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Cereal companies roll out chocolate versions of breakfast favorites

Life Chocolate Oat Crunch, Special K Chocolatey Delight

Europeans have been enjoying chocolate with their breakfasts for years - think pain au chocolat, or chocolate croissants - but in the U.S., it's been relegated to kiddie cereals like Cocoa Puffs and Count Chocula.

Two cereal companies recently unveiled chocolate-y versions of their popular adult breakfast cereals. Quaker Oats calls its new Life Chocolate Oat Crunch "a cereal with chocolate that's healthy," and Kellogg's Special K Chocolatey Delight adds a bit of decadence to what has traditionally been a dieter's top breakfast choice.

The Life cereal gets its chocolate hit in the form of tiny clusters of oats bound by chocolate. The adult-like flavor comes from cocoa butter, unsweetened chocolate and vanilla extract. The cereal is especially good for snacking, and it provides a small, relatively healthy dose of chocolate if that's what you're craving.

The Special K chocolate cereal tastes best with milk, because the flat chocolate pieces are less actual chocolate than they are melty cocoa bits. But they add a pleasant chocolate flavor to the traditional Special K flakes, which can be a bit bland on their own. A 3⁄4-cup serving of Special K Chocolatey Delight contains 120 calories, whereas a 1-cup serving of the Life cereal contains 190 calories.

The suggested retail price for Life Chocolate Oat Crunch is $3.49. The suggested retail price for Special K Chocolatey Delight is $3.89.

Kraft Organic

Macaroni and Cheese

Kraft recently introduced an organic version of its iconic macaroni and cheese. The new variety is available in Cheddar and White Cheddar flavors, both in the same familiar blue box. Kraft says the new macaroni and cheese is made with organic Kraft cheddar cheese, organic pasta and no artificial preservatives or flavors.

We tried the White Cheddar variety, which wasn't as satisfyingly creamy and cheesy as the Kraft dinners we remember from childhood. The organic cheese powder didn't blend as easily with the milk and butter, and after about five minutes of stirring, we were still left with a few chunks of granulated cheese. The taste was good, though, and macaroni-and-cheese lovers were pleased overall.

While the cheddar flavor comes with the familiar elbow pasta, the white cheddar comes with shell pasta, which kids may not enjoy as much.

The suggested retail price is $1.79 per 6-ounce box.

TrueBlue

Blueberry Juice Cocktails

A new fruit juice promises a full serving of blueberries in each glass. TrueBlue Blueberry Juice Cocktails, an offering from Leading Brands Inc., is now available in stores in North America.

The juice is lightly sweetened with cane sugar, rather than the high-fructose corn syrup found in many fruit juices, and contains 25 percent less calories than most cranberry juices.

TrueBlue comes in Blueberry, Green Tea, Cranberry, Pomegranate, Raspberry and Blackberry flavors. The juices are available in a 64-ounce bottle or individual 16-ounce bottles.

Each 16-ounce bottle contains a full serving of fresh blueberries - the equivalent of 1⁄2 cup. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants, which may slow the aging process and help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke.

The juice had a refreshing flavor, but would probably taste better diluted with a sparkling water. The company also offers LiteBlue, a lower-calorie version of TrueBlue, that's sweetened with cane sugar and Splenda.

The suggested retail price is $4.99 for a 64-ounce bottle and $1.89 for a 16-ounce bottle.

- Compiled by Lifestyle Editor Shelley Mann