Buy It & Try It: liquid meals

(Columbia) Sept. 1, 2003 - Most people eat at least one meal on the go these days, and those who don't have a lot of time do have a lot of choices.

Hilda Rivera says she opts for a "granola bar, if I get a moment."

Judy Colon, on the other hand, goes green with "salad, sometimes, you know, something quick."

Albert Hakim admits, "Sometimes, when I'm bad, it will be an ice cream."

Another option is a liquid meal. Slim-Fast was one of the first. Now Snapple has introduced Snapple A Day Meal Replacement, and the refrigerator section has Yoplait Nouriche Smoothies and Frulatte Fat Free Smoothies.

Consumer Reports compared the tropical fruit flavors of these drinks. Testers looked at both taste and nutrition. All the drinks have between 210 and 290 calories, along with vitamins, minerals and some fiber and protein.

Consumer Reports' Linda Greene says, "These products are essentially vitamin cocktails with fruit or fruit juice. Three out of four contain added sweeteners like sugar or corn syrup."

The testers found some drinks had a slight chalky or vitamin flavor. But, with a full dairy flavor, the yogurt drink from Yoplait, Nouriche Tropical Flavor, was judged quite good. It has small bits of fruit in it and costs $1.60.

While Nouriche was judged tastiest, there are plenty of other grab-and-go liquid meals. Still, Consumer Reports says it's not a good idea to make a meal in a bottle a daily habit.

Energy bars, another popular meal replacement choice, often have the same amount of calories and protein as liquid meals, but the drinks have more fiber and less fat than many energy bars.

posted 6:00pm by Chris Rees

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright @ 2003 Consumers Union of U. S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED