Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lemon Blueberry Loaf With Vanilla Bean Sauce

4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
250g unsalted butter, room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered/icing sugar
1 cup full cream Greek yogurt
3 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Grease two medium size loaf pans with melted butter. Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Beat butter and powdered sugar until light and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add lemon juice and zest. Add half the flour mixture, mix well to combine. Add yogurt, mixing well to combine. Add the rest of the flour. Beat just to combine (don't over mix!). Fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into loaf pans.

Bake for 1 - 1 1/4 hours or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into center. Remove from the oven. Leave in the pan for about 10 minutes before turning out.

Vanilla Bean Cream:
2 cups milk
1/2 cup fresh cream
4 egg yolks, room temperature
1 tablespoon flour
2 teaspoons good quality vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon powdered/icing sugar

Whisk flour, cream, egg yolks, powdered/icing sugar and vanilla to fully combine. Heat milk on medium heat until just warmed through and whisk in the cream mixture. Continue whisking until sauce is thick and shiny.

Infant-Formula Companies Milk U.S. Food Program - November 29th, 2011
In recent years, it had begun to seem as if the United States were joining the rest of the world in championing the wonders of mother's milk.

Following the lead of World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services now endorses exclusive breastfeeding for six months, a time period widely recognized as necessary for long-term disease resistance for both mothers and babies.

The U.S. Surgeon General launched a campaign in January 2011 to reduce the obstacles to breastfeeding.
First Lady Michelle Obama has added breastfeeding to her "Let's Move" project to fight childhood obesity.
The Internal Revenue Service is on board too, ruling in February that breast pumps and other nursing supplies could qualify for tax breaks.

And the health reform law required many employers to provide nursing women on their payrolls with lactation breaks starting in January 2011.

However, the federal program with arguably the greatest practical influence over the nation's infant-feeding practices--the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, better known as WIC--continues to distribute more than half the infant formula sold in the U.S. each year. That formula, which is provided to WIC at a discount, cost taxpayers an estimated $627 million in 2008, the most recent figure available (equivalent to a $2 billion value on the retail market).

And the habits and brand loyalty formed by the WIC rebate system can hook women on paying retail prices for formula once their stipend runs out each month.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Eva's Potato Sauerkraut Soup (GUEST POST)

My Polish girlfriend, Eva and her family joined us for Thanksgiving this year. She offered to make her mother's Sauerkraut Soup as part of our meal. The original recipe contains sausage and bacon that we left out as some of us do not eat land animals but you can add them if you prefer.

1 rasher bacon, chop into small pieces (optional) or 1 tablespoon of butter
3 links kielbasa sausage (optional)
1 white onion, chopped
5 medium potatoes, peel and chop into bite sizes
2 carrots, chop into bite sizes
1/2 gallon rich vegetable broth
3 14.5 oz jar sauerkraut (drained)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
2 bay leaves
pinch of sugar
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chop
black pepper
fresh cream

Fry bacon bits in the pot you will use for the soup. Add onions and kielbasa (optional), saute until golden brown. Add broth, potatoes, and carrots. Cook until potatoes are soft (about 10 minutes). Add sauerkraut, cumin, sugar, paprika, caraway seeds (optional), and fresh parsley. Season with black pepper. Stir to combine, cover, and simmer for two hours.

Drizzle fresh cream at serving as cream will separate due to the acidity of the sauerkraut. Mix cream into the soup. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Soaring BPA Levels Found in People Who Eat Canned Foods

Eating canned food every day may raise the levels of the compound bisphenol A (BPA) in a person's urine more than previously suspected, a new study suggests.

People who ate a serving of canned soup every day for five days had BPA levels of 20.8 micrograms per liter of urine, whereas people who instead ate fresh soup had levels of 1.1 micrograms per liter, according to the study. BPA is found in many canned foods — it is a byproduct of the chemicals used to prevent corrosion.

When the researchers looked at the rise in BPA levels seen in the average participant who ate canned soup compared with those who ate fresh soup, they found a 1,221 percent jump.

"To see an increase in this magnitude was quite surprising," said study leader Karin Michels, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

The levels of BPA seen in the study participants "are among the most extreme reported in a nonoccupational setting," the researchers wrote in their study. In the general population, levels have been found to be around 1 to 2 micrograms per liter, Michels said.

The study noted that levels higher than 13 micrograms per liter were found in only the top 5 percent of participants in the National Health and Examination Survey, which is an ongoing study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We are concerned about the influence of [hormone-disrupting] chemicals on health in general, and BPA is one of them," Michels told MyHealthNewsDaily.

The study is published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Squaw Bread Rolls

Squaw Bread is a slightly sweet multi-grain bread loaded with fibre.

1 cup all purpose unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rye flour
1 cup old fashioned oats 
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup raw brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/4 cup warm water (120 F)
2 packages active dry yeast
3 tablespoons cornmeal (for dusting)
3 tablespoons old fashion oats (to sprinkle on top)

Place yeast in a large mixing bowl and add warm water, stir. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Add molasses and melted butter. Combine all the dry ingredients and stir into the wet ingredients. Knead dough for 10 minutes. Shape dough into a large ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover, place dough in a warm place until it doubles in size (2 hours). 

Preheat oven to 400 F

Punch down dough. On a floured working area, divide dough into 28 pieces and roll into small balls. Arrange in two greased, cornmeal dusted, 12" by 12" round tart pan leaving a few inches apart. Cover and place in a warm place until it doubles in size. Brush with the glaze, sprinkle with oats.

To make two loaves, divide dough into two and shape into large round loaves. Place loaves a few inches apart on a greased and cornmeal dusted cookie sheet. Cover, place dough in a warm place until it doubles in size. Cut slashes, brush with glaze, and sprinkle with oats.  

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the crust makes hollow sound when tapped. Remove from the oven and brush with extra glaze.

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons honey

Melt butter and honey, stir to combine. 

Say No to Water During Meals

Glugging water during meals severely hampers your stomach's digestive powers and causes insulin levels to fluctuate significantly, warns Microboitic counsellor Shonali Sabherwal
To know if you're drinking enough water, it is often said, just check if you are feeling thirsty. If you aren't, your fluid intake is likely to be just about right. But downing glasses of water along with your meals may not be the best time to quench your thirst.
Macrobiotic counsellor Shonali Sabherwal explains why you should not drink water during your meal. "Most Indians have water along with their meals. The usual theory is washing down the food while eating. People have no idea how wrong this practice is and how difficult this can be for their digestion. For those suffering with digestion problems, the ramifications are manifold. Our stomachs have a knack of knowing when you will eat and starts releasing digestive juices immediately. If you start drinking water at the same time, what you are actually doing is diluting the digestive juices being released to digest your food, thereby hindering them from breaking down food."
Research shows that sipping a little water during meals isn't a cause for concern but drinking a glass or two may interfere with digestion. It is best to drink fluids before and two hours after meals as this helps in absorption of nutrients, researchers have found.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Raw Vs. Pasteurized

Christine Chessen cooks with vegetables from her own San Francisco garden, she buys organic meat and unpasteurized eggs, and she makes her own kefir for smoothies.

She and her kids also drink raw milk - against the advice of many doctors and public health officials, who say unpasteurized milk can carry a variety of bacteria dangerous to humans.

Last week, state officials recalled products from Organic Pastures of Fresno after five children, including two in Contra Costa County, were sickened by E. coli bacteria believed to have come from milk from the dairy. But Chessen was unfazed.
"We had some (of the recalled milk) in the fridge, and we drank it right up, no problem," Chessen said. "I'm far more concerned about commercial agriculture, like cantaloupe, spinach, conventional eggs and what's going on at those large-scale farms. I'm not concerned about raw milk at all."

Raw milk, say its proponents, has been unfairly maligned in recent years. They suggest it's a natural product that is as safe and delicious as a farm-fresh tomato when properly produced, as any agricultural product should be. They note that dozens of other food products are recalled every year - just last Thursday, pre-packaged lettuce was recalled after E. coli was found during random testing - and no one's being told to stop eating fresh vegetables.

Some raw milk advocates go so far as to say that the process of pasteurizing milk kills off healthy bacteria that keep the gut in top shape, although there are no rigorous scientific studies to support that.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sundried Tomato Lemon Garlic Chicken

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken (dark meat)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (I use sundried tomatoes in olive oil and herbs)
1 small white onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (plus more for garnish)
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons lemon zest
sea salt and black pepper
extra virgin olive oil

In a large skillet, medium to high heat, add 4 tablespoons olive oil. When hot, add onions and saute until soft. Turn heat to high and add garlic and chicken. Toss until chicken is cooked and browned. Add lemon juice and zest. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Add sundried tomatoes and parsley, then stir to combine. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Serve hot over pasta of choice.

Why You Should Care About Genetically Modified Foods

Throughout history, humans have relied on animals and plants for sustenance. Our bodies have developed to properly digest a large variety of these naturally occurring substances.
The body understands how to excrete portions of a given food that might be hazardous to us, as well as to isolate the nutrients we need for health.

These complex relationships evolved over tens of thousands of years -- so what do you think might happen if all of a sudden our food supply displayed a dramatically different atomic formation that our body could not recognize? 

This is exactly what is going on in laboratories throughout the country. Genetically modified foods are the product of scientific intervention in the natural growth process.

Scientists have found ways of isolating or synthesizing particular genes from certain foods, animals and plants, then inserting them into the genome of another organism to harness the perceived benefits of the original specimen.

We have managed, through this science, to create a tomato that ripens in dark trucks, raspberries that don't rot during shipment, apples that grow to twice their normal size, and more. However, genetic engineering is not an exact science.

Our understanding of the specific interactions of certain portions of the genome -- eventually, one sequence may be necessary to block the effects of another dangerous one or a sequence may activate an essential process -- allows scientists to perhaps unintentionally create hazardous foods that show up on our grocery shelves.GM foods are sometimes touted as the "food of the future."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mini Breakfast Tarts

1 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, frozen and cut into small cubes
5 tablespoons icy cold water
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it resembles bread crumbs. Form into ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Pre heat oven to 400 F

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out pastry dough on a floured surface. Cut 8 5" circles. Place dough circles on the baking sheet.

4 large eggs, scrambled
1 cup cooked potatoes, chopped into small chunks
1 small white onion, chop into small chunks
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chop into small chunks
1/4 fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 cup double cream camembert or brie, chop into small chunks
sea salt and black pepper

Divide ingredients evenly amongst dough circles. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until crispy and brown. Serve hot.

Totally Green Apples

MICHAEL PHILLIPS has spent more than 20 years growing apples up here in the north country, 30 miles south of Quebec, and debunking the commonly held belief that his favorite fruit can’t survive without pesticides.
Not that he hasn’t taken some hits.
“I lost 50 apple trees getting my degree in borers,” said Mr. Phillips, 54, on a recent afternoon, standing by a Northern Spy tree, one of 240 apple trees on this hilly 58-acre farmstead called Heartsong Farm. He was speaking of the round-headed apple-tree borer, in particular, which can kill a tree if undetected.
Most growers spray their trees with a pesticide, like Lorsban, to kill the borers. But Mr. Phillips uses neem oil, which comes from the neem tree, to interrupt the insect’s life cycle.
He also feeds his trees with composted wood chips, plants comfrey around the roots and sprays them with concoctions of horsetail and stinging nettles.
Mr. Phillips broke new ground with “The Apple Grower: A Guide for the Organic Orchardist,” a 1998 book that defied the common belief that apples cannot be grown without chemical pesticides. At the time, he allowed that fungicides, like copper and sulfur sprays, were sometimes necessary. (Both compounds may be used by certified organic growers.)
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bison Vegetable Hash

1 lb ground Bison
4 large red potatoes, skin remove (optional), dice into bite size pieces
3 large carrots, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 head of broccoli, cut into florets
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 large white onion, chop into bite size pieces
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper

In a large deep sided skillet on medium heat, add 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Add onion when oil is hot and saute until soft. Add garlic, carrots, and potatoes. Continue sauteing the vegetables until crispy and brown (about 10 to 15 minutes). Add tomatoes and broccoli, saute a further 5 minutes. Season with sea salt and back pepper. Keep warm.

In a large frying pan on high heat, add three tablespoons of olive oil. When hot, add bison and quick fry until brown and crispy (about 5 to 10 minutes). Season with sea salt and black pepper. Add to the vegetables. Stir to combine. Drizzle a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil over the Hash. Enjoy hot with fresh bread.

Six Tips for Avoiding GMOS When You Eat Out

Choosing the perfect restaurant can be hard enough but when you’re looking for a natural, non-genetically modified meal it seems almost impossible.  Of course the best solution would be to stay home and prepare it yourself. That way, you know exactly how your meal was prepared and what ingredients you used. But sometimes you just want to go out and meet with friends or family and have someone else do all the cooking. So what steps should you take to avoid genetically modified foods when eating out?
1. Avoid High-Risk Ingredients: Avoid ordering meals that contain the most common genetically modified ingredients:
Soy: 94% of the soybeans planted in the US are genetically modified.  Avoid ordering any tofu, miso, tempeh, soy sauce or meat/dairy substitutes.
Corn: 88% of the corn planted in the US is genetically modified. Avoid ordering any variety of corn including corn tortillas, tamales, grits, or polenta.
Hawaiian Papaya: According to True Food Network, half of Hawaii’s papayas are genetically modified.
Squash: Several varieties of summer squash have been genetically engineered to resist viruses.
2. Call Ahead: Call the restaurant before you head out and find out what kind of oil is used to cook. True Food Network’s Shopping Guide suggests that “unless labeled explicitly, corn, soybean, cottonseed, and canola oils probably contain genetically modified products”.  If they tell you vegetable oil or margarine, chances are they use versions of the same genetically modified oils. Try to frequent restaurants that are culturally known for using olive oil, like Greek or Italian cuisine, or ask for your meal to be cooked without oil.
3. Skip the Soda: void ordering soft drinks when eating out. Most sodas are sweetened with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and the diet versions are sweetened with aspertame, an artificial sweetener derived from genetically modified micro-organisms.
4. Go Vegetarian: Unless the restaurant offers organic, skip the meat. Although the animal itself is not genetically modified it has most likely been eating GMOs. Look for restaurants that offer USDA Certified Organic meats. According to the Organic Trade Association, animals raised organically cannot have any genetically modified feed and cannot be fed antibiotics, the bovine human growth hormone (rbGH), or any other artificial drugs.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins (gluten-free)

2 cups gluten-free biscuit and baking mix (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1 cup milk
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Pre heat oven to 400 F.

Blend all the ingredients together until smooth.

Line a 12 cup muffin pan. Fill 3/4 full. Bake for 15 minutes or until a stick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Drizzle warm maple syrup over the top before serving (optional).

Christians Argue Buying Factory-Farm Turkeys Goes Against God's Will - November 14th, 2011
This Thanksgiving, millions of Christian families will thank the Lord for their friends, family and food before enjoying a home-cooked turkey. However, if the turkey is one of the approximately 40 million factory-raised turkeys that will be consumed on Thanksgiving this year, some Christians believe that purchasing that turkey equals making a contribution to a multi-billion dollar industry of slaughter, shame and sin.

The life of the average factory-farm turkey is brutal and short in order to maximize profits, according to various reports on the inner-workings of factories operated by Butterball and other leading poultry producers. Hatched in large incubators, turkeys are moved directly from eggs to sheds where they are crammed into a confined space with thousands of other turkeys. In order to prevent the turkeys from pecking at each other, their beaks are seared off with a hot blade that cuts through the cartilage and nerves.

Once debeaked, turkeys are pumped full of hormones in order to get them as big as possible in the shortest amount of time. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), in 1970, the average weight of a turkey raised for meat was 17 pounds. Today, with the help of hormones and genetic engineering, the average turkey weight is 28 pounds. The heavy weight sometimes causes turkeys' legs to break from the pressure, as well as heart and organ failure, causing many to die. In addition, turkeys are simply too fat to procreate, so factory farm turkeys are impregnated through artificial insemination.

There have also been several instances of abuse and torture on turkeys caused by employees, including throwing the birds against the walls, stomping on their necks, and even forcefully pulling eggs from their insides. There are several disturbing videos on YouTube taken by undercover animal rights activists who have worked at factory farms to record the abuse.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Vanilla Bean Yogurt Apple Cake

4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
250g unsalted butter, room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered/icing sugar
1 cup full cream Greek yogurt
4 Granny Smith apples or apples of your choice (skin remove, cored, and chop into bite size)
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (if not available use a good quality vanilla)
1 tablespoon cinnamon (garnish)
2 tablespoons sugar (garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Cream butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla bean followed with half the flour, fold in yogurt followed by the rest of the flour and apples. Spoon batter into prepared round 12" diameter cake tin.

Combine 2 tablespoons of sugar with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and sprinkle all over the cake.

Bake for 1 - 1 1/2 hours or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into center. Remove from the oven. Leave cake in the pan to cool completely before turning out.

What Does “Natural” Meat Really Mean?

The word “natural” is laden with connotations. Some labels even go so far as to picture an idyllic red bar the kind that conjures up an Old MacDonald-style farm where they feed animals from a bucket. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture meaning of the “100% Natural” or “All Natural” label isn’t what most people think; according to a Food Safety and Inspections Service representative, all it means is the meat is “minimally processed with no artificial ingredients.”
Food Safety and Inspections Service is the USDA agency charged with verifying that meat labels are truthful, accurate and not misleading. But they only deal with labels about food – not animals.
The USDA knows this is confusing to consumers – they’ve done surveys that find most people are like those I talked to in the grocery store – they think the term refers to how the animal was raised.
But despite the confusion, the use of the word “natural” on labels has been growing.
Label expeditor Susan Glenn said nearly half the label applications she sees include the word natural.
Glenn works at Prime Label Consultants in Washington, D.C. Basically, she helps meat companies get their labels approved by the USDA. Glenn attended a meeting a few years ago with USDA, industry and consumer advocacy groups.
“Everybody had their own definition of natural,” she said. “Some were adamant and said it should be nothing in there, others disagreed.”
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Monday, November 14, 2011

Seafood Pie

3 round 12" pie crust
12 ounces wild salmon, cooked and broken into bite size pieces
2 cups small shrimp, (frozen or fresh)
1 shallots, chopped finely
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon pesto
Sea salt and black pepper

In a large, deep sided skillet, heat butter over medium to high until it melts. Saute shallots until soft. Add flour and whisk until smooth. Keep over medium heat until it turns slightly darker in color (about 4 minutes). Meanwhile, heat milk in a medium saucepan until just about to boil. Add to the flour mixture one cup at a time whisking constantly until all the milk is used up and sauce is smooth. Bring sauce to a boil and cook a further 10 minutes, whisking constantly. Mix in pesto. Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Add salmon, shrimp, parsley, and dill to the bechamel. Stir well to combine. Leave to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Line a greased 12" by 12" round tart pan with a pie crust. Add the pie filling. Add the 2nd pie crust on top and seal the edges well or make a lattice top by cutting strips (1/2") with the remainder of the dough (refer to picture). Brush pastry with milk or melted butter.

Bake for 30 minutes or until crust is a golden brown.

GMO Food Linked to Toxic Pesticides in Farmed Fish

New testing methods are being implemented for fish raised on farms that have a greater chance of becoming contaminated with pesticides due to the unnatural plant-based diet now becoming a replacement for oceanic food sources, according to an article inScience Daily.

Posing human health risks, pesticides are commonly used on the plant material fed half of the fish consumed in America, which are raised in dense fish ‘farms’, making aquaculture the fastest growing segment of the global food industry. To supplement the fast-expanding farmed fish industry, fishmeal is being replaced with soy, corn and canola—three of the most commonly genetically engineered crops grown on U.S. soil—heavily sprayed with pesticides such as Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chocolate Apple Scones (gluten-free)

2 cups gluten-free baking and scone mix (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1 cup sucanat or sweetener of your choice
8 tablespoons frozen unsalted butter
2 cups apples, skin and core remove, chop into small pieces
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup whole milk or cream
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine apples, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl. Set aside. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry knife, cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly. 

Mix milk (or cream) and egg in a separate bowl. Fold into dry ingredients. Add apple mixture and fold to combine.

Pat dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Use a round pastry cutter or a drinking glass (make sure to flour the edge first) and cut into pieces roughly 2 inches in diameter (they expand). Place on a cookie sheet spaced 2 inches apart. Should yield 9 scones.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Drizzle chocolate on top (optional).

Chocolate Drizzle:
1/4 cup chocolate chunks (bittersweet chocolate)
1/4 cream

Bring heavy cream in a saucepan on medium heat to simmer (don't boil). Pour over chocolate chunks and whisk until chocolate mixture is smooth and shiny.

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