Pumpkin Pancakes

June 26, 2016

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There is something about small, chubby, baby hands picking up a pancake that warms my heart.

It must be something to do with the fact that I grew up in a pikelet-eating family. My mother would often make them for an after school snack (lucky us, I know!). I have clear and fond memories of little, fluffy rounds, stacked up and spread with jam on the counter. They were wholesome rocket fuel for my brothers and I, sending us off to the park to swing and jump, to ride around court on our bikes or, when I wanted alone time, to sit under the fairy tree at the front of our property with books. The other week, as I watched Joan reach for a perfectly baby-sized pancake and put it to her mouth before kicking her legs with glee, I just about fainted from the sweetness, from the full-circle beauty of it all… from the reality that I am now the mumma, making those little, fluffy rounds, fuelling my babe up to explore the world.

Joan adores these pancakes. Rarely does my baby girl laugh and chat at the table until she has had a decent portion of her food (she takes eating very seriously), however whenever I serve these pancakes they elicit instant giggles. Sometimes I spread them with almond butter, avocado or yoghurt and she seems to like them each way, though perhaps almond butter is her favourite. Perhaps I am just wanting an excuse to buy or make more almond butter… This recipe makes 8 small pancakes, which Joan will eat over a couple of days. They’re lovely cold from the fridge and make excellent cafe food (i.e. bringing a snack from home) as they don’t leave you with a lot of tricky or sticky mess to clean up.
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Spiced lentil + coconut soup and a new work direction

June 17, 2016

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Right about the time I had my realisation that “it’s not going to happen” (going back to work, that is), I also realised that I did not want to be a general practice Dietitian anymore. For years I was seeing a range of clients, from newly diagnosed Type Two Diabetics (often referred by their GP and/or concerned partner), to people with food intolerances and those wanting to lose weight. These referrals are a general practice Dietitian’s bread and butter, and while I enjoyed working with my clients as individuals (I sincerely love hearing how people are living their lives and looking for ways that they can make wholesome and enriching, sustainable changes), when it came to getting back to work after having my baby, I felt incredibly overwhelmed at the task ahead of me. To keep up to date with best practice for the vast range of clients I’d be seeing made me feel anxious. And to be honest, while I enjoyed working with these clients, Diabetes and Fructose Malabsorption were not my passion areas. As a new mum, I was in a completely different world (a world of limited cooking time, interrupted sleep and an eager appetite) and I was loving it! I had fallen head over heels with the entire process of growing a baby, giving birth and nourishing a new life. I had even researched becoming a Midwife (before swiftly deciding that 4 more years at University was not for me), I was that into it. Having recently experienced pregnancy and childbirth, I was acutely aware of the details, as well as the challenges women face during this season. At the time I was deep in the trenches of sleepless nights, and more than ever could appreciate the importance of nourishing yourself with good food to a) help you make it through the day, b) keep yourself well nourished and not depleted as a nursing mum and c) stop you from throwing a pillow at your partner when they don’t read your mind. From my training at University I knew how vital good nutrition was from a physiological point of view, in that what you eat and your lifestyle has a huge impact on your wellness from the preconception stage right through to post-partum…but now that I was living it, I could feel on a different level how profoundly true this was, and I wanted to help other mums and mums-to-be out there feel good and confident and happy and nourished. Because doing so makes a huge difference to how we feel day-to-day and how we care for our children. It’s a big deal.

On my Dietitian website, Gather and Grow Nutrition, you can read in more detail about the clientele I will be working with. Just quickly, though, I would like you to know that it’s not all babies, babies, babies! Those seeking preconception consultations may not want to conceive immediately, they may not even have a partner with whom they’ve had a “when shall we try for a baby?” conversation…but these ladies will have some health issues they wish to address now (from disordered eating patterns to generally feeling unhealthy or confused about what foods best nourish themselves) so that when the time comes, their body will be ready and optimally fertile. Your health prior to conception certainly influences the health of your baby and your health throughout pregnancy (and beyond!). Addressing any concerns now is an important and admirable act of self-care. I will also be providing support to those who are actively trying to fall pregnant, those who are currently pregnant, and those in the postpartum period, whether they have a fresh newborn, or one or two (or more!) older kiddos. This is what I am living and breathing. This is my passion area. This is what is getting me so excited I could burst!

I would love to work with you, and if you think you’d like to work with me too, head over to my services page to check out what happens during a consultation. If it sounds rad and right, get in contact and we will set up a time to Skype. I’ve also had someone ask if they can buy a session as a gift for their friend, which is such an ace idea (hello, great baby shower present!), so I have created a link for you to do just that. And if you wish to see a Dietitian in-person for general nutrition concerns, the lovely and clever Emily Scott will be available for consultations at the Mornington Clinic on a Saturday (read more about that here).

Needless to say I am a little buzzed about this new direction and how it’s all coming together. It just feels so right, in my bones, you know? Over the past few weeks I have been easing back into work with a small number of clients. My mum watches Joan while I work from home and it’s turning out to be so good for all of us. And in between these sessions, whenever Joan gives me a minute to myself, I am busy recipe testing and creating tasty/wholesome/fast meals to share with my clients. One of these recipes is this spiced lentil and coconut soup…
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A Thursday in June with 9-month-old Joan

June 9, 2016

I had been pondering a day in the life post for a while, mainly because it’s the kind of thing I like to read in magazines and blogs (have you read this series? I adore this one in particular). Whenever I’d remember the idea, however, we were already halfway through our day, or it was perhaps an ‘out of the ordinary day’, which made no sense to share because what I wanted to do was document the minutiae of our everyday. I wanted a real glimpse into our lives, of where we are at with our sweet, rough-and-tumble, adventurous 9-month-old baby girl. So here it is, last Thursday, moment by moment.

6:10AM

I wake to hear Ben leaving for work. Joan spends the next 40 minutes feeding then rolling around then feeding, leading me on to believe she may fall back asleep and we can snooze a little more, however eventually she makes it clear that is not going to happen and we get up. It’s now 6:46am. I pop my finger in Joan’s mouth and check her top left gum. Ahuh! Just as I expected. We had a rather wakeful night (the past two nights, actually), and at one point she woke screaming and crying, the poor thing. And sure enough, her top middle left tooth has cut through her gum. We open the curtains and she touches the window, tapping at the street lamp that is still shining bright. It’s cold and dark outside. I check the temperature using an app on my phone – 6.5 degrees. Yikes!

We head out of the bedroom and I strap Joan into a bouncy chair with a toy, then race to use the bathroom and have a quick shower. By the time I get out she is attempting an escape from the chair – baby hates to be restrained (she found the Bumbo seat a form of cruel punishment. We head into our bedroom and she pulls herself up on our (small and stable) chest of drawers and bed, practising standing hands-free while I moisturise (with coconut oil) and get dressed. It’s a home day today, we’re laying low as Joan hasn’t been 100%. This means I reach for yoga pants and a warm, slouchy sweater. Once I’m dressed we head into bubba’s room where she crawls around playing while I change her nappy and get her into some warm clothes. Joan is firmly against nappy changes at the moment (in addition to getting dressed), so I find myself working my butt off to pretend I’m not doing anything offensive and “look nappy changes are fun OLD MACDONALD HAD A FARM OINK OINK OINK!” Ok, now I need food…

7:12AM

Joan and I are dressed so we head downstairs to the kitchen/living room. I pop her in the playpen with her toys and wait to see if it’s one of those days when she will tolerate it for 10 minutes or if she screams immediately. Lucky for me her Twoodie Toys and phone are particularly interesting this morning, and I get about 10 minutes to make breakfast and pack away some dishes.

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Happenings 27.5.16

May 27, 2016

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DOING: Once again, bubba is napping and I’m typing away. She’s in the Ergo carrier after a quick morning walk before the rain came. I’ve got a fresh coffee to one side and am in one of those chatty moods which happens when a good night sleep mixes with a good cup of coffee.
HEARING: the rain outside. It’s solidly feeling like Winter at the moment. We’re popping the heater on most mornings to take the chill off and when Joan and I wait outside to greet Ben as he arrives from work we are rugged in a woollen blanket knitted by my friend. Indeed the white noise app “rain” setting that we use at night is becoming little redundant.
EATING: lately I’ve been loving on almond butter. I’m a nut butter fiend, devouring spoonfuls before bed to help me avoid waking hungry in the early hours. As a rule it’d be peanut (have you tried Mayver’s Dark Roasted?!?!?!), however lately I’ve wanted a break from spoonfuls of pb (call me crazy). I still adore a peanut slather on toast (with extra virgin olive oil and sometimes maple syrup, as photographed above), however in relation to my spoon + jar antics, I am presently firmly focussed on almond butter. Sometimes I’ll dip it in the tahini too, creating an almond, sesame spoon sandwich.
DRINKING: water (loads of it, as always); coffee, one or two cups a day (those moments make me so happy, it’s not even funny); and the occasional ginger tea for some warming, late afternoon comfort.
COOKING: Curries, lentils, baked falafel (see below) and granola. Legumes are on my mind, apparently. Oh, and roasted cauliflower.
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Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

May 17, 2016

roasted tomatoes

Tomato season is over,*womp womp*, so I’m kind of a jerk for posting this recipe now. Sorry about that… However, I resolved to post more everyday recipes around here, and this Summer we roasted a bunch of tomatoes and ate them in a bunch of different ways. For a few tasty months, they were a staple, one we never grew tired of. We served scoops alongside scrambled eggs, inside omelettes or on top of avocado toast. We’d toss hot pasta (+ a little pasta cooking water) in a pan with a generous portion of warmed tomatoes and juice, that’s a good one… or we’d add scoops to pesto pasta, like in the photograph below. With the dregs sitting in the container we’d throw in a can of butter beans, diced capsicum, fresh herbs and shards of pecorino. These tomatoes, cold or hot, alongside roasted or mashed potatoes and grilled fish or meat make a lovely meal that always leaves me wishing I wasn’t breastfeeding on demand and could accompany it with a BIG glass of wine.

Because we ate them often and love them so, I felt I should share the process with you so that you too can enjoy such deceptively easy deliciousness….next year, when tasty tomatoes come once more (again, sorry about that). Indeed it is more of a process than a strict recipe. Try it once and the following time add variations as you wish. Perhaps you’ll throw in some olives or mix up the herbs (thyme works wonderfully). You might even add boneless chicken thighs along with some white wine, like we did here – that works splendidly and happily feeds a crowd.

This is the kind of simple, versatile, everyday cooking we do. Let me know if you have any other ideas for serving the tomatoes or ingredient variations. Warm tomatoes on a bed of parmesan polenta with a drizzle balsamic glaze just came to mind. Gosh darn it, bring back tomato season!

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Getting Started With Solid Food

May 6, 2016

bananas

It’s Sunday morning and Ben has just left for Hong Kong. He crept out of our bedroom at 4am leaving Joan and I to snuggle for a couple more hours before we too crept out of the bedroom and turned on the lights. I’m not sure how I feel about it being dark when I wake. I think I like it, because at that time of morning it’s only a short while before the room wakes with a magical, lovely kind of light – not too bright and not too sharp. Speaking of sharp, I most certainly do not feel like all cylinders are firing at the moment. I’m sure all new parents can relate to the way that being woken multiple times overnight for months on end, for boob and cuddles and comfort, has left me rather forgetful and, on occasion, not all that sharp. Side note: how long can I call myself a “new parent?”. My mumma friends get it, they feel similarly, which is reassuring. We are all so very happy to sit around drinking coffee while our bubbas play, and so very happy to have conversations cut short because a baby is putting something precarious in their mouth and/or we forgot the point of our story. However here on my blog, I fancy being a bit more articulate. I have stories to tell, experiences to share, and I don’t want them to get lost in the deep chasm that is my mind at present. And so I’m forcing myself to sit down and write. Today I want to share how Ben and I introduced Joan to solid food. We’re a little over two months into this eating business, which makes me no expert, and despite being a Dietitian I am also a first-time parent who is most certainly winging it a lot of the time. Plus, Joan is a really good eater at the moment, meaning she eats most things easily, which makes my job super easy and fun. However I’ve received a number of emails asking what we feed Joan, and though I wrote a little in my previous post, it’s a big topic and there’s more to cover, so I’m sitting down and getting it all out. Joan is having her morning nap, Ben is away, headed into wonton noodle soup bliss, and I’ve got myself a fresh cup of coffee (aka, my sharp juice)… Let’s do this.

Feeding your baby is an exciting and daunting task. Even if you insist you’ll be super laid back about it all and “just feed your baby what we eat”, there’s stuff to think about. From the convenience of breastfeeding, all of a sudden you’ve got to consider texture and food safety, and then there’s the clean up! Because if you do Baby Led Weaning and let your bubba go free range, ooooooh you have to be prepared because food will be EVERYWHERE. Cleaning mess isn’t such a big deal, but you have to do this while your baby is possibly fussing and trying to squirm out of their high chair because they’re done and they want to move because THEY NEVER STOP MOVING because the world is wonderful and they have to explore and practice their skills and “WHY AM I STILL SITTING DOWN MUM, I’M DOOONNNNNNNNNE?!”. Even if you’re bottle feeding and are hence kinda used to doing a bit of meal prep via sterilising bottles and heating milk, it can still be a shock how much more you have to do once your little person starts eating little person portions. Here are my experiences and thoughts on the whole process, hopefully laid out in an orderly, flowing fashion, however as I mentioned at the top of this post, it ain’t all there and I may end up just throwing a bunch of info at you. I hope that’s ok. At any rate, when your baby starts eating food you’ll have to get used to things being thrown at you. Meatballs and such…

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Braised Beef Cheeks for Joan

April 22, 2016

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Ben and I have clogged our phones with photographs of Joan eating. Our baby girl is completely serious when it comes to food, and each day we are joyfully entertained as she learns to feed herself. We decided to go the Baby Led Weaning route, which to us meant that after Joan turned 6 months and showed signs of developmentally being able to manage food, we started providing an array of textures and flavours (in the hope that she will be an adventurous eater later on) and let Joan feed herself. And she’s really taken to this whole eating and self-feeding business. We eat our meals as a family and don’t force her to eat when she doesn’t want anything, rather we trust and respect her intuition (Joan is driven by instinct and is much smarter than us in this way). Though rarely will she refuse food, as our baby is sincerely obsessed with eating. When she likes something, she cannot get it in fast enough. “Finish what you’ve got in your mouth, Sweetie”, is commonly uttered at our dining table. When something is not particularly delicious (plain porridge or rubbery scrambled eggs), Joan will stare at me for a long while, as though letting me know that I’ve done better and to please not serve this again. I take note.

Our baby likes flavour.

Porridge with banana and (pureed) blueberries, steamed carrots with peanut butter, roasted pumpkin with curry powder, wedges of farm-fresh canteloupe, yoghurt with quinoa, omelettes with garlic and beetroot, banana pancakes and meat…ohhhh, she adores meat. At the end of Summer, while we were revelling in farm-fresh sweet corn, I served Joan chicken and corn soup (homemade broth simmered with corn, blitzed until thick enough to eat, and topped with shredded chicken). Baby girl proceeded to ecstatically grab handful after handful, shoving it in her mouth before she’d even begun to chew. And when we moved her plate closer to help her to reach with ease, she cried, fearing we were taking her plate away. Joan also loooooves lamb, just like her mumma. Over Easter we went to our friends’ house for dinner and Joan loved the slow-roasted lamb that was served (side note: that is my absolute favourite dish). She devours all she can out of the cuts we bought from Colin and Sally, including preservative-free sausages that were super tasty and intensely meat-flavoured (what a nice surprise to have sausages that taste like meat!), if not a little tough for her to eat without teeth (note: I removed the casing before giving them to Joan). Still, she will suck all the juice out of the sausages and other cuts she cannot chew and swallow and have a blast, sometimes gagging, happily and calmly so, along the way. We make sure to stay calm too and let Joan figure it out if she’s gagging (the first few times were scary, but babies are so smart, they know what to do), however it usually only happens when learning how to manage a new texture (something hard like toast or those sausages) or if she takes too much at once. Regardless, I make sure Ben is home with me when introducing a possibly challenging food for Joan, just for my own peace of mind. Lastly, I’ll note that we did a first aid course before bubs was born and refreshed ourselves of the information prior to her starting solids, and I definitely recommend all parents and grandparents do the same. But back to meat…yes, baby girl loves red meat, beef included. Before we bought that 1/2 lamb from Colin and Sally’s I bought meat from our local shops that stocked delicious, 100% grass-fed beef. I found myself reaching for the beef cheeks and making this braised dish again and again, so I thought I would share the recipe with you. Joan goes nuts over slow-cooked beef cheek, whether simmered in broth like this recipe or a tomatoey ragu. It’s a cut that positively melts into nothing, so she finds it very easy to gobble up. I usually thicken the broth/sauce with potato, extra carrots or sometimes quinoa, which helps her get all the cooking juice goodness. Joan will clean her plate whenever we serve this meal, Ben and I do too, though baby girl will also paint her eyelids in beef juice and inhale it through her nose with gusto. Yes, we’ve been using a mini nasal aspirator to extract food most days. It appears she just cannot get enough and I don’t blame her, it is rather scrumptious.

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Happenings, 15.4.16

April 15, 2016

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DOING: lounging next to Joan while she has a nap. It’s 1:31pm on Thursday 31st March. I should have documented this for While The Babe Naps with a snap…ah well. I’ve got the white noise app playing on my phone and if I go to take a picture, the noise stops, so it’s not worth it. She’s been asleep for about 10 minutes. We’re lying in our bed, having given up on cot naps. Joan still falls asleep in my arms and when lowering her into the cot (which needs to be on the lowest level because little miss is already pulling herself up), she wakes and not fall back asleep. Every time. The bed is easier for us both. We are in a bit of a transition stage, where I want her to know that I’m still here, but she can nap in the bed by herself and it’s all good. This involves a bit of hanging out by her side until she’s in a deep sleep and I can sneak off. But not too far!! As before she even wakes fully and knows who she is, she has rolled over and is crawling. It’s risky business. I need super high bed rails. Tell me, is that a thing?! Google searches have been fruitless…
HEARING: womb noises via this app. We’re white noise fans over here. Joan doesn’t need it to sleep, but it helps block out the noise of me typing and any knocks on the door.
COOKING: We recently purchase 1/2 an organic, completely grass-fed lamb from Colin & Sally (after a blog reader kindly suggested their produce), and we are absolutely loving it. We are thrilled to be feeding our baby girl (and ourselves!) such quality meat, and to be supporting a family farm. We love it because the health benefits are significant (I try to always buy organic animal products), the animals are treated far better than mass produced meat, and the flavour is incredible. And though it was expensive upfront, the actual cost per kg is ridiculously low compared to what you buy in the supermarkets or butchers for small portions. We will most certainly continue buying meat from these wonderful folk (they also farm cattle so we can buy beef). Oh, and it takes up far less freezer space than you might imagine when you receive it all portioned up.
EATING: besides lamb, eggs! We introduced Joan to eggs when she was around 7 months old, in small bits over a few days – scrambled eggs, frittata and banana pancakes (without the salt). Joan tolerated them well and is handling increasingly challenging textures. I feel a bit more free with what she’s eating, like we can move away from the practice of altering our meals to be more Joan-friendly, to basically just eating the same thing as a family. We’ve cut down our salt usage for the little one (I’m a bit of a salt-fiend) and she’s yet to try rice and quinoa, but beyond that she’s eating veg, eggs, nut/seed butters and ground nuts, yoghurt, oats, fruit, chicken and red meat, and it’s a whole lotta fun. She’s even tried some of her Pa’s famous homemade sourdough, made with mainly spelt flour. We toasted some strips and she munched on them with avocado. I’ll be sharing some recipes that she’s loved in the coming months (I want to remake a few dishes and actually take note of the specifics for you all), including slow-cooked beef cheek and chicken soup. We’ve also been eating lasagne, this delicious slab that my mother-in-law brought over, and the leftovers!

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Everything date balls

April 8, 2016

Lately I’ve been making the same date balls over and over again. “Date balls, really? How boring. Like we need another recipe.” I know, I hear you. But they’re everything I need right now, with a small child who is moving moving moving and a house that is so far from fully childproof that I cannot leave her alone for a second (we’re working on that).

In lieu of drinking coffee all day long, it’s food like this that keeps me going. And I’m not sure what it is about these particular date balls, but I’m finding them to be incredibly satisfying and energy-giving. If I pop a couple of these babies I am sure to power through until Ben gets home around 6:30 to help me with the whole dinner/bath/bed rigmarole. Anything that helps me greet him in a manner that reflects my true feelings (that he is my best friend), rather than “What the heck took you so long?” is always appreciated.

everything date balls

 

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While The Babe Naps

April 5, 2016

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Good morning!

Thank you for being sweet and leaving comments here and on instagram about my new site. Honestly it doesn’t require a grand reveal or hype, I haven’t laboured over anything, nor will it take up much of my time in the future. Rather, it’s simply a place for me to share and connect with others, and maybe snoop a little. Let me explain.

The website is called While The Babe Naps, and it will be here that I will share a snap every so often, capturing what I am up to in that moment while Joan is sleeping. The concept extends from the post I wrote on self-care, encouraging us all to make sure we are doing little things for ourselves, things that help us feel good and full and bright (or as good and full and bright as possible in our current reality, whatever that may be). You can read more on whilethebabenaps.com, I won’t explain much more now, as it’s all there, and I’m currently in a bit of a rush to get to the shops and buy some baby Fess (“for little noses” – too cute!). But I wanted you to know what my new site is about and to ask you to send me your submissions! I want to see what you’re up to while your babies nap. My hope is that While The Babe Naps will be a place to show what people from all over the world are doing during those sleepy minutes. And that’s it! I won’t be pitching for individuals to contribute beyond this callout (though I may bug my friends – you have been warned!!), as doing so feels very inorganic to me. Honestly I’d rather spend my time leisurely reading or cooking – you know, living what I’m harping on about. Instead I plan on relying on the fact that many of us like to feel connected and see what others are up to, especially those of us who stay at home with babies, and so perhaps, hopefully, you’ll feel encouraged to send me a snapshot of your reality via a photograph and a few words. As well as mums, dads, grandparents, aunties, uncles, nannies, this also extends to people with older kids who aren’t napping anymore. You will hopefully have a few moments for yourself when your little one is alseep, whether in the morning or at night (hopefully both) for you to practice a little self-care. The truth is that for many people, work and emails and study are pressing and need attention, I get that, however I’d still love to see a picture. And who knows, maybe by scrolling through the site you’ll feel encouraged to make a cup of tea and a snack to eat while you’re working? That’d be nice. And for those naps when all that awaits us is washing up, I say screw it! Have a shower, make yourself some hot cocoa and bake a batch of granola instead. And take a photograph of it. I want to know what is going on in your world.

I’m truly quite excited to see who I might hear from. Though if you see my posts often I suppose that will mean I’ve had a lull in submissions and need to fill that space…and that’s cool, you all know I love to journal and this is simply another space for me to do just that. Below is my first contribution, taken a couple of months ago, shortly before I had the idea to share these moments. Over on the website you’ll find a more detailed post than this, so do head over there, but the format below is what I’ll be sharing in every feature – WHO, WHEN, WHERE & WHAT. It’s as simple as that. What excites me is how my when, where and what will change over the seasons, as my baby grows, as the novelty of having time to myself wears off (wait, does it ever?), as I go back to work, as life happens… it won’t always be crackers and a book, but for now, this is my world.

Friends, I’d love to hear what you’re up to while your babe naps.

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