How We Taste-Tested
We tasted almost 200 finalists “blind”: The tasters did not know which brands they were sampling until after. Keep in mind that not all products are low-fat: Good nutrition agrees with good eating when high-fat items are chosen for maximum quality and used moderately.
TASTE TEST AWARD: Athenos Original. A delicious hummus for garlic lovers, with a slightly tart, lemony finish.
Oat & Honey Granola
TASTE TEST AWARDS: Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value. Slightly puffed brown rice gives this not-too-sweet granola a nice, light crunch.
Quaker Natural. Raisins make this one sweet and cereal-like, with a slight hint of coconut.
Tuna <em>(gourmet, packed in olive oil)</em>
TASTE TEST AWARD: Cento. Firm, with strong but not fishy tuna flavor and just the right amount of briny salt.
100% Whole-Wheat Bread
TASTE TEST AWARD: Whole Foods Organic. A hearty, dense texture makes this ideal for toast, slathered with a tart fruit preserves.
Salted Gourmet Butter
TASTE TEST AWARDS: Lurpak. Well-rounded with a pleasantly salty zing at the finish.
Chimay. A beautiful shade of buttery yellow on the knife, with buttery richness to match.
Diced, No-Salt-Added Tomatoes
TASTE TEST AWARD: Whole Foods 365 Organic. A midsummer-fresh tomato taste and a nice, thick texture make this a great option for any soup, stew, or sauce that needs body.
TASTE TEST AWARD: Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value. Light, silky texture, balanced vinegar-lemon tang, and a nice salty kick.
Reduced-Sodium Chicken Noodle Soup
TASTE TEST AWARD: Campbell’s Select Harvest. A nice hint of rosemary and sage perk up this soup, which is built on a broth that’s rich in chicken flavor.
TASTE TEST AWARD: Amy’s Kitchen. Topped with organic tomatoes, whole-milk mozzarella, and lots of basil, this one is a thin-crust-lover’s primo pick.
Tortilla Chips <em>(100% yellow corn)</em>
TASTE TEST AWARD: Tostitos Natural. Thin, almost delicate chips have a delightful crunch, true corn flavor, and modest salt. Simple and delicious from a grand total of three ingredients.
Mild Tomato Salsa
TASTE TEST AWARDS: Frontera. Its smoky kick resembles the salsas you find in authentic Mexican restaurants.
Organicville. The best organic brand we tasted. Lots of fresh-tasting herbs, plus a bit of sweetness from agave nectar make it a pleasantly unusual option.
Light Microwave Popcorn
TASTE TEST AWARDS: Smart Balance Light Butter. The butter-lover’s better, lighter popcorn.
Act II 94% Fat Free Butter. Big, fluffy kernels with great salt balance.
TASTE TEST AWARD: Fiber One Raisin Bran Clusters. The fiber-seeker’s raisin bran: crunchy and sweet with a whopping 11 grams of fiber per serving.
Light Sour Cream
TASTE TEST AWARDS: Organic Valley. Close to full-fat flavor with its tangy taste and creamy texture.
Target Market Pantry. So thick and luscious that one tester thought it might be mascarpone cheese.
Firm Tofu <em>(water-packed)</em>
TASTE TEST AWARDS: Nasoya Organic. Try this if you like a softer sort of firmness: still stands up to wok-browning, but more delicate, less dense.
Tree of Life. Chewy, curdlike tofu with lots of body and soy flavor: ideal for soups, stir-fries, or browning.
Long-Grain Brown Rice
TASTE TEST AWARD: Arrowhead Mills Organic. Big, moist grains with a hint of popcorn flavor.
Light Vanilla Ice Cream
TASTE TEST AWARD: Edy’s Slow Churned (Dreyer’s on the West Coast). Supercreamy with an intense vanilla flavor.
TASTE TEST AWARD: Goya. Perfect chewy texture, and a good salt balance even after rinsing.
Unsalted Everyday Butter
TASTE TEST AWARDS: Borden. Light, almost fluffy texture that incorporates easily into a recipe.
Whole Foods 365 Organic. A good basic-butter choice if you’re looking for organic.
Wal-Mart Great Value. Clean, clear butter flavor.
TASTE TEST AWARDS: Racconto. True wheat flavor, but there’s nothing grainy about the texture. Pair with bold, chunky sauces.
Target Archer Farms. Great for those just starting down the whole-wheat pasta path. A subtler flavor for subtler sauces—basic marinara would be perfect.
Albacore Tuna <em>(packed in water)</em>
TASTE TEST AWARD: Crown Prince Natural. Fresh, not-too-fishy flavor and firm texture make this a great everyday option.
Chicken and Apple Sausage
TASTE TEST AWARD: Al Fresco Sweet Apple. As delectably juicy as the pork version, but with about half the calories and almost 80% less saturated fat.
Soy Milk <em>(plain, light)</em>
TASTE TEST AWARD: Silk. 30% fewer calories than regular, with a light, quenching consistency, delicate flavor, and balanced sweetness.
Plain, Nonfat Greek Yogurt
TASTE TEST AWARDS: Chobani. Supersmooth with slightly less tang than our winner, making it ideal for use in recipes or for anyone who wants less tartness.
Voskos Organic. So thick and luscious that it would be a great swap for full-fat sour cream.
Boil-in-Bag Brown Rice
TASTE TEST AWARD: Success. Pleasantly tender with just the right amount of al dente bite.
Lower-Sodium Soy Sauce
TASTE TEST AWARD: Target Market Pantry. Dark, strong, with an intense smoky character.