Category Archives: Food Products & Recipes

Hershey’s launches vegan chocolate bars

Hershey’s is testing a vegan chocolate bar made with oat milk. While some dark chocolate bars are naturally vegan, many are not, and of course milk chocolate is very rarely vegan.  Some smaller companies, such as Pascha, have come out with high quality vegan milk chocolate bars, but this is the first time we’re aware of that a major brand has launched a vegan milk chocolate.

The new line of Hershey’s Oat Made bars will come in flavors such as Classic Dark and Extra Creamy Almond & Sea Salt with each oat milk-based bar clearly labeled vegan.  The Oat Made line is part of a real-time marketing test Hershey’s is conducting and the new vegan chocolate bars will be available at very limited retailers, including select Target locations, nationwide starting this month and through June 2022, a Hershey’s spokesperson confirmed.

Hershey’s is working on producing more “Better for you” brands, including plant-based options, through both research and acquisition of new products.  Its vegan chocolate bar is a part of this program. “We are the leader in US confection, and our consumers rely on us to understand their needs for everyday moments, seasons and special occasions, offering high-quality and great tasting candy that’s accessible for everyone,” Kristen Riggs, Chief Growth Officer at Hershey, said. “Expanding our expertise, building new capabilities, and delivering more choices in better-for-you confection is the next big category opportunity for us to lead.”

The new Hershey’s Oat Made chocolate bars are currently available online at Target, if you’d like to give them a try. Pascha chocolate is available at PCC Community Markets, Marlene’s Market, and some other natural food stores.

Nutritious Bok Choy Recipes

Bok Choy is a member of the cabbage family, although it doesn’t look much like the cabbages we’re used to.  Its texture is more like celery at the bottom and a leafy green such as spinach at the top.

Bok Choy is common in Chinese food, but rarely used in other cuisines.  It is extremely nutritious. It has a particularly high level of calcium, with 870mg per 100 calorie serving, and an absorption rate of 53%.  When you compare that to cow’s milk, which has only 188mg per 100 calorie serving, and an absorption rate of 32%, you can see that it makes a good addition to any diet.

To prepare bok choy, you can wash the leaves and stem, then simply steam or stir fry it.  Sprinkly a little soy sauce on if you like.  Alternatively you can chop it up and use it as you would any other vegetable, in soups, stews, curries or pies. Add this to as many of your recipes as possible, for a real nutritional boost!

For lots of great vegetarian recipes, see The Veg-Feasting Cookbook.

Recipes

  • Broccoli and Bok Choy with Baked Tofu
  • Spicy Thai Soup
  • Zippy Yams and Bok Choy
  • Macaroni with Creamy Tofu Sauce

Broccoli and Bok Choy with Baked Tofu


Makes 6 1-cup servings
This simple recipe is a delicious way to add healthful greens and soy to your diet. It is served with brown rice, but can also be served with pasta or grilled polenta.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups broccoli florets
3 – 4 cups thinly sliced bok choy
2 tablespoons water
4 ounces baked tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 – 3 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
6 cups cooked brown rice

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet, then add onion and cook over high heat, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add broccoli and bok choy and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
Stir in water, along with tofu, black pepper, and soy sauce. Cover and cook until broccoli and bok choy are just tender and tofu is heated through, about 3 minutes.
Serve over brown rice.


Spicy Thai Soup

Makes 6 1-cup servings

What a delicious way to enjoy healthy green vegetables!

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
4 cups Vegetable Broth
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 – 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (or more to taste)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup bite-size broccoli florets
1 cup packed finely chopped bok choy
1 green onion, finely chopped, including top
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro

Mix broth, ginger, garlic, and jalapeño pepper in a pot and bring to a boil. Add mushrooms and simmer 2 minutes.

Add broccoli and bok choy. Simmer until broccoli is tender but still bright green and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Do not overcook.

Stir in green onion and cilantro. Serve immediately.


Zippy Yams and Bok Choy

Makes 4 servings

2 small yams, cut into bite-size chunks
1 onion, quartered and sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Thai chili paste
2 small heads bok choy, finely sliced
1 juice of 1/2 lemon

Put yams in a deep skillet and just cover them with water. Cover skillet and boil yams for 5 to 10 minutes, until soft when pierced with a fork.

Add onion and garlic and continue to simmer until about half of the water has boiled away.

Add vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, chili paste, and bok choy. Simmer until bok choy is soft. Sprinkle lemon juice over the mixture and serve.

Macaroni with Creamy Tofu Sauce

Makes 8 1-cup servings

Here’s a healthy version of a traditional “comfort food.”

8 ounces dry macaroni
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 cups sliced mushrooms (about 3/4 pound)
3 – 4 leaves bok choy, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups fortified unsweetened soy- or rice milk
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons rice flour
1/4 cup potato flour
3 tablespoons non-hydrogenated, dairy-free margarine
1 pound firm tofu, crumbled

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and rinse, then set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet and cook onion over high heat until soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Add bell pepper, mushrooms, bok choy, parsley, poultry seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Cover and cook until mushrooms are soft and bok choy is just tender, about 5 minutes.

Combine non-dairy milk, onion powder, garlic powder, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, flours, and margarine in a blender. Blend on high speed until mixture is thick and smooth.

Add to vegetables, along with tofu and pasta. Stir to mix, then cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Mouthwatering Melon Recipes

melonsMelons are large, edible fruits with a thick yellow or green skin, and juicy, fragrant flesh. Since the flesh has such high water content, melons are low in calories even though they are so sweet to taste. They provide potassium, sulphur, Vitamins A and C and Folic Acid.

Watermelon is particularly high in lycopene, an antioxidant, and has iron as well, which makes it the star of the melon family nutritionally speaking.

All melons are particularly delicious in the summer months, at the peak of their ripeness. They can be eaten by the slice, cut into cubes or scooped into balls. They are delicious eaten alone or as part of a fruit or vegetable salad. Pureed melon can be served chilled to make an attractive summer soup.

Recipes:

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Abbot’s Butcher – an interview with the founder

We are keeping track of many different new vegan products on the market, and especially those offered by small new startup companies. Abbot’s Butcher is one such company. We caught up with Kerry, founder and CEO of the company, to find out more about their company and products.

Kerry Song, founder of Abbot’s Butcher

How did your company get started?

Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, and part of my path back to health meant making some real changes in my diet.

A lot of us think that being plant-based means you’re automatically making healthy choices. But so many of the plant-based foods on the market, especially the meat alternatives, are filled with synthetic chemicals, additives, artificial colors, flavors, gums and preservatives — highly processed ingredients that we just shouldn’t be eating.

So I set out to create a line of plant-based meats that not only have the depth of flavor and hearty mouthfeel we all crave, but that are made from ingredients we can trust. Ingredients that truly nourish and energize our bodies. 

That’s why, at Abbot’s Butcher, we craft our plant-based meats from pea protein, vegetables, herbs, spices, nutrient-dense oils, vinegars – just real food that we can feel good about and good after eating.

Tell us about the different products you have?

We have three different products –our “everyday essentials” that fit seamlessly into our most-loved, most familiar dishes. 

Spanish Smoked “Chorizo”: Crafted with garlic, chipotle peppers and a Spanish smoked paprika, this crave-worthy plant-based “Chorizo” is zesty and bright with a subtle smoky heat. It cooks up nicely, and it’s incredibly versatile – great for breakfast dishes like scrambles and burritos, or savory dinners like empanadas and enchiladas. With the rich, invigorating depth it brings to the plate, it’s the perfect way to spice things up. 

Slow Roasted Chick’n: This delectable plant-based Chick’n pairs a mild flavor with a robust, meaty tenderness. It browns nicely in a pan and stays tender when roasted. You can marinate it, add your favorite spices and seasonings, or simply cook up and savor as is. With this deliciously versatile Chick’n, you’ll be able to whip up delicious plant-based versions of all your most loved dishes.

Savory Ground “Beef”: Crafted with onion, thyme and porcini mushroom, this Savory Ground “Beef” has the earthy, umami flavor you crave. Bring back classics like Sloppy Joes and Shepherd’s Pie. Or enjoy all your favorites like Spaghetti Bolognese and stuffed peppers. With this rich and hearty Ground “Beef ”, you’ll find countless ways to elevate your most-loved recipes. 

Can you tell us about the ingredients you use?

All of our plant-based proteins are made from a combination of pea protein, vegetables, herbs, spices, extra-virgin olive oil and vinegars. We never use any soy, canola, natural or artificial flavors, gums or synthetic chemicals. Just real food you can feel good about and after eating.

What are the different ways Abbot’s Butcher can be used?

Our products are incredibly versatile – and can be simply swapped into your favorite recipes.

The “Chorizo” has a really nice richness and a subtle heat to it. It’s perfect in breakfast and brunch dishes like scrambles, burritos, hashes and omelets. It’s great in baked potatoes, hearty soups and chilis, and pastas with roasted veggies. Of course, the “Chorizo” is a natural fit into dishes like tamales, tacos, enchiladas and nachos. And if you’re looking for an extra boost of flavor and protein on-the-go, you can cook it up then chill it down to use throughout the week in salads and in bowls. 

The Ground “Beef” is extremely hearty, and has a nice umami depth of flavor. It’s perfect for recreating plant-based versions of classics like a Spaghetti Bolognese, Shepherd’s Pie, Sloppy Joe and Crispy Tacos. You can add new flavor components and make a Mediterranean Bowl, or a Thai “Beef” Salad, for example. You can also cook it up and savor throughout the week in salads, bowls, flatbreads, wraps and meal prep. 

The Chick’n is our most versatile protein. It takes on flavor exceptionally well, so can be used in all types of cuisines. You can crisp it up and enjoy in a BBQ Chick’n Pizza or Buffalo Chick’n Flatbread. You can add some sesame and ginger and enjoy in lettuce cups or a Asian Chick’n Salad. It’s great in tacos, enchiladas, tamales and nachos. You can recreate plant-based versions of classics like chick’n & rice casserole, enchiladas, lettuce cups or pot pie. Or simply crisp it up with a little sea salt and cracked black pepper and use throughout the week – on salads, flatbreads, in bowls or meal prep!

It sounds like a great product. Where can I find it?

In the Pacific Northwest, our products are available at all Metropolitan Markets and Huckleberries. We are excited to grow throughout this region, and are eager to learn more about grocers the plant-based community loves!

Outside of that – we’re with all Sprout’s Farmers Markets, and Whole Foods across California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii. We’re in the South and Southwest, and we’re also on the east coast. 

If you prefer to order online, you can find our products through the Hungryroot – an incredible curated grocery platform that ships nationally!

Can you give us a glimpse of products that may be on the horizon?

We are going to be launching our fourth plant-based protein in 2022. It’s something we’ve been working on for quite some time and we’re excited to see it come to fruition. It’s another everyday essential – and something both meat eaters and vegans alike will love!

We also have a number of other products we’re working on. But whatever path we go down, and whatever products we create, we will always be committed to being 100% plant-based and clean-label. 

What are your future goals for the company?

As a team – it’s about growing thoughtfully! We’re building a brand that’s synonymous with quality, and that means doing the little things right. That ethos guides every decision we make – as a team and as a company. 

As a company and brand – our mission is to get quality plant-based meats into every household! We want to help grow the space, to expand the market, and to work together with other like-minded companies to create a kinder, more compassionate world. 

Interview with Better Bean founder

Hannah and Keith Kullberg

Better Bean is a product we love.  We asked them some questions to learn more about their products and how they got started.

How did your company get started?

Better Bean was born and raised in Oregon, starting with founder Keith Kullberg’s original recipe as a young college student at Oregon State University. Seeking a way to enjoy refried beans made with only plant-based ingredients, Keith developed a recipe that quickly became a favorite within his family years later. The only issue – it took nearly an entire day to prepare his beans from scratch!

Noticing that freshly prepared beans were not made available in stores, Keith and his daughters launched Better Bean in local stores and Portland farmers markets in 2010. Now sold nationwide, Better Bean strives to bring easy, tasty, healthy beans to all.

Tell us about the different products you have?

Better Bean offers a variety of freshly prepared, tasty bean products sold in the refrigerated section. Products range from various 15 oz beans, such as the Skillet Refried Red Beans, to 2.5 oz single-serve bean dips for snacking.

What makes your beans different?

We take care in every step of sourcing and making our beans. Starting with sourcing from NW regional farms that practice sustainable farming. These nutrient-rich beans are soaked to ensure their nutrients are available. We slow cook & infuse the beans with flavor from organic & regional vegetables. Finally, we add apple cider vinegar that further makes the beans easier to digest.

Can you tell us about the ingredients you use?

We source our ingredients from organic or sustainable farms as they grow better flavor. Our recipes are naturally delicious and nutrient-rich, not relying on sodium, fat, sugar (or worse, chemical additives) for flavor.

How about certifications?

All of Better Bean products are certified Non-GMO and Gluten-Free certified. In addition to these certifications, the product and facility are Soy-Free, Nut-Free, and Vegan. We know consumers value high-quality, organic products – that’s why Better Bean has recently added  2.5 oz single-serve bean dips that are both Certified Organic.

How can people use Better Bean products in their everyday life?

Beans are a delicious source of plant-based protein and can be a part of any meal! Whether you enjoy them as an appetizer with tortilla chips, as the star of your main course in a burrito bowl or tacos, or as a side dish that pulls the meal together – beans have a way of being extremely versatile.

Does Better Bean have any new news?

We are excited to announce Better Bean Uncanny Refried Black Beans are now carried by Imperfect FoodsBetter Bean from Wilsonville, Oregon, makes fresh, kettle-cooked, ready-to-eat beans sold in deli tubs. They are a long-time supporter of the Seattle VegFest.


Better Bean’s Uncanny Refried Black Beans & Dip

Better Bean’s Uncanny Refried Black Beans & Dip

Better Bean is happy to join a fantastic plant-based foods lineup from Imperfect Foods! Add a mixture of plant-based goodies to complement your produce order! Use code ‘BETTERBEAN’ for 30% off your first box from Imperfect Foods!

Veggie Burger Recipes

While many people enjoy a veggie patty bought frozen from the grocery store, it is not hard to make your own, and well worth the effort. Making your own veggie burgers can give you a lot of scope for experimenting with different flavors.

If you are planning on cooking it on the grill, you will want to ensure that your veggie burger holds together well. Potato starch (powder or flour) is a great ingredient to help bind the patty together, without using eggs. Cooking your burgers in a skillet or on a baking tray in the oven can allow you more leeway in its texture, which may be safer the first time you make them!

There are many veggie burger recipes available online, but here are two of my favorites:

Black Bean Burgers

Makes 6 moderate burgers, or 4 large ones

Ingredients:
• 2 slices of whole-wheat toast (or 1 cup breadcrumbs)
• 1 small onion – chopped
• 1 cup cooked brown rice
• 2 cups black beans
• 1 tablespoon chili powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 2 tablespoons ketchup
• ¼ cup potato powder (or more)


Preheat the oven to 350 F, or warm up the grill.

Put all the remaining ingredients except the potato powder into a Food Processor. Pulse and mix until
well combined. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl, and sprinkle in the potato powder, kneading it
into the mixture until you have a soft dough. Add as much powder as needed so that it holds together
well.

Split the mixture into 6 balls, rolled in your hand, then flatten them to the thickness desired. If cooking
in an oven, place them on a baking tray, sprayed with oil to prevent sticking. Bake for about 12 minutes,
then turn over and bake for 10 more minutes. Cooking times on the grill will depend on the heat of the
grill. Spray the grill with oil first to prevent sticking. Turn over the patties when lightly browned, to
brown on both sides.

Serve alone, with salads, or as a traditional burger in a bun with all the fixings.

Chickpea Burgers

Makes 6 burger patties

  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed, or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
  • ½ cup cooked bulgur or brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup potato flour, or enough to make a stiff dough
  • Vegetable oil spray

Place the sesame seeds in a heavy skillet.  Cook and stir over medium heat for 2-3 mins, until the seeds become fragrant and begin to pop. Grind them in a small spice grinder and transfer to a mixing bowl.  Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Place the beans in a food processor and pulse until chopped, or coarsely mash the beans with a potato masher, leaving some chunks.

Add the chopped beans to the vegetable mixture along with the cooked bulgur or rice, soy sauce, curry powder, cumin, salt, coriander and cayenne.  Mix thoroughly.

Stir in just enough of the potato flour to form a stiff dough.  Knead for 30 seconds and form into 6 patties. Lightly mist a nonstick skillet with vegetable oil spray. Cook the patties in the skillet over medium heat for about 2 mins, until the bottoms are lightly browned. Turn the patties over, and cook for 2 mins longer, until lightly browned. Serve hot.

Celebrate National Veggie Burger Day!

Impossible Burger

When it comes to combining flavor and plant power, National Veggie Burger Day every year on June 5th proclaims it can be done!

Packed with flavor, protein, and nutrients, veggie burgers show up at backyard barbecues, tailgate parties, and on the menus of even high-class restaurants. Grill them, fry them or bake them. Layer all your favorite toppings like onion, tomato, Romaine lettuce, ketchup, and mustard between a crusty roll or bun and take a big juicy bite. That’s one way to celebrate this flavorful day.

Don’t hesitate to add your favorite side dishes, too. For example, grilled cauliflower or broccoli, a zucchini noodle salad, or roasted vegetable salad with quinoa. Other options include grilled corn on the cob and sweet potatoes. Round out the meal with a crisp, cool beverage to complement your veggie burger.

National Veggie Burger Day was first established by Amy’s, an all-vegetarian food company, in 2007. But the veggie burger, a foundational food for many vegetarians and vegans, has an interesting history. According to the National Veggie Burger folks, recipes on how to make burgers without meat appear in print first appeared in 1969. In 1982, restaurateur Gregory Sams invented a veggie burger, which was introduced in London. Then in 1984, frozen versions of the VegeBurger began to appear in grocery stores. In 1992, the first branded veggie burger, the Gardenburger was launched in the frozen section of grocery story, and soon after the Boca Burger was born.

Here in 2021, veggie burgers of every kind are widely available, with taste and consistencies varying from “as much like meat as possible” to whole plant-food patties. Today’s veggie burgers offer a great variety of interesting ingredients, ranging from kelp to quinoa to mushroom to black beans.  Some think that the veggie burger, and the variety of options available, is one of the things that has helped to propel the vegetarian movement to where it is now, and the popularity of the newest meat-like veggie burgers is certainly encouraging many a meat-eater to give it a try, creating new converts all the time.

Try making some veggie burgers of your own, with this month’s recipes.

Tyson Foods launches vegan burger

Here’s something we thought we would never see. Tyson foods, the largest meat company in America with $42.2 billion in sales, just came out with a vegan burger as well as vegan Bratwurst and Italian sausages, to add to their other products. Tyson’s line of vegan meat alternatives is called Raised & Rooted. This comes almost on the heels of Maple Leaf, the largest meat company in Canada, acquiring the vegan meat company, Field Roast, which is based right here in Seattle.

We’ve been watching this trend for some time now. Mainstream meat companies and companies with large lines of meat products getting into vegan meat alternatives. If anyone wonders where the future lies for vegan food they can just ask the meat companies. Who would have ever thought that big meat would give birth to vegan food products?

Raised & Rooted, which first launched in 2019, also plans to launch additional new products later this summer. The company has witnessed impressive growth during its first year and has since expanded outside of the US into Europe.

We are also very grateful for the many companies, both big and small, that have started plant-based, stayed plant-based, and have had very impressive growth. They too should have a bright future ahead of them.

Cultured controversy

With the spread of factory farming — today the source of 95 percent of meat, eggs, and dairy items — the fate of farm animals went from regrettable to abhorrent, from merely sad to morally untenable.

Veggie burgers were the first step on the road to creating a non-cruel alternative, but some are trying to go even further with cultured meat. As this innovation reshapes the market, is there any further claim of necessity for industrial animal farming, an enterprise that long ago slipped the boundaries of reasonable and conscientious practice? In addition to the cruelty involved in factory farming, the environmental and public-health impact is equally reckless. For meat companies — already challenged by popular, plant-based alternatives — culturing technology will mark a radical redirection, and there is no industry more in need of one.

Cultured meat is meat without killing. Cultured meat is produced in bioreactors and then combined with plant-based ingredients. The cells used to start the process came from a cell bank, and did not require the slaughter of a chicken because cells can be taken from biopsies of live animals. The nutrients supplied to the growing cells were all from plants. From Singapore comes news of the world’s first commercial sale of cell-cultured meat by Eat Just, an American startup.

Cultured meat is controversial. The companies developing lab-grown meat believe this is the product most likely to wean committed meat-eaters off traditionally produced animal sources. Perhaps, or perhaps not. Once full production goes into effect, there will be substantial environmental benefits, in terms of reduced methane production, reduced water pollution, and reduced animal feed requirements. It does prevent the overcrowding, cruelty and the slaughter of animals. However, it would seem to have less health benefit than the existing, and much improved in recent years, veggie burgers and chicken. For instance, while it contains fewer if any accumulated toxins, it still contains saturated fat and cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease and other health concerns. Some religious authorities are still debating the question of whether in vitro meat is Kosher or Halal (e.g., compliant with Jewish or Islamic dietary laws).

Some vegetarians will be turned off by the likeness to meat. If you’re already a vegetarian or vegan, we suggest that you stick to your current preferred protein sources, whether they are veggie burgers or other meat substitutes, beans, or tofu. But if you’re having a hard time giving up eating meat, cultured meat is likely to be a better choice than animal raised meat.

We will be keeping track of this new and controversial technology.

Cooking with Oats

The first meal most people think of when they hear the word “oats” is Oatmeal for breakfast, and with good reason.  A substantial, warming breakfast, loaded with fruit to add sweetness and extra nutrition, is a very healthy start to the day on a cold winter’s morning.

The nutritional benefit comes in particular from the soluble fiber which has been shown to help lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, reduce the risk of some cancers and increase the resistance to infections, among other things.  Oats also have substantial mineral content, being particularly high in manganese and selenium.

Oats are roasted after being harvested and cleaned, which helps give them their distinctive flavor. They are then hulled, but this doesn’t remove all the bran and germ, so they keep much of their nutritional value. They are processed by steaming and rolling (rolled oats), slicing thinly (steel-cut oats), partially cooking (instant oats), or grinding (oat flour) to give them the consistency and cooking time required.  Watch out for the additional sugar and salt often added to instant oats which makes for a quicker, but less nutritious breakfast.

In addition to breakfast cereals, oats are often used in cookies and cobblers, and oat flour can be used to make cookies, pies and muffins.  Since the natural fats in oats can go rancid, it is best to buy oats in smaller quantities and store them in the refrigerator if you’re not using them regularly.

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