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Locally crafted Pop Soda got some lovin' in the Boston Globe's food section last week. In a bit entitled "A Honey of a Soda," contributor Karoline Boehm Goodnick says the mint and lime flavor (one of four) "sounds innocent enough, but might best be described as a virgin mojito." She encourages mixing it with rum and fresh mint for "one of the season's freshest sips."

In a press release, Enosburg Falls-based Franklin Foods trumpets that its Yogurt & Cream Cheese product was chosen to replace the traditional Philadelphia-style stuff in a slew of Northeastern schools. Health concerns provoked the switch: The company claims a student who slathers its product on a bagel instead of cream cheese will consume 17,100 fewer fat calories - nearly 5 pounds' worth - each year. The schools are picking up two different flavors of the spreadable edible: "heavenly plain" and "strawberries' n' cream."

The Yogurt & Cream Cheese seems to be on a roll - it recently took a couple of ribbons at the Burlington-hosted American Cheese Society competition.

Faux cream cheese isn't the only way to drop pounds. For weight watchers who don't want to be berated by an in-your-face trainer, boot-camp- style, a new online nutrition program offered by Fitness Options in South Burlington takes a more civil approach. Consultant Sue Gilbert, who has an M.S. in Nutrition from UVM, works with customers to develop individualized programs. Her client base: "People who don't necessarily want to meet face to face with a nutritionist or a personal trainer."

Participants in the eight-week program log everything they eat into a web database, then correspond with Gilbert about choices and progress. Because the program is tweaked for individuals, it can accommodate everyone from body builders to grandmas. But if you're into alternative eats, take note: Gilbert adheres to the FDA's "My Pyramid" model of nutrition. "I tend to read the scientific research and see what holds up over time," she explains.

An eloquent blogger on a site called apartmen therapy.com recently called Cobb Hill's Ascutney Mountain cheese "one of the best" raw milk cheeses. She says, "Their . . . alpine-style cheese has emerged in recent weeks in perfect raw ripeness, showcasing like never before the über-nutty and sweet winter (read: fatty and rich) Jersey cow milk (read: fatty and rich) from November 2006." A bite the other day confirmed her assessment.

Beware of the beef! Think dehydrating foods is child's play, as depicted on infomercials? Think again. A recent blaze in Barre was sparked when a beef dehydrator overheated and set a carpet on fire.

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