Dear Readers: I’m frequently asked how to make desserts and other foods healthier.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has some wonderful suggestions to reduce the amount of salt, sugar and fat, and here they are:

When you’re making homemade bread, use some whole-wheat flour in your recipe, and less salt, sugar and fat.

When making pudding from a mix, use low-fat milk.

If you’re making an apple crisp topping, use rolled oats instead of flour, and you’ll increase your daily intake of fiber. Use half the amount of sugar and fat called for in the recipe.

Making oatmeal-raisin cookies? Use less sugar and less fat, but increase the number of raisins to boost the flavor and sweetness.

When making pies, try a heavy crumb topping made from oatmeal, and you’ll lower the calories a little and increase the fiber.

Make your crust with whole-wheat flour.

— Heloise

Where to write: Got a hint you want to share? Send your tips and tricks to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000. Send a fax to 1-210-HELOISE, or email