A date with myself

Taking myself out on dates is tricky. When I think about a self date, I think about loads of junk food and this sweet location called the couch.

#addict

#addict

While this is appealing, I decided to take myself “in” on a healthy date. There is something really gratifying about making yourself a healthy meal…especially when you’re cooking with a big glass of wine.

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Well, I hit the jackpot ladies and gents. I made the salad of all salads. Sometimes, it’s the simplest of ingredients that make a masterpiece. Basil, garlic and olive oil. There’s your dressing. Easy, right? Check it out.

Basil and Garlic Summer Squash Salad (Serves 2)

1 zucchini, 1 yellow squash, cut into half moons

1/2 red onion, diced

1 romaine head, sliced into strips

1-2 tomatoes, diced

1 small ball of fresh mozzarella, diced

7 large leaves of fresh basil, rolled up and sliced into thin strips

So fresh

So fresh

1 clove garlic, minced

1 can chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed

2 Tbs olive oil

Salt and pepper

Add oil to a medium sized pan and warm on medium heat. Add garlic and let simmer until you get a kitchen-full aroma of garlic and the garlic is beginning to golden. Add the squash and saute on medium to med-high until the squash is lightly golden.

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Flip the squash often in the pan like a master chef. Be sure that you have enough oil in the pan as this will become the salad dressing. Add a dollop more if necessary. Add the basil to the pan and flip a few times to coat the squash.

Can I just eat this?

Can I just eat this?

While waiting for the squash to cook, chop up all of the other ingredients and add to a large bowl. Once you’ve finished the squash, remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Add to the salad bowl and gently mix to incorporate the basil-garlic oil.

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Of course the night is not complete without some Hershey’s Nuggets. A girl has got to live a little 🙂

#truth

#truth

Run like you mean it

Sometimes running in a new place can give you motivation to keep moving. I ran today out in the middle of nowhere Warners, NY and it was BEAUTIFUL. Don’t get me wrong – I love exploring new cities – the architecture, the people, it’s all exciting. There’s just something about rolling hills and farms that is so peaceful.

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Listening to the Rich Roll podcast and admiring the scenery, I was running for just shy of an hour – good times!

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The person being interviewed was discussing how he transformed his fitness through a plant-based diet. He really learned how to listen to his body while logging heavier miles. So, that’s what I focused on doing. Am I tired/wheezing away my breath? Yes. Okay, walk for 2 minutes. Am I feeling good? Run like you mean it. Am I almost done? Run like your life depended on it.

#thisismylife

#thisismylife

Afterwards I read and had a snack while waiting for Mrs. D to finish her riding lesson.

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When we got home, I decided to use the leftover peppers we had in the fridge to make roasted peppers. This recipe is so simple and the peppers make for a great summer side dish. I tend to taste test the peppers while cutting them. Hey, you gotta make sure your recipes are edible and you don’t kill the people you’re feeding. Luckily, these peppers passed the “you will live” test. Unfortunately for the family, I didn’t share many 😉 Original recipe can be found in the Dom Deluise cookbook.

Italian Roasted Peppers (Serves many, shared with no one)

6-8 peppers, using a variety of colors (red, orange, yellow)
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs lemon juice
3 Tbs capers, including some of the juice from the jar
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the side of a knife

Set the oven to broil. Line 2 baking dishes with aluminum foil. Place the peppers spread evenly on the baking dishes.

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Put under the broiler. You have to monitor the peppers carefully so they don’t burn. When you start to see the pepper blackening, use a set of tongs to switch each pepper to a new side.

Come to mama

Come to mama

Once all sides are blackened, remove from oven. Roll up the foil to cover the peppers and let sit for 15 minutes.

While waiting, combine the rest of the ingredients in a deep dish for serving.

Unwrap the peppers and begin to remove the skin on each one. After sitting wrapped in the foil, they should be cooled and easy to peel. Slice open up the peppers over the dish, adding the pepper juices to the mixture. De-seed the peppers and cut into thin strips. Add the strips to the dish and wahlah! Welcome to roasted pepper heaven.

#yourewelcome

#yourewelcome

Here’s to the new year

The most monumental moment (alliteration, heh) of 2013 occurred yesterday. Brett Lance got a smartphone. Yes, you read right. Brett “I will always keep my 2006 flip phone/I’ll never be a smartphone zombie” Lance spent all of last night like a little boy discovering a toy store for the first time.

In the car on the way home from Best Buy:

Brett: “I’m going to learn how to use my smartphone like a BOSS!”

Me: “Oh god…”

I really didn’t mind. We spent most of our date day outside running and playing in a cute little town called Reston.

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Date day at the W&OD Trail

We reminisced on holiday time with our family while out on the trail.

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The ladies…and Cody 🙂

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The gents

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Playtime with Cody

We ate amazing “make your own” veggie burgers at The Counter.

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My vegan veggie burger with sweet potato fries

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Brett’s non-veggie burger…he was in love.

I made some world class new granola, which we’re planning on eating as our pre-marathon breakfast. Combine 1 cup of this granola with 1/2 – 1 cup almond milk, a banana and a protein shake roughly 2 hours prior to race time. For us, this will be at 3am on January 12th…yay. At least we’ll have a great meal to power the day.

Ginger Cacao Nib Granola

3 cups old fashioned oats

1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (we did almonds and pepitas)

1/2 cup mixed cacao nib and chopped crystalized ginger

1 cup raw agave nectar

1/4 cup EVOO

A handful of dried unsweetened coconut

1 Tbs vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 325. Combine the agave, oil, vanilla and spices to a small pot and stir until thoroughly mixed.

Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl. Mix in the wet ingredients.

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Spread out on a baking sheet, making sure that you create a thin layer. Place in oven, removing and stirring every 5-10 minutes for roughly 40 minutes. Remove from oven once the granola is toasty and golden. Let cool for a few minutes, break into small pieces and seal in an airtight container…or eat…

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Get in my belly #nomnom

For us, 2013 was a mighty roller coaster. A move to Virginia from our home in Boston, races, blogging, Homes for our Troops fundraising, family visits and date days galore. We’re looking forward to an exciting 2014 filled with new adventures, starting with the Disney World Marathon.

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See you at the starting line – Happy New Year!

Late night eats

One of my good friends, Jeannie, sent me a message the other day.

“I work out post-work and usually don’t get home until around 9ish. Sometimes I don’t have the simplest energy to cook dinner, sometimes even eat, but I know I should…any suggestions?”

As I told Jeannie, we give props to anyone that pushes themselves to go straight to the gym after a longer day at work. As a morning gal, I have difficulty motivating myself in the evening, so I commend anyone that does! Gold star, Jeannie 🙂

Some of us aren't as motivated.

Some of us aren’t as motivated.

We have nights like this all the time. For all you late night gym heroes, I have a couple ideas, but the biggest one is…Quinoa. Quinoa is packed and proteins and super simple to make ahead of time. I will make a batch on Sunday and save it for my later nights when I know that cooking…is not in the cards. I keep it light and easy.

Make a few cups of quinoa ahead of time. Remember: 1 cup quinoa to 1 1/2 cups water. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Chop up any veggies ahead of time (or defrost them!) from what you have in your kitchen.

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Combine 1 cup quinoa with some veggies. Add 1 Tbs of EVOO, salt and pepper. If you have fresh basil, it gives the dish some nice flavor. If not, feel free to add your favorite spice  to add a little something extra.

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and it’s pretty to look at

If you’re in a “cereal” mood, quinoa also works well as breakfast for dinner.

If quinoa isn’t your thing, another easy dinner is a smoothie. Check out some of our smoothie recipes. If you always have frozen fruit on hand, dinner will be ready in 3 minutes or less 🙂

Don’t be discouraged by the late night aversion to lifting a finger in the kitchen. Just be prepared…to be lazy and dinner will be waiting!

Cashew cheese, please

I have to say that I am impressed. Brett and I have been meaning to make cashew cheese for some time now. Of all the times to experiment, we decided to add it to our Thanksgiving menu. This was risky, I must say. We’ve had some of the worst kitchen “bombs” as we call them, when we don’t experiment prior to having company. Good thing there is takeout and delivery, eh?

Well, we didn’t need our local eateries to help out with this one. I did the making. Brett “supervised.” We ended up using it as a dressing for our roasted brussel sprouts. Genius idea. For the rest of the weekend, we used it as a dip with veggies. We got rave reviews. We were hoping that we would be making a harder cheese, but alas, that wasn’t meant to be. Thanks to Rich Roll’s Jai cookbook, our potential disaster was a big success. Yay for vegan cheese!

Vegan Cashew Cheese

1 1/2 cups raw cashews

1/2 cup organic canola oil (make sure to use name brand – you can really taste the difference)

1/4 cup yellow or white miso paste

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp garlic powder

2 1/2 cups unsweetened soy milk

Juice of 1 lemon (watch out for those seeds!)

Place cashews in a food processor and blend for 2-3 minutes, until ground into a mealy-type consistency.

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Add the yeast, salt, pepper. Pulse a few times to mix. In a small saucepan, heat the oil and the soy milk until warm and well blended. Reserve half of this liquid in a small bowl and combine with miso. Stir to dissolve the miso. Pour the other half of the oil milk mixture into the running food processor. Once the miso blend is combined, pour that in as well. Last, add the lemon juice. You’ll notice the mixture start to thicken.

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As it sits, it will thicken some more.

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I want you…yum

Reminder: this is not hard cheese. We would recommend using it as a dressing or dipping sauce.

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CHEESE

Don’t worry, we’re back to the kitchen to make a great hard cheese recipe for you all. Hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving break!

Tickle me chili

Yesterday was our first Saturday together in a LONG time. Brett had the day off so we decided to run on the trail with a few of our favorite people from the VHTRC. Nothing ever goes as planned. I fell twice (well, that’s not unusual). Brett’s foot started hurting and his legs were dead weights. My stomach was screaming obscenities at me. We ended up turning around earlier than we wanted. We hiked most of the way back and found that we were enjoying each other’s company despite the cold.

Me: “I know this sounds cheesy, but you make me feel alive.”

Brett: “You make me feel like I’ve died…”

Me: *audible gasp*

Brett: “…and gone to heaven!”

He’s so lucky he’s handsome and can cook.

We spent most of the day reading and napping. It was fantastically lazy. Sometime late in the afternoon, Brett apologized.

Brett: “I’m so sorry we haven’t really done anything today. I’m so tired and I don’t know why.”

Me: “Well, it’s not like you ran 50 miles last weekend or anything. Geesh.”

I was tickled until I couldn’t breathe. I poked Brett’s still sore leg and he stopped immediately 🙂

After a morning out in the cold, we thought it would be a great night for a hearty chili. We took a spin on a Scott Jurek vegetarian recipe and it turned out to be one of the best chili dishes we’ve ever made. Save it for a cold night and you’ll have plenty of leftovers.

Vegetarian Chili

1 small onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 celery stalks, washed and diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 green peppers, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 Jalapeño, seeded and diced

1 cup frozen corn

1 can black beans, rinsed

1 can adzuki beans, rinsed

1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed

1 28oz can diced tomatoes

2 small cans tomato paste

2 1/2 to 3 cups water

2 Tbs chili powder

2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

Generous salt and pepper

1 Tbs coconut oil

Saute all the vegetables and spices, roughly 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft.

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Add the rest of the ingredients and turn the heat to high.

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Once the chili reaches a boil, lower to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Stir, then cook an additional 20 minutes. Fill a bowl to feed your hungry belly 🙂

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Chili my belly

Go asian or go home

I’ve turned asian. That’s what happens when you spend 7 years of your life with a man from Japan 🙂

Yes, Brett is Japanese. Most people, upon meeting him, only see his white boy side. He likes to make himself look more like his heritage…

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…kinda

If it wasn’t evident from our blog, lots of our recipes are asian based. We can’t help it. Miso. Ginger. Soy. RICE. shoyu. It wouldn’t be a normal Brett and Dana week without some asian flavah.

I was supposed to cook a stew this evening while Brett was at work. I got distracted. So, in a rush to have something ready before the big man came home, I had the perfect solution: ume-boshi chazuke!

You’re probably looking at the screen thinking “whhhhaaaaaaaat?” When I was a naive, little Irish girl, I was even more confused than you are now. Ume-boshi can be translated into “Japanese salt plums” or “pickled plums.” They are salty, sour and usually served with rice. I’m not a huge fan. Brett and his mom LOVE them – she usually keeps some at the way back of the fridge, which Brett raids when we visit. Ume-boshi has medicinal qualities: lessening fatigue, assisting digestion and eliminating toxins. Hangover remedy central. You’re welcome.

Ume-boshi chazuke, however, is a rice soup seasoning that Brett and I usually use as a tasty seasoning for our meals.

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It includes: nori (seaweed), rice crackers, small dried ume-boshi bits, perilla seeds, green tea powder and kelp powder. It probably can’t get healthier here. The ume-boshi comes in small bits, which gives the seasoning a great flavor. Nori is chalk full of vitamins, including the much needed B12 for my Vegan friends. Kelp powder is a great mineral supplement. Perilla seed adds the omega-3s. Green tea powder is an antioxidant and energy booster. The rice crackers are just fun. Brett actually took ume-boshi chazuke packets out on the trail with him during his 50 mile race. Go figure.

Anyway, quick and easy dinner. As long as you have cooked rice on hand, this will only take 10 minutes. I promise it will be worth it.

Tempeh with Ume-Boshi Chazuke and Toasted Sesame Oil (Serves

1 package three grain Lightlife tempeh, cut into small chunks

1 package (between half and whole depending on your preference) ume-boshi chazuke (can be found in any asian grocer or online)

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 Tbs coconut oil

3/4 cup cooked rice

Heat a pan over medium high heat. Add the coconut oil and swirl pan to coat. We buy the Whole Foods brand. Don’t be intimidated by the fact that it’s solid. It ends up lasting us longer than if you were to buy it in liquid form.

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Add the tempeh and cook until golden brown, adding a bit of crisp.

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keep cookin’

Add half a cup of the cooked tempeh on top of 3/4 cup cooked rice. Sprinkle half to whole of the ume-boshi packet on top. Drizzle lightly with sesame oil to serve.

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Tanoshimu 🙂

 

 

 

Eggplant and USMC with gusto

Now, this is the beginning of fall weather. What is it with this state? It’s already the middle of November. As a proud New Englander, I say “where the heck is the snow?!” Days like these remind us why we love to run. Today may be a teensy bit abnormal because of the rapid, gusty winds causing fires. Yikes. It’s chilly, sunny and pretty quiet. It’s cold enough to see your breath and your cheeks turn slightly red from your activity outside. It’s one of those days where there are so many sounds in nature that you don’t need to wear headphones. Nature’s changes can be your music.

I strapped on my Garmin and went for a run. Today is the 238th Marine Corps birthday. It’s a day that means a lot to us, especially to Brett. He usually spends November 10th and Veteran’s Day in solemnity and reflection. I tend to do the same. A run today is some good therapy for the soul. No “holiday” sales or parties, “hoorays!” for being out of work or school. Just reflection…with gusto.

I wanted to make this evening a little special. I know Brett likes some time to himself, but first, it was time to do something fun. We neglected to carve our pumpkins prior to Halloween. So, we’re going to carve USMC pumpkins.

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Happy Birthday USMC!

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Trying out a new Dogfish Head, too!

Since we were planning on making a mess, I needed a quick and easy plan for dinner. We didn’t use the eggplants from our meal plan last week, so I decided to salvage them for this week instead. Like Mr. D, you may ask, “Where’s the burger?” Don’t forget that miso is loaded with lots of healthy proteins and other nutrients. And who doesn’t love some eggplant?

Sesame Miso Eggplant

3 small Japanese eggplants, peeled and sliced into thin strips

2 orange bell peppers, sliced into strips

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 Tbs grated fresh ginger

2 Tbs shoyu

2 Tbs white vinegar

2 Tbs water

Hearty 1/4 cup white miso (“go over the top” hearty)

2 Tbs sesame seeds

2 Tbs sesame oil

2-3 Tbs scallions, sliced thinly

Cooked brown rice (3/4 cup per serving)

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Veggies prepped!

Heat a pan over medium high heat, adding the sesame oil to coat. Sauté the eggplant and peppers until soft.This may take 15 or so minutes with the eggplant. You want to brown it.

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keep going…

In the meantime, combine the rest of the ingredients, whisking to make a light paste. Taste test here – if it needs more shoyu, add more shoyu!

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Once the eggplants and peppers are cooked down, stir in the sauce and cook for another 2 minutes, mixing thoroughly. Serve with 3/4 cup brown rice and top with scallion.

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to 238 – Happy Birthday!

Staying healthy on work trips

Traveling doesn’t make a healthy lifestyle easy. Knowing that I had to travel to NYC for work from Sunday to Tuesday night, I tried to plan ahead…for both Brett and me. Since I was leaving Brett to his own devices, I decided to get some of his meal prep work out of the way. He was set up at home with a meal plan and cooked leftovers. That should mean no pizza delivery…right, babe?

Since I was attending a work conference and knew I would be running around, I purchased a few Macro bars and Barre protein bars to have on hand. Sometimes you run around half the day like a crazy woman and forget to eat. Having a nutritious bar handy makes life easy. I love Macro bars because I know every single ingredient on the package – vegan, raw and delicious. They are higher in calories, but good when you don’t have the time to think about a meal. Barre bars hold a special place in my heart. Created by dancers for dancers, Barre bars have all the ingredients necessary to fuel an active person’s day. My favorite is the “ballerina spirulina” – what is spirulina? Spirulina is a natural algae packed full of protein, essential amino acids and is particularly high in iron (great for my vegan and vegetarian friends!).

After a flight, a bus and a 20 min walk to the Grand Hyatt NYC, my coworker Beth and I were so hungry we could have eaten for a family of 5. With little time before we had to work, we stopped at Pret a Manger. Boy, we were happy we stopped in. Pret makes fresh salads, sandwiches and soups daily made with all natural ingredients. Their branding was awesome…what can I say? We marketers notice these things.

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I had Pret’s greek falafel wrap packed with hummus, tzatziki and veggies.

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ho, hey, yum

After a long night of interviews and interesting stories, we went to the Hyatt restaurant, New York Central, for some hummus, veggies and pita.

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And, of course, much needed margaritas.

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Day 1 down – healthy and happy

Ultimately, it was a successful day and my planned snacks helped give me energy throughout the day. Hopefully day 2 and 3 are just as successful. At least I packed enough healthy snacks for a week 🙂

Find your strong

In two weeks, Brett will run 50 miles. 50 MILES. It’s amazing how quickly time passes once you sign up for a big race. It’s a physical challenge, but as all runners know, the real challenge is an uphill mental battle. He’s been one tired guy lately and though he’ll tell you differently, I think he’s a little nervous. I would be, too. So, this morning we had a chat.

Brett and I always wear two bracelets on our right hands.

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we never take these off

After attending an inspiring Saucony event a few years ago, we wear one colored bracelet that reads “Find your strong.” We were going through a rough patch at the time and made a promise to one another. Whenever we felt as though we were struggling, we would look to each other. As corny as it sounds, Brett is “my strong” when I’m going through a tough time and vice versa. The other bracelet is for Homes for our Troops – to remind us that we’re a part of a bigger cause – building seriously injured veterans new homes. This morning, I reminded Brett of our promise. “I’m your strong and I’ll be right there on the sidelines waiting for you. You can do it. I believe in you.” I never saw a bigger smile 🙂

Sometimes we all need that reminder from someone we love.

To top off the day, I made him a brand new smoothie. It combined some of his favorites: Blueberries, avocado and unfiltered apple juice. Great for some post workout sustenance!

Blueberry Avocado Smoothie

1 bunch spinach

1 cup unfiltered apple juice

1 Tbs chia seeds

1 frozen banana

Half of an avocado

1 cup frozen blueberries

A few Tbs unsweetened coconut 

Add water if needed

Blend the spinach, juice and chia seeds for at least two minutes until completely smooth.

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Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until fully combined. If the smoothie is too thick for you, just add some water and continue blending. Brett “likes to be able to drink his smoothie.” I, on the other hand, like a thicker smoothie. It reminds me of a frozen dessert. So sue me. Enjoy your preference!

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