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Food news: Hershey challenges Nutella, Misleading advertising and Faster meals

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The Hershey Company recently announced that it was introducing a chocolate spread line, including a hazelnut variety that's similar to Nutella.

There's strong growth in this particular food category; over the last five years, U.S. Sales of Nutella have more than tripled to $240.4 million, according to market researcher Euromonitor International (another well-known brand is already competing-in 2012, Smuckers debuted their Jif hazelnut spreads).

The most common uses for chocolate spreads are on fruit, but Hershey wants people to expand to other food varieties, like graham crackers, pineapples, carrots, celery and even pickles. According to Anna Lingeris, Hershey spokeswoman, the company has featured several “endless possibilities” in recent national TV ads (the spreads have been available since early December).

Adding chocolate spreads to fruits, vegetables and other foods will clearly make them more edible (but many are just as happy and thrilled to eat chocolate spread straight out of the jar!), with the added benefit of relatively low calories: Two tablespoons contain just about 200 calories, 12 grams of fat and 20 grams of sugar for both Nutella and the Hershey varieties.

Misleading Advertising: Three Quick Tips

Many commercially-prepared food products are loaded with chemicals and tend to be high in calories from added sugars, according to Consumer Reports.
Here are three quick tips:

  • Don't just rely on nice pictures or catchy names; read the label carefully!
  • Keep a lookout for certain words, like “bac'n bits” (not real bacon) or “potato crisps”(not real potato chips).
  • Compare the labels-Some processed foods have more “extras” than others.

Making Faster Meals

Consumer Reports also recently surveyed 3,435 of their subscribers about preparing weeknight meals; almost half wished that the task took less time.

Here are a few tips for making faster meals:

  • A top cooking gripe was that it takes too much planning. A few remedies are: Making double batches of recipes or one big casserole that will last for two-three days-or more (I frequently do this). Stews and soups can be made (often ahead of time), as well as pancakes, which can then be frozen and reheated for breakfast (or dinner!).
  • Use a slow-cooker for even more make-ahead meals.
  • "In the kitchen, try to keep things close at hand," says Jennifer Lava, a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers. "Precious minutes are lost looking for misplaced items and uncluttering countertops so that they can be used for meal prep." Dishes and flatware should be kept in a cabinet next to the sink (or dishwasher, if you have one); cutting boards and sharp knives can be near the prep counter area.
  • For those of you with kids, they can be utilized for age-appropriate food-prep tasks, like washing vegetables.

Sources: “Hershey takes on Nutella”-Associated Press-The (Sunday)Vindicator, January 19, 2014, "Some food isn't as advertised"-From Consumer Reports-The (Sunday) Vindicator, January 12, 2014 and "Saving some time in the kitchen"-From Consumer Reports-The (Sunday) Vindicator, February 9, 2014

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