Testers reveal healthy foods that taste good

LOS ANGELES Nutritious and delicious can be a tall order when deciding what to bag at the grocery store.

"I definitely find it overwhelming with all the hundreds of brands," said taste tester Kaitie Ames.

To find some of the best packaged foods, /*Self magazine*/ first asked registered dietician Stephanie Clarke to design the nutritional requirements for a taste test.

"The laundry list of criteria that we looked for are calories, total fat, saturated fat, sodium, fiber, vitamins and minerals," Clarke said.

Then 140 readers were asked to munch and sip on everything from juice and snacks to desserts and frozen meals.

"We tasted 383 foods, and we came up with 66 winners," said Erin Hobday of Self magazine.

Thomas' Hearty Grain Bagels was one of the winners. It is not only under 250 calories, but readers said it tasted bakery fresh and paired well with Philadelphia's light cream cheese.

McCann's Instant Irish Oatmeal was another winner.

"I like that it had that healthy taste, but it wasn't that tree bark, completely bland taste of oatmeal. It had some flavor to it," said taste tester Archana Ram.

Testers loved Florida's Natural Orange Juice with calcium and Vitamin D, and Kashi TLC took the winning cracker.

"These crackers were whole grain. They have three grams of fiber per serving," Clarke said.

For snacking, Fage Plain Greek Yogurt proved thick, creamy and protein packed, while Blue Diamond's Honey Roasted Almonds scooped up the nuttiest honor.

"They're practically addictive. They're slightly sweet and slightly salty, and readers really loved that combo of sweet and savory," Hobday said.

Boca's mushroom version is the best in the veggie burger category, and freezer meals from Healthy Choice and Lean Cuisine had plenty of options and met the criteria of containing under 700 milligrams with necessary vitamins and minerals.

Then there's those foods you don't really need to eat, but when cravings hit, they're in pretty good standings in the way of nutrition facts.

Low-calorie Dreyer's Slow Churned Brownies Fudge Ice Cream and Kettle's Baked BBQ chips are winners.

"The potato chips tasted like actual potato slices covered in barbecue sauce, and they were nice and crunchy, and they weren't too salty," Ames said.

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