October ushers in seasonal beer, teas and organic goodies

Every fall, those wacky Germans break out the lederhosen, sauerkraut and bier (not beer, mind you) to ring in Oktoberfest. Since this annual shindig has spread to the U.S., it seems like there are a few local renditions of the fest every weekend from mid-September to Halloween.

But the beer doesn't have to flow at public events only - Anheuser-Busch has rolled out a new beverage selection from Beck's that can be enjoyed in the comforts of home. Appropriately slugged Beck's Oktoberfest, the beer is a crisp, amber-hued brew with caramel notes, a toasted nut aroma and hop finish.

Made in Germany by the brewmasters themselves, this seasonal beer is crafted in accordance with the "Reinheitsgebot," the German Purity Law of 1516. It's brewed using high-grade barley, hand-selected hops from the Bavarian Hallertau region and Beck's exclusive strain of yeast. Beck's Oktoberfest is 5.2 percent alcohol by volume and is available at area grocery stores in six-packs and 50-liter kegs. For more information, visit www.becksbeer.com.

Pom teas take a lighter approach

A few years ago, thanks to high antioxidant properties and residual health benefits, pomegranates were all the rage. Pomegranate products were, and still are, everywhere, and Pom flooded the market with its sweet, glass-bottled Wonderful Teas. Now, the company is taking a lighter approach to its caffeine-free drink, with the Light Pom Tea.

Still packaged in the tall, slim glass container - which can be washed and reused to eliminate waste - the all-natural teas contain a mere 35 calories per serving, about half the caloric content of the traditional blend.

Less sugar doesn't mean less flavor, though. Well, OK, it means a little less flavor, but the tradeoff is fewer cavities and a svelte waistline. We're good with that. Light Pom Teas are available in four flavors, including Pomegranate Orange Blossom red tea and Pomegranate Hibiscus.

The teas are sold at area grocery stores and retail for $3.49 for a 13.5-ounce bottle. For more information, visit www.pomwonderful.com.

Snack goodies take a healthy turn

Barbara is one healthy gal. Or, more accurately, Barbara is one healthy enterprise.

The snack-making company recently joined the 100-calorie pack bandwagon with the introduction of Barbara's Bakery Organic 100 Calorie Mini Cookies. Available in mild oatmeal, rich chocolate and spicy ginger, the cookies come in a portion-controlled bag and are free of artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, cholesterol, hydrogenated oils and trans fats.

Retailing for $4.19 for a five-pack box, the cookies are sold at area grocery and health food stores.

Barbara has also brought to market wheat-free granola bars, available in Cinnamon Crisp, Oats and Honey, Peanut Butter and Toasted Almond flavors. The granola bars are individually wrapped and boast the same all-natural makeup as the cookies.

Retailing for $4.89 for a five-pack box, the granola bars are sold at area grocery and health food stores. For more information, visit www.barbarasbakery.com.