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Supermarket Sampler: Kraft MilkBite granola bars are a tough sell

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Kraft MilkBite Milk & Granola Bars. Chocolate, Mixed Berry, Oatmeal Raisin, Peanut Butter, and Strawberry. $3.39 per 6.15-ounce box of five bars.

Bonnie: Pillsbury Milk Break Bar was one of the first products we ever reviewed, or rather, tried to. That bar purported to have the nutrition of half a glass of milk in every candy bar, but they were so horrid that Pillsbury actually pulled them from the market before our review was even published. These MilkBite bars are much tastier and made with more natural ingredients, a sign of progress in the ensuing quarter-century.

Nutritionally, these have been enhanced with added calcium, vitamins and fiber. Because, as the box says, these are "made with real milk" and have not been baked, MilkBites will be sold in the supermarket dairy case and need to be stored in your home fridge.

But will consumers think to look in the dairy case for granola bars? And will they pack them unrefrigerated in their kids' lunch? I'm guessing not. That's why I suggest you try these before they go the way of the Milk Break Bar.

Carolyn: A lot of people who would like to benefit from milk's nutrition either don't like its taste or find it inconvenient. Otherwise Kraft wouldn't be the third major food manufacturer to be promoting a snack bar containing it.

Pillsbury's '80s-era Milk Break Bar contained the equivalent of only half a glass of milk and resembled Twix candy sticks. General Mills' Milk 'n Cereal bars are like Rice Krispies Treats with a sweet cream filling. These new MilkBite bars resemble Luna energy bars in taste and ingredients, including inulin, protein isolate and oats. But unlike Luna, these are sink-to-the-bottom-of-your-stomach heavy and taste creamy — not a plus for people who might buy these because they don't like milk's taste.

MilkBites are also unique in their need to be refrigerated. I'm sure Kraft is hoping their dairy case home will help drive its "this is like drinking a glass of milk" message. But Kraft is going to have to do a lot of advertising to get people to look for granola bars there. And no amount of promotion could convince me these are worth running to and from the cafeteria refrigerator.

YoCrunch Pie Parfait. Apple Pie, Cherry Pie, and Triple Berry Pie. $3.19 to $3.89 per four, 4-ounce cups.

Bonnie: Looking for a light dessert with some nutritional value? Consider a YoCrunch Pie Parfait of fat-free yogurt, fruit and fruit-crisp crumb-like topping (made with brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter). These are very sweet, with up to 19 grams sugar per tiny cup, so I'd suggest eating one in lieu of pie after dinner, but not for breakfast.

Each parfait contains 120 calories, 1 gram saturated fat of 2 total grams and is a good source of vitamin D. I recommend only the Triple Berry Pie, as it has the most natural ingredients.

Carolyn: Big yogurt makers Yoplait and Dannon have long offered yogurts with pie flavor names, but as YoCrunch marketing VP Ralph Tschantz points out, "Pie without the crust just isn't pie." Hence these new YoCrunch pie-flavored yogurt "parfaits" with crumble add-ins, if not actual pie crust.

These cups' fruit, yogurt and crumbles hint of pie a la mode, with none of that dessert's appealing richness, making these not as good as pie, but better than fruit-pie-flavored yogurts.

I liked the Apple Pie flavor best. Its toffee-flavored crunch topping is sweeter and better than the crumble crust that comes with the other two.

Dole Salads. Extra Veggie Baby Spinach & Spring Mix With Grape Tomatoes, Extra Veggie Spring Mix With Snap Peas, Extra Veggie Classic Spring Mix with Garden Vegetables, Hand Picked Selections Red Butter and Green Butter Lettuces, and Hand Picked Selections Green Butter and Green Oak Lettuces. $3.49 per two-head clamshell package, or $3.99 per 7.75- to 8.75-ounce bag of spring mix.

Bonnie: These new salad offerings from Dole will make getting your daily two cups of vegetables much easier. The Extra Veggie salad bags each have two cups of veggies, with one variety including 3.25 ounces of grape tomatoes, another with 2.5 ounces of crisp snap peas, and the third with 4 ounces of red cabbage, radish and carrots, plus the prewashed salad mix. That makes your salad chock full of nutritious vegetables and, therefore, vitamins and minerals. I like that.

I also like Dole's new "hand picked" whole heads of green oak, red butter and green butter lettuces. All three lettuces are excellent sources of vitamins A and C. But do note: These are NOT prewashed salads. You must use a knife to easily core the head, then wash the leaves to remove the field dirt. The resulting leaves produce a delicious salad with interesting textures and flavors.

Both new lines are winners that I highly recommend.

Carolyn: Dole Hand Picked Selections are two small heads of different and complementary flavors of lettuce in a dual clamshell container. They won't get squished in your refrigerator and require only one cut to the core to be ready for a salad.

Or so I thought until I read the package directions saying that I needed to wash these heads before serving, and recommending I store any leftovers in my own plastic bag, rather than in this clamshell. And the three lettuces seem more the same than contrasting or complementary.

In other words, these aren't nearly the convenience I thought they were, and so probably aren't worth the extra money over the similar, generic Boston lettuce head.

I liked Dole's also-new Extra Veggie salads in bags better. These are salad greens with packages of veggies tucked inside to help them stay crisp. Although many of these veggies are ones Dole used to just include in the bags along with the greens (and I never noticed any huge deterioration in quality or crispness), the new packaging seems to have opened up new possibilities: The Baby Spinach & Spring Mix, for instance, contains the first tomatoes (these are grape ones) I've ever seen in a bagged salad. Not having to buy tomatoes separately? Now that's a real convenience.

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.)

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