If you’re a granola fan, at least mix it with your favorite whole grain flakes, puffs, or squares, which are typically less dense.It’s fine to make your own smoothies at home with lowfat yogurt or milk and fresh or frozen fruit (though it’s better to eat, rather than drink, your calories if you’re watching your weight).Bottom line: Once you strip away the advertising, V8 isn’t much better than watered-down tomato sauce. Until the business was sold to Frito-Lay, Stacy was making a bundle selling white flour, oil, salt, and seasonings.

But commercial smoothies are a different story, thanks largely to added sugar and giant servings of juice.

At Smoothie King (with 600 locations nationwide) the “Trim Down” smoothies typically range from 250 to 350 calories in a small (20 oz.) to (gulp) 500 to 700 calories in a large (40 oz.).

If you have an extra few minutes, dress them up with chopped scallions, olive oil, and lemon juice.

Or coat with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and fresh chopped garlic and serve as is or roast (stirring occasionally) until they’re crunchy.

Even Bear Naked’s Fit granola has 480 calories per cup.

Tip: Unless you can afford 400 to 550 calories in 1 cup of cereal—or you eat no more than ½ cup— watch out for dense cereals like granola, Grape-Nuts, or muesli.

(You can easily roast them in a toaster oven for richer flavor.) There’s only one catch: every ¼ cup contains 180 calories..it’s tough to stop there. They’re rich in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.

And they’re dirt cheap in cans, and cheaper if you buy them dried.

Since when is “whole nutrition” a mix of soy protein isolate, rice flour, and sugar? (That’s partly because there’s no seed-industry group that sponsors research and plugs sunflower seeds like the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation does for almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts.) That’s a shame, because sunflower seeds are at least as good as most nuts..they’re cheaper.

Energy means calories, according to the Food and Drug Administration. A quarter cup of sunflower seeds has 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein plus 25 to 75 percent of a day’s copper, vitamin E, selenium, and manganese and roughly 10 percent of a day’s zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B-6.

If you need some, eat some real food, not a vitamin-fortified, soy-spiked cookie or candy bar. For a snack, buy sunflower seeds in the shell (it will slow down your munching).