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Hit or Miss? Veggie stock, nuts and more

Every week, "Today" food editor Phil Lempert reviews some of the new items hitting supermarket shelves near you.

It takes a lot for a food product to succeed. In fact, out of more than 30,000 new food items that were introduced in 2003, less than 5 percent were hits. (And less than 10 percent of all new products are still on supermarket shelves three years after they launch.) To help you avoid spending money on the likely failures, here are this week’s Hits and Misses:

HITS

More Than Gourmet Veggie-Stock GoldFor home chefs, or folks that want to be, you have to try this product. This is a classic vegetable stock that has been reduced to a glace – a fancy word for a concentrated stock — and comes packed in a convenient 1.5 oz. package. Ingredients are white wine, carrot stock, onion stock, water, celery stock, lemon juice, tomato paste, salt, sodium carrageen, roasted garlic powder, onion powder, natural flavors, spices and garlic extract. Great for use in soups, rice, grains and sauces; no added starches, and contains only 10 calories per serving and zero fat. This company started out by selling these reductions to chefs, and have now made them available to the home cook. You will impress! A 1.5 oz package yields 4 cups of vegetable stock, and retails for $4.85. Lot’s of flavors and more on the way. Each includes recipes. www.morethangourmet.com

Known for being packed with protein, fiber and other vitamins, walnuts (rich in Omega-3’s) and almonds are an excellent choice for a snack. But be smart – these glazed nuts taste great in large part because of the added sugar and other flavorings. This new flavor, Backyard Grill, gives the snack a sweet barbecue taste. The seasoning is made up mostly of salt, tomato, sugar, onion, maltodextrin, vinegar, paprika, molasses, garlic, spices, caramel color, and corn syrup solids.  One serving (1/4 cup) contains 6g of sugar, 140 calories, and 11g of fat. Read the nutrition facts carefully, some flavors contain as much as 11g of sugar: available in Apple Cinnamon, Butter Toffee, Pecan Pie, and Honey Dijon. Comes in a reseal able package which makes it great for summertime snacking. Retails for $2.99/7 oz.www.diamondnuts.com

Back to Nature Hi-Protein Crunch CerealThis company started in 1960 in the back of a small health foods store in Pasadena, Calif., with their first packaged product an all natural low-fat granola.  What’s most appealing about this cereal is that there is no corn syrup or hydrogenated oils, which are common ingredients in cereals we find on the supermarket shelves.  This variety packs 12g of protein and contains only 1g of fat.  There are no artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors.  On top of all of those appealing qualities, it tastes great!  Retails for around $3.99.www.backtonaturefoods.com


CONSUMER NOMINATED HIT

Ling Ling Chicken Spring RollsHere’s what Brent from Fulton, Ill., had to say about this product. “It is easy to prepare (just pop in the oven for 10-20 minutes) and is made with healthy ingredients like whole wheat flour.  You also get a generous amount (about 7-8 spring rolls) in every bag — and sauce is included.”  Retails for $2.99-$4.49. Thanks, Brent!  Your SupermarketGuru tote bag is on the way! www.ling-ling.com


MISS

Sugar Free LifeSavers SorbetsFor those trying to control their sugar intake, LifeSavers has a new line of sugar-free candies patterned after the sweet-sour taste of sorbet (a European-style fruit ice.).  Sweetened with aspartame, they have a rather strong flavor with a touch of bitterness.  The packaging makes note that carb count is only 1g; but turn the package around and see that the total carb count is actually 15 grams! The FDA has yet to set standards for carbohydrate counts on nutritional panels, so we always recommend going by total carbs so as not to be misled.  Ingredients include a combination of artificial flavors and colors, which only makes this product less appealing.  This product just doesn’t have a stand out quality that would make it a hit, though for sugar-free dieters, it provides an alternative to regular candy.  Retails for $1.99.  Flavors are Arctic Berry, Butter Toffee, Wint O Green, and 5 Flavors.www.candystand.com


CONSUMER-NOMINATED MISS

Kellogg's Corn Flakes with Real BananasHere’s what Athena from Houston, Tex., had to say about this product. “A great idea, putting dried fruit into a cereal, and the bananas are even the second ingredient in the list. If they left out the coconut oil and high fructose corn syrup this would be a hit. The coconut oil used for the banana chips means that the two grams of fat per 3/4 cup serving are all saturated, while most cereals have less amounts of total fat. They would be better off leaving out the coconut oil and just using freeze dried bananas, rather than fried banana chips.” Retails for about $3.99.  Thanks, Athena!  Your SupermarketGuru tote bag is on the way.www.kelloggs.com

Phil Lempert is food editor of the “Today” show. He welcomes questions and comments — as well as nominations for “hits” and “misses” in this column — which can be sent to phil.lempert@nbc.com or by using the mail box below. If he selects your nomination for publication, he’ll send you a SupermarketGuru.com Tote Bag! You can also visit his website at