Golden Milk

Fall is in full swing! The days are getting shorter, the air is crisp, and finding a cuddle buddy feels like a necessity. There is an urgent feeling of having to be indoors and get everything done before it’s dark, which can be as early as 5p these days!

I have been enjoying this simple cup of comfort I want to share as an alternative to the age old warm milk at night. Growing up on the East Coast, I use to love having hot milk during the Fall and Winter months. I also had pretty severe eczema and later came to discover I needed to eliminate wheat and dairy completely. With so many dairy alternatives on the market these days, (including easy homemade nut milk recipes!) replicating this nourishing beverage has been easy.  In addition, this simple nurturing hot beverage includes Turmeric and Ginger which are loaded with healing benefits and aid in keeping a strong immune system during cold- catching winter months.

Recipe for Golden Milk:

Time: 3-5 minutes

-1 cup Almond Milk (or your favorite dairy alternative)

-1 tbsp. Turmeric

-1 small piece crushed Ginger

-1 tbsp. Raw organic Honey


Start by bringing the Almond milk to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce to low heat and add crushed ginger. Turn off heat and let sit for a minute. Pour into your favortie mug and add Turmeric and Honey.(more/less depending on your liking). Sip and enjoy this nourishing warming beverage as you let go of your day.


Vegan Potato Salad


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Potatoes are probably one of the most readily available produce out there. They are available all year long, and when prepared correctly, can be nutritious as well. They contain vitamin B6, potassium and vitamin C. Generally, nutrition and taste vary depending on the type of potatoes: from russet to red to purple potatoes, potatoes come in a lot of different varieties.

While everyone have their own concept of the ideal potato salad, I like my potatoes to be a little on the firm side with skins intact (more nutritious). I prefer to use red potatoes, purple potatoes or fingerling potatoes, but feel free to sub the recipe with your favorite potatoes. Be sure to pick organic potatoes, to avoid GMOs.FullSizeRender

Here is my vegan potato recipe:

  • 1 lbs. organic potatoes
  • 1 cup of vegan mayonnaise (I use Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise®)
  • 2 tbsp. pickle brine
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 11/2 tbsp. Swiss sweet mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 cup thinly chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup peas (frozen or fresh)


  1. The best way is to steam whole potatoes, as it retains more of its water soluble vitamins (such as vitamin C) than boiling. But, you can also boil them as an alternative.
    1. To steam: steam potatoes in a large pot ~10 minutes
    2. To boil: cook whole potatoes with water in a pot in medium heat until the water boils. Reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Cool the potatoes.
  3. If you are using frozen peas, make sure to boil or steam the peas first (~3 minutes).
  4. Cut the potatoes into bite size cubes.
  5. Add the cut potatoes along with celery and peas in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and mix.
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss gently.
  7. Cover and refrigerate the potato salad for at least an hour. Serve chilled or at room temperature.


Top 6 Vegan Products to Buy at Trader Joes


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Top 6 Vegan Products to Buy at Trader Joes

First, want to thank Deborah of Urban Naturale for featuring us on her Plant-based postluck party! Our fall root-vegetable vegan black-bean burger was featured.

I want to start this post with a caveat – I am a huge fan of the plant-based lifestyle and I have tried to go vegan many times, but I have not yet fully succeeded. My last attempt floundered when I was doing a 2-week night-shift around the holiday season. Trust me when I say ICU nurses and Emergency Department nurses ALWAYS have access to candy and dessert, ESPECIALLY around christmas time! And then there was the candy drawer in the family medicine office – let’s just say nurses will always make sure there is some candy around. Maybe it’s because of their motherly nature, or due to their stressful jobs, or because their patients are so grateful to them and bring them candy. Probably a combination. I love my nurses though – couldn’t have survived residency without them!

Despite my unsuccessful vegan attempts at being vegan, my fridge and pantry is almost completely vegan, and I rely on certain products to make the majority of my diet pretty close to plant-based. Trader-joes has been a life-saver. My favorite story about trader joes is that the first voluntarily organic thing my husband ever bought was from Trader Joes! Pretty cool, huh?

I got the idea for this post because I saw this one from A Dash of Soul about the best vegan items at TJs, and after I got myself some of that strawberry coconut dessert, I decided the world needed to know how Trader Joes helps me be practically vegan. Here goes!

  1. Mildly Spiced Organic Vegetable Burritos: These guys are awesome. You get two burritos for $3.29! Way cheaper than the other frozen burrito alternatives out there – Amys black bean vegetable burritos for example, are generally $3.00 for one burrito. And they are quite delicious. A lot of vegan burritos have a ton of rice, and this decreases the nutrient density of the burritos. These burritos are big on vegetable and bean content. I usually take off some of the tortilla to further improve on the nutrient density.
  2. Trader Joes Creamy Valencia Peanut Butter – This peanut butter is one of the best peanut butter finds ever! Valencia peanuts are super low in sugar and starch, and have 3g of fiber per 2 tbsp serving. Valencia peanuts are less likely to have aflatoxin, which is something found mostly in peanuts grown in humid climates. Although the government monitors how much aflatoxin is allowed in peanut butter, it’s always good to minimize the possible susceptibility to liver cancer. Valencia peanuts are also generally sweeter. This means they really don’t need any extra sugar to sweeten the peanut butter.
  3. Trader Joes Goddess Dressing: For those who love creamy dressings, this one comes as a salad-rescue. This dressing has a tahini base and is one of my favorites, next to just using lemon, salt, pepper and olive oil. The tahini flavor isn’t over-bearing either. Beware the fat content though! 18% of your daily recommended intake!
  4. Trader Joes Cruciferous Crunch Collection Salad Mix: The easiest salad you will ever make is using a small handful of this salad mix, and combining it with a bigger handful of any other salad green (eg. Arugula, Spring Mix, Mache) and adding a small handful of nuts. Toss with the above dressing, and voila! You have a salad that is crunchy and flavorful, and of course, packed with immune-boosting, cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetables.
  5. Trader Joes Organic Oats and Flax Seed Oatmeal: Flax seeds pack lots of nutrition. They are high in fiber and omega 3 fatty acids. Flax seeds and oats are both particularly high in soluble fiber, which is really good for decreasing your cholesterol (soluble fiber binds to bad cholesterol and fat). Soluble fiber also is particularly helpful for improving your gut flora as it has prebiotic properties (helps build a favorable environment for good bacteria to grow). Thats why this product is a staple in our house. Beware – it does have some sugar – 1 packet has 11g to be precise. That’s about 2.5 tsp. I’m willing to live with that.
  6. Trader Joes Dark Chocolate Chips – I know, they are a dime a dozen – most dark chocolate chips are vegan, too. However, a lot of dark chocolate chips are kind of hard and you might as well be biting into very sweet cacao nibs. The way these are formulated, they are super deliciously easy to bite into. Throw them in your oatmeal, eat them on a peanut butter sandwich with some toasted coconut, blend them in your smoothies – these are magnesium containing, anti-oxidant rich, pure decadent, deliciousness. 1 tablespoon of these contains 8g of sugar, so something to watch out for.

Do you have any TJs favorites? Would love to hear yours!


How to Make a Vegan Bean Burger with Whats in Your Pantry


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How to make a bean burger with whats in your pantry

After last weeks post (Translation: after wasting hours of productivity looking at delicious vegan and vegetarian black-bean burger recipes), I realized that bean burgers are one of the most versatile recipes out there. An old Mark Bittman customizable soup recipe came into my mind, and I decided to impart to you all a customizable vegan bean-burger recipe.

Since my inspiration for this post was the many bean burger recipes out there in cyberspace, at the bottom of this post, I’ll also post some links for other bean burger recipes that I found helpful.

The components of a bean burger:

  1. Beans – (any kind – 2 cans will suffice. Examples – black beans, chickpeas, white-beans). Dont throw away the liquid, and mash these up. You want to mash them up enough so that you have a batter, but not so much that its a puree.
  2. Binder: This is to hold your patty together. Personally, I love my black-bean patties a little crumbly. Lots of recipes use eggs – 1-2 will suffice, but we are going for vegan here. You can use a vegan egg replacer. Here’s a nice infographic with egg substitutions:  I am not sure how well bananas, apple sauce and peanut butter would work out here though. If you were using a vegan substitute, just use the vegan equivalent of 2 eggs (eg) 2 tbsp of ground flax. Whats nice is that you actually dont have to let the flax seed sit in water before hand for this recipe because the flax will absorb the moisture from the batter.
  3. A grain or starch: Other than the potato/sweet-potato and brown rice, the starches also have a binding quality to them. Most recipes use a cup. Example are grains like quinoa, oats, brown rice, panko bread crumbs and even bread (one recipe suggested you put bread into a food processor and use the bread-crumbs from that). I have seen other recipes use sweet-potato or just potato, and chick-pea flour (besan) is another common one. You can also use corn starch or tapioca starch. You can use whole grains or you can grind them in a coffee grinder to make a flour. Oh yeah, you can use wheat or a gluten-free flour of your choice too.
  4. Filler: Add whatever vegetables you want! Whatever you use, chop it up really fine. Lots of black-bean burger recipes use cilantro, onions, corn and jalapenos for the south-west feel. Beets, surprisingly, were a big hit. Lots of burgers include a green vegetable like chopped frozen spinach or kale. Zucchini or squash is another common add in. For a mediterranean feel, you can use chick-peas as your bean and egg-plant as your dominant vegetable, and then add parsley and paprika. Basil, ginger mushrooms and soy sauce will give you an asian feel
  5. Spices: Go nuts! Use whatever you want! Most use cumin and garlic powder at a minimum. Use about 1tsp of salt or more to taste. If you arent using jalapenos, you might want to add crushed red pepper, sriracha, or chili powder. Paprika lends a smokey-ness. Soy-sauce lends a nice, savory umami flavor.
  6. Dipping sauce (optional): Adding a tbsp of Sriracha to some vegan mayo you have lying around is common. You can use some salad dressing. Another option is to make a tahini or nut-based based dipping sauce. Or you can use any condiment in the fridge. An avocado base or guacamole is another option.
  7. 2 tablespoons of your choice of heathy cooking oil

To make the burger:

  1. Mash up the beans with the bean juice from the can using a fork or masher. Add in your starch, spices, and binder. Add in your veggies. Use a wooden spoon or your washed hand to mix the batter so the ingredients are distributed evenly.
  2. To cook the burgers, coat a cast iron pan with your oil of choice (I like coconut for its high smoke point). Spoon the batter on to the pan and flatten with your spoon so it looks like a patty. Let it cook on low heat for 20 minutes on each side. The burger is ready to be flipped when it is holding together on the side which it is cooking on. The flip and cook to your desired crispiness.
  3. You can also bake these too but I havent tried to do that yet. I will update this post if I do.

Add on your condiment and place between 2 pieces of scrumptious bread if desired. Serve with a side salad to make the meal complete.

Other Black-bean burger Recipes:

Black-bean Burgers with Chipotle Lime Tahini and Crunchy Guacamole from Host the Toast

Simple Black Bean Burger Recipe on

Spicy Chick-pea veggie burgers from Running on Real Food

Sweet-potato Black-bean burger from minimalist baker

Vegetarian Mushroom Burger from Rock-Recipes

Best-ever beet and bean black-bean burgers from Epicurious

Fall Root-Vegetable Bean-Burger


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Vegan gluten free spicy black-bean burgerLately, I have had an insatiable craving for vegan black-bean burgers. I have no idea why, but the crispy crunchy outside with the soft inside, combined with the savory flavors of the vegan mayo and/or sriracha on top..mmm… the symphony of flavors was begging for a replay.

..So I had one, and then another, and then I just started to look for recipes for vegan black-bean burgers online. It’s funny, I know how hunger works, and it is not satiated if you look at 20 pictures of just delectable looking vegan black-bean burgers on the internet. Of course, make delicious vegan black-bean burger patties is what I did. When my husband who has the most discerning palate of anyone I know said they were tasty, I knew I had to share with the world. Especially because bean-recipes are one of my favorites to share with the world.

I was super excited about this recipe because I literally did zero shopping for it – everything I used was already in my pantry.

bean burger


  • One can of black beans, drained, and one can of chickpeas, with the juice.
  • 2 packets of trader-joes organic oats and flax oatmeal
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 4 serrano chillis chopped fine (I like my burgers spicy! You can de-seed and use jalapenos, or sub bell-peppers if you like)
  • 1 cup of Frozen root vegetables (or frozen beets or steamed or canned beets)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup frozen chopped spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen or canned corn
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil
Pic of a raw frozen patty. Pink color is from the beets

Pic of a raw frozen patty. Batter should be mashed up but still chunky. Pink color is from the beets


  • Mash up the beans and chickpeas. You should still be able to see half fragments of beans – so don’t mash up too much!
  • Add chopped jalapenos and serranos, salt, coconut oil and soy-sauce
  • Grind oatmeal in a coffee grinder to a fine powder and add to the mixture
  • Grind frozen root vegetables in a blender into a powder. Use the dry blades that make powders for this. You can also grate fresh beets/root veggies, or coarsely blend steamed (preferrably lightly steamed) or canned beets. Shredded or grated carrots are a good addition here as well.
  • Add frozen spinach
  • Mix everything together so the ingredients are distributed evenly
  • Spoon onto a cast iron skillet coated with oil and heat for 15 minutes on each side. The cooked patty is brown and has a crust on the top and bottom.

Check out some of my inspirations for this recipe on our pinterest vegan burger board

The topping for the burger is a local jalapeno pesto from the farmers market – Baby Clydesdales Small Batch Hot Sauce

– DS

This post was shared in the following link-ups:

Sweet Vegan Dessert Recipe: Japanese Dango with Miso Syrup


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With halloween just around the corner and sweets offered at every turn, what better way to satisfy your sweet tooth than to make a unique vegan treat for you and your family! This Japanese dango dish might be a hit at the next halloween party. They are sweet, sticky and light. So you can save you and your family from the sugar crash…

Dango is a traditional Japanese dessert made from rice flour and is similar to mochi in texture and taste. They have a light sweetness to them, making them a good alternative to heavy desserts. You often see dango served on a skewer with green tea.


To make dango, you need:

  • Rice flour, 1 cup
  • Water, 1/2 cup
  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Knead the ingredients together with your hand until the dough has a slight elasticity but the surface is not too sticky.
  2. After the dough is ready, divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Make each part into a round ball (like a meatball).
  3. In a large pot, add 3 cups of water and let it boil.
  4. Then, drop the dango balls into the pot of boiling water and let it cook for ~3 min. The dango is ready when they start to float up and takes on a slightly translucent color.
  5. Take out the dango and put them in a cool water and let it sit.

To make the miso syrup, you need:

  • Water, 1/2 cup
  • Agave syrup, 4 tbsps
  • Miso, 1 tsp (preferably red miso)
  • Potato starch, 1 tsp
  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a small sauce pan over low heat.
  2. Stir the mixture until it becomes a slight sticky consistency.

To assemble the dango:

  1. Put 3-4 chilled dango on each skewer stick
  2. Pour the syrup sauce over them and they are ready to serve!


Gluten-Free Vegan Corn and Kale Porridge


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For me, nothing says comfort better than a bowl of warm porridge. I’ve recently discovered using corn as a grain-substitute for porridge. It is really fast & easy to prepare, so it’s a great meal for when you are short on time. To take advantage of all the fall vegetables, I’ve been making this savory grain-free corn and kale porridge. You can easily substitute the kale for other vegetables, like chard or spinach.

Note: be sure to purchase organic corn to avoid eating genetically modified corns.

Ingredients:corn and kale porridge

  • 1 ear of organic corn
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1/4 of yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup of almond/soy milk
  • 1 cup of kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • A dash of red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


  1. Use a knife, grate the corn kernels into a bowl
  2. In a large pot, sautee the onion in oil on medium-low heat until they become translucent.
  3. Add the corn, kale and water to the pot and cook x5 minutes. Then add your choice of soy/almond milk and sea salt. Let the pot simmer for 10-15 minutes until the mixture thickens.
  4. Serve hot with red pepper flakes and ground pepper.


this recipe is linked up at Real Food Fridays

Incorporating Exercise Into Your Lifestyle


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I recently moved to San Diego and everyone loves exercise here. There is 1 kick-boxing studio, 2 yoga studios, a tai chi studio, a krav maga studio, 2 places to learn dance, a pilates studio, 2 gyms, all within walking distance of my place. Not kidding. Of course, I want to participate in the healthy San Diego lifestyle, but I’ve been nervous about doing something too intense for fear of aggravating my back pain. And then of course there is the time issue. So whats a girl to do if she cant break it down like Richard Simmons?

In the world of healthy eating and activity research, I have been hearing whispers of the importance not just of EXERCISE, but how sitting still for hours on end is bad for you. In fact, a recent study has been making the rounds, talking about how sitting is the new smoking. It started with a scientist named James Levine, who has been talking about how 2 hours and 15 minutes of small movements rather than sitting amount to what he calls “non-exercise activity thermogenesis” or NEAT – basically you burn calories doing a little activity every day that is not say, a structured activity that is considered exercise like going to Pilates. And basically, he says that not having this NEAT in our lives is WORSE than smoking.

So what does that mean for me and everyone with low back pain who needs to take it easy? I have been concentrating on low impact exercises, like swimming, elliptical, and small movements. I’ve been stretching. But I’ve also been incorporating lifestyle exercise into my life. What does this mean? Heres a little list of 8 things I do:

  1. Its as simple as parking far away from the door at the shopping center – sometimes that one little walk can be a thousand steps! Thats what my fitbit says anyway.
  2. Keep my fitbit charged
  3. Park on the bottom level of the parking garage and take the stairs all the way to the top where there is a walkway to the campus.
  4. Sit on an exercise ball
  5. Work on my laptop while standing (and make sure you fidget and move around!)
  6. Try to get up and stretch every 20 minutes. This is key if you have back pain
  7. Walk to the cafe to do work – preferrably one thats further from me(and order tea instead of a latte! unsweetened iced tea with a splash of almond milk and one packet of raw sugar – YES PLEASE!)
  8. Park on the other side of campus from where my class is

A couple of extra that I dont do to make it 10 :-P

  1. Stand up and watch TV or play video games (My husband does this). Kids can be on a trampoline.
  2. Do some grocery bag bicep curls

I have to say, this helps keep my step numbers at least in the 6-7000 range if not 9000. For me to break 10000, I usually have to be at the gym for a half hour.

3 Ways to Improve Your Energy During the Day


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Ever felt that 3 PM crash? Do you feel tired even when you got 8-hours of sleep the night before? One of the best way to avoid groggy and tiredness is to improve your sleep and wake up habits. Below are 3 key habits that impact how much energy you have for the day.

  1. Wake up without your alarm clock. The key to avoid that groggy morning feeling is to wake up naturally so you can avoids being jerked out of deep sleep. When you sleep, most people cycle through 5 stages of sleep throughout the night. The lightest stage is called REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is the last stage before you wake up, and also the stage where you dream. When you wake up from REM sleep stage, you wake up feeling well rested. However, when you wake up during non-REM sleep stage, (such as from the interruption of your alarm clock) you feel groggy and tired. Studies have even shown that waking up during deep sleep can negatively affected short-term memory and cognitive abilities!
  2. Avoid the snooze button. Do you sometimes find yourself waking up before the alarm? When you know what time you need to wake up the next day, your body will naturally prepare for the set wake up time by releasing the stress hormone hours prior so you will wake up naturally. If you try to go back to sleep, your body releases the opposing hormones that helps you sleep, counteracting with the hormones that wakes you. Result: you feel groggier and more confused.
  3. Avoid the morning rush by getting ready the night before. Morning rush can increase the stress hormone, leading to an adrenaline-inducing energy jolt that will lead to a crash later in the day. Pre-plan your morning and prepare as much as you can (lay out your clothes, pack up your bag night before, etc.) so you can avoid the unnecessary stress that can drain your energy.


Roasted “Chick-peas” Indian Style


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Indians love their snacks, and I am no exception. When you go to India, your hosts make it their job to fill your day with deliciousness. First there is breakfast, then there is “coffee” which is between breakfast and lunch and includes more than coffee, then there is lunch, then there is “Tiffin” which comes between lunch and dinner and includes lots of bad for you snacks, and then finally there is dinner.

So naturally, I love snacks and I often feel “snacky”. I have been seeing reIMG_1444cipes for roasted chickpeas all over pinterest. I really do enjoy them, but I realized that the Indian grandmas and home-makers of the world have made sure of one thing despite all kinds of cosmic shifts and changes in political winds – that prices at the Indian grocery store stay amazing.

A common thickener used for gravies and chutneys is called “Chana Dalia” and can be found in Indian Groceries, and nowadays, online. It looks like this:

Chana Dalia

Given that both my parents have diabetes, I’ve been trying to stay away from refined carbohydrates. Now, I should say that the resistant starch found in beans breaks down with heat, and Dalia have been roasted. The fiber shell has also been taken off. However, take a look at the nutrition info on these babies here. Lots of protein, and lots of fiber. I thought they would be a pretty good base for a snacky dish :).

Once you get how to make a Tadka – “spices tempered in hot oil” – Indian cooking is basically the same from dish to dish. Heres a great article on tempering of spices. For this tempering, I used cumin, black mustard seeds (optional), curry leaves (optional but when added really give the dish a nice flavor and fragrance), and dried red chillis. The cumin lends a lovely spicy fragrance, and the black mustard seeds lend a pungent taste. These spices are in addition to the chilli powder, turmeric, salt and garlic powder that you add. Once you have the ingredients, this dish takes just about 15 minutes to make.

Here’s the finished product! Dont you just want to reach in with a spoon? nom nom. Thats my lunch-box in the background. IMG_1446


  • 3-4 cups chana dalia
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic (can skip the salt and use garlic salt too)
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • For the tempering:
    •  3 tbsp of oil
    • 2 tsp cumin
    • 4-5 curry leaves (optional but they are so good) can be found online here
    • 1 tsp black mustard seeds can be found online here
    • 2-3 Dried red chillis

Directions: (Time approx 15 minutes)

  1. Toast the Chana Dalia in a non-stick pan on medium heat for about 7-8 minutes
  2. Once the dalia start to become a little brown around the edges, add the spices. Keep toasting for another 3-4 minutes until the chilli powder starts to darken
  3. In a separate small pan ( a small soup pot will do. For my tempering spices, I use this pan), heat a little oil. I use coconut as it has a high smoke point. Add the tempering spices except the curry leaves. When you hear the spices start to sputter, add the curry leaves. Be careful, as the oil can splash! The tempering is done when you see the dried red chillis start to turn almost black.  Heres a video to help you out! My ingredients are different, because the Tadka (tempering) varies based on the dish.
  4. Pour the tadka into the Dalia which is toasting. The oil from the tadka will help the coat the chilli powder, oil, turmeric and other spices in the non-stick pan.
  5. An option is to cut raw onions and serve this mixed with raw onions, 1 green chilli pepper chopped, chopped coriander, and lemon. The dish is very dry and heating, so the cooler raw ingredients help with that in the hot weather. The finished product looks like this when you serve it that way.



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