Leftovers: Broccoli Beet Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette #HealthyFridays

Leftovers: Broccoli Beet Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette #HealthyFridays

Broccoli Beet Salad

My Take on Leftovers

There are so many children in this country who go hungry to bed or to school. In the same token there is an abundance of food thrown away on daily basis. Whether it’s leftovers from last nights dinner or expired food items we never had the chance to cook. Regardless, below is my take on leftovers. By the way for all of you who have been blessed with an abundance of food consider helping out with this great organization: No Kid Hungry.

This nonprofit organization is helping to eradicate child-hunger from American Schools. Every fifth child goes hungry to school. That’s a terrible fact. Watch the video to learn more about No Kid Hungry.

Remember What Your Grandma Used To Say… 

I don’t want to bore you with my leftover food. The point I’m trying to make is leftovers can be used to make yet another good meal. My Grandmother made me eat all my food on the plate. So we never had leftovers. These days’ leftovers are being thrown out in many households. That’s sad, as my Grandmother would have said: “there are children in Africa dying for hunger and we throw out our food”.

She had a point, although I’m not fond of over-eating, just serving the right amount of food the first time. Our kids are growing up with an abundance of luxury. They have cell phones, video games, the fanciest  TV’s, cars and food galore. For them it’s absolutely normal and most of them can’t live without their gadgets. We grew up with none of these items and we were happy. This young generation is completely spoiled rotten, if I may say so. Well, I guess we as parents spoiled them in the first place, but how can we not give our kids these luxuries when all their peers have them.

Broccoli Beet Salad

The Bright Sight of Leftovers

I always try to cook something healthy for my family. But sometimes I don’t have the time and I look for an easy way out. Especially Fridays when we come home from a busy week we just want to relax and don’t think too much about cooking. On Thursday I had baked a ziti with beans for my boys and me, but had some leftovers. My wife had broccoli and red beets left from her dinner. She eats mostly vegetables with little meat or fish, but no starch. So the ziti was off limit for her.

However, the point is combining different leftover foods doesn’t have to be difficult. With a little imagination many foods can be assembled and presented in a nice way. I know it’s not restaurant quality, but at least no food is being thrown out. Again, I’m talking about home cooked food that is one day old not 3 or 4 days old. Especially store-bought meals like Chinese food must be discarded after 24 hours latest, simply because we don’t know how long the food has been kept warm or how old the food was at the time of cooking.

 

Broccoli Beet Salad

 

Broccoli Beet Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
Recipe Type: Salad, Appetizer,
Cuisine: American
Author: Kraemers Culinary Blog
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 Broccoli, cut in rosettes
  • 3 medium sized red beets
  • Vinaigrette
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • Season with salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Season broccoli and red beets with salt and pepper and steam for a few minutes. Vegetables should be still slightly crunchy.
Vinaigrette:
  1. Mix vinegar, honey and slowly add oil until all ingredients are incorporated. Add all other ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Pour vinaigrette over broccoli and beets and let stand for a few minutes before serving.

What do you do with leftovers?

Do you mind eating leftover foods?

What do you think about “No Kids Hungry” Organization?

 

 

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Mama’s Organic Egg Spinach Power Sandwich #HealthyFridays

Mama’s Organic Egg Spinach Power Sandwich #HealthyFridays

Welcome to my first #HealthyFriday post. As you probably have realized I’m gearing up my blog towards natural healthy foods and recipes with emphasis on organic ingredients. In short it’s all about the whole foods experience. Don’t get me wrong I do enjoy other foods like desserts and cakes, which I will still post here and there. However, the trend to healthy foods is the only way (in my opinion) to stay sane and healthy in this hectic technology driven world. We are surrounded by heavily processed foods, that are not healthy at all. In my upcoming posts I will get more into the myth or truth about processed foods, GMO’s versus organic foods and simple ways to eat healthy. In this sense I hope you enjoy my #HealthyFriday post about my Power Sandwich.

Since this post is part about eggs I included a short kitchen story about flying eggs. Yes you heard right – flying eggs. Enjoy

Power Sandwich

No such thing as flying eggs…

It was a busy day for lunch at this fine French restaurant, where I was the apprentice chef in my fourth month. The sound of pots and pants being cooked and stirred in is something I can’t live without; it’s like music to me. Regardless – to get to the point – one of the cooks ran out of eggs so the chef asks me to bring up a tray. It was very hectic and the chef was feeling antsy.  You know Chef Gordon Ramsey and how rough he can be to his team. Well Chef Gordon Ramsay was a lamb compared to my boss. (That said I admire Gordon Ramsay as he is an excellent chef)

I run down the staircase, picked up my tray of 30 eggs and run back upstairs only to miss the last step….! Up to this day I wonder why I stumbled over that last step. I made a big leap head first. No – I should really say – eggs first. Imagine a machine gun firing eggs. Yes, that’s how it looked like. 30 eggs in 1 second flying through the kitchen. Luckily I didn’t hit anyone, although one of the eggs missed the chef by an inch. You know the facial expression of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator, yes that’s the kind of look I got from the chef. He came towards me with a look that could kill and I thought: “that’s it I’m fired”. I had just finished my probation period of my two and a half-year apprentice ship although I just graduated from 2 years of culinary school. So I wasn’t a newbie, however – but as you can imagine I was in a precarious situation.

He started to yell at me, you know the same way Gordon Ramsey humiliates the chefs on TV. Yep, the same treatment I got only that his head turned red ( like a lobster), which I clearly remember as it was yesterday. However to make a long story short he send all cooks and dishwashers home right after the service. Usually the cooks and dishwashers do their part to clean their stations. This night the kitchen belonged to me with all its dirty pots and tables. I don’t remember what time I finished cleaning the entire kitchen, but it was well after 3 in the morning. Flying eggs are (not so beautiful) memories of mine…

Mama’s Egg Spinach Power Sandwich

This egg-spinach-toast reminds me of my youth. Whenever my mom didn’t have much time to cook she would make this dish, because it is so easy to prepare. However, she would also make it with boiled potatoes instead of the bread. Which is great, you just mash-up everything and it taste good – that said – if you like soft-boiled eggs and spinach.  For this recipe I used a slice of bread because it is easy and saves time. The vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibers and flavonoids make this dish a true power sandwich with great health benefits.

Egg & Spinach Power Sandwich

 

Eggs Are Much Better Than Previously Thought

Yes they do have a lot of cholesterol, but the health benefits far out weigh the risks. Eggs are full of B vitamins and offer the best protein available. They have anti inflammatory properties which relieves stress. (Thinking of work)

Studies have shown when eggs are part of a daily breakfast regiment, fewer calories are being eaten later in the day.

Eggs are good for your heart and your head, because of the high amounts of B Vitamins. Also the cholesterol in eggs does not raise your own cholesterol level as studies have shown over the past 15 years. Obviously if your cholesterol levels are through the roof you’d better stay away from eggs.

Further studies have shown that eggs from cage free chickens are of better quality. They have more vitamins and omega fats due to the fact that those chickens live (almost) stress free.

Egg & Spinach Sandwich

Even Popeye Knew the Power of Spinach

Spinach is just as powerful as the egg. Spinach keeps your blood sugar low, your eyes sharp (not really sharp but healthy). It can help to bring down blood pressure. It’s good for your bones due to the Vitamin K, since this vitamin helps with the absorption of calcium.

Studies have shown that when women took high Calcium supplements (over 1000 milligrams) – even with the combination of Vitamin D – the risk of developing kidney stones was 17% higher than those who got their calcium from natural sources like green leafy vegetables. In fact no kidney stones have been detected in women who got their entire calcium supply from natural products such as milk, soy and vegetables.

The high amount of Vitamin A is good for your skin. Did I mention the vitamin C and E and lots of  minerals equals a vitamin pill, just much fresher, unprocessed and perfectly natural.

Though there is one negative aspect of spinach; the pesticides it has been treated with. One can avoid the pesticides when buying organic.

Tomatoes are Healthier When Cooked

Yes, it’s hard to belief. However, when tomatoes are cooked lycopene is produced, which is the powerful antioxidant that battles prostate cancer. Tomatoes are full of vitamins, folic acid and have anti inflammatory properties. Recent studies have shown that tomatoes might reduce the risk of certain other cancers such as ovarian, throat, colon just to name a few.

When buying tomatoes look for a bright red color which are soft to the touch, not too hard and not too soft. Conventional grown tomatoes tend to be treated with pesticides. So look for organically cultivated tomatoes at your farmers market or the organic section of your supermarket.  A 10 year study conducted by the University of California concluded that organically grown tomatoes have more vitamins and flavonoids than conventional grown tomatoes. And did I mention not to keep your tomatoes in the refrigerator. Keep them in bowl in a rather dark corner in your kitchen. Cover unripe tomatoes with a napkin or towel to keep them away from light. They will be ripe in a day or two.

A Bread Worth for a Power Sandwich

I’m talking about an organic whole grain bread. You can see the recipe by following this link: organic multi grain bread. I love bread despite all the hype that too much processed food is not good. That’s why I like to bake my own. Most breads these days are full of additives and preservatives. Once you check this recipe you know why I call it a power bread. It got everything from cocoa, cinnamon, flax meal, oats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.

In short by eating this easy to make power sandwich you can drop the vitamin pill, because this meal provides all the nutrients our body needs and more.

Egg Spinach Power Sandwich
Recipe Type: Sandwich
Cuisine: American, Natural, Organic, Whole Foods,
Author: Kraemers Culinary Blog
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 slices of organic whole grain bread
  • 8 slices of ripe organic tomatoes
  • 1.5 lb organic spinach
  • 8 slices of cheddar cheese,
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 stick of butter or margarine
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Boil eggs to your liking.
  2. Shock in ice-cold water for about a minute, set aside. See notes for more info on boiling eggs.
  3. Grill or sauté tomatoes for 30-45 seconds on each side on high heat. Keep nearby.
  4. Peel eggs in a way they don’t break. Keep warm
  5. While the spinach is cooking – place 4 slices of bread in a toaster.
  6. In a large pan melt butter over medium heat.
  7. Add onions and sauté until translucent.
  8. Now add the garlic.
  9. Just before the garlic takes on color add the spinach.
  10. Season with salt and pepper
  11. Assemble all ingredients on top of toast and enjoy.
Notes
I use cold water to cook the eggs, once the water starts to boil I cook them for 4 minutes. That’s when the egg-yolk is soft inside. Cook it 1 or 2 minutes longer and the egg-yolks are not liquid anymore, but still semi liquid. For hard-boiled eggs cook them for 10 minutes.

 

Do you have your own version of a power sandwich?

What is your favorite healthy sandwich?

Do you eat healthy, does it matter to you?

I would love to hear your comments?

 

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What is Comfort Food and Why Do We Love It So Much?

What is Comfort Food and Why Do We Love It So Much?

 

Green Split Peas Soup with Bacon, comfort food,

A Soup Made for a Blizzard

We just made it through one of the worst storms the American east coast has ever seen. That was in October of 2012. And now this blizzard that brought us more than a 2 feet of snow. I think that calls for some serious comfort food. The famous green split pea soup. A comfort soup made for cold and snowed in days. Luckily we didn’t lose power but others where not so lucky. I can’t think of another storm destroying our house it’s too nerve wrecking. Even month after the Hurricane left us we are still in renovation mode. For those of you who missed my Hurricane post, follow this link: Wood stove cooking and romantic candle light dinners

Snowy days ideal for comfort food

A Culinary Tradition that Carries On for Centuries.

I loved snow during my childhood – nowadays not so much. I remember on really cold days my mom would always cook up some comfort food such as a green split pea soup. I don’t know if it’s just me who craves comfort food on cold days. What about you?

The funny thing is My wife comes from the Caribbean and she has a comfort food too. It’s a curry, whether it’s made with chicken, fish or goat. But it’s not cold there. So how do you define comfort food? Does it has something to do with the weather or our emotions? I would love to know your take on it?

Green Split Peas

What is comfort food and why do we love it so much?

According to The Free dictionary by Farlex the definition for comfort food is: ” Simply prepared food that gives a sense of well-being: usually foods with a higher content of  sugar or carbohydrates, which can be associated with childhood or home cooking”. There we have it, what ever is in our comfort food gives us a sense of emotional satisfaction.

A study by the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University suggest that men crave comfort food during positive times while women yearn for comfort food in stressful times. Isn’t that interesting? What are you craving in comfort food?

Split peas soup as comfort food

Health Benefits of Green Split Peas

Split peas whether they are green or yellow are loaded with proteins and fibers. 95 % of all split peas come in dried form, which doesn’t diminish its health benefits. They are also packed with anti inflammatory properties and antioxidants. Studies have shown that peas in general have great health benefits such as lowering blood sugar levels, heart healthy, cancer fighting and cholesterol lowering properties, just to mention a few. For more info on health benefits on split peas follow the link. Linus Pauling Institute

Even though a split peas soup is loaded with “good” carbohydrates and calories I can say that this comfort food is quite healthy. Storm or no storm I will definitely stick to my comfort food as long as they are loaded with peas 🙂

 

Green Split Pea Soup with Bacon cooked in a Slow Cooker

Recipe Type: Soup, Entre, Comfort Food, Organic,
Cuisine: German
Author: Kraemers Culinary Blog
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
I cooked this green split peas soup in my fancy rice cooker, which is also a slow cooker. If you don’t have the time to slow cook use a stainless steel pot. You just have to keep the heat on low to medium and stir frequently. The cooking time will also be shorter around: 1:30 minutes.
Ingredients
  • 3 slices bacon, diced
  • 4 oz / 115 g butter
  • 10 oz / 290 g / 1 1/4 cup organic green split peas
  • 4 oz / 115g / 1 cup organic onions, finely chopped
  • 4 oz / 115 g / 1 cup organic carrots, cut in 1/3 inch cubes
  • 2 oz / 60 g / 1/2 cup organic celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large organic potato cut in 1/3 inch cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp mild vinegar,
  • 2 1/4 cup water
  • 3 cups organic chicken broth, low sodium
Instructions
  1. In a stainless steel pan saute bacon over medium heat until golden brown.
  2. Discard fat and place bacon in slow cooker.
  3. Turn on slow cooker and time for 2 hours. Remember I used a rice cooker with a slow cooking option. The temperature of my slow cooker might be different than yours.
  4. Add butter, onions, garlic, celery and oregano.
  5. Saute until translucent.
  6. Now add all other ingredients stir once, close the cover and let cook.
  7. Give it a stir once or twice during the entire cooking process.
  8. Seasoned split pea soup with black pepper and salt if necessary.
Notes
Tip: For more pork flavor try adding a small ham hock or pieces of that. I prefer a smoked one, either way it will give the split pea soup a well-rounded satisfying flavor. Well, of course way more calories too.

 

So what comfort food are you craving?

 

 

 

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Crudite Shots versus Platters? What is Your Favorite?

Crudite Shots versus Platters? What is Your Favorite?

While I prepare myself for my upcoming trip to Germany, here is an old favorite snack of mine served a bit different than usual. – Before I get to this I’d like to mention the little story that lead me to write this post in the first place. I was recently invited on a party, which was held at a fairly decent catering hall. Among the appetizers was a crudite platter. A boring platter with carrots, green peppers, celery and cherry tomatoes served with I think was store-bought ranch dressing (which is OK).  The platter had no decoration at all. – My question is: Is it so difficult to make a crudite platter more appetizing? Don’t get me wrong there are many chefs and caterers out there who take great pride in serving brilliantly decorated appetizer platters. What I learned in recent years is that caterers have come to the point of dropping this hors d’oeuvre from the menu completely. Yet many customers ask for it. So why not reinvent the old?

Crudite served in shot glassesWhy do we serve hors d’oeuvres?

An hors d’oeuvre is served to simply whet your guests appetite to what is yet to come. (except on receptions). It is usually served before the actual dinner starts, so guests can mingle and get comfortable. However, in my opinion an hors d’oeuvre as well as the famous amuse-bouche is testament of what the chef & his or her team is capable of. So whether it’s a simple crudite served in shot glasses or platters  – as a host it is my job to impress my guest with the very first opportunity. – The Hors D’Oeuvre

Crudite Shots

Crudite Shots

Crudite Shots versus Platters? What is Your Favorite and Why?

Crudite shots are not very useful when drinks are served. Yes they look great, but having two glasses in your hand leaves you with confusion. So it’s important to keep this in mind before deciding of either.   I just think crudite shots are fun – dipping, eating and chatting – walking around with your little shot glass. Having someone passing the crudite shots around is another fun way. The colorful little glasses make a nice impression on a party.

Simple Crudite Shots Spice it up a bit.

To make this old-fashioned appetizer “pop” I added jalapeno peppers and avocados to the ranch dressing. The jalapeno gives it a little zing and the avocado some depth. There are lots of alternatives to add flavors to your dipping sauces. From peppercorns, herbs, cheese, chilies to horseradish, the sky is the limit. However, the foundation is always the same; it’s either mayonnaise or vinaigrette based (there are exceptions). I prefer a mayonnaise based sauce, because it sticks better to the vegetables. I know it’s more calories, but more flavor too.

Unfortunately,  I had limited vegetable at hand for my crudite. I usually would add red radishes, button mushrooms and broccoli just to mention a few.

 

Veggies for Crudite

Veggies for Crudite

Organic or Not Organic?

I prefer to buy organic produce, because they are free of pesticides. That said organic produce is expensive and I’m not always willing to pay the high price. You can find out more and form your own opinion about organic foods by visiting the EWG (Environmental Working Group). There, you’ll find a ton of information and you might end up supporting them by subscribing to their newsletter. But hold – sign up to receive my blog post first – I would really appreciate it. 🙂

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Let’s not forget the health factor in these little crudite shots. Organic or not, both produce are nutritional and packed with vitamins and minerals.

Shot glasses for crudite

Shot glasses for crudite

Do you like crudite? Do you prefer them served in shot glasses or platters?

Do you think they are old-fashioned ? What’s your opinion?

Organic vegetables or not. Does it matter to you?

I would love to hear your opinion. Leave a comment

 

Crudite Shots
Recipe Type: Appetizer, Hors D’Oeuvre
Author: Kraemers Culinary Blog
Prep time: 25 mins
Total time: 25 mins
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1/4 romaine or iceberg lettuce, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, cut in 8 – 3 inch long slices
  • 1/2 cucumber cut in 4 -1/4inch thick slices & 8 – 3 inch long sticks
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut in 8 – 3 inch long slices
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut in 8 – 3 inch long slices
  • 1/4 red cabbage, cut in 8 – 3 inch long slices
  • 8 asparagus, cut 3 inch long with head on
  • 4 grape tomatoes each on a 4 inch skewer
  • 4 – 4 inch long celery stalks with leaves on
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 1/4 avocado, mashed
  • 1 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Mix avocados, jalopeno with the ranch dressing.
  2. Fill the shot glass with an inch of lettuce as a bed for the ranch dressing. Spoon about 1 tbsp of the ranch dressing into the glass than add all other vegetables. Add an extra spoon of dressing to it.
Notes

If you don’t serve the crudite right away, keep the vegetables moist. That is done by covering the vegetables with a moist towel. It is also possible to submerge them for a few minutes in ice-water to keep them hydrated. However, keeping the vegetables too long in the ice-water will drain them of essential vitamins and minerals.

 

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Have you ever tried bitter melon?

Have you ever tried bitter melon?

As part of my recent trip to the Caribbean I would like feature “Bitter Melon” also called corilla, bitter gourd or karela among many other names. Bitter melon grows throughout the Caribbean, South America and Asia and is an important food source to the locals. In this recipe I refer to this vegetable as either bitter melon or corilla. As the name reveals it is very bitter, yet packed with powerful medicinal properties. Corilla has been studied all over the world for its beneficial health properties, yet it has not gotten the respect in the western world the way broccoli is looked at. I think this vegetable deserves much more attention and respect.

In fact bitter melon is so powerful, that people in the Caribbean and Asia  using it as a folk remedy to treat and prevent chicken pox, measles, malaria and HIV. Studies have confirmed that corilla has anti malaria properties; however studies of humans have not been released. Studies conducted by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have shown that bitter melon could be used to treat certain cancers, diabetes, Aids, fever and infections. Although the cancer institute is warning that this vegetable shouldn’t be used as a medical substitute to treat any sickness.

Bitter melon from my garden

Bitter melon from my garden

Bitter Melon – Medicine or Vegetable?

We are learning now what other cultures have discovered many years ago without any laboratories. Bitter melon is a very powerful type of vegetable that indeed needs to be eaten with caution. Pregnant women should not eat bitter melon as this could induce abortion and in the same token it is given to women just before childbirth to ease the pain. How bizarre is that? By the way it is also used to treat painful menstruation. Now I sound like a doctor, who I’m not, but I think it is important to know.  The red seeds (ripe corilla) shouldn’t be feed to children as they “could” be toxic. However when I discussed this topic with my wife; who grew up in the Caribbean, said she and her friends sucked on the red seeds all the time, because they were sweet. Nevertheless, I never use the seeds and discard them whether ripe or green.

Corilla from my garden

Corilla from my garden

Why Corilla?

You probably are saying  why is he featuring this vegetable? Because it helped me in the past to feel good and could probably help anyone who is fighting cancer or diabetes. I was introduced to Corilla 20 years ago in Antigua and since than when I have a chance to eat it I will. That doesn’t mean I eat it every day, but rather once or twice a month. I actually grow bitter melon every summer in my back yard. Maybe I should say my wife is growing it and I reap the benefits :-). It is not the best tasting vegetable, but I feel good eating it.

Cleaning Corilla / Bitter Melon

Cleaning Corilla

Corilla can be cleaned just like melons. The seeds are easily removed with a spoon.

Sliced Bitter Melon

Sliced Bitter Melon

 

Sautéing Bitter Melon

Sautéing Corilla

Whenever I prepare corilla I usually sauté it with onions and garlic and the juice of a lemon. The lemon actually takes away some of the bitterness.

Bitter Melon served with Garlic and Onions

Bitter Melon served with Garlic and Onions

 

Sauteed bitter melon (corilla) with garlic and onions
Recipe Type: Vegetarian, Healthy food, Side Dish, Vegan
Author: Kraemers Culinary Blog
Prep time: 12 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 32 mins
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 small corilla, cleaned & seeded
  • 1 large onion, quartered and sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, quartered and sliced
  • Juice from one lemon
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • ½ of vegetable broth
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Keep a little oil for later.
  2. Sautee onions until almost translucent, then add garlic keep stirring.
  3. Add corilla and lemon juice. Let the vegetables caramelize slightly to give it some color and flavor. Season with salt, pepper and add vegetable broth, cover to give it a little steam. Cook corilla until little more than al dente, I don’t like my corilla it too soft. Towards the end add the remaining olive oil and incorporate gently.

Have you ever tried Bitter melon? Do you like it? Let me know. I love your comments.

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