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Lick the Produce Section: Instructions included

It’s time once more for me to try to eat fruits and vegetables that I’ve never eaten before, but only after I take poorly lit photos of them on my kitchen counter. However, eating new foods can be very tricky, as I learned when I bit right into a mango’s waxy skin, so thank goodness there were instructions printed right on the label this time. Thank you acorn squash growers of America for realizing I have no idea how to cook your product! You saved me two minutes looking it up on Google.

Acorn Squash

The acorn squash does sort of look like an acorn. When I picked it up at the grocery store, I had an urge to hold it up to my face with both hands and twitch my nose like a giant squirrel. However, I did not dig up the linoleum and bury it in the produce section. Instead, I just split it open with my giant knife and scooped out the insides before baking it in a pan of water.

I scraped out the insides and served it with some margarine, salt and pepper and, wow, it was pretty damn good. I wasn’t expecting too much from a squash, but it was fairly tasty. The acorn squash is a bit high on the glycemic index though, so I won’t be eating this too frequently.

Pomegranate

Last time I was moaning about how I couldn’t do a Kate Bush themed LTP entry because there were no guavas or sultanas or pomegranates around here. So what do I find at my local grocer’s the very next week? A bin full of pomegranates.

The pomegranate is as difficult to eat as it is to spell. I still have to look it up in Webster’s online every time and before eating it I read some directions. First you cut off the flowery top part.

Then you score it into four sections.

Next you place it in a bowl of water to soak, and then rip open the four sections, revealing all the seeds nestled in a white cocoon of… stuff.

You want to eat the seeds, not the white stuff. So you have to pick out the seeds which fall to the bottom of the water while the white stuff floats. Then you skim the white stuff off the top and eat the seeds.

By the time I was done with this, I felt like I’d disarmed a dirty bomb. The seeds were fairly sweet and tasty, but I wouldn’t consider them worth all the work. Just hand me an apple instead. I prefer fruits I can just bite into and I know how to spell. I also hear pomegranate juice stains pretty badly, so don’t attempt this wearing your Sunday best.

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43 Comments

JEM • October 26, 2007 at 9:38 am

I agree with you on the Pomegranate. They are so good but such a pain in the a**. I still eat them sometimes, they are full of vitamins and minerals and very rich in antioxidants.

Acorn Squash is a fave of mine, I didn’t know it was high on the glyemic index though…I guess I feel, if it is a fruit or veggie I can eat it. I usually prepare it with butter, brown sugar and little honey. Sooooo goood. I use it like a sweet potato I guess.

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Erin • October 26, 2007 at 9:55 am

What’s the english version of glycemic index? Does that mean it’s high in sugar?

PQ – You can read the Wikipedia entry here, but basically it refers to how quickly a food raises your blood sugar after eating it.

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Rachel • October 26, 2007 at 10:24 am

My favorite way to make acorn squash:

1. Cut in half, scoop out the seeds.

2. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and a bit of nutmeg.

3. Pour 1/4C water in a pie plate; place squash cut-side down.

4. Microwave for 3-5 minutes or until squash is soft in the center.

5. Cool slightly, squeeze or scoop squash out of its skin, and top with a bit of Smart Balance spread or olive oil.

I used to heap on the brown sugar until I started South Beach. Now the squash seems sweet enough on its own, but I’ll occasionally add a packet of Splenda if I want it to be more like a dessert.

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Jenn1701 • October 26, 2007 at 10:26 am

Pomegranats rule! They are so nutritious and good for you… all those anti-oxidants and schtuff. My advice: since they are in season right now usually stores have them on sale. I buy a whole bunch and then take some time to prep them ahead. You don’t have to do all that soaking stuff, just cut them in half, and either whack the seeds out with the back of a spoon or scrap them out. I usually take 3 or 4 and scrape out all the seeds and store them in a tupperware in my fridge. Then I have crunchy, sweet, juicy pom seeds whenever I want. It is definitely worth the time. And yeah, don’t wear a shirt that you love because it will end up with red spots all over it!

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Nina • October 26, 2007 at 10:29 am

Pomogranates are my favorite fruit! I haven’t had one in years.

I remember when I was in Italy one year, I fasted throughout the day and at a completely vegeterian diet. Well our food was limited on the tour I was on, so I hadn’t eaten in two days and was starving. However, we were in the field of a huge church on our pilgramage, and I noticed that the trees looked heavy… with pomogranates! Nobody on the tour had ever eaten them before, so I got to show them how.

Gifts from God, man. They’re awesome.

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Mary • October 26, 2007 at 10:48 am

I like acorn squash baked with apples and a little brown sugar. If the apples are sweet and juicy, I can cut down on the brown sugar a bit.

* 3 medium acorn squash

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 3 cups chopped apple

* 1/4 cup melted butter

* 1/4 cup brown sugar

PREPARATION:

Cut acorn squash in half crosswise; remove seeds and pulp.

Place cut side down in shallow baking pan. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes.

Turn cut sides up; sprinkle with salt.

Combine remaining ingredients; fill squash with mixture.

Continue baking 25 minutes or until acorn squash is tender

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CurvyJones • October 26, 2007 at 10:48 am

mmmmm I want some squash.

Pomegranates don’t seem worth the work.

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Cathy • October 26, 2007 at 10:53 am

To shorten the baking time of acorn squash, I slice it into rings, place on a sprayed baking pan and add just a little water to the bottom and roast it in a 450 degree oven, adding water as it evaporates…just a little at a time so the veg can roast and brown a bit instead of just steaming…adding water helps keep it moist…then when I eat it, just a spray or two of buttery stuff, salt and pepper, a drift of cinnamon and sprinkle of Splenda, or or any sweetener if you like.

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Mark • October 26, 2007 at 11:32 am

We just rip open pomegranites and eat the seeds. What’s the deal with the water?

PQ – It’s what the Internet told me to do!

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Kayla • October 26, 2007 at 11:36 am

I am a big fan of all squashes. I used to pop a fork-poked squash into the microwave in my college dorm room for a snack. Imagine my roommates’ reactions!

As far as the pomegranate… I had a similar experience to yours. I felt it was far too much work for the taste. Just give me a damn juicy honeycrisp apple or a sweet orange!

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Migraineur • October 26, 2007 at 11:50 am

Low-carber that I am, 1/4 cup of sugar doesn’t seem like “a little” to me. I’d probably substitute, like, 1/2 teaspoon of molasses mixed with a bit of water and spread on with a basting brush. A little molasses is a great way to get a brown sugar taste without consuming tons of sugar.(Hey, I have butternut squash at home waiting to be used – there’s an idea.) Oh, and I’d probably double the butter. Low-fat dieters, feel free to disregard this.

I suspect pomegranates have sort of a low glycemic impact because you have to eat them slowly. Some people don’t consume the seeds, by the way – they just suck them to get the red flesh, then spit out the seeds. And I’d never heard of soaking a pomegranate before, either.

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alexandra • October 26, 2007 at 12:01 pm

Coming out from lurking to add a recipe for squash – maybe more useful for butternut, but anyway. Peel the squash and cut it up. Steam it till soft. Mash it with a little bit of butter, apple cider vinegar and ginger and salt. It’s great! You don’t need to sweeten up squash to enjoy it!

I love your blog! You seem like a young lady with her head squarely on her shoulders. I especially like the fact that you are discovering the produce section and learning to cook. I really feel that the whole era of people not cooking has led to the literal expansion of society (especially its pants size). The fact that you are learning to cook and enjoy healthy foods suggests to me that you are going to continue as one of the success stories of weight loss!

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MB • October 26, 2007 at 12:04 pm

I’m not a big fan of squash but keep trying different varieties. I used to love Pomegranates when I was a kid but find them hard to find. I have recently tried pomegranate vodka and it is really REALLY good. It is healthy too, right?

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coraspartan • October 26, 2007 at 12:20 pm

Yum…squash. My husband made squash last week–don’t remember which one…I can never remember which one is which! He peels the skin off, cuts the squash into cubes, puts it in a casserole dish, throws several pats of butter on top, covers and bakes. Oh my God, it was so good! I swear it was almost as good as a dessert, and he didn’t put ANY sugar or sugar substitute in it.

I love all the squash this time of year! I buy one almost every time I go to the grocery store.

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Jenny • October 26, 2007 at 12:38 pm

I think I’m going to buy that book by Jerry Seinfeld’s wife… the one that hides spinach in brownies.

However, if anyone can make acorn squash look good… you did.

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SusieQ • October 26, 2007 at 12:51 pm

PQ, definitely try the “whack the dickens out of the pomegranate with a wooden spoon” trick – it works like a charm. Just split the pomegranate, then beat against the back of it while holding it over a bowl. The seeds just fall out..plus it’s a great way to release hidden aggression!

BTW, this is my first time posting to your blog, and I have to say you amaze and inspire me. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself.

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Marianne • October 26, 2007 at 12:52 pm

You don’t have to do all that to get the pom seeds! I just cut mine in half and go at it with my fingers.

You do need to be careful what you do this on though, because the juice DOES stain. I have a wooden cutting board that looks like something died on it because of a pom!

Also – any of you school-folk: pom seeds are an AWESOME study snack. They are a much better “mindless study snacking” snack than chips or whatever else!

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starbird • October 26, 2007 at 1:20 pm

Hey, PQ – this is OT, but I thought you and everyone would like to know where that pesky, unverifiable percentage of people who regain their lost weight comes from. Hint – it is made up! Also, it is useful in other scary or defeatist scenarios, as seen here:

http://www.portfolio.com/views/blogs/market-movers/2007/10/26/counterfeiting-much-less-prevalent-than-you-think

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anji • October 26, 2007 at 1:21 pm

Have you ever tried Spaghetti Squash? You can cook it (in the microwave, cut in half) and gradually you remove the cooked bits with a fork. As you remove it, the cooked bits will look like spaghetti…. isn’t too bad. Hubby makes that one, too much work for me! But – it’s a bit of an alternative to real pasta (*gasp* I can’t believe I just said that to a Pasta Queen!)

PQ – I have tried spaghetti squash and it is pretty good. Sometimes I try scraping it out too soon and burn myself though.

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Cate • October 26, 2007 at 1:49 pm

Pomegranates are best not eaten alone, but put into salads, yogurt, cereals, etc. The pulpy stuff then adds an appealing crunch, rather than feeling like uncooked corn kernels in your mouth. My fave is greek yogurt w/pom and a sprinkling of granola. And they are only in season a short time, so get ‘em now!

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emily • October 26, 2007 at 2:03 pm

Oh man, I LOVE LOVE LOVE pomegranates. Some are better than others though, the ones at the farmer’s markets that are cracking open are so sweet and tart and delicious. And messy, but I kind of like that it takes me a long time to eat one – can’t wolf it down! I don’t do the water thing, I just break it open, put it in a big bowl, and go at it.

My FAVORITE winter squash recipe is here:

http://www.hungry-girl.com/week/weeklydetails.php?isid=684

I don’t do “fries” though – I just cut it into chunks and bake with a tiny bit of olive oil and salt. The outside gets all carmelized and crisp, and the inside is squishy and delicious. OMG. LOVE.

Have you had butternut squash? It’s quite similar to acorn squash. I also love to take a small pumpkin – the pie kind, not the carving kind – chop it in half, and bake it at about 400 until soft. Pumpkin is much, much lower in calories and sugar than acorn or butternut squash, and so yummy.

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Rah • October 26, 2007 at 2:23 pm

I have nothing enlightening to say, but wanted you to know that I laughed out loud (at work, in my office, I might add) at the image of you wrinkling your nose while sniffing the acorn squash, then attempting to bury it beneath the linoleum.

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Chris • October 26, 2007 at 2:29 pm

Mmmm, acorn squash. My mom used to serve this four or five times a year. She would actually serve us each one of the cooked squash halves, instead of scooping everything out and putting it in a bowl. So yummy.

Sadly, my wife hates it (more for the consistency than the taste), so I get it very rarely now.

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alexandra • October 26, 2007 at 4:15 pm

If you are looking for another winter vegetable to try out, you might consider yellow turnip – also called rutabaga.

It is my favorite food – always has been (I’m strange that way.) However every time I buy it in the store checkers hold it up to me and ask – “now what is THIS?” Just peel it with a knife (ordinary peelers don’t work), cut it up, cook it until tender (takes a while) in salted water. Then mash it up with some butter and pepper. If you are feeling particularly wicked add a little bacon fat. I prefer it to chocolate! (I guess I am strange.)

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elissa • October 26, 2007 at 4:54 pm

Funny thing about pomegranates … they also stain SKIN. I ate one once and had apparently gotten a dribble down my chin I didn’t notice. I had to walk around all day looking like a vampire who just had a tasty meal of human blood.

Tasty human blood, though.

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Angela • October 26, 2007 at 7:00 pm

I love pomegranates, but never understood if I was supposed to eat the entire seed or just the juicy red goodness around it?

I quartered a pom just last night and squeezed the sections over a bowl to get the juice and then made a nice vinaigrette with it. Yum.

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AKS • October 26, 2007 at 10:47 pm

i too am a big fan of beating my pomegranates until they release their shiny ruby jewels.

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Cindy • October 27, 2007 at 9:57 am

Hi PQ,

The acorn squash is a delicious choice, but with butter, NEVER margarine (and a little salt and pepper, to taste). Another lovely squash to try is the delicata, a long narrow squash with a striped skin. It has a light, delicate flavor (hence its name).I don’t put anything on the delicata—it is perfect just as is). I bake them with a little foil wrapped over the top to keep them from drying out—perfection! I never use sugars of any kind on my squashes. I definitely lean toward savory instead of sweet. If I want dessert, I’ll eat dessert. If I want a vegetable, I want to taste the vegetable!

I am a little leery of the pomegranate, but maybe I’ll et brave and give it a try…

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Janice Bridge • October 27, 2007 at 11:00 am

Acorn squash – halve, scoop out seeds, lay thin slices of pineapple over exposed flesh, bake – then scoop out the flesh and blend squash and baked pineapple together in your food processor – salt, pepper and a little nutmeg – no butter, no sugar – DELICIOUS.

Re: pomegranates – the juice stains dramatically and forever – I use a MUCH larger bowl to soak the pomegranates (only needs a few minutes0 and then do all of the un-seeding in the water – so the juice that inevitably squeezes out in the process is diluted. The seeds sink, the white pulp rises – and the process is MUCH faster. Eat the seeds – like grape seeds – good for bowel process. . .

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Kathy • October 27, 2007 at 11:39 am

I always use a grapefruit spoon to scrape the seeds out of my butternut and acorn squash. Squash has no plural, like shrimp?

Sometimes I bake it with a little sugar-free maple syrup in the cavity. Butternut is my favorite, slow roasted is best. Not all butternut are created equal, the ones with darker flesh and less moisture are far superior. The ones grown in the northern sections of the US are better.

I also enjoyed the squirrel/acorn/linoleum comment, almost sprayed the coffee…

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K • October 27, 2007 at 11:45 am

I love pomegranates, and they truly are easier to eat without so much mess if you approach them from the outside. I usually cut into the skin a little with a knife, then pull apart.

However, my husband would totally agree that they’re more trouble than they’re worth, especially after I managed to spray the juice up the wall. The pale-green wall. If you wipe pomegranate juice, it turns navy blue…

We had to repaint that bit.

I haven’t had them stain skin, though.

What’s with all these people who put sugar (or whatever) on their squash? Are they eating it for dessert? Maybe this is a cultural thing.

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Elizabeth C. • October 27, 2007 at 12:03 pm

Wow, your thumb cuticle is beautiful! What kind of hand lotion do you use?

PQ – Why, thank you! And actually I don’t use any lotion. Sorry! I have naturally beautiful cuticles, I guess.

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vivi • October 27, 2007 at 12:42 pm

Mediterranean girl back in Germany from holidays in lovely Greece and beautiful Spain!!

I don’t know anything about the first fruit you describe, but pomegranates are very typical in Spain. There is a city called Granada whose coat of arms depicts a pomegranate (a “granada”) and some other stuff irrelevant for weight loss. An advice to eat the fruit is either

- dessert: granate seeds with some sugar on top

or

- main course: salad with curly endives and pomegrenate seeds.

I, personally, love the salad.

Cheers

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Mary • October 27, 2007 at 7:42 pm

The squash baked with apples & brown sugar is a dish that I make when I’m going to a potluck of carnivores. You don’t have to use a lot of sugar, but even a little helps non-vegetable eaters to get used to the idea of eating veggies. Some people can’t go “cold turkey” into eating healthy foods, you have to ease them into it.

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LM • October 27, 2007 at 8:18 pm

PQ- I have the solution to your pomegranate woes! My father taught me this trick… This technique is best done over the sink (to catch the residual splatter) and into a bowl. First cut the pomegranate in half (or perhaps even quarters if its a particularly large pomegranate), hold the pomegranate with the skin facing you and the seeds facing your hand, and then hit the skin side of the pomegranate with the back of a soup spoon. If done right, the skin will start to loosen up the seeds inside and the seeds will just fall out!! It takes a whole of 2 minutes so you can feel free to enjoy the pomegranate without the hassle of separating the seeds one by one. Just make sure all your fingers are out of the way when hitting the pomegranate… I learned that the hard way…

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the former veggie paparazzo • October 27, 2007 at 11:05 pm

I had a really tasty salad for lunch that had pomegranate seeds in it. Let’s see, what else did it contain . . . lettuce (you may have guessed that), chicken breast, feta, mandarin orange bits, a white balsamic vinaigrette. . . . That may have been all. The pomegranate seeds provided such nice pops of flavor; I’ve tried them in various things, and that was my favorite use of them. Bacon and toasted walnuts would have also been good additions to that salad.

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Beth • October 28, 2007 at 4:14 am

Hi PQ,

Long time reader; can’t remember if I’ve ever commented before.

I love acorn squash, and actually have one sitting on my counter waiting to be cooked (probably with dinner tonight).

I ate pomegranates in Italy and never soaked one … I wonder if soaking in water makes it easier to get the seeds out.

By the way, I love your blog. I just wish your book title was “Half-Assed: The Last 200 Pounds Are the Hardest.”

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Donna • October 28, 2007 at 7:41 pm

One of my favorite recipes is Roasted Butternut Squash Soup from Williams-Sonoma. I couldn’t find the link on their site, but found it here http://www.cooken.com/WebRecipes/HTML_WilliamsSonoma/RoastedButternutSqSoup.html

and the only difference I made was to use way less butter and added a little olive oil for browning the onions. It tastes great on cold winter days.

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chrissie • October 30, 2007 at 7:20 am

I think I shall steal this idea from you. I need to start trying new and exciting vegetables and fruit. Of course, that’s terribly difficult out here (our produce section is pathetic) but I can always pick up things from the grocery store in “town” (89 miles away).

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kentuckienne • November 6, 2007 at 12:29 pm

Did you count the seeds? Supposedly a pomegranate has exactly 613 seeds, the same number of commandments/mitzvot that Orthodox Jews identify in the Torah. I learned that in “So you want to be a Jew?” class, but it’s also here.

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Julia • December 1, 2007 at 4:42 pm

Just found your blog and hooked!!

I love Pom’s and introduced my DD to them last year and she is now hooked, I buy a couple and deseed them and give them to her for school snack – she now has all her friends hooked too, they are good in salad too.

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parkbench • September 8, 2008 at 4:26 pm

Hey there, new to your blog and liking it a lot!

About the dread pomegranates: they’re yum, but lots of work (though I’ve never done the soak / float / skim routine, just picked out the seeds).

When we were in Turkey in May, I spotted the answer: a juicer. Street vendors chop them in half across their ‘equator’ and squash them in those drop-handle metal juicers. You could easily do the same with a lemon juicer at home, and just run the juice through a strainer. If it’s not sweet enough, mix in a little OJ.

Pomegranate juice and rum with sugar & mint is also PDG. :)

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Marisa • December 15, 2008 at 12:15 pm

At one point, I could have easily said that it’s just not worth the effort. However, in solidarity with the pom, I have a couple of fairly decent (not to mention social) reasons for this healthy little houseguest. On a day when you’re not desperate to eat fruit immediately, chop, soak, and free the seeds. Skim them out and put them in a bowl. You can keep the bowl in the fridge-they’ll hang for a bit before going sour.

A perfect addition to a salad–total crowd pleaser. Really…better than any crouton. It’s like a little punch of juice that you control. Imagine, scarfing some baby romaine, feeling a seed in the mouth, and making a conscious decision to POP it open, releasing its sweet nectar into the mix. Divine.

Also, when mixing fruity sha-sha drinks (both alcoholic and not), throw a few seeds in the glass. They’ll swim about looking ruby-like and fantasmic. People will oooh and aaaah at your innovative charms. My chums and I have created a drink around the pom seeds–we call it mermaid scat. Because, of course, if a mermaid were to poo, it would probably resemble pomegranite seeds.

Thanks for the blog–stumbled on it and found myself ignoring work for the better part of an hour. Keep it up.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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The Making of CHOCOLATE & VICODIN
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Half-Marathon: Less fun than it looks
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