On the Shelf - June/July 2007

This month's On the Shelf features a product review of Z Sweet All-Natural Sweetner, and information on Dean's probiotic cottage cheese, two additions to Newman's organic line, a line of Simpsons-inspired vitamins, soy milk on the go, natural chicken pot pies and teas in a pouch.

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Z Sweet and Z Sweet Organic All-Natural Sweetener

A review by the Wellness Foods staff

The dust has settled in the war between Splenda and Equal (although it was surprising nobody thought to ask Equal, accusing Splenda of unfair comparison to sugar, just what Equal is supposed to be "equal" to). But those are not the only sugar substitutes on the market.

Z Sweet All-Natural Sweetener is an erythritol (sugar alcohol) sweetener gaining big ground in the battle for our sweet tooth. Erythritol has a number of advantages: It does not cause cavities and is so low in calories at .2 per gram as to be considered noncaloric. It can also be used in baking, whereas a number of other sugar substitutes cannot.

Z Sweet and Z Sweet Organic All-Natural Sweetener; Ventana Health, San Clemente, Calif.; Suggested retail price for a 7.0-oz. box of 50 packets is $9.99
Z Sweet and Z Sweet Organic All-Natural Sweetener; Ventana Health, San Clemente, Calif.; Suggested retail price for a 7.0-oz. box of 50 packets is $9.99

It doesn't provide the same bulk or moisture absorption of sucrose, and is only about two-thirds as sweet (60-80 percent). But it also has no negative aftertaste unless consumed in large concentrations.

Here's what our staff had to say:

"I needed twice as much Z sweet in my tea as I would take sugar, but the flavor wasn't bad at all."

Several others echoed the impression of weak flavor -- "no taste," said several; "isn't sweet enough," noted more.

Another reviewer had this to say: "It seemed to dissolve but then there was a slurry at the bottom of my cup."

One tester thought Z sweet was not as good as Splenda, but most commented that unlike aspartame, Z Sweet had no lingering aftertaste.

Overall, our reviewers reacted favorably to Z Sweet as a no-calorie alternative to sugar and even as a preference over aspartame-containing sweeteners.


Cottage Industry

Dean Foods Co. (www.deanfoods.com), Dallas, introduces Probiotic Cottage Cheese under the company's' three flagship brands, Dean Foods, Country Fresh and Land O' Lakes. Probiotic bacteria, specifically Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus casei, found in yogurt, milk and some cheeses promote digestive health and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. These probiotic bacteria can boost immunity and increase resistance to disease and infection.

Suggested retail price for a 24-oz. tub is $2.79.


Two From Paul and Nell

Newman's Own Organics (www.newmansownorganics.com), Aptos, Calif., introduces two more product lines to its considerable line-up of tasty, organic snacks, Soy Crisps and Hermits, an old-fashioned soft cookie. The cookies are available in three flavors: Original, Cinnamon and Ginger. The Soy Crisps, made with organic soy and organic rice, are gluten free and come in four varieties: Cinnamon Sugar, White Cheddar, Lightly Salted and Barbecue. They contain 7 to 9g of protein -- among the highest for any snack crisp.

All royalty payments (after taxes) from Newman's Own Organics go to educational and charitable organizations. Since 1982, Newman's Own and Newman's Own Organics have donated over $200 million to thousands of charities worldwide.

Suggested retail price for the Hermits is $4.29 for each 9 oz. package of 12 cookies. Suggested retail price for the 3.3 oz. bag of the Soy Crisps is $2.99.


Vitamin D'oh

O.K., we don't usually cover supplements, but how could we resist these? St. Hill Pharmaceutical Corp. (www.st-hill.com), located ironically in Springfield (Mass.), launches a line of sugar-free nutritional supplements featuring the characters from the 20-year-old animated pop-culture phenomenon, The Simpsons.

The Simpsons brand vitamin line currently features the following product lines: The Simpsons Sugar-Free Chewable Vitamins in three formulations, Daily Multivitamin in Grape, Orange and Cherry-Berry flavors; Extra C Strawberry; Extra Calcium Chocolate; Germ Defense Effervescent Health Formula; and Omega 3 Berry Squirts Sugar-Free Chewable Gel Capsules.

Suggested retail price per item is $9.99.

 


Go Soy, Go

South Hackensack, N.J.-based Doras Natural Foods Inc. announce its Soy on the Go line of soy milks under its ZenSoy (www.zensoy.com) brand. The non-dairy beverages are available in vanilla, chocolate and cappuccino flavors and include vegetarian omega-3 DHA, shown to help boost brain function. All ZenSoy products are certified organic and vegan, and contain no lactose, dairy, cholesterol, gluten, eggs, casein, peanuts or MSG. They also do not use any genetically modified organisms (GMOs). ZenSoy donates 5 percent of profits to international wildlife organizations.

Suggested retail price per item is $1.39 for each 8.25 oz. aseptic pack.


A Chicken in Every Pot Pie

Murray's Chicken (www.murrayschicken.com), South Fallsburg, N.Y., a leading processor of naturally raised, antibiotic- and hormone-free poultry items, introduces its Baked Chicken Pot Pie. This product marks the first in the company's new, no-hassle, meals under 5 minutes line, Chicken Express. The product contains no trans fats, is all natural and contains no nitrates, nitrites or preservatives. Combining tradition and flavor with convenience, two minutes in the microwave are enough to evenly heat the filling without affecting the crunch of the pie crust. All Murray's products carry the Certified Humane label.

Suggested retail price is 3.99 - 4.99 dollars per 10-oz. pie.


Keeping Kids Honest

Parents might not be aware that most pouch drinks have more sugar per ounce than a can of soda. Honest Tea (www.honest-kids.com) launches Honest Kids, an organic, low-sugar line of fruit-flavored thirst quenchers in kid-friendly pouches. The beverages are available in three varieties: Berry Berry Good Lemonade, Goodness Grapeness and Tropical Tango Punch. All contain no caffeine, high-fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors. For kids of all ages, the Bethesda, Md.-based company also releases Orange Mango Honest Ade, an organic blend of orange juice, mango and antioxidant-rich mangosteen with less than half the calories of a serving of orange juice and a full day's supply of Vitamin C.

Suggested retail price is $4.99 to $5.49 for each box of eight 6.75 oz. packages.

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