Tag Archives: low fat

Fig, Date and Hazelnut Cardamom Spelt Scones

2 May

The Washer Up demanded scones yesterday. Yes, actually demanded I make scones. He pouted and said “I want scones” in a little boy stamping feet type way. Very strange behaviour indeed.

I obliged but decided I would try to veganize the recipe as he would only eat one and then I would be left staring at the rest, trying not to eat them. Veganizing scones is a little bit strange, I know. The whole point of scones is that they are buttery, and stuffed with cream and jam. These are a little bit different. They have roots in moorish Andalucia rather than a Devonshire tea room. That’s my excuse anyway.

I went to the weekly market in Alhaurin last Thursday with my friend Caroline. She told me about the amazing Frutos Secos stand there. They sell all sorts of dried fruits, nuts, seeds and herbs for reasonable prices. I wanted to get some dried figs for this pizza and needed some more pine nuts for our weekly favourite, this recipe.  I couldn’t resist taking a picture of these beautiful fresh garlic on the veg stall next door too.

I bought, figs, dates, hazelnuts, pine nuts, and Moscatel raisins. They also sell this lovely local fig bread/cake (below left) that we used to serve at the restaurant with the  chicken liver pate.

You can see where I am going with this now can’t you. I had some figs left over from the pizza recipe as well as the dates and hazelnuts. Cardamom seemed to go well with all those flavours but it could have just as easily been cinnamon. The Moscatel raisins would have been nice too.

A lot of the vegan scone recipes I looked at used olive oil or a butter replacement. I would definitely like to try it with olive oil next time, maybe in a savoury version of the scone with some fresh rosemary but I wanted this to be sweet. I went with coconut oil as my choice of fat as it has a slightly sweet coconut flavour and a buttery texture when it’s cold out of the jar. I wanted to see how it behaved in baking too. It turned out really well. You don’t miss the butter at all.

Fig, Date & Hazelnut Cardamom Spelt Scones

Makes 6 (easily doubled), vegan, wheat-free

Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time 15-20 mins

  • 220 gr wholemeal spelt flour (or any flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  •  1/4 tsp salt
  •  1 tsp ground cardamom (or cinnamon)
  • 4 tbsp cold coconut oil (or very cold butter/ replacement, diced or olive oil)
  • about 75 g-100 gr dried figs & dates roughly chopped
  • 30 gr hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • the zest of half an orange
  • 1 tbsp honey or agave syrup
  • 115 ml oat milk (or other milk)
  • 1/2 tsp cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 200 C and line a baking tray with parchment.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, cardamom and baking powder. Rub the coconut oil/butter into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles crumble mix. Then stir through the dried fruit, nuts and orange zest.

In a small bowl whisk together the honey, oat milk and cider vinegar and add this to the flour bowl. Stir together until just combined and clumps start to form, don’t over work  it or the scones will be tough.  Bring this together with your hands to make a ball.

Flour your worksurface and tip the dough out. Using you hands, pat this into a disc about 2 or 3 cm thick. Cut out circles using a floured cutter and place gently on the baking sheet. Do not push down or flatten. You will have to remould the excess dough into a 2-3 cm thick disc a few times to cut out all the scones.

If you like you can gently brush the tops with some oat milk and a sprinkling of sugar. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 15-18  minutes until golden brown and cooked all the way through.

Leave to cool slightly then serve warm or at room temperature with some butter/replacement.

These would be nice with my Arabian Fig Jam too, if only we hadn’t eaten it all. Roll on summer and the glut of fresh figs, I can’t believe I don’t have any jam!

Unbelieveably Easy Fresh Fig and Almond Ice Cream

16 Aug

This ice cream is amazingly simple to make and it’s vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and guilt-free. It also tastes lovely. Don’t believe me? Just try it and see. You’re going to love me for this, I promise.

As you probably know I have a huge bag of fresh figs in my freezer (thanks Leigh) and am desperately trying to use them up. The thing is they don’t seem to be going down.  I’ve made Fig Chutney, Fig Jam, Fig Muffins, Fig Granola Crumble, and just recently Fig & Feta Sambouseks.

While I was out walking this morning with the dog, taking pictures of  figs, I felt something crunching under my feet. I  looked down and saw that I was walking over almonds (not Driving Over Lemons).  In the tree above my head I saw that the almond kernels are now hatching out of their furry jackets and falling to the ground.

I picked up as many as I could carry and took them home. The thing is I don’t have any nutcrackers but they look great in the pictures. I must buy some nutcrackers though.

Anyway, back to the ice cream. I’ve seen a few recipes recently for an ice cream made just using frozen bananas. You just freeze them and then whiz them in a blender, that’s it. So I threw a couple of bananas that were going a bit brown into the freezer.

The next day when I went to retrieve them I realised that it was going to be impossible to peel the things because the skins were frozen solid. I’m such an idiot, you are supposed to peel and chop them up first!

Thankfully I found Sawsan’s recipe which explained this in detail so I tried again (with different bananas). I added some coconut milk to get it going, grated coconut and lime zest too. You can eat it like a slushy straight away or freeze it for a few hours to firm it up.

While I was looking in the freezer I saw the huge bag of figs and wondered if it would work with them just as well. So I tried them, and it did. I used low-fat coconut milk and ground almonds for creaminess and vanilla extract for a little sweetness.  I’m sure Greek yoghurt would be lovely in this too if you didn’t want to use coconut milk.

So there it is. A simple ice cream made without an ice cream maker or all that tedious stirring every hour. Just use frozen fruit and blend it with coconut milk or yoghurt and add any other flavourings you like.

Fresh Fig and Almond Ice Cream Recipe

Makes about 1/2 litre, easily doubled, vegan, gluten-free

  • 8 fresh figs (frozen for 24 hours before using)
  • about 200 ml (1/2 tin), low-fat coconut milk, shake the tin before opening
  • 55 gr (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • a few drops of almond extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan for garnish

Take the figs out of the freezer, quarter them and put them in a blender or food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Pulse to get it going then blend until well mixed and smooth. Taste, if you want it sweeter add some honey.

Eat straight away if you can’t wait or pour into an ice cream tub and freeze for a couple of hours or more until firm. That’s it. How easy is that?

Serve sprinkled with the toasted flaked almonds.

The possibilities are endless. I want to try mango and banana next time with coconut milk. If you want to add some texture with nuts or broken up cookies, (I’m thinking crushed Amaretti biscuits) stir them through after you’ve blended then freeze as usual.

Just remember to peel and chop the bananas, if using, before you freeze them…..

Things That made Me Smile Today……………..

We picked up our new cushions at the weekend for the banquette seat on our terrace.

I’m really pleased with them. The guy that made them has done a fantastic job.

I’m thinking “Ralph Lauren in Provence”….

I just wish it would cool down a bit so I could sit outside and enjoy them!

Individual Fig, Apricot and Almond Granola Crumbles

3 Jul

Breva is the Spanish name for the early crop of figs that ripen around the time of the festival of San Juan (the longest day of the year) at the end of June beginning of July. They are very well prized for their size. Larger than the later crop of  Higos, they have a distinctive pear shape and are not as sweet. There are different colours ranging from a yellowy-green to a purpley-black.

While I was clambering up a slope and balancing on one leg trying to get a decent picture of these brevas on a tree at the side of the road where I walk with the dog, the lady from the finca (farm) called out to ask if  there were any brevas there.

After almost falling over from shock at the unexpected voice through the trees, I hurriedly explained, through my embarrassment, that I was taking pictures (while waving my camera in her face) and not stealing her lovely fruit. I needn’t have worried she wasn’t at all bothered and wouldn’t let us go without taking a large handful of the softest juiciest figs you have ever seen.

I decided to make a “healthy” crumble with these delicious brevas and a layer of almonds because I saw some growing on the same finca.

When I got home I saw that I had some apricots in my fruit bowl that weren’t going to last another day so I added those in too. Apricot and almond is a classic combination that goes really well with the fresh figs.

Don’t bother to peel the figs, just wash and slice them. Stone and quarter the apricots and layer them with the figs in the ramekins . You don’t need to add any sugar, the fruit is sweet enough.

Sprinkle over a few drops of almond extract (or Amaretto) and then scatter a thin layer of flaked almonds over the fruit.

For the crumble topping I used some of my homemade granola that I had saved before adding the dried fruit to it. Add a generous layer to the top of the ramekins and bake for around 12-15 minutes.

Individual Fig, Apricot & Almond Granola Crumbles

makes 3 deep individual ramekins, vegetarian, gluten-free

  • 3 large figs (brevas), washed & sliced
  • 3 apricots, stoned & quartered
  • a few drops of almond extract per crumble (or 1 tsp amaretto per crumble)
  • a handful of flaked almonds
  • homemade granola (without the dried fruit)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Layer the figs and apricots (1 each per person) in the ramekins, add a few drops of almond extract (or 1 tsp amaretto) to each followed by a thin layer of flaked almonds. Top with a generous amount of the granola (without dried fruit) and bake for 12 – 15 minutes taking care not to burn the topping.

You can serve it as it is in the ramekin it doesn’t actually need anything with it, but…..

If you like you can carefully remove the crumble from the ramekin (I got The “Washer Up” to do it, it was his idea!)

And serve it with a blob of vanilla ice cream. If you are feeling really decadent I’m sure it would be lovely with some Amaretto-spiked whipped cream too. This was my dad’s idea. I can’t think of anything that wouldn’t be improved by adding Amaretto cream to it though. Must be in the genes…..!

Buen Provecho!

Chana Saag – Indian Spiced Chickpeas with Spinach

25 Jun

Our chilli plant on the roof terrace has loads of green chillis on it all of a sudden. I’m sure it grows about 5 centimetres overnight. It’s been so hot here  so we have been watering it really well every evening when the sun goes down. It seems to be very happy there.

This is my cue now for putting chilli in everything. Not that I need another excuse. The Washer Up loves anything with chilli in it especially Indian food. Apparently eating chilli cools you down in hot weather too. Like having a cup of tea is supposed to. I don’t know about that but I’m willing to give it a try, this heat is unbearable.

Chana Masala (chickpeas in a spicy sauce) is one my favourite dishes. I always order it, along with Tarka Dal (spiced lentils), and Saag Aloo (potatoes with spinach) when we go out for Indian food. I borrowed this recipe from Dani at Moderate Oven which combines two of my favourite dishes. Chana Saag is spiced chickpeas with spinach. I’d never tried it before and couldn’t wait to debut our homegrown green chillis.

Chana Saag-  Spiced Chickpeas with Spinach Recipe

serves 2-3, adapted from Moderate Oven

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 cardamom pods, bashed
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tin (400 gr) chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 300 gr frozen spinach (not defrosted)
  • 1 tin/jar (400 gr) cooked chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped plus some leaves for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and cardamom pods and cook for a minute until they start to pop, don’t let them burn. Add the onion and cook for around 4 minutes. When the onion begins to soften & brown then add the ginger, garlic & green chillis and cook for another minute.

Stir in the ground coriander, cumin, turmeric & cayenne pepper until coating the onions then add the tinned tomatoes. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring for 3 or 4 minutes. Add in the frozen spinach, stirring the tomatoes around and over it and simmer, partially covered, for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to break up the spinach until completely thawed.

Remove from the heat and use a stick blender or processor to (carefully) puree the spinach until smooth. Put the pan back on the heat with the spinach and add the rinsed chickpeas to it. Season with salt, pepper & garam masala and simmer, partially covered, for 8 -10 more minutes, stirring to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Add boiling water if necessary.

Stir in the chopped coriander, squeeze over some lemon juice and check the seasoning. Add more salt or lemon juice to taste. Serve sprinkled with fresh coriander leaves and a wedge of lemon on the side.

That reminds me I must go and water the chilli plants, it has been another ridiculously hot day, they must be thirsty!

Things that made me smile today…..

I think it must be baby snail (caracolillos) season. They live on the wild fennel at the side of the road. You see people with buckets picking them off.

It looks like they like artichokes too. If I wasn’t  vegetarian I would make a Snail, Fennel & Artichoke Risotto. But I am, so I won’t. Don’t let me stop you though….

Buen Fin de Semana!

Soupe Au Pistou- A French Summer Classic

18 Jun

Walking past the farms at the moment it is clear that we are at an “in-between” seasons moment. The tomatoes are still green, the peppers are on their way but apart from that not much is happening.

The only vegetables being harvested are the new season potatoes…..

Leeks…

And the enormous Spanish spring onions..

Potato, leek and onion just sounds like a soup doesn’t it? But I didn’t want to make a thick, creamy leek and potato soup, it’s far too hot for that. And Vichysoisse, non!  Call me a heathen if you like but, even coming from the land of Gazpacho, I can’t eat cold soup. I wanted something light, fresh and clean tasting.

I remembered seeing Raymond Blanc making his mother’s (Maman Blanc’s) summer vegetable soup which he served with a basil pistou. Pistou is the French version of pesto, without the nuts. It looked so clean, clear, healthy and delicious. Just perfect for a summer’s day, and it’s quick too. The vegetables are still quite al dente (or whatever the French word for al dente is) which adds to the freshness of the dish.

The pistou is amazing. I made mine with parsley instead of basil because I didn’t have any. When I buy basil here in the summer it wilts in the heat before I get home, so annoying.

You just blitz a big bunch of parsley (or basil) leaves with extra virgin olive oil and loads of garlic.  The original recipe uses parmesan as well. I left that out to keep it vegan and it was still stunning. Drizzled over the finished soup it lifts all the flavours and takes it to another level.

It keeps really well in a sealed jar in the fridge too. If you make this amount you will have some left so you are only minutes away from a quick and delicious dinner. Just stir the pistou through some cooked pasta and garnish with toasted pine nuts and/or parmesan. Or drizzle it over some sliced fresh tomatoes for an impressive side dish or salad.

This recipe is actually a combination of Dorie Greenspan’s Warm Weather Pot- Au-Feu and Maman Blanc’s Soupe Au Pistou. The original Soupe Au Pistou would also contain white beans so you could add some cooked haricots or cannellinis towards the end of cooking to heat through if you like. I thought the new potatoes were enough to give it body. Chopped fresh tomato is another ingredient that is sometimes added. I just cleaned out what I had in my fridge.

Soupe Au Pistou Recipe

serves 3-4, vegan, gluten-free

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 Spanish spring onion, finely sliced
  • 1 leek, cut off dark green parts (could keep for making veg stock), quartered lengthways, rinsed and sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces (reserve leaves)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 6 baby new potatoes, cut into 1cm slices
  • 2 large carrots (or 4 small) quartered lengthways & chopped into 1/2 inch pieces diagonally
  • 1 – 1 1/2 litres good quality veg stock ,preferably homemade (or water)
  • 1 strip lemon zest (use a peeler)
  •  2 inch piece lemongrass, cut in half, lengthways and bruised
  • 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off, cut into thirds
  • 4 or 5 mushrooms, removed stems, cleaned, finely sliced
  • 100 gr frozen spinach (or a bag of fresh, stems removed)

For the Pistou

  • a big bunch of basil or parsley leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • ground white pepper
  • fresh grated parmesan (optional)

First put all the pistou ingredients in a processor (or mortar & pestle) and blend until smooth. Pour into an airtight jar and store in the fridge.

In a large soup pan, heat the oil over a medium heat then add the onions, leeks and celery and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onions have softened but not browned. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Stir in the potatoes and carrots season with salt & pepper and pour in the stock/water. Throw in the lemon zest and lemongrass, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer gently (uncovered) until the vegetables are just tender about 10 minutes. The soup can be kept in the fridge now until you are ready to serve.

Bring back to the boil and add the asparagus, mushrooms (beans & tomatoes if using) and frozen spinach. Cook for another 4 minutes until asparagus is tender (add fresh spinach and celery leaves if using to wilt).

Taste for seasoning add more salt if necessary. Ladle onto a warmed soup plate and drizzle generously with the pistou.

Bon Appetit!!

Things That Made Me Smile Today….

Jacarandas en la Plaza Alta…

Have a Great Weekend & Happy Father’s Day !! xxx

Chocolate, Fig, Almond and Rosewater “Brownies”

16 Jun

There are roses everywhere here at the moment. I am slightly obsessed and take photos every day as you may have noticed. I love all the different colours. I run past these roses most mornings with the dog. There is one particular garden that has loads of different varieties and the lady of the house takes great care of them. She must be so proud, they are all beautiful.

So all these roses made me start thinking about making something with rosewater. Just to celebrate the rose and so I would have an excuse to show a you all the pictures I have been taking.

Following on from the success of my Date, Walnut & Coconut Energy ” Truffles”, I wanted to make something similar using figs instead of dates. There are fig trees where we run too, the figs are not quite ripe yet but it it got me thinking about fig and rosewater together, a classic Arabian combination.

Rosewater is the flavouring in Turkish Delight. When I was little there was a chocolate bar called Fry’s Turkish Delight. It may still be out there, I don’t know. It had a very exotic advert and a bright pink metallic wrapper. Inside, the rose coloured Turkish Delight was coated in chocolate. At the time it seemed very mysterious and grown-up probably because my dad used to eat it all and not give me any (only joking dad)!

So I definitely wanted to use chocolate with the figs and rosewater.  I found a recipe for chocolate, cashew & almond energy bars  that I adapted to suit my requirements,very successfully indeed.

I am positive that my dad (my biggest fan) will approve. In fact I know he will be making them as soon as he can. The date, walnut and coconut energy truffles are now the “petit fours” of choice on all the best dining tables in Cape Town thanks to my dad. He has little production line going. People are requesting them.

I have to say that, in his version, rather than soaking the dates in water for an hour he soaks them in Frangelico or Amaretto. That could definitely be part of the reason for their popularity, it sounds amazing. So feel free to do that with the figs in this recipe too. I know of two food bloggers who will approve wholeheartedly of this little  “twist”. (Rufus & Caroline!)

These “brownies” are in fact, raw, vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and totally delicious. Please don’t be suspicious of their virtue. They have all the chewy, stickiness of a brownie with none of the bad things. Never has healthy tasted so naughty. Dad, I think you’re going to need a bigger kitchen…!

Chocolate, Fig, Almond & Rosewater “Brownies”

makes about 16. Adapted from Sea Salt With Food

  • 300 gr (2 cups) dried figs, soaked in water (or Frangelico/Amaretto) for an hour
  • 250gr (2 cups) almonds (no skin), roughly chopped
  • 60 gr (1/2 cup) hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 75 gr (3/4 cup) pure unsweetened cocoa powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 40 gr (1/2 cup) dessicated coconut
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4-6 tbsp rose water 
  • cold water

Remove the figs from the soaking liquid after about an hour and put them in a food processor with the roughly chopped nuts, cocoa powder and a pinch of salt.

Process until it starts to come together then add the coconut, process again then add the vanilla extract and the rose water a tablespoon at a time. The amount of rosewater you add depends on how strong the flavour is so taste as you go and stop when you are happy with the flavour.If you need to add more liquid to get it to a sticky mouldable dough consistency add a tablespoon of water at a time.

Line a brownie pan or baking tin with baking paper and tip the dough mix in and press it out evenly with a rubber spatula. Put another piece of baking paper on top and use a book or ice cream tub to press it down and make it flat. I made mine about 1 cm thick but you can make them thicker if you like.

Put in the fridge for about an hour before cutting into about 16 pieces. Store in an airtight container in the fridge layered with baking paper.

Serve some after dinner with coffee as elegant petit fours or take them to work as an afternoon snack bar. Or do like my dad and take them as a gift for the host of a dinner party. They also keep really well in the fridge. If they should last that long…

Buen Provecho!

Green Vegetable Minestrone with Toasted Pine Nuts

4 May

May Day here is known as Dia de la Cruz “Day of the Cross”. It is also Dia de los Verdes “Day of the Greens”. In Alhaurin there are two main churches known as The Greens & The Purples (the colours of the Andalucian flag). For the whole long weekend and Tuesday the Green Church known asVera Cruz have processions, marching bands and let off rockets very early in the morning and very late at night.

Thankfully it stopped raining long enough to get out and take some photos this week.

I can’t pretend to know what it’s all about but they seem to enjoy it and it brings the community (well one half of it anyway) together. Rows of different types of chairs are tied together all along the procession route so no one can steal a precious front row seat.

After the processions everyone congregates at the church.

Everyone is wearing green. Purple is a definite faux-pas. Unless you are our friend Miguel, who was over from England with his girlfriend Lindsey for the Bank Holiday. He decide to rock it in lilac jeans, despite all the funny looks, classic Miguel, hilarious….!!

So in keeping with this green weekend and to atone slightly for the purple jeans incident I have made a Green Vegetable Minestrone. This is my favourite soup that we served at the restaurant. I got it from a Cape Town cookbook my Dad gave to me. It is really fresh tasting and more Springy than a classic Minestrone. You can use whatever green veg you like just make sure you give it loads of fresh basil…

I kept it vegan & gluten-free by using rice vermicelli. You can use any pasta you like but keep it tiny. Freshly shaved parmesan on top is the authentic addition that I replaced with toasted pine nuts. Either way it’s a deliciously healthy bowl of goodness that leaves you feeling all virtuous inside…

Green Vegetable Minestrone with Toasted Pine Nuts

serves 6 , vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Cape Town Food by Phillippa Cheifitz

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 big Spanish spring onion (or 4 or 5 scallions)
  • 1 leek, halved lengthways, rinsed & finely sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 small cabbage, cored & finely shredded
  • 125 gr green beans, 2 cm diagonal slices
  • 1 courgette, diced
  •  bundle of asparagus, woody ends snapped off, 2cm diagonal slices
  • 100 gr frozen peas
  • 50 gr rice vermicelli (or other tiny pasta) 
  • 150 gr rocket (or spinach/watercress)
  • 1+ 1/2 litres veg stock
  • salt & black pepper
  • a big bunch of basil, leaves torn or sliced when served
  • 25 gr pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • shaved parmesan (unless vegan)

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over a medium heat, add in the spring onions, leeks & celery with a pinch of salt and cook until starting to soften about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic & parsley and cook for another minute or two.

Add in the cabbage and cook gently for about 10 minutes (you don’t want it to brown) add a splash of stock if dry. Then add in the rest of the vegetables, except the rocket and basil, and cook for another 5 minutes. Season well with salt & black pepper, pour over the stock, bring to the boil, cover, lower the heat & simmer for about 25 minutes.

Stir in the pasta and rocket and cook until tender about 5 minutes. Check seasoning and add more stock if you want it more soupy than stewy.

Ladle into warm bowls and sprinkle over lots of freshly torn basil, the toasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan (if using). Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin.

I think Los Verdes would approve don’t you?

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