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Saturday night is alright for chopping and shopping

This Saturday I turned the corner of the organic grocery store past the plastic wrapped chicken wraps to find a delightful surprise. Free cookies! In a basket before me there were tiny little cookies the size of a quarter (or a bottle cap for you foreigners since I don’t know how to do currency conversions in respect to size). Next to them was a sampler tray of four different flavors of nut clusters. And down the next aisle were slices of bread and olive oil. And down the next aisle were samples of a protein bar. And around the other corner were some apple slices and caramel dip. Yes, I walked around the entire store searching for each free sample station, just like I was playing a video game and looking for all the secret item locations. Saturdays are evidently free sample days at my local, little, whole foods chain and I think that’s reason enough to start going there every weekend. Now I can have a little treat once a week without pigging out or paying for the pleasure!

Good taste experiences never last long enough for me. How long does it really take to eat an eclair? Even if you take small, slow bites it’s only going to last a couple minutes. If I’m eating something creamy and sweet and delicious I want to eat it for a long time. One of my biggest overeating problems has always been portion control. If I buy a gallon of ice cream and I know it’s in the freezer, I’m going to want to eat it all. Right now. I always try to buy treats in the smallest size possible because if I know there’s a gallon of ice cream in the freezer, I’m going to want to eat it. The very idea of buying an entire GALLON of ice cream is inconceivable to me now. I would never, ever, do that unless I was inviting a lot of people over who were not lactose intolerant. However, it’s hard to find someone willing to sell you just one chocolate-covered cherry or one tiny cookie, so I’ve basically had to give them up. The only other option would be to rent a safety deposit box near the grocery store so I could lock up the rest of the cupcakes before I ate them all in the car. I know you can buy 100 calories packs of some foods, but they always come in boxes of 5 or 6, which defeats the purpose since I just eat all 5 individually-wrapped packages.

Today, however, I was able to sample some delicious cinnamon cookies and cranberry-pineapple nut clusters without having to buy a huge bag of anything. I probably didn’t need to take an extra lap around the store to come back and eat a couple more, but I probably burned 5 calories walking the perimeter, right?

Saturdays have become my day for shopping and chopping. I go to the grocery story in the morning to get my food, since it’s usually less busier before noon. Then I bring everything home and prepare the vegetables for snacking during the week. I cut up cauliflower and broccoli into florets and roast them and this week I also threw in some radishes. It’s nice to just take an hour or two and get all that work out of the way at the same time. Plus I only have to preheat the oven once. It’s still kind of a pain though. No one told me weight loss was going to involve so much chopping. So I’m going to tell you now, buy a good chef’s knife! There will be lots of chopping! But you can always go for free samples afterwards.

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Kalyn • October 15, 2007 at 9:38 am

I have this little food prep routine on the weekends too! I always get the big bags of romaine from Costco, so I tear that up for salad, and chop veggies. I agree, a good chef’s knife is a must! Really looking forward to seeing your book!


MM • October 15, 2007 at 9:54 am

We went to Sam’s Club last week. I was horrified by the samples. At least, the fresh apples were there.

PQ – The free samples at Kroger usually don’t tempt me because they’re all greasy sausage or processed microwaved crap. The whole foods store actually had tasty, wholesome stuff!


Mymsie • October 15, 2007 at 10:27 am

Portion control is always a struggle for me too. I’ve often thought “Why can’t I buy just one of those damn Lofthouse sugar cookies.” The best thing to do is cut them out completely though.

You should head up a samples walking tour. Sign me up! :-)

PQ – On man, I miss the Lofthouse cookies too! I see them each week when I walk past the bread section and wish I could just buy one too. We need to find 10 other people who feel the same way and go in on a box together :)


Jenny • October 15, 2007 at 10:35 am

I always wonder how many calories I’m burning by all the food prep.


Israel • October 15, 2007 at 12:31 pm

food preparation is fun. i like the process. I hate it when i have to combat the free sample hags at sams club. little old ladies offering me fattening foods to taste. ahhhhhh.


Sue • October 15, 2007 at 1:03 pm

I understand cutting up the veggies and having them on hand for the week. What’s the purpose of roasting them? I cook a lot so I am not that slow in the kitchen (maybe I am, who knows) but I was trying to understand 1) why you roasted them and 2) how do you roast yours?

PS – spent one whole weekend reading your blog from start to finish. I have already referred many people to it and I have even pre-purchased your book. I too have 1/2 of my body weight to loss (245 / 122) I am at 233 right now. I am so amazed at your story and am so proud of your success. Thanks for your fun stories and your inspiration to share your journey with others.


PQ – I just like how they taste roasted better than how they taste raw. I preheat the oven to 425, cut them up, spray them with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Then I cook for about 30 minutes, stirring them up once halfway through. Thanks for preordering the book! And good luck!


spacedcowgirl • October 15, 2007 at 1:58 pm

I know what you mean by “Good taste experiences never last long enough for me.” Compounding the problem is the fact that the pleasure of the eclair is diminished somewhat if I just have a tiny little skimpy nibble in my mouth. I want a good moderate-to-large size bite so I can feel the contrast between the pastry and the cream and all that good stuff. So on balance I would rather eat an eclair in 2 bites than have it last 5 times as long and eat it in 10 bites, because the experience, short as it is, is going to be more enjoyable overall. But really I would rather eat 5 eclairs in 10 bites. :P


melsky • October 15, 2007 at 2:29 pm

I have the portion control problems too. How can people leave a half eaten bag of cookies or something in their house? If I have something like that it calls to me until I eat it.

Writing this made me realize I have several ex-boyfriends who were like that about alcohol. If there was a bottle of vodka in the house, they had to drink it. I drink but I can have a bottle of liquor or wine around for months! It really makes me think about food addiction.


Kini • October 15, 2007 at 2:30 pm

I love Whole Foods Market… Sadly, it’s a tad over an hour drive away. :(

And, I can completely relate to the eating it all when you know its there…. ice cream, for me, not so much, but cookie/cakies/chocolate, yeah, I get it.


Megan • October 15, 2007 at 2:55 pm

Another question about roasting the veggies — when you eat them later in the week, do you heat them up in the microwave or something? Or do you just eat them cold? I love roasted veggies….raw, not so much, so this sounds like a great idea to me. Thanks!

PQ – I usually eat them cold, but you can heat them up if you want to. After they’re roasted they’re softer and the salt and pepper and oil give them extra flavor.


psychsarah • October 15, 2007 at 3:36 pm

Yum-roasted veggies! I too have come to love the chopping involved in healthy eating. A few years ago I couldn’t cook at all (i.e. I considered Hamburger Helper cooking, gross!) Just yesterday I spent half of my day chopping, measuring, sauteing, stirring etc. to make wholegrain bread, a healthy dinner in my slow cooker (i.e. spinach, lentils, sweet potatoes with Indian spices), healthy muffins and a pot of cauliflower soup to freeze for future lunches. It was so satisfying, but I certainly would never have thought to spend my Sunday morning this way a few years ago!

PQ – I don’t really consider it fun, just a necessary evil, like washing the dishes. I’m glad you find it fun though. I wish I felt that way!


mia • October 15, 2007 at 10:14 pm

I decided to roast potatoes this week (instead of putting them in the crock pot with the roast beef) and they turned out so yummy. That said, potatoes and broccoli are not exactly the same, calorie wise. I think I might try roasting veggies, too. Good idea!


Cindy • October 15, 2007 at 10:33 pm

Hi PQ,

My prep day is Sunday morning—it gets my week ready. I make a big pot of soup (chopping), line up 4-5 salads (more chopping), steam or roast some veggies (still more chopping) and sometimes make a batch of whole wheat muffins or scones (for morning treats). This way, I know I will eat well (and healthy) during the work week—lunches are all pre-planned. And dinners are started, or at least thought out, so there is little opportunity for impulse eating. It is a great deal of work, but the system works for me. When I don’t get to it on a Sunday (say I was traveling…) the week goes poorly or I have to play catch up Monday evening.

As far as the portion issue goes—Yah! I have trouble with portion control and eating anything once it is in the house, so I have to have my will power at the grocery store. But, I do find that single servings work for me. I won’t open more than one. But I don’t waste my money on those 100 calorie packs (and the food is usually inferior anyway). I buy crackers or pretzel thins (which I LOVE with cottage cheese!) and sort them into individual portions in baggies and then put the baggies back in the box. For whatever reason, this works for me. It all started with pasta…I couldn’t figure out what a single portion of pasta looked like and I couldn’t cook a batch without pigging out. So I started literally counting out the pasta noodles into 8 equal piles and then storing them in baggies. That was two years ago…I still do that, and when I want pasta (whole wheat, of course!), I just take out one baggie and make one serving. And, believe it or not, that serving is finally starting to look normal to me—ample, even. I would NEVER have guessed that two years ago. Baby steps…


Kyle • October 16, 2007 at 1:37 am

You are right, chopping really does take forever. But I like because afterwords when I cook something pretty it’s a good feeling to know that I actually did all that, not some machine in a package wrapping fast food dinner factory.

And thanks for the size conversion for your foreign readers, PQ, you’re always looking out :)


SP • October 16, 2007 at 2:14 am

Hmmmm, so how are roasted radishes?

PQ – They are very good! Here’s the recipe.


Health • October 16, 2007 at 5:35 am

Great blog you really are helping people have better lifes!


Donna • October 16, 2007 at 2:14 pm

Have you tried using a Santoku knife for chopping? They’re very sharp, weighted for good balance and have scallops along the blade that create air pockets to release the sliced food. They are relatively inexpensive. Best knife I’ve used yet!


virg • October 16, 2007 at 6:37 pm

That’s a great tip on the free samples. I always do my shopping and chopping on Sunday afternoon and I think the samples are all gone by then. :(

Another way to have a nice treat but not buy a whole bunch of anything is to go to a coffee shop and get a cookie, pastry, or brownie. My local Peet’s has awesome chocolate brownies and ginger cookies. I have to walk some distance to get there but that’s also a good thing. :)


Julie • October 17, 2007 at 9:01 am

Sign me up for the Litehouse cookie split!!

First time poster here just want to say I have really enjoyed reading your blog. I am almost through the archives. Inspiring and funny!!!


Karla • October 19, 2007 at 2:38 pm

I just want to say thanks for the roasted veggies idea. I’m not fond of raw broccoli or cauliflower either, but I tried roasting them last night and they were awesome! I drizzled balsamic vinegar over some of the cauliflower and it was amazing. I’ve just started losing myself (well, at the beginning of September, anyways) and have a bit more than you to lose, so reading your archives has been a real inspiration to me. I started at 372 on September 4th (though my highest ever was 388) and am sitting at 348 as of this morning. I’m only 5’4″ so I’m looking at 130 or 140 as an end goal.


julia • December 1, 2007 at 6:31 pm

Okay so I can leave the half box of cookies in the cupboard for days or weeks along with lots of other stuff -eekkk, luckily because we have lots of junk food between the kids, DH and myself.

I am overweight cause I don’t excersize and do have a healthy appetite!!

I have found that journalling and planning ahead and portion control at dinner time help me a lot.


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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 JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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