What are calorie bargains? They're great-tasting foods that are lower in calories than those you typically eat and can be substituted for higher-calorie foods. Here are my calorie bargain picks for the New Year.

Metromint (500 milliliters, 0g calories, 0g fat, 0g carbs, 0g protein)


Substitute calorie bargains for your higher-calorie foods like cookies and cheese.

Metromint exceeded all my expectations, to the point where I can really imagine giving up a lifelong commitment to iced tea for one of these refreshing spearmint or peppermint infused beverages. The concept is simply adding mint to water, which not only tastes great but also has been said to calm nerves, freshen breath and reduce congestion. This brand new drink is the brainchild of Rio Miura, a Japanese fashion designer, and Scott Lowe. Metromint is available nationwide in Safeway and Wild Oats, or you can purchase it online at www.metromint.com.

Cabot Cheese 75% Light Cheddar (1 ounce, 60 calories, less than 1g carbs, 9g protein)
Many people find it difficult to switch to lower-calorie and lower-fat versions of their favorite cheeses. Lucky for them, the people in Cabot, VT, renowned for the exquisitely tasty Cabot Cheddar, have made a light version that tastes as good as the original. With one-quarter the fat, one-third the cholesterol and half the calories of regular cheddar, this one lights the way for those who want a great-tasting, lower-calorie alternative. Best of all, it tastes 100 percent like cheddar and melts like a dream. www.cabotcheese.com.

Annie's Naturals Low Fat Honey Mustard Vinaigrette (2 tablespoons, 45 calories, 2g fat, 6g carbs, 0g protein)
It can be tricky to find a low-cal, low-fat alternative to regular salad dressing -- anyone who's had a typical low-cal version of a ranch or Italian dressing can attest to that. That's why Annie's Honey Mustard Vinaigrette is such a treat. Many of her organic dressings are as good for marinades as they are on salads, and this low-cal version is no exception.

Even more versatile is Annie's Gingerly Vinaigrette, which can be used for marinades, barbecues and grilling (2 tablespoons, 40 calories, 2g fat, 4g carbs, 1g protein). www.anniesnaturals.com.

Vermont Sugar Free (1/4 cup, 10 calories, 0g fat, 4g carbs, 0g protein)
Maple Grove Farms Sugar Free (1/4 cup, 30 calories, 0g fat, 11g carbs, 0g protein)
If you enjoy pancakes, waffles and French toast, and you're counting calories; these sugar-free syrups are a great idea. The calorie reduction is huge -- a regular serving of maple syrup is 200 calories. Given that the foods we add syrup to tend to be fairly high in calories to begin with, trimming the number you get from the additions can make a big difference. www.maplegrove.com.

Quaker Chewy 90 Calorie Chocolate Chunk (1 bar, 28g, 90 calories, 2g fat, 19g carbs, 1g protein)
A chocolate chunk bar is not exactly a health food and isn't a good replacement for, say, an orange. However, these bars are tasty, low in calories and low in fat, making them an excellent and satisfying substitute for a candy bar or a bag of M&Ms -- either of which averages about 250-300 calories. They aren't whole grain, but they are made with whole grains, giving them some extra sustenance. And they provide eight percent of your daily calcium needs. www.quakersnackbars.com.

Edy's Fruit Bars (no sugar added): strawberry, tangerine and raspberry (30 calories, 0g fat, 8g carbs, 0g protein)
Not only do these fruit bars make excellent desserts (or snacks), they are also filled with real fruit juices and vitamin C. Try substituting them for ice cream after dinner or sodas during the day. They are just as refreshing and satisfying -- with a fraction of the calories.

Jennie-O Turkey Savory-Seasoned Turkey Burgers (160 calories, 9g fat, 0g carbs, 20g protein, 280mg Sodium)
These turkey burgers are seasoned to provide even more taste than your average ground-beef burger -- with many fewer calories and a lot less fat. Throw on some lettuce, mustard and ketchup and you won't even be able to tell the difference.

Sensible Foods Dried Fruit and Vegetable Snacks100% Organic Apple Harvest

(1 bag, 0.75 ounces, 80 calories, 0g fat, 19g carbs, 0g protein)
If you're in the mood for something sweet, try the apple harvest. These crunchy, dried treats are fat-free and 100 percent natural. They really are delicious.

100% Organic Supersweet Corn (1 bag, 0.75 ounces, 70 calories, 1g fat, 17g carbs, 0g protein)
With just 70 calories per package, the salty supersweet corn is an excellent substitute for potato chips.
Each bag contains only one serving, which will help you keep an eye on portion control. One package is equal to 1/2 cup of fruit or one serving. Other flavors include orchard blend, tropical blend and cherry berry -- perfect for a mid-afternoon snack. www.sensiblefoods.com.

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