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Italian Cornmeal-Crusted White Fish

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Some friends who like to fish gave us a couple pounds of crappie and I came up with this quick and delicious coating for it.  I was pleasantly surprised by how good it turned out!  Perfectly seasoned and with a slight crunch to it from broiling, the fish turned out really nice with the moisture locked in from the dressing and coating.  I think you’re going to like this one!

I just have to share something funny that’s related to this recipe before we get to it.  When I searched for “crappie” in the Weight Watchers points tracker online, this is what popped up on my screen:

Let’s take a closer look:


So there’s no entry for crappie, but there’s something called a “crap pie?”  I don’t even want to know!  I just used another white fish to calculate the points. :)

Italian Cornmeal-Crusted White Fish

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2 lbs. white fish, such as tilapia or cod
Italian Dressing
½ cup stone ground cornmeal
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon garlic salt

Place fish in a Ziploc bag and pour dressing over it, about ½ cup or enough to coat the fish. Allow to marinate 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees; line a rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking oil. Combine the cornmeal, parmesan, and garlic salt in a bowl and stir well. Take fish fillets one by one and place on a plate, then sprinkle cornmeal mixture over the top. Lift with your wet hand and shake excess coating back into your bowl. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all fish fillets are coated and on baking sheet. Bake for ten minutes, then switch the oven to broil. Keep an eye on the fish and remove once golden and the fish flakes easily when pierced with a fork.

For a quick and colorful side dish, combine broccoli florets with sliced red and yellow pepper and microwave in a covered dish for 5 minutes, or until tender. Serve with a sprinkle of garlic salt over the top.

Serves 6

Per serving: 246 calories; 9.7 g fat; 9 g carbohydrates; .7 g fiber; 32 g protein; 6 Points Plus

Recipe by Veronica Miller

Honey Banana Peanut Butter Muffins

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My Dad used to make what I thought was one of the most delicious meals ever out of torn Ezekiel bread pieces, a sliced banana, and natural peanut butter all mixed up in a bowl together and drizzled with honey.  Sweets were a rarity in our home so when he let me try this, I was thrilled because I felt like I was eating dessert.  This was how I was introduced to the trifecta of banana, peanut butter and honey and I’ve been a fan ever since.

I first made these muffins in miniature form almost a year ago when I had a single overripe banana and wanted to use it in something before it started growing white stuff.  (I’ll include that recipe too for those interested.)  It was only natural for me to reach for the peanut butter and honey, and I was really pleased with the result.  I’ve made many subsequent batches, adapting it on a larger scale to make the standard dozen since the small batch doesn’t last long enough to suit us.

This is a straightforward recipe, no fancy ingredients, naturally sweetened, and it’s all mashed and mixed together in one bowl using a single fork.  The result is a moist and flavorful muffin with the perfect balance of banana, peanut butter and honey.

By the way, these healthy, low-sugar muffins are dog tested and approved!  My Jessie is such a treat snob that when she approves something I’ve made, you can bet your pup will most likely dig it too.  For doggies, you can bake them up in mini-muffin tins, depending on the dog’s size.  Or just share yours, which is what I like to do.  That way I feel justified when I reach for a second one, since I didn’t eat all of the first.  :)

Honey Banana Peanut Butter Muffins

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3 medium overripe bananas
¾ cup peanut butter
¼ cup honey
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons chopped nuts (for topping)

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with papers or spray with oil.

Peel bananas and place in a large mixing bowl. Mash with a fork (you should have about 1 ¼ cups of mashed banana), then mix in the peanut butter with your fork until well blended. Next mix in the honey and once the mixture is uniform in color, stir in the milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Measure in the flour and baking soda, and stir with your fork just until mixed. The batter will be thick but try not to overwork it to get it mixed. It’s OK if a few lumps remain. Using an ice cream scoop, divide batter between muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Sprinkle nuts in the middle of each muffin (nuts will spread out as the muffins bake). Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean, and remove to cooling rack. Leave in tin for five minutes, then remove to cool completely.

Makes 12 muffins

Per muffin: 196 calories; 9 g fat; 26 g carbohydrates; 2.4 g fiber; 6 g protein; 5 Points Plus

Secret Recipe Club

Honey Banana Peanut Butter Bites


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1 medium overripe banana
¼ cup chunky peanut butter
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup buttermilk
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 12 mini muffin cups.

Mash the banana in a medium bowl an stir in the peanut butter, honey, and buttermilk. Stir in the remaining ingredients just until moistened. Divide between muffin cups, filling about 3/4 full. Bake for 15 minutes (or until done) and remove to cooling rack. Leave in tin for five minutes, then remove to cool completely.

Makes 12 mini muffins.

Nutrition Info (per muffin): 66 calories; 3 g fat; 84 mg sodium; 77 mg potassium; 9 carb; 1 g fiber; 2 g protein; 2 Points Plus

Recipes by Veronica Miller

**Veronica’s note: to make these into vegan muffins, replace the honey with agave nectar, the buttermilk with non-dairy milk, and the baking soda with baking powder.  I have done this and they are equally delicious, though I do prefer the honey flavor with banana and peanut butter.**

Restaurant-Style Tabouli

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Hummus and tabouli are my favorite sides to serve with Lebanese fare.  Not only are they simple to make, but crazy delicious!  My Mom’s tabouli consists predominantly of bulgar wheat, and most recipes I’ve found are the same, but I noticed when I ordered it at restaurants, it was mostly parsley with a tiny bit of bulgar in it.  Not only is this lower in calories (bonus!), but I actually prefer the taste.    The parsley and lemon make for a very refreshing salad!  Here’s my version of restaurant-style tabouli.

Restaurant-Style Tabouli

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3 bunches parsley, chopped
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup fine bulgar wheat
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, cover, and let sit overnight before serving.  There is no need to cook the bulgar, as it will absorb moisture from the salad and become tender in a few hours.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 76 calories; 3 g fat; 12 g carbohydrates; 3.5 g fiber; 3 g protein

Recipe by Veronica Miller

I used red onions in the first picture, and white onions in this one. You can also use green onions, if you prefer.

On a personal note: I’m leaving to visit friends in Texas so this is the last recipe I’ll be posting for a while.  I know I’m not a regular poster anyway, so you guys won’t even miss me!  Nevertheless, I will return later next week with some sweets & savories for you. You’re in for a few treats! :)

Masoor Dal with Cauliflower and Kale

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Before we get to some major Indian yumminess, I wanted to mention two things.  First, you may notice things look a bit different around here.  I changed my theme and I like it but I’m not sure it’s “the one.”   I think the header is very plain…but I’m cheap and I don’t want to pay to get fancy so this is probably as good as it gets. :) Let me know what you think!

Second, I think I caused some confusion with my post on the cake decorating competition at work.  I’m not sure how many of you saw that, but I wanted to clarify that the date on it is correct.  I wrote it two years ago on my MySpace blog, and newly copied it to Recipe Rhapsody so that I could link to it in reference to how to make a tiered cake in an upcoming post.  I posted it with the original date I wrote it, so I didn’t think any one would see it, but I started getting some comments on it so apparently it came across some of your radars!  Just wanted to clarify that it’s now old news, but I appreciate your kind words and congratulations.

Red Lentils

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Although I still have a large backlog of recipes to post, the weather is heating up again and it looks like the casseroles, soups, and pumpkin recipes will probably have to wait until next year, so I thought I’d gush (or perhaps rhapsodize would be a more appropriate word for this blog!) about the lunch I made today instead.  I’m on a mission to spring-clean my wreck of a house into sparkling submission, and I started eying the red lentils I’d purchased at a Lebanese market over a month ago while I was organizing the kitchen.

I decided I was (finally) going to make something with them, but by the time I took a break to cook,  I was starving and didn’t want to bother with looking up any recipes.  I needed a quick meal and I threw this one together in just over half an hour, so it would be great for a busy day.  While I’m usually not a good enough cook to come up with anything edible without using a recipe, I think I knocked this one out of the park, if I do say so myself!  Becoming familiar with the cuisine by cooking several Indian dishes over the last few months helped a lot.

I made a masoor dal (a thick stew made of red lentils) that is almost vegan, and could certainly be turned so by using vegetable stock in place of the water and chicken bullion.  It is spicy in the full sense of the word–with plenty of Indian aromatics and and a moderate heat index, though you can certainly reduce or increase the spiciness to your tastes.

I’m usually not a fan of lentils, but I liked this more than any lentil dish I’ve made before.  I’m not sure if red lentils have a better flavor (which I do suspect, because I detected none of the usual musky lentil flavor in this dish), or if the spices just overwhelmed it.  The tender cauliflower pieces were a perfect accompaniment, but I don’t think the kale is absolutely necessary.  I couldn’t really detect any of its flavor, and it got kind of dull & ugly during the cooking process, but I don’t think it hurts to have all that extra nutrition!  Kale has powerful  antioxidant properties and is considered an anti-inflammatory so if you have it on hand, throw it in!  If not, don’t sweat it.  The only thing I didn’t have that I really felt it needed was a little cilantro to sprinkle over the top.  I had to make do with some dried parsley.  Bummer!

I served mine with whole wheat couscous since I was in a hurry to eat (it only takes 5 minutes to make), but you can serve it with rice or bulgar or even pasta.  Whatever floats your boat!

Masoor Dal with Cauliflower and Kale

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2 cups water
2 chicken bullion cubes
1 cup red lentils
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon sriracha hot chile sauce, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 head cauliflower, separated into florets
2 cups loosely packed kale
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh cilantro, for garnish

In a large 3-quart saucepan, combine water, bullion, lentils, onions, and garlic; cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and cook for ten minutes.  Stir in the tomato sauce, garam masala, curry powder, sriracha, and cumin.  Add the cauliflower and kale, stir & cover.  Cook for 20 more minutes, stirring often to make sure the dal isn’t sticking, or until the lentils are tender.  Stir in the olive oil during the last five minutes of cooking and serve with a sprinkle of cilantro over rice or couscous.

Serves 4

Per serving: 231 calories; 8 g fat; 40 g carbohydrates; 15 g fiber; 13 g protein

Simple Goulash {aka American Chop Suey}

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Growing up, I always made goulash with an Italian flare because I did not understand what goulash was supposed to be.  (Obviously I was a self-taught cook–Mom and I did not get along well together in the kitchen so I did things my way!)  I equated pasta and tomatoes with Italian, so I added in Italian spices and used spaghetti sauce to coat the noodles. I have finally come to understand that goulash has Hungarian roots and although my latest concoction is more how most Americans make it, I can’t claim that it has any resemblance to the original dish it was named for. All I can say is that it’s fast, it’s delicious, and satisfying!

Simple Goulash


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1 cup whole wheat elbow macaroni
1 1/2 lbs 97% lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 (14.5 oz) cans stewed tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 teaspoon paprika (Hungarian if you have it!)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
fresh cracked pepper

Boil macaroni until al dente. Meanwhile, cook hamburger along with onion and green pepper in skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through; drain. Add in remaining ingredients, stirring until the tomato paste is dissolved, and stir in macaroni. Serve hot.

Makes 8 servings: 271 cal; 6.8 g fat; 32.3 carb; 5 g fiber; 23.8 g protein

Recipe source: adapted from my friend, Sandy S.

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Green Beans


If you’re looking for the usual fried “chicken” pieces (is that grisly stuff really chicken? It seems rather suspicious to me!) served with scary hot pinkish-red sauce, you’re in the wrong place! What I have instead is a wonderful version that does not involve frying, but does involve real chicken, with the only red in it coming from the peppers.  It’s real.  It’s healthy.  It’s bright & colorful.  It’s delicious!  For reals.

Although I found this recipe unique and refreshing, I balked a little at the green beans.  They just seem so random!  I considered subbing green peppers, but I went with it and it all worked great, plus they made for a some nice visual variety amidst the square-ish chunks of chicken and peppers.  I’d recommend following the directions, however, and cutting the green beans in half, because I discovered that forgetting to do so makes serving and eating them kind of tricky. Oh well, it was still delicious and there’s always next time!

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Green Beans

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1 cup long-grain brown rice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 bell peppers (any color) seeded and diced large
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and halved
5 scallions, thinly sliced
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 garlic cloves, minced

Cook rice according to package directions. Heat oil over high in wok. Add chicken, peppers, green beans and cook until softened, 5 min. Add scallions, ginger garlic and cook until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender, 4 min. Whisk soy sauce mixture, add to skillet, and cook until sauce is thickened, 3 min.

Serves 4. Per serving: 470 calories; 7 g fat; 63 g carb; 7 g fiber; 39 g protein

Recipe source: Everyday Food January/February 2011

This post is linked with Cupcake Muffins for this week’s BSI: green beans!

Chocolate Torte


*A note before the blog: I have updated my cherry cordials recipe with notes on how to make sure the centers liquify and included a new picture from my latest batch with liquified centers.

Without realizing it, I scheduled a sandwich bread recipe to post today, Valentine’s Day, which included no mention of love or chocolate, or even an apology for giving a bread recipe on the international day of love.  So I hurriedly snapped pictures of our dessert today so that I could atone for my sins.  ;)

Usually I steer clear of desserts that don’t include real butter, sugar (preferably more than one kind), and white flour.  But I’m discovering that not all sweet treats need to be loaded with fat and processed sugar and flour to taste good.

I made this chocolate torte for our Valentine’s Day dessert and we both loved it with a little whipped cream on top.  It is soft, moist, and almost fudgy because of the dates.  The recipe was born of a mistake, having used dates instead of the prunes it originally called for.  I really liked the result, but will be trying it with prunes next time, which I think will give it more of a cake consistency.  With the dates, it’s somewhere between and a brownie and a cake.  It definitely tastes healthier than regular full-fat and full-sugar desserts, but not in an off-putting way.  It is probably my favorite diet-friendly dessert to date!  That it has natural, whole-food ingredients like dates and whole wheat flour is as an added bonus and makes me feel like I’m almost eating health-food.

Chocolate Torte

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1/3 cup cocoa powder, plus 1 tsp for dusting
1 cup dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup strong, hot coffee
1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp egg substitute or 1 egg white
2 tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350˚. Coat a 9″ tart pan with cooking spray. Dust with 1 tsp cocoa. Set aside. Combine dates and coffee in a large bowl. Set aside to cool. Sift remaining 1/3 cup cocoa, flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a small bowl and stir. To the date mixture, add sugar, applesauce, egg substitute and vanilla and stir until combined. Pour dry mixture into the wet and stir until combined. Pour into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out mostly clean, about 25 minutes. Cool completely before removing and slicing. Serve with whipped cream.

Serves 8. Per slice: 153 calories; .7 fat; 43 g carbohydrates; 4 g fiber; 3 g protein

Recipe source: adapted from Self

Apple Cake Mabel

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Before we get to the cake, please remember to head on over to Steph’s Bite by Bite to check out all the wonderful goodies up for auction in the online bake sale, which started at 7 AM today and goes until 9 PM EST.  She’s raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and I can’t wait to mail a batch of my Mocha Toffee Brownies to the winning bidder!  Good luck!

OK, now let’s get down to business.  I begged this recipe off my friend, Judy, when she mentioned she had made a sugar-free apple cake that turned out well.  I’m intrigued by anything that is sugar-free that also tastes good, as I have not had a lot of personal success with this.  I discovered that the cake was made with Splenda and shortening and this repelled me on many levels, but also awakened a creative desire to make it healthier with a natural sweetener and not only non-hydrogenated fat, but less of it.  As I mentioned in my post on chocolate chip banana bread, I’ve been experimenting with Truvia, a natural calorie-free sweetener made from the stevia plant’s leaves, so I used that in addition to brown sugar to give a better, more natural flavor.  I didn’t mess with the diet soda in the recipe, but it could easily be switched out for any variety of Zevia (a calorie-free soda made with stevia), or with club soda and additional Truvia.

Now, I’m not sure who Mabel is, or if she was even the one to come up with the original recipe, but I hope that she would be as pleased as I am with my adaptation.  It isn’t as light and tender as a traditional cake, but a little more dense like coffee cake, moist, perfectly sweet & spiced, with tender chunks of apple in every bite.  It is best served the day you bake it as it gets a little dry a couple days later, but it can be returned to it’s former glory with a few seconds in the microwave.

Apple Cake Mabel

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2 eggs
½ cup brown sugar
4 oz cup (1/2 cup) unsweetened applesauce
1 cup diet Dr. Pepper or cream soda
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Truvia
1 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
1 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

1 large apple, peeled & chopped

Toppping
¼ chopped pecans
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons shredded, sweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9×13 pan.  Beat eggs until smooth & uniform in color, then add in brown sugar and beat until sugar is incorporated and mixture is slightly thickened. Add applesauce, diet Dr. Pepper, canola oil, and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add in the remaining ingredients, except for the apples, and beat until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Fold in apples and pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the toppings over the top in the order listed and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve with whipped cream if desired.

*Veronica’s note: I recommend using a sweet baking apple, such as Braeburn, Rome, or Gala.

Makes 15 servings. Per piece: 139 calories; 2.6 g fat; 28 g carb; 1.4 fiber; 3.2 protein

Recipe source: adapted from Judy L.

Peppermint Pretzel Crisps


Although we don’t have a Trader Joe’s in Kansas (don’t you pity me?), I found out through a blog I happened to scroll through one day (I do not remember which one it was), that they sell a product (and I don’t even remember the name) that is basically pretzel crisps coated in white chocolate and sprinkled with pepperminty-looking things.  (Pepperminty is a word because I say so.)

Well, just because we don’t have a Trader Joe’s doesn’t mean I can’t have make them myself, right?  I mean, all I need are three ingredients:

Easy peasy, and this is one of the very few holiday treats that you can enjoy nearly guiltlessly.  That is, unless you eat the entire batch.  I calculated the calories and it’s 104 for every three crisps.  That is about the equivalent of an ounce of fudge, but it much more satisfying because the serving is larger and it takes a while to eat since it’s crunchy.

The best part?  They don’t taste diet-friendly.  They aren’t imposters masquerading as the real thing like fat-free half-and-half (this is an oxymoron if I ever heard one!) or sugar free syrup (gag me!).  They are the real deal, salty & sweet with a hit of peppermint. They rock my socks.

Do your poor friends on diets a favor and give these as gifts in lieu of that tub of fudge.  Believe me, we have plenty holiday temptations to avoid without your help!

Peppermint Pretzel Crisps

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4 squares vanilla almond bark candy coating
1 (7.2 0z) bag original pretzel crisps
1 cup Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips

Melt the almond bark according to package directions.  Using a small silicone spatula, spread the top of a pretzel crisp with almond bark, lay on a sheet of waxed paper, and immediately sprinkle with peppermint baking chips; repeat with the remaining pretzel crisps.  Once almond bark has set, package in an airtight container or in cellophane gift bags or tins.

*If you are unfamiliar with the Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips, read this post to find out more.

Crunchy Dilled Shrimp Salad

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I’ve been making this shrimp salad for several years and especially enjoy it in the spring and summer because it is light and bright. I love the crisp crunch from the water chestnuts and the nutty crunch from the cashews. The dill & lemon balance the slightly sweet taste of the dressing and pair perfectly with the shrimp. I usually serve it on a slice of toasted bread as an open-faced sandwich so I can enjoy the visual appeal of the pretty salad while I eat it.

I omitted the cashews from this batch and decreased the dressing to 1/3 cup, which saves 50 calories per serving.

Crunchy Dilled Shrimp Salad

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1 (12 oz) bag frozen cooked shrimp, thawed and tails removed
1 (8 oz) can water chestnuts, drained
1/4 c cashews
1/2 c light Miracle Whip
3 T chopped fresh dill or 1 T dried dill
2 t lemon juice
3/4 t garlic powder
1/8 t salt

Roughly chop the shrimp, water chestnuts & cashews and mix in a medium bowl with all other ingredients. Serve immediately. If you will be serving later, omit the cashews and refrigerate. Stir them in just before serving so they will still be nice and crunchy.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional Info (per serving): 187 cal, 7 g fat, 177 mg cholesterol, 560 mg sodium, 12 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 20 g protein.

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