Beef and Butternut Squash Stew Recipe {Gluten-Free, Paleo, Whole30}

Paleo Whole30 Beef and Butternut Squash Stew Recipe

My winter blues savior and new favorite word to say and is the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced hoo-gah). Hygge is a feeling of coziness, warmth, or charm enjoyed alone or with others. Hygge can be any simple ritual or action that causes you to slow down and savor the moment, like sitting down to really taste and enjoy a cup of morning coffee, or relaxing with family by the fireplace on a cold night. One of my favorite ways to enjoy hygge in the winter is to turn on some jazz, light a candle or two, and sit down to a hot bowl of soup or stew for dinner.

More often than not, my hygge-friendly recipe of choice is a bowl of homemade Beef and Butternut Squash Stew with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Fresh Rosemary.  This recipe fills my apartment with heavenly aromatics while simmering, and it really hits the spot on a cold or rainy evening. I don’t cook much red meat, but the sweetness of the butternut squash and savoriness of the sun-dried tomatoes pairs perfectly with the tender beef here.

It’s a hearty stew that’ll really fill and warm you up, and, best of all, it comes together really easily and requires minimal ingredients.

Sometimes I add some red wine to my Beef and Butternut Squash Stew to punch up the flavor, but I’ve omitted it in this version to make this a Whole30-friendly recipe. Feel free to reduce the broth and add a 1/4 cup of red wine if you desire, but it’s wonderful without as well!

Beef and Butternut Squash Stew with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Fresh Rosemary {Whole30, Paleo, Gluten-Free}

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat, cubed

1 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups butternut squash, cubed

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes

3 cups beef bone broth

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced

1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced

1/2 tsp salt + more to taste

1/2 tsp pepper + more to taste

2 tbsp olive oil

Directions

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, add stew meat, salt, and pepper. Cook until the beef is browned, then remove from dutch oven and set to the side.

Reduce heat to medium and add the onion, garlic, rosemary, and thyme until tender, about 5 minutes.

Re-add the beef, as well as the butternut squash, sun-dried tomatoes, and broth. Stir to combine with a wooden spoon, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

Bring the stew to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.

Season the stew with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve, and enjoy!

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January Whole30 Meal Plan Week 1

Whole30 fresh produce grocery haul

Hellooooo, 2018!

I woke up excited for the present and future, eager to set my intentions for the year, and ready to start digging into the many projects I have either dreamed up or already lined up for the new year. I hope you too are feeling optimistic and happy to embrace the newness that’s in the air!

My first big challenge of the year starts tomorrow, when I begin the January Whole30 Reset. (More info on what the Whole30 here.)

I spent yesterday afternoon peeling, chopping, and roasting a week’s worth of veggies for two, plus cooking a chicken in my Instant Pot, making homemade bone broth, and whipping up a pot of chicken green chile stew. My fridge is loaded with nourishing cooked foods, and today I’ll finish the rest of the prep.

Whole30 meal prep foods: lettuce, roasted brussels sprouts, roasted potatoes, roasted butternut squash, broccoli

I’ve shared my meal plan for Week 1 below. As you can see, the name of the game is simple. Having fewer choices makes the introductory period less stressful (especially if this is your first Whole30). Plus, having a menu or meal plan prevents you from straying from the Whole30 program rules. Pre-prepped food also allows you more time through the week to work on all your other goals (or just settle back into the post-holiday work schedule).

A lot of the foods in this meal plan are my go-tos. I’m excited to try a few new recipes for next week and include them here on the blog!

The Meals

JANUARY-WHOLE-30-MEAL-PLAN-WEEK-1

 

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What is the Whole30, and What Should I Expect From It?

Hand holding the Whole30 Cookbook

I, like many, many other folks am happy to turn the page on 2017 and kick off 2018 with optimism, joy, and confidence. One of the most consistently powerful ways I have found to improve my energy and outlook is to nourish my body with quality food.

For that reason, I will be doing my fourth Whole30 this January. I have many friends and family who will be also completing a January Whole30 (for most it’ll be their first!), and I’m so excited to share the experience with them.

So, What is the Whole30?

The Whole30 is a 30-day reset where you eliminate certain foods from your diet. The following are not allowed: grains, alcohol, dairy, soy, processed foods, added sugars (including honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and the like), legumes, and anything not “real.”

Foods to be enjoyed during the month are vegetables, meat, eggs, seafood, fruits, and natural fats. Whenever possible, it’s recommended to opt for sustainable, ethically-treated, grass-fed, pasture-raised, and/or organic fare.

The goal of the Whole30 is to make intentional, mindful food choices, feed your body well, and hopefully shift your emotional relationship with food. It’s NOT a diet.

There’s no calorie counting, portion limits, or weigh-ins. You nourish your body by eating real food when you’re hungry, and that’s about it.

What Should I Expect From the Whole30?

Having completed the Whole30 three times over the past three years, I can tell you that during some parts of the month you will feel incredible, full of energy, and so happy you decided to hop on the January Whole30 train. Woohoo! On other days (mostly towards the beginning, when your body is adapting to zero refined foods), you will likely feel quite awful. It gets better; I promise!

Here are some things you can expect to experience and learn while on the Whole30.

Meal prep is everything.

If you plan on completing the Whole30, you’re going to have to make use of your kitchen. I highly recommend making food in bulk and having meals and snacks stored in the fridge for takeaway lunches and meals at home. I personally prefer to meal prep several meals, or meal components, on Sunday night so that if I have a long day and don’t want to cook dinner on, say, Tuesday night, all I have to do is open my fridge and grab a Pyrex full of soup or casserole. Some of my favorite foods to meal prep are the following: hard-boiled eggs, frittatas, salads, soups, a whole roasted chicken, roasted potatoes and veggies, ground beef or turkey, and fruit.

Food is emotional.

I can’t tell you how many times during my first Whole30 experience I would yearn to get home after a long, stressful workday, order a pizza, and have a glass or two of wine while planted on the couch. By not being able to give into those desires like I always had, I realized that my temptations weren’t food cravings. Rather, they were ways for me to cope with stress and “treat myself” for making it through another rough day. Noticing and working through my emotional relationship with food and identifying the triggers for my food habits was groundbreaking. I struggled through this lots (and still do!), but I’m now much better at being more mindful about choosing healthier ways to deal with stress, like drinking a cup of herbal tea, working out, or taking a long, hot shower.

Sugar is in everything.

I tend to not do a lot of sweets at home. We don’t typically keep cookies, candy, or other dessert-like snacks in the pantry, so I didn’t really think I consumed that much sugar (besides fruit, the occasional treat, and cocktails). However, once you go grocery shopping and have to look at all of the ingredient in everything you buy, you would be so amazed at how much food has added sugar in it. From soup, to bacon, to sauces and condiments, sugar lurks in so many unexpected places at the grocery store. Doing the Whole30 has opened my eyes to this and taught me to ALWAYS read labels and be wary of anything prepackaged.

Go through Whole30 with someone else.

I went through my first Whole 30 by myself, which wasn’t easy. Nothing was more challenging than being home with my boyfriend while he poured himself a drink after work, or talked about how he had tacos catered in the office that day. It was bad enough to be tempted by coworkers and in social settings, but nothing was worse than living with someone who was eating Oreos on the couch next to you and sprinkling cheese all over your otherwise Whole 30 approved zucchini pasta. That’s why I’m so excited to go through this January Whole30 with friends and family. Whether it’s your husband, best friend, or even a coworker, go through the program with someone else and/or get an accountability partner; you’ll be so much happier.

Carry emergency food.

Whether you plan on hitting the gym after a long day at the office, have a meetup with friends planned for after work, or you’re anticipating a long day of travel, always bring emergency food with you. I almost always had an apple and a bag of almonds in my purse or gym backpack just in case I wouldn’t be getting home on time on any given night. While snacking is frowned upon on Whole 30, there have been several instances where I hadn’t eaten since noon, just had an intense workout, had no plans of going home anytime soon, and simply needed some food in my stomach before getting seriously hangry. In fact, nothing is worse than reaching that state and not being able to find anything Whole30-approved nearby. You’ll be way less likely to give into temptation and be way more pleasant to be around if you’re always prepared and have emergency food on you.

Are you planning on completing a January Whole30? Let me know in the comments below if you are, or if you’re interested in joining an accountability group!

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Prosciutto and Fig Salad Recipe

prosciutto and fig salad over arugula with walnuts and feta cheese

When savory prosciutto is combined with sweet figs and peppery arugula, wonderful, magical, and sexy things happen—like this salad. 

Elevated, yet simple, this prosciutto and fig salad recipe comes together in no time, and is perfect for impressing special people—or just yourself. (Fun fact: I chowed down on this salad post-trail run and still in my sweaty workout clothes, so no fanciness needed to enjoy!)

If you’re not a fig person yet, you gotta get on the train. They’re in-season from June through September, and have a luscious, partially crunchy yet smooth texture, with a sweet, honey-like flavor that was made for this salad recipe.

I’m a huge fan of fruit in my salads, so this one hits the spot and still lets me satisfy my craving for something a bit more salty and savory. Plus, the poppy seed dressing adds a nice crunch that goes well with the texture of the figs.

Because this salad contains olive oil, walnuts, and feta cheese, it’s quite filling. Yet, this dish still feels light and can be the perfect complement to a heartier main course.

Give it a whirl and let me know what you think! I’m also working on transforming this salad into a gluten-free pizza recipe for my carb-loving boyfriend, so stay tuned for how that experiment works out!

Ingredients

For the Dressing

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp honey

1/2 tsp poppy seeds

1/8 tsp kosher salt

For the Salad

4 cups baby arugula

4 ripe figs, quartered

3 oz feta cheese, crumbled

2 oz prosciutto, torn into pieces

1/4 cup walnuts, toasted

Directions

Combine the oil, vinegar, poppy seeds, honey, and salt, and whisk together.

Place the arugula in a large bowl, and top with prosciutto, feta, figs, and walnuts. Drizzle with dressing, toss, and serve. Enjoy!

prosciutto and fig salad over arugula with feta and toasted walnuts

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Chicken Chile Verde Recipe

Chicken Chile Verde Recipe

I’m a self-proclaimed taco connoisseur, I always have fresh salsa in my refrigerator, and I’m certain that my last meal would include either al pastor or homemade tamales.  My love for Mexican food runs deep, and I love it all.

But my absolute favorite is chile verde. This slow-cooked pork shoulder dish cooked in a sauce of tomatillos, chile peppers, onion, and garlic is my go-to at any Mexican restaurant. I love it sopped up with a few corn tortillas or mixed with black beans, but it’s also the perfect street taco or burrito filling.

I’ve made chile verde at home once before, and it was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever cooked. So when I saw fresh tomatillos at my favorite veggie stand at the farmer’s market this morning, the craving struck again and I knew I had to make a fresh batch this evening.

Roasted tomatillos, garlic, cilantro, jalapeno, and onion

I adjusted this recipe from Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes, opting for organic chicken thighs over pork shoulder. The original recipe also calls for the option of adding either roasted Anaheim peppers or canned green chiles. I used both because I love my recipes to have a little extra spice.

Cilantro for Chile Verde

This chile verde is pretty simple to prepare, and you can even prepare a double batch of the tomatillo sauce and freeze half for later so that you can have chile verde all. the. time. Which you’ll definitely want after trying this recipe.

From the moment I began roasting the tomatillos, to letting everything simmer for about an hour, my entire apartment smelled absolutely heavenly. The flavors meld together perfectly in this dish, and it tastes even better on Day Two.

Onion and jalapeno for Chile Verde

Chicken Chile Verde Recipe Served

Chicken Chile Verde Recipe

(based on/adapted from the Chile Verde Recipe from Simply Recipes)

Ingredients

4 lbs organic boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 1/2 lbs tomatillos

6 garlic cloves, not peeled

2 jalapeños, seeded and ribs removed, chopped

2 Anaheim chiles

1 can diced green chiles

1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped

2 yellow onions, diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 tbsp dried oregano

2 cups chicken stock

2 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Peel and wash the tomatillos. Cut them in half and place on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, along with 6 unpeeled garlic cloves and the Anaheim chiles. Place under a broiler for 6-7 minutes, or until the skin of the tomatillos is slightly blackened.

Once the tomatillos, peppers, and garlic are cool enough to handle, remove the skin, stem, and seeds from the peppers, as well as the skin from the garlic cloves. Add all the roasted goodies to a blender, as well as the cilantro, jalapeño, and green chiles, and pulse until all of the ingredients are chopped and well combined.

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season cubed chicken thighs with salt and pepper, then brown the chunks on each side, working in batches. Once chicken is browned, set aside in a bowl.

Add onion and minced garlic to the dutch oven and sautée until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken back into the pot, as well as the tomatillo sauce, chicken stock, and oregano. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the chicken is tender and the flavors have melded together nicely. Season to taste and serve with tortillas and/or rice and black beans.

Chicken Chile Verde Recipe Served with Tortillas

 

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Chocolate Banana Smoothie with Maca

chocolate banana smoothie with maca

This chocolate banana smoothie with maca is my go-to snack when my body craves something sweet. Loaded with raw cacao, maca, and grass-fed collagen, this chocolatey, decadent treat is also nutrient-dense and antioxidant-rich. Blend one up to satisfy a sugar craving, reward an intense workout, or subside PMS symptoms.

I’ve personally noticed improved skin from incorporating maca and collagen into my diet, and the cacao seems to balance my mood. Collagen also adds some protein to this recipe, and the coconut milk, almond butter, and coconut oil keep me full for a while. Basically, this smoothie is delicious and oh-so nourishing!

Ingredients

1 cup coconut milk

1 small frozen banana

1 tablespoon almond butter

1 tablespoon raw cacao powder

1 teaspoon maca powder

1 serving collagen peptides

1 teaspoon coconut oil

Dash of cinnamon

Dash of salt

Handful of ice

Directions

Blend everything together until smooth and serve cold. Feel free to also top with raw cacao nibs, more cinnamon, and/or shredded coconut flakes.

 

 

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My Favorite Gluten-Free Meals in Oakland

As much as I love a good spinach smoothies and quinoa salad, I also believe that a nourishing gluten-free life can include the occasional cheeseburger (with gf bun). And fries.

Being gluten-free, most of what I prepare in my kitchen is pretty “healthy”, and I cook almost everything I eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the weekdays. BUT I also live in Oakland, which is a city brimming with amazing restaurants, so (as someone who loves food), I’d be crazy to not try out truly experience the delicious bounty of my city and eat out at the newest and best reviewed restaurants.

Because of this, when I do go out to eat on Saturday night or Sunday brunch, I like to indulge in whatever my (non-gluten eating) heart desires. Oftentimes, this involves seeking out the most decadent gluten-free meal I can find.

Having lived in Oakland for almost five years now, I’ve been able to try out lots of restaurants and food spots (though there are still SO many on my restaurant bucket list!). I know it’s not always easy to find the best gluten-free eats (that aren’t salads), so I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite gluten-free meals in Oakland…and they’re all comfort foods.

While I’m not about eating gluten-free versions of junk food all the time, there TOTALLY is a time and a place for pizza and mac and cheese.

Check out some of my favorite gluten-free indulgences!

Juhu Beach Club's Gluten-Free Dosa Waffles and Fried Chicken

Indian-Fusion Chicken and Waffles at Juhu Beach Club

While Juhu Beach Club is not a dedicated gluten-free restaurant, they are very transparent about their vegetarian and gluten-free options on the menu. This recent Temescal darling is known for their doswaffles, a mix between a South Indian dosa with a Belgian-style waffle. The JBC Fried Chicken-n-Doswaffle features green chili fried chicken, sweet-n-spicy syrup, and black pepper butter. It’s sweet, it’s spicy, it’s warming, and it’s surprisingly good. Check out this place for Saturday or Sunday brunch (make a reservation, as the place is small and gets filled quickly) and pair the waffles with one of their yummy cocktails!

Mac and Cheese at Homeroom

Oh, Homeroom. I’m pretty sure I could write a love sonnet about how much I love that you’re a restaurant dedicated to macaroni and cheese AND offer gluten-free mac. Homeroom is THE spot to eat at on a cold, rainy Saturday afternoon. They serve up dressed up mac and cheese dishes, like ones with artichoke hearts, spinach, shallots and feta, or with havarti cheese, scallions, bacon, and roasted pineapple. My personal fave is the Gilroy Mac with creamy gouda, sharp pecorino, and roasted garlic.

Pizza at Zachary’s 

People come from far and wide to enjoy Zachary’s deep dish pizza (not gluten-free), but I keep coming back for their thin crust pies that are gluten-free. Everytime I go, everyone else at the table (gluten-eaters) end up eating a slice or two of mine, rather than a second slice of the deep dish stuff, because their gluten-free pizza is THAT good. Try it, look around at the cool art all around you, and try to leave with leftovers.

Anything at Grease Box

So…EVERYTHING at Grease Box is gluten-free. What an awesome thing to go into a restaurant and be able to pick anything from it. Want a cheeseburger? You got it. No need to ask for a lettuce wrap, or ask if it’s okay to eat the carbs that accompany it. Breakfast sandwich? It’s yours. Beer? There are tons of options! Grease Box is a divey-looking, hipster-ish place with large mason jars of the hot sauce they pickle themselves in-house on the walls, and mismatched furniture, but if you’re looking for gluten-free comfort food, this is the place. Plus, they have a mean BBQ chicken sandwich. And the home fries are super delish.

Cupcakes at Sweet Bar Bakery

Sweet Bar is a cute little cafe near the Hive in Oakland. They offer sandwiches and salads, among other things, but every year I wander over there and treat myself to a gluten-free birthday cupcake. They offer a peanut butter chocolate option that is really, really good. Get that with a cup of evening coffee, and you’ll feel like a million bucks.

These are just a few of my favorites. What are your favorite gluten-free restaurants or meals in the Bay Area?

*Please note, I don’t have Celiac disease and minor cross-contamination isn’t a major health issue. If you have Celiac disease, you know that you should take extra precaution when ordering out to avoid any cross contamination.

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Zucchini Noodle Alfredo Recipe with Shrimp and Broccoli

Zucchini Noodle Shrimp & Broccoli Alfredo

This zucchini noodle Alfredo recipe with shrimp and broccoli is an excellent way to get lots of green goodness in one bowl and satisfy your craving for something rich and creamy.

I hauled home a bunch of beautiful zucchinis from the farmer’s market on Saturday, as well as a few heads of broccoli, and decided that some wild red shrimp and a little homemade “Alfredo” would make BFFs with these yummy, fresh veggies.

It’s been so cold and overcast in Oakland and San Francisco the past few weeks that, even at the end of May, my body has been favoring bowls of hot stuff eaten in yoga pants rather than big salads and grilled veggies enjoyed al fresco. Zucchini noodle pasta is the perfect way to still have a light-ish meal, while still satisfying your need for comfort food.

This was my first time making a version of Alfredo sauce (I’m usually a marinara or Bolognese fan), so I decided to follow a pro and use Pinch of Yum’s Creamy Cauliflower Sauce recipe that everyone on the Internet is pouring over.

And they have every right to! This stuff is seriously delicious AND it’s made from cauliflower for even more nutritious deliciousness. Love, love, love it.

Zucchini Noodle Alfredo Recipe with Shrimp and Broccoli

Ingredients

  • 4 medium zucchinis, spiralized into noodles
  • 1 lb wild red shrimp, deveined
  • 1 lb asparagus (about 20 stalks)
  • 1/2 lb broccoli (about 2 small heads)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 5 cups of Pinch of Yum’s Creamy Cauliflower Sauce

Directions

  1. Prepare the sauce.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss broccoli with 1 tbsp olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread out evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, until crisp and tender.
  3. While the broccoli is roasting, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until asparagus is tender.
  4. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a second large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini noodles and cook for about 8 minutes, until the zucchini is tender.
  5. Finally, heat 2 tbsp butter over medium-high heat. Add shrimp, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir frequently, cooking it until the flesh appears pink in color, about 5-6 minutes.
  6. Add a serving of zucchini to each bowl, top with broccoli, asparagus, shrimp, and Alfredo sauce. Enjoy!
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My Favorite Sunday Meal Prep Foods

Meal prep - chicken, broccoli, asparagus, sweet potato, and egg
On Sundays, I try to prepare as much food as I can to …

  1. avoid making bad food choices throughout the week.
  2. unwind and have some creative time in the kitchen before the weekend’s up.

Plus, meal prep helps me to prevent wasting food that I would otherwise never get around to cooking, saves tons of money on eating out, and enables me to have delicious, healthy meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Below, I’ve outlined some of my favorite Sunday meal prep foods that are simple to make, inexpensive, and great for pairing together. These are the foods that are in my regular rotation and can be put together with minimal cooking knowledge.

GRILLED CHICKEN

Grilled chicken is great for tossing in salads for lunch, or for pairing with a roasted veggie or sautéed spinach for dinner. I usually create my own seasoning, depending on my mood, but sprinkling the chicken with Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute is always delicious and done in two shakes.

ROASTED BROCCOLI

Confession: I’m pretty obsessed with eating eggs and broccoli. Since I work from home, one of my favorite go-to lunches is either two scrambled or fried eggs served over a big bowl of broccoli. Best of all? Broccoli provides easily absorbed calcium and is known as a mood-booster when paired with eggs. I roast my broccoli with a little salt, pepper, and red chili pepper flakes.

ROASTED ASPARAGUS

Asparagus is my favorite spring vegetable. I roast several stalks with olive oil, salt, and pepper and enjoy it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

ROASTED SWEET POTATOES

I like to eat sweet potatoes on days that I run for a nice energy boost. I cut mine into small pieces and sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and a little cayenne pepper for a nice kick. These taste great with ground turkey and roasted broccoli.

HARDBOILED EGGS

A hardboiled egg make a great grab-and-go breakfast or a good afternoon snack if you’re feeling hungry a few hours after lunch.

GROUND TURKEY

I often cook ground turkey seasoned with some version of a homemade spice mixture so that I can toss the meat into a taco salad at some point in the week. Ground turkey also goes great with sweet potatoes and broccoli, cooked ground or formed into mini-patties. Plus, it’s delicious when mixed with pasta sauce and zucchini noodles for a light, Italian-inspired dinner.

WASHED FRUIT

I prevent myself from snacking on not-so-healthy things by washing and/or cutting fruit for the week on Sunday. Strawberries, blueberries, and grapes are current favorites.

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