Creamy Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

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Creamy Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

The crux of my entire food philosophy can be summarized in the simple ingredients of this soup - I believe in food that makes you feel good, meaning it doesn’t just taste good and it isn’t just good for you but its both - tasty and healthy, nourishing and delicious. I believe in food that incorporates a wide variety of micronutrients (which you get from eating a ton of different whole-plant-foods) while offering a balanced ratio of macronutrients (fats, carbs and proteins). I believe in food that is seasonal and (at least somewhat) locally sourced. I believe in food that is easy, accessible and quick to make. I believe in food that brings people joy and is happily shared. I could go on, but for now, let me just say - I BELIEVE in this soup! Is that a crazy thing to say? Why don’t you give it a try and see if I’ve made a believer out of you!

Creamy Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

If you couldn’t tell already this is the quintessential creamy fall soup - but my version is fortified with extra good for you ingredients to get you glowing in this season of change. Sweet, savory, creamy and smooth with a hint of spice and extra umami flavor - I think you’ll love the way traditional fall flavors of squash and apple pair with yellow curry and healing spices.

I don’t know about you, but I basically live off stuff like this during this time of year - warm, healing, gut-loving goodness that couldn’t be more delicious. I’ve added some extra special stuff to this particular recipe to give it a truly deep and complex flavor with a wide variety of health benefits (scroll below for the breakdown).

Creamy Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

The best part? This soup comes together in under 30 minutes with minimal prep. It’s also super affordable to make and a total crowd pleaser!

Creamy Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

Here’s a few of the stars in this recipe and a little insight into what they do for your body:

Butternut Squash - high in fiber and full of B vitamins, great for immunity and heart health

Apple - again, high in fiber and full of natural sweetness

Miso - a fermented food, just like sauerkraut and kombucha, which means its amazing for your gut. This soybean paste can be found in most regular grocery stores now and adds a level of umami not easily attained in plant-based cooking - it’s flavor is super savory, salty and almost cheesy

Ginger - ginger is an all star digestive aid but it’s tummy-taming benefits are matched by the wonderfully spicy and floral flavor it gives this soup

Turmeric - get glowy with turmeric! This deep yellow cousin to ginger is great for your skin, a powerful antioxidant, and it also happens to be an anti-inflammatory aid - the perfect thing to work into your dishes before the winter season (read: dull skin and colds all around).

Cinnamon - balances blood sugar


Serves: 4-6 people • Prep Time: 10 min • Cook Time: 20 min


  • Roughly 8 cups butternut squash or sweet potato (I used an even combo of the two), peeled and cubed

  • 1.5 16 oz. cans coconut milk (I used a “lite” variety but full fat will be even creamier)

  • 2-3 cups low sodium veggie stock

  • 1 small apple (any variety), peeled and cubed

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 1/4 cup dehydrated mushrooms *TOTALLY optional but so worth it

  • 2 tsp. good quality yellow curry powder

  • 2” knob peeled ginger

  • 1 tsp. fresh or ground turmeric

  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika, nutmeg, and cinnamon *optional

  • 2 tsp. white miso paste *optional

  • Salt and pepper to taste

TOPPINGS

  • raw or toasted pepitas a.k.a pumpkin seeds

  • a drizzle of reserved coconut milk OR plain/unsweetened cashew yogurt

  • chives or green onion


Peel and then chop your butternut squash into roughly even pieces (or can buy it pre-chopped in the store for ease). Peel and chop your onion.

Toss your squash and aromatics in a large pot with 1.5 cans coconut milk, vegetable stock, dried mushies, ginger, turmeric and all the spices and allow to come to a simmer. The liquids should cover the veg about half way - later on you can always add more if you like a thinner soup. Simmer on medium heat until the squash is quite tender - apx. 10-15 minutes.

Once cooked, turn off the stove and carefully transfer the contents of the pot to a high speed blender and blend until fully smooth and creamy -depending on the size of your blender, you may have to work in batches. Make sure to taste for flavor and consistency here - you can add more seasoning or more liquid if you wish.

NOTE: ALWAYS be very careful to remove your blenders top vent and cover with a kitchen towel when working with HOT liquids otherwise molten hot the contents may explode. If you use a nutri-bullet or other “top down” type of blender, wait until your soup has come to nearly room temp to do this step and then re-heat. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender right in the pot, but I find I get the creamiest, smoothest result with my Vitamix.

Once blended, immediately transfer to serving bowls and garnish with the suggestions above or your own selections - croutons, vegan grilled cheese or a fresh autumn salad would be a delicious accompaniment.

Keeps well in the fridge for about a week, reheats wonderfully.

 

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Baked Apple Cider Donuts - Vegan + Gluten Free

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Baked Apple Cider Donuts - Vegan + Gluten Free

gluten-free-vegan-apple-cider-donuts

Finally, its fall! I haven't had a 'proper' fall in over four years and I am so happy to be here in New England to really 'do the damn thing' - that's right, leaves, pumpkin spice, orchards, boots, all of it. Even though it's still nearly 100*F today here in Connecticut, I am not going to let a minute of this season pass me by and you shouldn't either! This recipe is a healthy, fast, fall-fix that can be made year round - the recipe works well as muffins but if you haven't gotten yourself a pair of donut pans yet, well, what are you waiting for?!

gluten-free-vegan-apple-cider-donuts
gluten-free-vegan-apple-cider-donuts

This recipe is made in just a few minutes with nearly all whole food ingredients. Gluten free baking can be a bit of a mess but I think I've cracked the code with the combination of brown rice flour and quinoa flour here - it creates a soft, light and crisp cake-like consistency which compliments the warming flavors of cinnamon, clove, ginger and nutmeg. This little recipe is the answer to "can a donut be healthy?". YES - High protein, low glycemic, sugar stabilizing, nutrient dense. It is also the answer to "can a healthy donut taste good?!" - absolutely! 

gluten-free-vegan-apple-cider-donuts

I first became obsessed with apple cider donuts (you know, the ol' fried-in-oil kind) when living in NYC's Union Square as a college freshman and seeing them served up fresh to lines of hungry city dwellers from my bedroom window. 

It's funny, at the time I had no idea how iconic and special the Union Square farmer's market was. I feel that way about a lot of my NYC Art School experiences but I suppose that is a story for another day. Anyway, I would stop every week to get a glass of warm cider and a few donuts, I ate them without guilt (because I was totally unaware that they were a "bad" food) but I do remember never feeling great afterwards. Once the make-your-own cake donut craze took off a few years ago I dreamed of recreating the warming, rich flavors of that apple cider donut I enjoyed so many years ago. Finally, I've gotten around to it! 

gluten-free-vegan-apple-cider-donuts
gluten-free-vegan-apple-cider-donuts

If you want to go a step or two further (especially if you are making these in the fall), you can make your own delicious roasted apple sauce by cubing up some apples and roasting them in a cast iron pan with a little water til they caramelize - then mash them down and allow to cool before adding to the wet ingredients. 

I am truly proud of this recipe and I hope you try it out - share with friends and watch their smiles as they enjoy!

gluten-free-vegan-apple-cider-donuts

Makes: 12 donuts • Prep Time: 10 min • Bake Time: 12 min


DRY INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups brown rice flour

  • 1 cup quinoa flour (I use my high-speed blender to pulverize whole quinoa into a flour)

  • 2 tbsp. ground flax

  • 3 tsp. baking powder

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

  • 1 tsp. five spice powder (or pumpkin pie spice)

  • 1 tsp. ground ginger

  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar

WET INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 pure maple syrup

  • 2/3 cup apple cider OR apple juice

  • 1/2 cup no sugar added apple sauce

  • 1/4 coconut oil, melted

  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

CINNAMON SUGAR TOPPING

  • 1/4 cup unrefined cane sugar OR coconut sugar

  • 2 tbsp. ground cinnamon/five spice powder


Preheat your oven to 350*F and coat your donut pans with some coconut oil spray. 

In a large bowl whisk together all of the dry ingredients. 

In another small bowl combine all of the wet ingredients and whisk them together as well. 

Add the wet to the dry and use a large spoon to mix until a smooth, fairy thick batter is achieved.

Use a spoon to scoop portions of the batter into each donut hole, spreading it around with your finger or the back of the spoon to ensure even distribution. The batter should fill 3/4 of the donut hole well, as they will rise as they bake. 

Add the pans to the oven and bake for 12 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and allow the donut to cool for a few minutes before flipping them out onto a cooling rack while still warm. Be delicate here as the donuts can be a bit crumbly when hot.

To ensure the cinnamon sugar coating sticks, coat the top and bottom of the donuts with coconut oil spray and then dip each one in the topping. 

Serve warm or room temp with warm, spiced apple cider or a cup of coffee with almond milk.

 

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Blackberry Mint Lemonade/Shrub

blackberrymintlemonade
Be patient. Follow the pace of the seasons
blackberrymintlemonade
blackberrymintshrub

Ahhhh, late summer. I don't know about you, but the fact that fall is right around the corner feels like a SUCH relief. It has been the hottest, most humid summer season in New England I can ever remember and although I've been in the relatively dry heat of California for the past four years I feel like everyone on the east coast can relate on some level. I could complain about it forever, but truly, deep down, I am grateful for the heat and humidity - a feel of the tropics before we prepare for another cold winter.

It's around this time of year, every year though, that many of us fall into a bit of a panic about all the summer plans we haven't yet seen though.

We say "It's mid-August and I still I haven't gotten to ___________."

  • Swim in a lake
  • Eat corn on the cob
  • Go camping
  • Hike a big mountain
  • Dip into the ocean on a moonlight night 

As summer starts to slip away the nights grow longer, the air turns colder and we all cling onto those last few weeks of lush, green fully-alive beauty. For me, a lot of my yet-to-be-realized summer plans involved living more closely with nature. So yesterday I made the simple commitment to make this truly seasonal recipe - to go out and forage some wild mint from the yard and to select some fresh berries from the market, to make this syrup, to slow down, to notice the smells, to savor the season.

If you'd like to do the same please follow along with the recipe below. It's super simple and easy to achieve - take your time, enjoy the process, share with your friends! Of course, if another seasonal fruit or herb calls to you, change them out keeping similar proportions - this recipe is SUPER versatile. Great additions would be - rosemary, basil, lemon balm OR raspberries, strawberries, plums. 

blackberrymintlemonade

A Long-Lasting Bonus: If you make the shrub (that's just the simple syrup + vinegar) -recipie detailed below- you can savor this memory of summer for months to come. Living in this way allow you to enjoy the summer in the winter, which can make a world of difference when you feel like warm days are a million miles away.  


Serves: 6 (1/2 gallon) • Prep Time: Overnight + 10 min


FOR THE SIMPLE SYRUP

  • 1 cup liquid sweetener (I used agave syrup, you could also use granulated sugar or coconut sugar as well)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pint fresh blackberries
  • 2 cups fresh mint leaves, lightly packed (the more the better)

Add all ingredients into a medium-sized  pot on medium heat, and bring to a simmer for just 5 minutes. Take off the heat and Use the side of a fork to help to mash the berries so they release more of their juices and gorgeous color. Allow the syrup to cool slightly and then pour into a mason jar with a lid. Let it sit out overnight to steep. In the morning, strain your syrup into another clean jar. This recipe makes double the amount you need for a rough half gallon recipe of lemonade - you can store it in your fridge for a week or so. 

Alternatively, add a cup of apple cider vinegar to the remainder of your syrup - a concentrated mix of simple syrup, flavorings and vinegar is called a 'shrub' and when diluted in water (I'd say add 2 tbsp. to a 16 oz. cup) it takes plain H20 to a whole new level of sophistication - not to mention, the AVC adds a powerfully digestive spike to your sips! Lasts for a few months in the fridge.

FOR THE LEMONADE

  • 1 cup blackberry mint simple syrup
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (it took me 6 whole lemons to get there)
  • 6-8 cups water
  • Ice + mint sprigs for garnish

Add all ingredients to a large container and stir. Chill, and/or pour over ice, garnish with mint. Enjoy!

 

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Triple Chocolate Sour Cherry Cookies - Gluten Free + Vegan

vegantriplechocolatecherrycookies

Vegan baking goes like this: complete failure or complete success. When struck with the inspiration for this cookie the first try was a true win and  nothing gets me more revved up than when that happens! The flavor combo is SO GOOD! Tart, sour cherries combined with rich, dark chocolate. Fudgey, dense, delicious! Give these a try today.

vegantriplechocolatecherrycookies
vegantriplechocolatecherrycookies
vegantriplechocolatecherrycookies

Makes: Apx. 18-20 cookies • Prep Time: 10 min • Cook Time: 20 min


WET INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips + 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce (or sub mashed banana)
  • 1/4 nut butter of choice (I used almond)
  • 2-3 tbsp. plant milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

DRY INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp. brown rice flour (OR sub another gluten free flour with varied results)
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao or cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. whole chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp. instant coffee powder (optional, enhances the chocolate flavor)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

MIX INS

I used 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips and 1 cup sour dried cherries. You could also add your favorite nuts, cacao nibs or practically anything else!


Preheat the oven to 350*F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium sized bowl, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil over simmering water until smooth. Alternatively, you can do this in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments, stirring in between. 

Next add the rest of the wet ingredients to the melted chocolate and combine. In another bowl, whisk all of the dry ingredients together (save the "mix ins"). Add the dry to the wet until a thick dough forms - then stir in your mix-ins. 

Spoon a scant 1/4 cup of the batter out onto the cookie sheet, using your hands to press it down and spread it out a bit (these cookies will not spread on their own much). Repeat this process until all of the batter is distributed on the sheet pan. 

Before adding the cookies to the oven drop the temp. down to 300*. Place them in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, remove the cookies from the oven but don't touch them until they FULLY cool. Due to the use of melted chocolate in the batter, these cookies need to cool and firm up to ensure the rich texture - I like to put them in the fridge for at least an hour.

Serve with a glass of almond milk! They store well in the fridge for up to a week.  

 

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South West Vegan Zucchini Fritters with Spicy Cashew Avocado Creama

zucchinicornfritters

Here's another recipe I've been meaning to share FOR-EV-ER. My zucchini fritters are spicy, savory, sweet, crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, oh, and they're really filling. Whole food, plant based, gluten free, oil free and FULL of fresh flavor. They take a little bit of work but are well worth it and honestly, I think you'll enjoy the whole process because making a bit of a mess in the kitchen is fun (okay, maybe that's just me). 

veganzucchinicornfritters

The star here (other than zucchini, of course) is chic pea/garbanzo bean flour. It's cheap and pretty easy to come by these days in your regular grocery store (or here on Amazon). It's a really useful flour to keep on hand as it works not only as a bulking agent but as a binder as well. When cooked in a pan, this flour helps the fritter to become a golden brown and crispy masterpiece while keeping the inside moist and tender. It's loaded with protein and made of just one ingredient - all in all, it's my new favorite pantry staple.  Get your hands on some today!

The texture and flavor combination of this recipe is amazing to me. I love how crisp the outside gets while remaining tender on the inside. The combo of veggies and beans come together with the spices to be so authentically south west. But...just being honest...truthfully I don't feel I've had enough fritters in my life to officially call this a "fritter" rather than a pan-fried veggie burger but we are just gonna go with it because while "a cross between a patty and fritter" is maybe a better description, it's just no good for SEO. 

veganzucchinicornfritters

If I were you I'd make a double batch of this recipe because you are gonna want left overs, as I mention in the instructions, they freeze well and make a great packed lunch or snack. My favorite way to eat these fritters? Room temp over a salad with some quinoa and the spicy cashew avo creama I detail below! Give it a try and let me know what you think!!!

veganzucchinicornfritters

Makes: 8 fritters (double the recipe if you want left overs) • Serves: 4 • Prep Time: 20 min • Cook Time: 20-25 min


SOUTH WEST ZUCCHINI FRITTERS

  • 3 cups zucchini, grated*
  • 1.5 cups fresh corn kernels cut from the cobb (you may also use frozen)
  • 1/2 medium red pepper, diced (roasted red pepper would also be nice)
  • 1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped small (optional)
  • 16 oz. can black beans, drained, rinsed and lightly mashed**
  • 1/4 cup green onion OR red onion, finely diced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • the juice of one lime
  • 1 tbsp. pickled jalapeno liquid (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. ground flax seed
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika, garlic powder, cumin and chili powder***
  • 1 heaping cup chic pea/gabanzo bean flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste

NOTES:

*Do not drain the liquid from your squash, you'll need it to help to bind the fritters

**Call me gross but I just squeezed the beans in my hands to lightly mash about 70% of the beans

***You could alternatively use taco seasoning instead of these spices

Grate and measure out your zucchini and add to a very large bowl, prep the rest of your fresh ingredients and add to the bowl, stir to combine. Then add in the dry - chic pea flour, flax seed, nutritional yeast, spices/seasonings. Mix the batter well using your hands until the dry ingredients are very well absorbed. Taste and adjust for seasoning. As your cast iron or non stick pan heats to medium, allow the batter to sit for a few minutes so the chic pea flour can soak up all of the liquid. 

Use a mason jar lid to ensure even fritter size - spoon 4-6 tablespoons of batter into a lid (sprayed with cooking oil) and smooth out the top. Flip the fritter out of the lid into a well oiled skillet and repeat a few more times to fill the pan (I fit 4 fritters in my skillet and then went in for a second round, just make sure you re-spray your pan with cooking oil in between each batch). Then, using a spatula, press the fritters out a bit to ensure they cook through to the middle. Cook on each side for 5-7 minutes, flipping as much as you need to in order to prevent burning (a little char is tasty though). 

Once cooked evenly on both sides, remove your fritters from the pan and allow to cool on a wire rack. You can serve them warm, cold or at room temperature. Top with spicy cashew avocado creama (recipe below) or salsa, serve over salad, on a bun or with a side of rice! These fritters store well for a few days in the fridge, make an amazing packed lunch and even freeze well for a few weeks in a zip lock bag/glass container with parchment paper in between each patty.


SPICY CASHEW AVOCADO CREAMA

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • the juice of one lime
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. pickled jalapeno liquid
  • 4-8 pickled jalapeno slices
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro (optional)
  • Garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste
  • ~1/2-3/4 cup water

Add all ingredients (go easy on the water to start) to a blender and blend until totally smooth - taste and adjust for seasoning. Store your left over creama in a mason jar in the fridge for 1-2 days! Makes a great dressing/sandwich spread as well!

 

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The Ultimate Guacamole

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The Ultimate Guacamole

ultimateguacamole

Everyone loves it. Everyone craves it. Everyone wants it on everything. And yes, everyone knows its extra. When it comes to something I eat and enjoy so often I don't want it to just be mediocre, it's taken me a long time but I have recently come to perfect my ideal gauc. But, what makes guacamole the "ultimate" guacamole?!

ultimateguacamole

Well... I've learned that it's different for everyone - some like super chunky guac (like me) but others like it totally smooth (yuck, sorry). Some like tons of fresh herbs in and others like to keep it simple. Some like tons of spice but others want to keep it mild. But for me, a few things make this recipe my ultimate and I hope you love it too...

1. Its substantial. This gauc has it all - GARLIC, ONION, JALAPENO, TOMATO and....FRESH CORN. The sweetness from the somewhat uncommon addition of corn is the absolute holy grail for gauc and in my opinion it makes this more than just a dip - it is so well rounded, you can just eat it by the spoonful. 

2. The freshness. The addition of lime and cilantro combine to make the perfect fresh take. 

3. The creativity. The sneaky addition of smoked paprika. Such a nice touch.  

ultimateguacamole

Give this a go and let me know if you take away OR add anything else so that makes this gauc YOUR ultimate.


Serves: 4 • Prep Time: 15 min


  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 ear of fresh raw corn, cut off the cobb (yup, corn!) 
  • 1/4 large red onion *optional
  • the juice from 1 large, juicy lime (sub lemon)
  • 1/2 chopped jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup chopped roma/cherry/grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic OR 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika OR cayenne 
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Prep all of your ingredients - remove your corn from the cobb, chop the garlic, pepper, onion, collect your spices and juice your lime. Pit and peel the avocados and add to a large bowl.

I like to keep my guac really chunky so I simply use a knife to roughly chop my avo but if you like a finer mash, use the back of a fork til you reach the consistency you like. Then, fold in the rest of your ingredients (holding back on a bit of each for decoration). Taste and re-season if needed.

For presentation, transfer your mix to a smaller bowl and top with paprika, cilantro, red onion, tomato and more fresh corn and enjoy immediately. 

Serve this dip up with chips, sweet potato fries, on top of a salad or rice bowl - or literally just eat it alone with a fork. 

As with all avocado based dishes, this dip generally doesn't keep super well but if you do want to make your left overs last - cover the gauc with cling wrap, allowing the plastic to touch the surface of the dip - that will reduce the oxidization overall. 

 

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Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta with Citrus-y Vegan 'Parmesan'

IMG_1313.jpg

Summery, fresh and FULL of flavor. I LOVE everything this simple, quick dinner has to offer - and to be honest, I've been making it a while but I am FINALLY getting around to sharing it with you. If I were to compare it to an old classic I'd say it reminds me a lot of penne a la vodka - the light pink-y sauce, the rich flavor and the penne shaped pasta of course (I used Ancient Harvest quinoa pasta).

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I love the hit of healthy fat we get from the addition of coconut cream, it makes the sauce coat the noodles perfectly (especially with the addition of a little starchy pasta water) and the color that it gives - oh, just you wait! We take things even further than your traditional pasta dish by mixing in sweet spring peas, loads of fresh basil and a sprinkle of my brand new citrus-y vegan 'parm' that is made with mineral rich Brazil nuts. 

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A few pantry staples plus a few fresh ingredients and you have a dinner to wow just about anyone who gathers around your table. This dish would also be great with zucchini noodles too, but lets be real, a girl needs some real-deal pasta every once in a while.

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It's as easy as this - we start with an creamy tomato sauce packed with sneaky veggies made right in your blender and we then heat it through so the flavors can meld. Next, we boil up some pasta, blanch some peas and chop some basil. We then pulse together the nuts, nooch and lemon zest based 'parm' in a processor for something truly special. Scroll below to see how it all comes together!


Serves: 4 • Prep Time: 30 min • Cook Time: 10 min


CREAMY TOMATO SAUCE

  • 16oz. can (or half a 32oz). can of whole, Roma tomatoes (look for an Italian brand)
  • 2 small cans of coconut cream (8oz.) OR the thick, creamy part from two 16oz. can of coconut milk 
  • 8oz. can of tomato paste
  • 2 medium sized carrots, peeled and roughly chopped (they add natural sweetness and thicken the sauce)
  • 2-3 tbsp. coconut sugar *optional
  • 1-3 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tbsp. dried basil, oregano and rosemary
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

PASTA

  • 1 box Ancient Harvest Quinoa penne  *sub whatever pasta you want
  • 1 cup frozen baby peas
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped and divided into two piles (one to add to the pasta and sauce and one for garnish)

Add all sauce ingredients to a blender and combine on high until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Add to a large pot and cook on low-medium heat til the sauce reduces a bit (apx. 5-7 min) - be careful and use a lid to prevent splattering. Stir occasionally.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a roiling boil, salt and add in pasta. Cook according to package directions, minus one minute of cook time. Drain and reserve a 1/2-1 cup of the cooking liquid.

NOTE: If you're using zucchini noodles you can skip this step and cook them til tender right in the sauce itself.

When the pasta is just a minute under done, drain and add the pasta and frozen peas to the sauce - toss well to coat. Use some reserved pasta water to help to loosen the sauce if needed - I used about a 1/2 cup. 

Sprinkle in half of the chopped basil and plate it up - garnish with your homemade vegan 'parm' (recipe below) and more basil. 

This dish is best served fresh but you can store left over/extra sauce in the fridge for 4-5 days.


    LEMON-Y VEGAN 'PARMESAN' SPRINKLE (makes a mason jars worth of this addictive sprinkle)

    • 1/2 cup brazil nuts *you can sub walnuts, pecans or almonds
    • 1/2 cup cashews
    • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
    • the peel of one small lemon (I use a veggie peeler here)
    • 1 small clove of garlic 
    • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning *optional
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Add all of the ingredients to your food processor (or blender if it has a 'pulse' setting), pulse everything together until it is fully combined and resembles a Parmesan cheese texture. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Store leftovers in a mason jar - it keeps for about a month in the fridge.

     

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    Adaptogenic Iced Matcha Latte

    icedmatchalatte

    I am not always a trend follower when it comes to all the fancy powders and potions in the world of wellness but as someone who has been looking for a less filling but sustaining breakfast to suit my get-up-and-go lifestyle of late (a-la bulletproof coffee) I decided to jump on the super-food fortified beverage bandwagon.

    adaptogenicmatchalatte
    adaptogenicmatchalatte

    This creamy, earthy, sustaining iced matcha latte is packed with all the things that make me feel my best plus a few new additions that I am still experimenting with. I love it because if I drink it in the morning before I run off to teach yoga it keeps me full and full of energy well after class without weighing me down (and if you practice hot yoga, you know how important that is). As always I encourage you to make this recipe your own - if you don't have all the superfoods I list below use what you have, what you know makes you feel your best, or heck, skip them all together - because as I say, " all plant foods are superfoods.".

    Here's what I've got goin' on:

    Matcha Green Tea Powder: Clean caffeine and rich in antioxidants. Unlike coffee, the energy you get from matcha is a slow build rather than a buzz. In my own personal experience I do feel better after drinking high quality matcha vs. coffee; it feels more "natural" and less intense.

    TBH, matcha was never my favorite flavor but I've been enjoying baking with it lately (check out my matcha tea cake and matcha pancakes) so I decided to try my darnedest to make a delicious drink - and I hit it out of the park with this, if I do say so myself. I am not sure how lovely this would taste hot but I really enjoy it as a cold beverage.

    MTC or Coconut Oil: MTC or medium-chain triglycerides is a type of fatty-acid most commonly found in coconut oil that helps to sustain energy and control hunger. Now, if you follow my blog you'll know I am not a huge fan of processed/refined foods - and yea, if you didn't know, oils are just that! I was interested in experimenting with MTC oil as I work to balance my hormones due to some long term symptoms I've been experiencing - more on that in a future post - but I do love how rich and creamy the oil makes this drink plus it adds a hit of calories which is what helps to keep me full. Due to the link between oils like this and certain popular means of weight loss I do want to say: I think the 'keto' diet  is absolutely absurd - you can't restrict an entire macronutrient group and expect to gain any long term benefits. Just eat real food. 

    Ashwagandha Powder: This was another thing I incorporated into my diet in an attempt to balance out my hormones and reduce my bodies reactions to stress. It is relatively flavorless so it doesn't add anything there but I do love it's supposed benefits which include...

    • Supports a healthy immune system*1, 2
    • Calms mental processes*2
    • Fosters healthy sleep patterns*1
    • Benefits a healthy reproductive system in both males and females*3, 4
    • Supports sustained energy levels, strength, and vitality, including with physical activity*
    • Supports a healthy back and joints*3
    • Promotes thyroid health*
    • Promotes healthy functioning of the adrenals*

    *info from Banyan botanicals

    My personal jury is still out on if ashwagandha is helping any or if it's more of a placebo but with roots in ayruveda (a yogi's healthcare system of choice) I like to think it is.

    Maca Powder: The yin to ashwagandha's yang. It's an adaptogen meaning it can help the body naturally adapt to stressors like a busy schedule, demanding job or illness. This root like vegetable in powder form is one of the most popular superfoods around and it's no wonder why with benefits like enhanced energy, mood, memory and it's help in boosting female and male sex hormones.

    -

    As noted above, please take away or add anything you feel would make this latte something that feels good in your body - there's plenty of adaptogenic powders and superfood potions out there now and a recipe like this is a great way to experiment with them to see how/if they benefit you!


    Makes: One 16oz. serving (or two 8oz. servings) • Prep Time: 5 minutes


    Ingredients

    • 14-16 oz. unsweetened plant based milk (I used almond)
    • 1.5 tsp. ceremonial grade matcha powder
    • 1 tsp. MTC oil or coconut oil
    • 1/2 tsp. ashwaganda powder (optional)
    • 1/2 tsp. maca powder (optional)
    • Sweetener to taste (I used a bit of liquid stevia but maple syrup or agave are both great additions)
    • Dash of cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom or adaptogenic superfood powder (optional)
    • 4-6 ice cubes

    Pro-Tip: For a slightly less filling beverage, you can cut the amount of plant based milk in half and sub water - the result will be slightly less creamy but still delicious.


    Combine all of the ingredients in a blender, except for the ice and combine on high until well combined and frothy - apx. 30 seconds. 

    Add ice cubes to a glass and pour your latte over- you should have a nice layer of foam at the top. Enjoy slowly!

     

    LOVE THROUGH FOOD, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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    Summer Shortbread Cookies with Edible Flowers

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    I believe in eating well ...but that doesn't always mean the same thing. With the exception of no animal products ever (I just don't see them as food), sometimes 'eating well' can look like a marcobiotic bowl full of kale, fermented veggies and seaweed and other times 'eating well' is an entire of plant-based pizza if that's what I am really craving - I try to avoid the distinction between 'bad' and 'good' and instead focus on what feels right in my body at the time. 'Eating well'  means caring for yourself, and that looks very different from day to day. I believe in trying to strike balance through food and I don't think you achieve that my making hard and fast rules because, well, rules are for breaking. Despite my moniker, I don't believe in limiting yourself to 'clean' foods all the time - for me, 'clean' is a feeling of peace and clarity not eliminating carbs or sugar or fat. This is important for me to stress because as I dive deeper into my business I never want to be about one particular way of eating or living as 'the answer' for all - we all have our own path, or own past and our own preferences. Balance, tolerance and loving acceptance are huge in my life. 

    I never want anyone to feel bad about food. Food is to be enjoyed. To me, its divine, its alchemy, its magic. Food can heal ... and I'm not just talking about kale, I think a cupcake or a fried mac and cheeze ball can be just as healing as a steamed bowl of greens - it all depends on what you need - physically, emotionally, psychologically - at that point in time.  I don't believe in shaming yourself for eating an entire chocolate bar if it's what you really want. I don't believe in limiting yourself if you're in tune with what you want. Just like movement (I teach yoga if you didn't know), I believe in food as a tool of exploration - a way to observe what feels good, what does not, a way to find joy in the simple things, a way to nourish and grow. 

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    With all of that said, here is a recipe that may not be thought of as healthy but the process of making these cookies was healing for me and exactly what I needed. I'd seen this concept bouncing around the internet recently and this morning I got hit with the sudden urge to test it out and these turned out perfectly. Well, perfectly imperfect and exactly what shortbread cookies should be -light, crumbly, crisp and slightly sweet. Perfumed with rose water, lemon juice and edible flowers these are not only visually stunning but taste divine as well. I've been really struggling lately, if I am being honest, but the process of making food (especially for others) gets me fully present, grateful and back on my path.

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    Give these simple, easy cookies a try and let me know how you like them.


    Makes: 16 cookies • Prep Time: 10 min • Cook Time: 20-22 minutes


    • 2 cups all purpose, unbleached flour (you could use GF flour, spelt or whole wheat with mixed results)
    • 1/4 cup stevia/sugar baking blend (use 1/2 cup regular sugar, if substituting) 
    • 1 cup + apx. 2 tbsp vegan butter or margarine (you could sub room temp. coconut oil but I have not tested this)
    • 1 tsp. vanilla 
    • 1 tsp. lemom juice
    • 1 tsp. rose water extract *optional
    • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
    • 1/4 cup edible flowers

    PRO TIP: I bought my edible flowers through a food distributor but you can find small packages at health food stores or forage your own. There's plenty of edible flower varieties - here's some suggestions.


    Preheat the oven to 350*F. 

    In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar and salt together using a whisk. Measure out 1 cup of slightly cold to room temp. vegan butter and use your fingers to evenly work it into the flour - it should resemble a course meal or sand after about a minute or so. Add in the lemon juice, rose water and vanilla. Use your hands to once again bring the dough together - it will feel very crumbly but should press into a ball when squeezed in your fist. If this is not the case, add another tablespoon or two of vegan butter, being careful not to over work the dough - it should still be very dry and not sticky in any way. 

    Note: You could also mix in a variety of different flavorings and superfoods into your dough - lemon zest, blood orange, chia, turmeric powder, ginger powder, cacao powder, maca, cortaceps - make it your own!

    Transfer your dough onto a well floured surface and form it into  rough circular mound. Use a rolling pin (I don't have one, I use a clean glass jar) to press and roll the dough out into an even 1/2" round. As you are working, sprinkle over your edible flowers and use the rolling pin to gently press them into the surface of the dough. 

    Working delicately, use a small circular cutter (I used a small glass juice cup that was apx. 2.5" in diameter) to press out your cookies. Add them to a parchment lined and coconut oil sprayed baking sheet. You don't have to worry about how far you place them apart because these cookies have no spread and no rise! Once you've cut as many cookies as you can from the first round of dough, gather it back up and roll it back out with more flowers - continue cutting out cookies and continuing this process until there's little to no dough left. 

    Bake the cookies for 15 minutes and then give them a turn in the oven to ensure even baking. Cook for a total of 20-22 minutes - you should be able to pick the cookies up without them crumbling and they should be slightly golden brown on the bottom. Allow to cool fully before enjoying. They store well in the fridge for up to a week! 

    Note: Due to the drying nature of the oven, these cookies do look better prior to baking so take a photo or two (lol) but I love the light perfume the flowers give the finished product - you can always garnish with a little more flower petals right before you're ready to serve. 

     

    LOVE THROUGH FOOD, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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    Eating Seasonally: Celebrating and Exploring our Deeper Connection to Seasons through Food

    eating seasonally

    Eating Seasonally

    This post is intended to function as a comprehensive resource for LCK's 'Let's Chat' workshop organized by Jennie Fresa Beauty in Madison, CT on May 22, 2018. It was an honor and a pleasure to connect with all of you- please do not hesitate to contact me with questions! Scroll down to the bottom for full recipes of the dishes that were served!


    Think about it: You gain and sustain your energy through the food that you eat. What you take in from a nutritional perspective makes up so much of who you are. Food sends messages to your body -  communicating and regulating everything from your hormonal balance, to your nutrient absorption, to your thoughts. As a matter of fact, we have a “second brain” in our guts (article linked below)! Matching your energy to that of the season can allow you to be more present, balanced, mindful and aware in your daily life. Not only that, but you through matching your internal makeup to that of the external environment allows your body to be more in alignment which builds natural beauty and vibrancy from the inside out.


    First, find your why:

    When I feel uninspired, my first course of action is to bring it back to my 'why'. There are SO MANY reason why it benefits us to eat seasonally aside from the spiritual and health connections  - so here are some of mine to help get you inspired!

    Why eat seasonally/locally?

    1. Support your local growers to support the local economy

    2. The food is more affordable because it’s in abundance

    3. Decrease your carbon footprint, food waste and plastic use

    4. The further food travels the more nutritional value it loses. The average farm-to-plate travel distance in the U.S is 1500 miles sometimes traveling up to 9,000 miles to get to you!

    5. Nature knows what it’s doing - seasonal food tastes best

    6. Your food is tailored to the same environment that you are

    7. Slowing down to make seasonal eating at priority helps you feel more connected to your plate, to your body and to the seasons themselves

    What is your why?!


    The Five Pillars of Seasonal Eating

    1. Eat what’s in season - local, colorful, fresh, convenient, affordable

    2. Eat foods in their whole form - keep it simple

    3. Source, prepare and eat mindfully - use intuition, intention + gratitude

    4. Eat a balanced, wide variety of whole foods


    Beauty and health is built from the inside, out:

    What about if I asked you to show me your beautifying ritual? You'd probably grab some face masks, makeup or high-vibe oils, right?! But what if I told you that what you put IN your body is just as important as what you put ON it. And no - I am not talking only about supplements, either! Vitamins and minerals are best absorbed by the body when we get them from whole plant foods - the way that nature intended. Albeit great marketing by the pharmaceutical companies, if we really think about it, it's illogical to go through the trouble of extracting vitamins and minerals from the earth and condensing them into pill form. If we simply eat whole foods we receive better delivery, absorption and assimilation of the bodies essential beauty compounds like amino acids, complex proteins, antihistamines, probiotics, prebiotics, UV protectants, free-radical inhibitors, vitamins and minerals. It is even true that many fruits and veggies are rich in specific combinations of these compounds that are only absorbed with the others present (the vitamin C content in kale, helps your body to absorb the veggies' rich iron count, for example). 

    According to research from the book ‘Eat Pretty’ by Jolene Hart, food and lifestyle can positively or negatively affect up to 80% of your bodies DNA processes. It is commonly noted that we have a second brain in our gut that processes nutrients as well as emotions. In other words, the way you treat yourself through food can help to determine your health and wellbeing for the rest of your life. I like to look at food as the ultimate tool for wellness - treating my body better though food is my first defense against illness and dis-ease. The closer I get to my food by choosing it intentionally, preparing it healthfully and eating it mindfully I am better able to slow down and notice. I have come to know myself better by eating seasonally and that is the ultimate gift.

     

    Let’s talk: Your Seasonal Body

    We are seasonal creatures made to flow with the seasons! Our bodies crave different things at different times of the year to keep us balanced - warm and nourishing in the winter, hydrating and cool in the summer . Think of how desirable a watermelon is on a hot, humid day vs. digging into one during a winter storm. Humans are adaptable, opportunistic creatures - meaning we are literally made for seasonal changes. Ever notice how chilly it feels after the first fall frost, but come March you’re fine wearing flip flops if the temp peeks above 40*? Let your body be your guide when it comes to eating seasonally.

     

    The Seasons as a Cycle: An Ayurvedic Perspective

    Ayurveda, yoga's 5,000 year old sister science explains the real-life applications of living a spiritual life and although it's roots an in India (a climate very different to our own) I find a lot of season-based inspiration in it's teachings. First of all, ayurveda looks at the seasons as well as the bodies different process as a fluid cycle rather than separate and distinct - this helps us to see everything from a more holistic point of view. In ayurveda, rather than seeking a perfect and pristine state of being we learn that our bodies are always in flux and balance is a teetering scale rather than a steady state. It's teachings also instruct that we can balance our dominant qualities through holistic self-care practices - eating simply, moving in ways that feel good, and by consistently showing up for ourselves.

    To find out more about ayurveda, and how certain foods interact with your constitution click here

     

    Let’s Talk: Eating Un-local, but still seasonal produce

    We live in a world where eating local, seasonal food is not always practical. For eons, it was the only way but in modern day we are lucky enough to have fresh fruits and vegetables from places like Argentina and Australia available here in Connecticut year round. I like to go by the GOOD/BETTER/BEST rule when it comes to seasonal but non-local produce - if I am craving something sweet, ripe and  juicy and find a mango in my market from Mexico that is GOOD, if I am craving the same thing but find a Cantaloupe from the Carolinas instead that is BETTER, and if I find a local watermelon at a farm stand that is BEST. That being said, listen to your body - if you want the mango, eat the mango. Mangoes are in season in the northern hemisphere starting in June so from a broad perspective, you’re right on target. We are very lucky to have these foods available to us, so savor them as such. When in doubt as to a particular fruit or veggies’ seasonality, do a quick google search while in the store based on the country of origin on the sticker: “Hey Siri, when are mangoes in season in Mexico?”. I do like to draw the line between hemispheres though - if you’re getting strawberries from Argentina in February, we can almost guarantee they will be unripe and flavorless - opt for frozen instead or find yourself a fruit was likely picked more recently and closer to where you are (California dates and oranges are great in February).

    Many varieties of fruit and vegetables that have a certain growing season are now grown in controlled greenhouses year round and they taste consistently great! But, are these items technically “in-season” year round? I think this is for each person to decide on their own as a case by case basis because who doesn’t love a little bit of avocado toast in January, am I right?!

     

    Let’s Talk: Organic vs. seasonal vs. non-organic produce

    By now most of us know that it’s better to choose locally grown over the organic label. Many small, local farms don’t have the money or the time to acquire the proper certifications to label their food organic - in the case of farmers markets and roadside stands, just ask your vendors about their growing conditions - oftentimes they use organic methods. When it comes to choosing between organic and non-organic - I again like to follow the GOOD/BETTER/BEST rule. If you can afford the organic option by all means go for it, but if eating organic means that you have to spend your full paycheck just to enjoy an avocados and tomatoes - go for conventional. Yes, organic is BEST but conventional fruit and veg is BETTER than fast food or processed options.

     

    Let’s Talk: Eating Seasonally in Cold Weather

    Although we are in the height of summer now, we do live in a somewhat extreme climate of hot and cold. As we discussed earlier, if we listen to our bodies we tend to discover that we crave warm, nourishing, cooked foods in the winter and cool, hydrating, raw foods in the summer. The internal body matches the external world. Now, we all know that not much grows in the northeast in the dead of winter but that doesn’t have to stop you from eating seasonally. Again, I ask you to refer to the GOOD/BETTER/BEST rule here. While cleansing might be all the rage come January 1st - I urge you to use caution in committing to a week long cold-liquids detox as your body craves warmth and nourishment. Instead opt for a soup cleanse (yes, they exist) or if you must juice, be sure to supplement with warm herbal teas or broths.


    HOW TO EAT SEASONALLY

    Let’s talk: Gathering from the earth A.K.A Foraging

    Connecticut has a variety of for herbs, weeds, flowers, mushrooms and more that, if I identified properly, can be picked, eaten and use in a wide array of medicinal and gourmet applications.

    For more information on herbalism and foraging in CT click here.

    Or attend Herbstalk 2018, in Somerset, MA with me on June 2, 2018!


    Let’s talk: Growing

    The spring and summer in Connecticut is ideal for growing an entire garden full of food with minimal to moderate effort - so many herbs, flowers, veggies and fruits do well in our climate.

    For a comprehensive 'how-to' of what to plant and when in Connecticut, click this link.


    Let’s talk: Sourcing/Shopping

    Here is a comprehensive short list CT shoreline-specific seasonal, local fruits and veggies!

    Farmers Markets -

    • Madison Farmers Market, on the town green | May 4-Oct 26 | Fridays | 3pm-6pm
    • Wooster Square Farmers Market by City Seed, New Haven | April 7-15 | Saturdays | 9am-1pm
    • Downtown New Haven Farmers Market by City Seed | Opens June 27 | Wednesdays | 11am-2pm
    • Chester Farmers Market, Main St. Chester | June 10-Oct 14 | Sundays | 10am-1pm

    Community Supported and Agriculture/ Traditional Farm Shares -

    • CT Farm Fresh Express • East Haddam
    • Bittablue Farm • Killingworth
    • Barberry Hill Farm • Madison

    Grocery Stores -

    • FoodWorks • Guilford + Old Saybrook
    • Bishop’s Orchard Farm Market • Guilford
    • Fresh Market • Guilford
    • Don’t forget about large conventional grocery stores - they carry local produce at affordable prices  !

    A Short List of some Spring/Summer Skin Foods Grown Locally in the North Eastern US

    I choose some of my favorite nutrient dense, flavor packed foods to feature in the list below. When we are eating for the seasons it's important to match what we consume with what we crave that time of year - all of these fruits and veg and water-rich (to hydrate you in the heat), full of fiber (to keep your tummy tame), and loaded with vitamins (for glowing, healthy skin).

    • Arugula
    • Beets
    • Blueberries
    • Cantelope
    • Cucumbers
    • Celery
    • Chard
    • Collards
    • Dandelion Greens
    • Lemons
    • Peaches
    • Raspberries
    • Rhubarb
    • Strawberries
    • Sprouts
    • Tomatoes
    • Watermelon
    • Watercress

    Make it last:

    The funny thing about seasonal eating is that it is a bit of a 'hurry-up-and-wait' type of process. We tend our tomatoes for months, sprouting, watering, nurturing. We patiently watch their flowers bloom, their stalks thicken, their green fruits begin to grow for what seems like years and then, all of the sudden, BAM, you have 400 ripe tomatoes all at once. You have more than you know what to do with! Here are my tips to making your seasonal produce last, thus extending your time to enjoy them.

    1. Freeze it at the peak of ripeness! Most produce freezes rather well, especially if you plan to cook it down or blend it in a smoothie!
    2. Bulk prep your food for the week - clean and chop all your produce so that it's ready for an on-the-fly salad or stir fry.
    3. Teas - throw a little rosemary, lemon and honey together for an incredible combo!
    4. Dry your herbs or edible flowers (like camomile) for use in soups, medicinal teas and tinctures - most of the time its as simple as tying them up in a cool dry room and then rehydrating them in hot water.
    5. Jams, compotes, sauces, chutneys and preserves - easier than you might think
    6. Fermented foods - krauts, kimchi, yogurts, kombuchas
    7. Quick or slow pickles - cucumbers, asparagus, beans, root veggie
    8. Juicing - use up boat loads of veg in a satisfying way (check out my D.I.Y juice cleanse ebook for more)

    Let’s Talk: Listening to Your Body

    Be honest with yourself - at the end of the day even if it’s gluten free, vegan, calorie free, fat free, etc. if it doesn’t increase your energy or make you feel good, listen to that! We are unique and individual and something that sits well with the person next you might not be the best thing for your body. Be aware of the cues your body is giving you through energy, mood, digestion, weight, strength and yes, even smell. :) 


    Local Resources

    Ayurvedic Resources

    Articles and Books

    Equipment Resources

    Spring/Summer Recipes:

     

    LOVE THROUGH FOOD, LIVECLEAN KITCHEN

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