Dear Heloise: I've decided to stop counting calories and look toward nutrition. Here's my question: Since I take my vitamins every day, does it matter whether or not I eat the required amount of vegetables and fruit? I'm not especially fond of either.

Derek T., Tipton, Ind.

Derek T.: Yes, it matters! 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 your fruits and vegetables, but try various recipes to wake up your taste buds.

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

1 1/4 cups chopped kale

1 1/4 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

We cube the fruit, place it in plastic bags and freeze it ahead of time. This is so filling that we don't eat breakfast, but we do eat a healthy lunch and dinner.

Kassidy M., Venice, Fla.

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

Sandra P., Pine Ridge, S.D.

Sandra P.: Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate. It stimulates the central nervous system, making you feel awake. 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 adversely affect the absorption of calcium. If you are worried about your consumption of caffeine, check with your doctor about how much is too much for you.

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. Remember, the berries are frozen. Will it be too much liquid?

Jenny A., Anaheim, Calif.

Jenny A.: First, keep the berries frozen. Thawed fruit adds excess liquid. Coat the fruit in flour before baking. This will soak up some of the 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.

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at washingtonpost.com/advice. Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

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