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DEAR HELOISE: I've decided to stop counting calories and look toward nutrition. Since I take my vitamins faithfully every day, does it matter whether or not I eat the required amount of vegetables and fruit?

-- Derek T., Tipton, Ind.

DEAR READER: Eating fruits and vegetables provides you with things your vitamin pills don't. To begin with, a vitamin pill does not give you fiber. There are many components in foods that, as yet, cannot be packaged in a pill form. Eating an apple, for example, will provide substances such as "phytochemicals" that are advantageous to you. So, eat fruits and vegetables, but try recipes to wake up your taste buds.

DEAR HELOISE: Every morning, I whip up a smoothie for my husband and me. It tastes great and gives us energy. Here are the ingredients:

11/4 cups chopped kale

11/4 cups frozen cubed fruit (mango, pineapple or banana)

1 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup fresh mint

1 teaspoon organic honey (optional)

1 tablespoon plain yogurt (optional)

2 scoops of whey protein powder

Cube the fruit, place it in bags and freeze it ahead of time.

-- Kassidy M., Venice, Fla.

DEAR HELOISE: I love my morning coffee, but my husband wants us to avoid caffeine. I don't think one or two cups a day is bad. Is it?

-- Sandra P.,

Pine Ridge, S.D.

DEAR READER: Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate. It stimulates the central nervous system. It's also a diuretic, which makes you urinate more, and it increases the release of acid in the stomach, which can raise blood pressure and may affect the absorption of calcium. If you are worried, check with your doctor.

DEAR HELOISE: I have several bags of frozen blueberries, and I want to know if I can make my homemade bread and put the berries in it. Will it be too much liquid?

-- Jenny A., California

DEAR READER: Keep the berries frozen. Thawed fruit adds liquid. Coat the fruit in flour before baking. This will soak up some liquid. You'll probably have to increase your baking time by five to 10 minutes. If your recipe calls for a thickening agent, such as cornstarch, tapioca, flour, etc., add a little extra of it.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

Heloise@Heloise.com

Food on 05/15/2019

Print Headline: Helpful Hints

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