Coleslaw – That My Kids Actually Eat!!

If you have kids, you know how hard it can be to get them to eat vegetables. Even if they were introduced to them early, there is always that picky stage that most kids go through and introducing new veggies can be tough.

The other day I needed to come up with a salad for lunch and all I had was cabbage and carrots, so I made a coleslaw, hoping my kids would at least taste it, since they love carrots (and it had a few raisins, too). Well, they loved it. Logan surprised me by saying it was his favorite – he had never had it before. Ha.

Yesterday I decided to try serving it again, though I threw in a few things the first one didn’t have. It was beyond successful, and they ended up eating some veggies they normally would toss aside. So I’m sharing the recipe with you in the hopes that you will have the same success with your kids. I’m calling it:

A Coleslaw My Kids Will Eat

You will need:

1/2 of a medium head of white cabbage.

3 medium carrots

1/2 a medium cucumber, seeded

1 large handful of clean spinach leaves

1 handful each of moong dhal sprouts (or whichever sprouts you have), peanuts, sunflower seeds, and raisins

For the dressing:

1 tbsp. mayonnaise

3 tbsp. plain yogurt

salt and pepper to taste

First, grate your carrots using the smallest holes on the grater.

Mine looks like this.

Mine looks like this.

Finely slice the cabbage, making the strips as thin as possible. (You could also grate it, as I have done before. Grating it this fine makes it a bit soggy, but still good to use, and the kids ate it without knowing it was there.)

Stack the spinach leaves on top of each other and slice into thin ribbons.

Quarter the cucumber, de-seed it, and then dice.

Toss in the sprouts, nuts and raisins.

Make your dressing right on top of the salad, just like I did in my pasta salad. Throw the ingredients on top of the salad, then mix well.

Serve in the same bowl, or transfer to a nice bowl if serving to guests.

Serves 4 – 6.


And prepare to be amazed. I’m still in shock that my kids loved it so much.


Pasta Salad

Pasta is at the top of my most favorite foods. I like it prepared in most any way, but a pasta salad is great for when it is hot and you want to eat something cool and fresh. Today I will show you how I prepare a pasta salad. It is simple and easy to do, and can be made in advance.

You’ll notice that I haven’t put many quantities. That is because I do it by eye; if the amount looks right, then I use it. That being said, there are always leftovers.

Begin by putting the pasta on to cook. Here I’ve used macaroni but you can use any small pasta that you have on hand. Shapes like shells, bows, spirals, and tubes are fun for kids and look good. I used 150 gr. of pasta, and for 5 of us, it is more than enough.

To save time and water, I first put into the water the veggies that need to cook. I use frozen peas and corn, so I put the peas first and let them cook ’till nearly done. At that point I add the pasta and corn. Depending on the type of pasta you are using, you may or may not want to add the corn yet as it cooks quickly.

Next, choose the veggies you want to use. I tend to use whatever I have on hand, so my salad changes each time. For this particular salad (the one in the photos) I used:

  • spring onion
  • cucumber
  • peas
  • corn
  • carrot
  • bell pepper (capsicum)
  • coriander leaves
  • moong dhal sprouts (sprouts made from green lentils, found in most veggie shops here)

Other veggies that I have used before include spinach, green beans, onion, lettuce, and more.

Wash the veggies well and chop small. You want them smaller than bite size, both to make eating easier and to make it look nicer. Throw them in a large serving bowl as you go.


Once the pasta and veggies are done, drain and rinse with cold water. You will want to cool them down so you can add them to the raw veggies.


Choose your protein items. I like to use paneer, chickpeas, chunks of cheddar cheese, peanuts and beans. The sprouts mentioned above are also protein. You could also opt for boiled eggs, shredded chicken, canned tuna (or other cooked fish), etc., whatever your personal favorite is.

I often mix 2 or 3 protein items into the salad, depending on what I have on hand. Paneer gets used the most, as do chickpeas. I love adding a handful of peanuts as they add crunch and texture. My salad is generally vegetarian since we eat lots of chicken for dinners.

Shown below is 200 gr. of paneer, and I don’t cook it. It is cheese so you don’t have to cook it (but you could lightly fry it if you prefer). Just give it a wash when you take it out of the packet. The dressing will give it lots of flavor.


Toss in the pasta. The order in which you add stuff to the bowl really doesn’t matter. As you can see, I put the pasta in already but the carrots are still waiting to be chopped.


Once everything is in the bowl, it is time for the dressing. You could make the dressing in a separate bowl, but I prefer to make it right on top of the salad since the salad itself is still waiting to be properly mixed.

Below you can see all the ingredients (except for the garlic paste) that I use in my dressing – yogurt (that is my very large container of homemade yogurt), olive oil mayonnaise (regular works fine too), salt, pepper, and chili powder.


For the dressing I use roughly 1 part mayonnaise to 3 parts yogurt. That serving spoon is what I used to measure so it was one spoon of mayonnaise to 3 of yogurt. Add a small amount of garlic paste, about a 1/2 tsp., and the spices. You will have to judge according to your taste, so if it makes it easier to do so, prepare it in a small bowl so that you can add more salt, pepper or chili powder if needed.


Now slowly mix the dressing into the salad. If your bowl is overflowing like mine, take your time. Slowly turn the bowl as you mix the dressing in and combine all the ingredients. Everything should be covered with dressing. Make sure to get down to the bottom of the bowl so nothing is missed.


If you didn’t pre-mix and taste your dressing, now is the time to do a taste test, just to be sure there is enough salt and spices. You can always add a little more if needed.

This salad can be served right away, or you can chill it in the fridge until needed. I find it actually tastes better the next day, as the flavors in the dressing have had time to blend together.

So there you have my pasta salad. If you try it, let me know how it comes out. I hope you like it.

Moist Carrot Cake

Here is a new recipe for you, adapted from one I found I know not where. The original called for a full cup of oil and 2 cups of sugar, and while is was good, it was also oily and too sweet. I wanted something healthier since in our house we are striving to eat as clean and healthy as possible, so I experimented and changed the recipe around a bit. I reduced the sugar to one cup, and the oil to 1/3 of a cup. The remaining liquid comes from yogurt. I also use brown sugar (when I can get it) and whole wheat flour.

Because it is so healthy, I often serve it for breakfast or lunch once a week. It goes great with coffee, or served with yogurt and fresh fruit. My kids love it like that.

I’ve learned from cooking shows that one of the secrets to light moist cakes is to not over-beat the eggs or the batter, to sift the flour to add air, and to gently stir in the dry ingredients until just mixed. Try this and you will find your cakes will be lighter. This particular one comes out very light and airy when these tips are followed.

So here is the recipe.

Just out of the oven.

Just out of the oven.

Begin by finely grating 3 cups of carrots. Do a little extra so you can pack the cups, about 4 medium-sized carrots. Set aside.

Then mix together:

4 eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup plain yogurt

1 cup brown sugar

Mix together (don’t beat) until all ingredients are just combined. Add the carrots and stir.

(Optional: You could substitute half the carrots for grated zucchini. Raisins make a nice addition too.)

Next, sift together on top of the wet ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix gently with the wet ingredients until the flour is just mixed.

Pour into a pre-greased and floured 8×8″ pan and bake in a 350F oven for 40 – 45 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

This recipe also makes great muffins. Just reduce the baking time to about 10 – 15 minutes.


Yummy! Especially with my morning coffee.


This post is being linked with Spatulas on Parade‘s Foodie Friends Friday linkup.


Fruitcake Recipe Miscalculation Adventure

This year I had a near-disaster with my Christmas fruitcakes: I ended up with too much batter due to a mental lapse and miscalculation. The story itself is quite funny.
I had finally put together my perfect fruitcake recipe. I tested it and everyone liked it so I prepared to make a larger batch to cover all my cakes at once. I only have a small oven, so of course, the pans are small (7″). My recipe makes enough for two of these pans or one larger pan – but that is what I forgot about when I began to calculate the ingredients I would need for 6 cakes – the amount I meant to make.
So instead of multiplying the recipe by 3, I did it by 6, meaning I would get 12 cakes out of it with the size pans I was using. Even when buying the ingredients, it didn’t register that 3 kgs. each of fruit and flour and 24 eggs was more than I meant to use.
I dug out my biggest pots to mix it all in. One was already full of the fruit I had presoaked in rum, and by the time I had mixed in enough flour to coat it all, the pot was overflowing.

I mixed the dry ingredents in another pot and the wet ones in a third pot.


As you can see, each of the pots were full up and it wasn’t going to be possible to mix everything together in one pot. I think it was around there that I realised my mistake, but there was no going back now that I had begun.

I began to think hard about how I could put it all together. The only item in the house large enough to mix everything in was the shower bucket. Before you freak out and think “gross”, I scrubbed it with Lysol and then washed it with dishsoap, so it was very clean (on the inside) when I used it. And yes, I had to mix it with my hand as it was a thick batter, just the way a fruitcake batter should be, but in the largest quantity I had ever seen. I hadn’t planned on mass producing cakes.

As I stood there elbow-deep in fruitcake batter, all I could do was laugh and make sure I got pictures of the whole thing. Once it was mixed, I was able to transfer it into the pots again and get the bucket back to its rightful place in the bathroom.

It took me two days to bake all 12 cakes and I’ve ended up with more than I planned on, but maybe I will end up needing them. At least half will be given away to friends and taken to school by the kids but the rest are for us. Maybe I should save some of them for next year.

My Perfect Fruitcake Recipe

I’ve spent years trying to find the perfect fruitcake recipe. I’m particular about fruitcake. I like it moist, with lots of fruit but no nuts, and no odd ingredients that are hard to find. So after reading and researching hundreds of recipes, the solution was to put my own together.

Here you will find my personal fruitcake recipe – tried, tested and delicious. I followed the fruitcake tips found at this link and they came out better than any recipe I have tried before. I only have a small oven so I worked with 7″ x 2 1/4″ square and 7″ x 2″ round pans. This recipe is enough for two pans that size or you could use a larger one. Check this site for approximate pan size conversions.

Perfect Fruitcake


4 cups dried fruits – I used 3 kinds of rasins, apricots, candied cherries, candied fruit peel, tuttie fruttie, and dried amla (gooseberry). You can use any dried fruits that you like or have available. If you enjoy nuts in your cake, substitute part of the fruit for chopped nuts. Walnuts and almonds are good options. (Tip: make sure your rasins are seedless before you put them in. I didn’t and only discovered the seeds after all my cakes were baked.)
Rum – enough to cover the fruits (you could use brandy instead, either one is ok)

2 1/2 cups flour (I used whole wheat but you could use cake flour if you want)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. each of cloves, nutmeg and ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup cooking butter, softened
4 eggs
orange juice or rum


1) Begin by presoaking your chosen fruits. Place in a bowl or pot that has some expanding space, since the fruit will swell as it soaks up the rum. Add enough rum to cover the fruit, then cover with a lid and allow to sit. The site I mentioned above suggests soaking them a minimum of 3 days. I did them for a week.

2) When you are ready to bake your cake, drain the liquid off the fruit and set aside to use in the recipe. It will be syrupy.

3) Place a cake pan in the bottom of your oven, then fill with water. This will help to keep the cake moist while baking. (If you are doing more than one cake, check after each one to see if more water should be added.)

4) Line your pan with wax paper or foil. To help it stick, lightly grease the pan with a little cooking oil. Then put the paper in, pressing into the corners and sides so it can fill properly. With the foil, you will have to press it down slowly so that it doesn’t rip. Set aside.

5) Preheat your oven to 300 deg.F. (If you read the link above, you will see they said to cook them at 325 or less. Mine took 1hr. and 15 min. to cook at 300 in the pan size I mentioned. Larger pans will take longer, as will cooking at a lower temperature. Lower it if you have the time.)

3) Toss the fruits with 3/4 cup of the flour in order to cover them well. This will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the cake. Set aside.

4) Mix the remaining flour and all the rest of the dry ingredients together in one bowl.

5) In another large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar, then the eggs. Measure the liquid that you drained off the fruit and add to it as much juice or rum as you need to make a cup.

6) Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, a small amount at a time ’till it is all mixed.

7) Add the fruit to the batter until just mixed. Spoon into the prepared pan, making sure to not fill it more than 3/4 of the way. If it is overfilled, it will rise too much, take longer to cook, and not look as nice.

8) Cover the pan with some foil to keep it from overbrowning. What I did, since I have such a tiny oven, was I covered the cake for the first hour, then I took it off for the last 15 minutes and the color on top was perfect.

The top pan is the cake, the bottom one the water.
9) Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick or knife into the center. It should be moist but not raw. Place on wire rack to cool. Once cool, remove the foil.

10 ) Fruitcakes taste best when they are aged. To age, tear a large piece of foil, then place a cloth on it. You are going to wrap the cake with it so make sure it is clean and one that you don’t mind getting this kind of use. Cheesecloth is best but you can also use tea towels or cotton diapers (clean ones, of course).
Set the cake in the middle and pour rum all over it. The cloth should soak some up, then wrap it well, first with the cloth, then the foil. Store in a cool, dry place.
A minimum of 4 weeks is recommended for proper aging, so you will need to resoak the cloth in rum each week. After that time, your cakes can be frozen until you want to use them. This way, you can make them early in the year and then store them until Christmas (if you are someone who plans way in advance and doesn’t wait until so late like me. : ) )

You can eat these cakes straight out of the oven, but they taste better with some aging. If you haven’t done so yet, go and read this list of tips so that your fruitcakes can come out perfect too.

Happy Baking!

Note: If you try this recipe and you like it, feel free to share it but be sure to link back to this post. Tks.

This post has been shared with the linky party over at Spatulas on Parade and Merry, Merry Munchies at Dining with Debbie. Check them out.

Dining With Debbie

Microwave Idli Maker Experiment

Weekday mornings are hectic for us, especially now with getting two kids up, fed and ready to leave on time. Breakfast is often just a quick egg-and-toast kind of meal, maybe with some fruit thrown in if I don’t have to chop it. So on the weekends I try to put a little more into breakfast and make something fun like pancakes, french toast, and just last saturday, idlis.
Made from rice and dahl, idlis are probably the blandest Indian food you will find. They are a breakfast staple here in South India, though, and are eaten by most everyone. They are served with spicy sambars and chutneys so the blandness is balanced out with plenty of spice and flavor.
I was recently given a microwave idli maker and decided it was time to try it out. My kids like idlis but since they require a special pot that I wasn’t going to buy (since we rarely eat them), we only bought them (already cooked) on occasion. Most people make their idli batter at home since, according to Glad, it is a simple matter of soaking rice overnight and blending it in the morning. Well, when he decides to cook fulltime, he can do that. Since I am no expert, I chose to use this ready-to-cook batter that my local grocery store has all the time.
Here is what the maker looks like, minus the lid (which you can see in some of the pics below). It has two trays for 4 idlis, so I can make 8 at a time. It took about 6 minutes to cook in my microwave. I had no idea how to use the maker, so my great friend Google found a post on another blog by someone who used it regularly and I got the info I needed.

Idlis are steamed so they are quite a healthy food, so long as you don’t eat too many since they are mostly starch. The bottom of the dish holds a small amount of water, then the stand is placed in it and the molds are filled with the batter. The molds have tiny holes in them to let the steam cook them through from the bottom up. The lid goes on when it is in the microwave to contain the steam.

And here is how they looked on exiting the microwave.
Of course, I had to make a chutney to go with them, since alone they don’t have much taste. I also forgot to add salt to the batter which added to the blandness. I have never made any type of chutney before this but I didn’t think it would be too hard. I knew the basic ingredients were corriander, coconut, green chili, salt and a little water.
I threw it all into the blender and out came …

…this. Of course I handed it to Glad for tasting and asked him to tell me what was missing since it just didn’t have the same flavor as the one his mom made.

His first thing was that I put too much salt. I thought I had put too little. Other than that, he said it was ok, though it did have a bitter taste to it that I couldn’t figure out. After breakfast though, he told me it would be better with an onion, some garlic and more chili. Why oh why did he wait until after we had eaten to tell me that???? I did go ahead and add those to the leftovers and it tasted much better.

My messy kitchen.
Grass found with the corriander. It has to be cleaned so well to use it fresh.

Afterwards we figured it must have been the packaged coconut that gave it the bitter taste. It would have been best with fresh coconut, but here, fresh means inside the shell and who has time to dig that out when you want a quick chutney?

And here is the end result. We did enjoy it, but now I know better for next time. Actually, I think I will make dosas with the leftover batter. They taste better.

Daddy and the girls enjoy their breakfast. They love spicy food so long as it comes from daddy’s plate. 🙂
So now a question for you regular chutney makers: do you have a recipe you can share with us here? I’d say e-mail it to me but I want my readers to be able to try it if they want to, so if you don’t mind, leave your tips for making the best chutney in the comments. I look forward to improving my recipe next time.

Quick and Easy Homemade Pizza

When it comes to cooking, I am all about shortcuts and easy-to-make meals. I especially dislike spending a lot of time on something that my kids end up hating, mainly because I hate cooking. I would gladly hire a chef if I could afford it. But since I can’t, I force myself to 1. find easy meals that my kids (and hubby, he can be pickier than them) will eat without complaint, and 2. find the shortest way to make them.
This pizza is quick to put together and cooks rapidly in the microwave. I begin by thawing the crusts. These are the only size I can find here, about 7″ across, but they are the perfect personal pizza size. I buy these in packs of two and freeze them ’till I plan to use them. For the 5 of us, 4 pizzas are just right. Oh, they are precooked.

Next I top each one with sauce. You can either buy a readymade sauce, or make your own like I do (only because pizza sauce is hard to find here and is super expensive when I do find it). To 200 ml. of tomato puree I add a heaping spoonful of garlic paste, a pinch of sugar, Italian seasoning (lots!!), and salt and pepper to taste. Mix it all together and spread generously on the crusts.

Next, top with salami or your choice of meat. I buy a roll of it that is sold frozen so it keeps. I just put it to thaw at the same time as the crusts. The beauty of making individual pizzas is that you can personalise the toppings to the palate. If you don’t like the ingredients I’m listing, simply use your personal favorites or what you know your children will eat. I don’t prechop the salami; I just slice it over the crusts.

Next comes the veggies. I use onion, spring onion, green peppers and mushrooms. I love it with pineapple, too. Often I’ll just put the meat and cheese for my kids since I know they will pick the veggies off anyway, and for hubby I add green chilies since he loves his food spicy.

The final topping is a generous covering of grated cheese. I love cheese so I like to combine different ones. Don’t bother grating the cheese in advance. Simply hold your grater over the pizza and grate until you have enough.

I use the microwave to cook them, but an oven could easily be used as well. You could get them all done at once on a cookie sheet. Since I don’t have an oven, I put them one at a time in the microwave. I use the bake setting and it cooks them at 350 degrees. I find that six minutes is enough. The cheese is melted, sauce cooked, veggies still slightly crunchy but done.

Remove and allow to cool for a minute before plating and slicing.

And here are two of my finished products. The are just the right size to fit on a plate and are quite filling as is, at least I can only eat one.

Slice and serve.

The total time it takes me to make these is about 30 min. from start to finish. I often serve them for dinner but they would make a great lunch too. This is also a recipe that is easy enough that your children could help you make it.

What is your favorite quick meal that your children will always eat? Share it with us.

Recipes for Moms – Green Salad

Come join The Salad Social at TidyMom sponsored by The International Olive Council’s Add Some Life”.
Salad Social
Today I am linking up for the salad social at TidyMom. Drop by and check out all the salad ideas.

This is my favorite: a simple green salad. Here is my list of ingredients but the beauty of salad is that you can use any green veggie that you like:

iceberg lettuce
green pepper 
spring onion
cucumber (seeded and chopped small, peel left on)
sprouts (I used moong dhal (green lentle) sprouts)

Other green veggies you could add are brocolli, zuchinni, sugar snap peas, green beans and peas (precooked).

Now, while it is delicious as is, I find that adding fruit to a salad brings out the flavor even more. The sweetness of fruit is especially good for setting off the bitterness of spinach. Since it is a veggie salad, you may want to just stick to one fruit. Some I have used include guava, green grapes, and green apple (unpeeled).
I have used other fruits, but anything mushy will give you a wet salad, which still tastes good but isn’t as nice looking. To the above green salad, I added mango. Papaya is also good.

If you find a plain green salad is too green, a slight hint of red from pommegranite seeds sets it off beautifully. To get the seeds from a pommegranite, slice in half, hold face down in your hand over the bowl and hit the shell with a soup ladle. This loosens the seeds and they fall out. Make sure to wear an apron as the juice stains and it will splatter.
Or you could use red apple (unpeeled) or strawberries, or if you just want to stick with veggies, use cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers, or any other red veggie that you like.

For dressing I often just add lemon juice or a homemade vinnegrette – olive oil, white vinegar, salt, pepper, and italian seasoning. A thick dressing can be made from one part mayonaise to two parts yoghurt, with some salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic paste. Plain yoghurt is good too.

What is your favorite kind of salad?

Make Your Own Granola

I recently started making granola again after a long time, and I’ve discovered that my kids love it, probably because of all the fruits and nuts. Ha. They tend to pick all that out and leave the oats behind. Lila and Scarlett will let me put milk on it, but Logan rarely drinks milk these days so he prefers it dry. I’ve tried to get him to mix it with yoghurt but he won’t do that either. Still, it is a healthy meal. I usually serve it a few times a week, plus Glad will snack on it so this amount lasts us a week to 10 days.
I’m gonna write up exactly how to do it in case you want to try. I know that in many places you can buy good granola, but here it is either expensive or not available. I wanted to have some cold cereals since the weather is heating up and we are losing interest in hot cereals; but all the cold cereals available are imported and just too costly. It is cheaper for me to make this once a week than to buy a box of cold cereal.
                  500 gr. oats
                  100 gr. wheat bran (or wheat germ if I can get it)
                  100 gr. dates, chopped
                  100 gr. rasins
                  100 gr. sesame seeds
                   50 gr. peanuts
                   50 gr. cashew nuts, broken
                 150 gr. other dried fruits of your choice
                             sweetener such as jaggery, honey, sugar (added to taste)

I use a cast iron wok and begin by roasting the sesame seeds. (If you get them roasted you can skip this step.) I don’t use oil; there is no need, but I do have to keep a close eye on it cause sesame seeds roast quickly, in just a few minutes. They will brown and start to pop, and smell like popcorn.

Once the sesame seeds are roasted, I add the oats. It is important to keep the flame low as a cast iron pan gets quite hot and the oats burn easily. This is the part that takes the longest as you have to keep stirring it so it won’t burn. It takes about 30 minutes before the whole thing is roasted. The oats will brown and taste cooked.
I suppose this part could also be done in a baking pan in a low oven, but I have never tried it like that so experiment at your own risk. 🙂

Once the oats are toasted, add all the rest of the ingredients, stirring until well mixed.

At this point, add your sweetner. I use jaggery, but you could also use honey, maple syrup, or sugar, or you can leave out the sweetner and add what you want when you eat it. I like to add it to the hot oats cause it stizzles and sticks and adds a brown touch to it. You have to stir it quickly to keep it from sticking to the pan and to make sure it is evenly mixed in.

Once cool, store in an airtight container.

Granola is a great item to personalise, meaning you can add your favorite dried fruits and nuts and make it just the way you like it. And it is filling, and healthy. I like it best with yoghurt and fresh fruit, or some fruit salad. How much yummier can it get? Enjoy!

Making Watermellon Popsicles

As a follow up to last Monday’s post, here is how we made our watermellon popsicles. Lila and Scarlett wanted to help out; Lila added the sticks at the end and lots of questions throughout, and Scarlett stepped on my feet the whole time. Some help she was. 🙂
Mommy’s little helpers.

 First I cut the watermellon into chunks that the blender could manage, removing as many seeds as I could while cutting but not getting them all out. I blended it on high for about 15 – 20 seconds, enough to make it liquid but not grind the seeds that were left. I didn’t add any water; no need. I didn’t sweeten it either.
Then I strained it into a measuring cup that had a spout to make it easier to pour into the molds. I had to use a spoon to stir the mixture in the strainer to get the juice through. (If you have the patience to pick out all the seeds first, you can skip this step; plus, the popsicles will be thicker.)

We had just enough juice to fill each mold about 85% full, then we added tiny pieces of chopped watermellon to it.

Lila adds the sticks.

 And here they are, ready to go into the freezer.

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