Ten tasty low-calorie treats

We all know that the healthiest snacks are unprocessed or minimally processed foods like fruit and veggies, nuts, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains. But sometimes you just have to splurge on something salty, crunchy, gooey, or sweet-or all four of those things at once (pass the kettle corn!). Epicurious editors worked their way through several grocery-cart loads of diet and reduced-calorie versions of popular snacks and came up with the ten tasty treats gathered here. Each one will satisfy your snack-attack without blowing your diet plan.

Breakfast, Snack, or Granola Bar:

Special K Cereal Bars

Per serving (one bar, .8oz./22g): 90 calories, 1.5g fat (1g saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 17g carbohydrate

Frankly, we weren't bowled over by any of the cereal or granola bars we tasted (most were "too sweet or stale, or just plain gross," in the words of one editor), but these were the best by far: a good grab-and-go option that's crunchy and nicely sweet without being cloying or overtly artificial-tasting.

www.specialk.com


Cheese Puff:

Michael Season's Lite Cheese Puffs

Per serving (2 cups/28g):130 calories, 4.5g fat (.5g saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 20g carbohydrate

Here's what we liked about these puffs: They actually taste like cheese (thanks to the real cheese on the ingredient list). They're nice and crunchy and also have far fewer calories than regular cheese puffs.

www.seasonssnacks.com

Potato Chip:

Kettle Bakes

Per serving (1 oz./28g): 120 calories, 3g fat (.5g saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 21g carbohydrate

These ultracrunchy, perfectly salted chips have more potato flavor than any baked variety we've tried. A small amount of safflower and/or sunflower oil gives them a nice real-chip flavor and mouth-feel, without making them greasy.

www.kettlebakes.com

Wheat Cracker:

Wheatables Oven-Baked Snack Crackers: Hearty Multigrain

Per serving (17 crackers/30g): 140 calories, 6g fat (1.5g saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 20g carbohydrate

These robust and satisfying crackers have only marginally more calories than the reduced-fat version of Wheatables. We liked that we could see and taste the different grains (wheat, corn, rye, oats), and would happily snack on these with some string cheese or reduced-fat Cheddar. (Note, though, that they are not made with 100 percent whole grains and only have one gram of fiber per serving-i.e., they're still a snack food and not a health food.)

www.keebler.com

Cheese Cracker:

Back to Nature Crispy Cheddar Baked Snack Crackers

Per serving (24 crackers/30g): 140 calories, 5g fat (.5g saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 20g carbohydrate

While these actually have ten more calories per serving than Reduced Fat Cheez-It crackers, we think they have better cheese flavor. Plus, we like the fact that they contain no partially hydrogenated oils and have less saturated fat than Cheez-Its.

www.backtonaturefoods.com

Pita or Bagel Chip:

Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Pita Chips (Sea Salt)

Per serving (about 7 chips/28g): 100 calories, 2.5g fat (0g saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 15g carbohydrate

These three-ingredient crisps (pita bread, sunflower and/or safflower oil, and sea salt) are remarkably satisfying-crunchy, brown and toasty, and visibly flecked with sea salt. One editor described them, approvingly, as "the most like real food" of any of the bready chips we tasted. Try them crumbled over salad or dipped in hummus.

www.traderjoes.com

Tortilla Chip:

Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips

Per serving (1 oz/28g/about 10 chips): 140 calories, 7g fat (.5g saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 18g carbohydrate

These chips, made from stone-ground corn; brown rice flour; sesame, sunflower, and flax seeds; quinoa; and other good-for-you ingredients are a favorite new find for Epicurious Editor-in-Chief Tanya Wenman Steel. They're not quite as low in fat and calories as some baked tortilla chips, but they are delicious straight out of the bag. They also have three grams of fiber per serving, so they'll help fill you up and keep you satisfied longer than many chips.

www.foodshouldtastegood.com

Ice Cream:

Edy's/Dryer's Slow-Churned Light Ice Cream

Per serving (for 1/2 cup of our favorite, Light Peanut Butter Cup): 130 calories, 6g fat (3g saturated), 20mg cholesterol, 20g carbohydrate

Unlike many "reduced" versions of premium ice cream (which can still be loaded with calories and fat), this one from Edy's (the name on the East Coast) and Dryer's (what it's called on the West Coast) actually is low in calories and fat-and it's still deliciously creamy. If you want to splurge a bit more on calories while still reducing fat and cholesterol, we also liked Ben & Jerry's new Lighten Up ice creams, which were introduced in 2007 (a 1/2 cup of Raspberry Chocolate Chunk has 180 calories, 5g fat, and 25mg cholesterol).

www.slowchurned.com

Frozen Yogurt:

Stonyfield Farm Low-Fat Frozen Yogurt

Per serving (1/2 cup of Minty Chocolate Chip): 140 calories, 3g fat (1.5g saturated), 5mg cholesterol, 24g carbohydrate

Even the staunch anti-frozen yogurt contingent at Epicurious enjoyed this surprisingly creamy and rich-tasting version, particularly the Minty Chocolate Chip, a not too sweet or too sour chocolate-mint base with nicely chocolaty chips. (Note: We found it well worth the few extra calories and grams of fat to go for low-fat over nonfat with this brand.)

www.stonyfield.com

Nondairy Frozen Dessert:

So Delicious Dairy Free Bars Creamy Fudge

Per serving (1 bar, 63g): 90 calories, 2g fat (0g saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 17g carbohydrate

This was the surprise hit among our dairy-loving tasters. The bars were quite fudgelike in taste and had a good frozen mousse-like texture. If you're watching cholesterol or can't consume cow's milk products, they're particularly worth a try.

www.sodelicousdairyfree.com

By Megan O. Steintrager

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