now we all know that oats are good for the heart. Oats' soluble fiber, like that in these new Kashi oatmeals, helps lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease when part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

I associate the Kashi name with minimally processed, usually whole-grain foods. So I wasn't surprised to find that Heart to Heart instant cereal contains 1 (Apple Cinnamon, Raisin Spice) to 2 (Golden Brown Maple) more grams of soluble fiber per serving than Quaker Instant Oatmeal's 1 gram.

That means that a bowl of Kashi Golden Brown Maple oatmeal provides the government's recommended daily 3 grams of soluble fiber from whole grains.

But I was surprised to see that Kashi contains 1 to 3 grams more sugar than the already overly sweet Quaker Instant Oatmeal. In fact, more than a third of the 150 to 160 calories in each bowlful are from various sugars.

These are still heart-healthy, but they could be better if they weren't as sweet.

Carolyn: Given Kashi's health food heritage, I also was surprised that these didn't taste worse than Quaker. I'd still buy Quaker over Kashi mainly because most Quaker Oatmeal is slightly less expensive, that brand offers more flavor choices, and it's hard for me to get too excited about soluble fiber.

Hunt's Manwich Heat & Serve Original Sloppy Joe. $4.99 per 18-ounce refrigerated tub.

Bonnie: The one and only time I ate a Sloppy Joe was in my elementary school cafeteria. I did not like it. For the (lucky) uninitiated, a Sloppy Joe is loose-cooked ground beef in tomato sauce served on a soft bun. It's called sloppy because it's messy. Manwich has offered Sloppy Joe meat sauce in a can since 1969. Its new refrigerated version comes in a heat-and-serve container that cooks in six minutes in the microwave. It tastes even worse than I remember.

But if you like the Sloppy Joes from the can or the school cafeteria, give this a try. Although like most processed foods it's a bit high in sodium, it is modest in calories (70) and fat (3 grams).

Carolyn: I feel sorry for anyone who grew up in such culinary privilege that they can't enjoy a simple, honest dish like Sloppy Joes. (I'm talking about you, Bonnie!) Manwich, with its onion and pepper and assertive barbecue-like flavor, isn't actually all that simple. It's a gourmet Sloppy Joe sauce minus the meat.

This refrigerated version in a microwavable container comes complete with meat and is considerably more convenient. The meat also lives up to Manwich's upscale Sloppy Joe image.

Listen to Bonnie on nutrition if you must, but her rarefied upbringing has left her deaf and dumb to the pleasures of a superior Sloppy Joe.

Hershey's Syrup With Calcium. $1.99 per 24-ounce bottle.

Bonnie: The statistics are startling. According to the USDA, 30 percent of kids age 1 to 5, about 65 percent of preteens, 90 percent of teenage girls and adult women, and 70 percent of teenage boys and adult men don't get enough calcium.

Calcium is needed to make our hearts beat, muscles contract, blood clot and nerves transmit. And when we don't get enough in our diets, our efficient bodies rob it from our bones, weakening them — which could lead to osteoporosis.

To get the calcium you need, just eat or drink three servings of dairy foods a day, including milk, cheese and yogurt. Or try fortified soymilk, tofu or orange juice.

Although I don't advocate adding chocolate syrup to milk, I know it's the only way some kids will drink it. If you have one of those kids, you might buy this new chocolate syrup fortified with calcium. Instead of 300 milligrams of calcium in a glass of milk, you'll be giving your kids 400 milligrams (100 from the syrup).

Carolyn: This new calcium-fortified chocolate syrup is in that great tradition of vitamin-fortified sugary cereals and white breads: i.e., an attempt to put a better face on nutritionally bankrupt junk foods.

And I say why not if it doesn't hurt the taste. Calcium is not too noticeable in orange juice and pretty much disappears in all of Hershey's syrupy sweetness. The only remaining questions then are whether you can afford this souped-up chocolate syrup's extra cost and whether you live in a household that otherwise would not be drinking unflavored milk.

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. © Universal Press Syndicate