Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: Easy fish on the campfire

A campfire on a beach can be the perfect place to make a quick, delicious summer meal.

A campfire is a great way to make a quick, delicious summer meal.

During the summer, meal prep time is often lost to outdoor activities and enjoying the sunshine. I like to call this season a time for “casual dining.” I aim for simple meals with minimal prep/cook time so I can get out of the kitchen and make good use of the warm weather. It’s even better when I can incorporate the meal making into my summer activities!

As many people do, I enjoy spending time at the lake on the weekends. Preparing supper without having to leave the beach is ideal for me. This recipe is quick, easy and delicious- and can be cooked right at the campfire, maximizing your fun in the sun!

Foil Packet Fish and Veggies

Ingredients:

  • 4 white fish filets
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 large zucchini, sliced
  • 1-2 tsp seasoning (I use Mrs. Dash; however, any blend will work – get creative!)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Note: Remember you’ll also need aluminum foil!

Directions:

  1. Slice vegetables thinly.
  2. Thaw and rinse fish filets.
  3. Tear off two pieces of aluminum foil twice as long as the filets and lay on top of each other.
  4. Grease the inside of the aluminum foil with butter where the fish will be placed.
  5. Place one fish filet in the middle of your aluminum foil and sprinkle with seasoning.
  6. Pile ¼ of the vegetables of top of the fish.
  7. Bring the ends of the foil together and seal shut.
  8. Do this for the rest of the fish filets.
  9. Cook on hot coals for 12 minutes each side.
Rilla Reardon

About Rilla Reardon

Rilla is a Registered Dietitian working for Northern Health since 2013. Rilla moved to northern BC from the east coast to continue developing her skills as a dietitian in a clinical setting while enjoying all that the north has to offer. Outside of work, she can be found experimenting in the kitchen or navigating the trails around Prince George with her dog, Henry. Rilla channels her passion for nutrition into practice, inspiring others to nourish their bodies, minds and souls with delicious and healthy food!

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Breastfeeding: giving your child a gold medal start to life

baby, breastfeeding, mother

Breastfeeding gives your child a gold start to life!

You may have heard that breast milk is the gold standard for infant feeding – and it’s true! In anticipation of World Breastfeeding Week (October 1-7, 2014, in Canada) and the Canada Winter Games in Prince George in February 2015, it’s a great time to highlight how an early start to life with breastfeeding can contribute to our children “growing for gold”!

My breastfeeding story of “growing for gold” is similar to many, I’m sure. What I remember most about the first moments with my newborns is that magical instant when each one latched on and started breastfeeding for the first time. It’s truly amazing when babies can find their way to the breast and start feeding. UNICEF has done a video, Breast Crawl, that perfectly illustrates this moment.

I’m not saying my breastfeeding experience was perfect. As a public health nurse, I thought I had all the knowledge and tools to breastfeed successfully, but I found a few challenges along the way: sore nipples, frequent feedings, and being so-so-SO tired! Knowing where to get information and support was key to tackling these issues and keeping me on track. I breastfed both of my children into their second year of life.

Breastfeeding meant that my children and I received many of benefits. For babies, breastfeeding provides a balanced diet, reduces infectious diseases, and promotes optimal brain development. For mothers, breastfeeding reduces the risk of osteoporosis and the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Now, I understand that breastfeeding may not be for everyone. But most women who choose to breastfeed have a successful experience. Here are some useful supports and resources for nursing mothers and their families:

For more resources, you can also visit Northern Health’s page for pregnancy, maternity and babies.

Check these resources out to support your breastfeeding experience and give your baby a gold medal start to life.

What was your experience with breastfeeding?

Vanessa Salmons

About Vanessa Salmons

Vanessa is a registered nurse and Northern Health’s Early Childhood Development lead for preventive public health. Located in Quesnel, Vanessa supports prenatal, postpartum and family health services across the north. She is married with two children and is always busy with the family’s many activities. Work/life balance is important to Vanessa. When she is not at work, she enjoys spending time with family and friends entertaining and cooking. Vanessa stays active through walking or running with her dog Maggie, spinning and circuit training. A good game of golf or a good book is always a bonus!

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Foodie Friday: Summer Bean Salad

A colorful bean salad.

For a shot of fiber, add this bean salad to your summer menu.

Beans, beans, the musical fruit…
…the more you eat the less you toot!

Contrary to popular belief, the more beans (or other high fiber foods) a person eats the less gas they will experience over time.

If you don’t believe me, let’s take a look at your digestive track – specifically the colon. The colon is where our natural gut bacteria live and eat. This type of bacteria is also referred to as probiotic bacteria. We acquire these bacteria at birth, through probiotic foods (such as yogurt) and from our environment.

Indigestible complex carbohydrates, called oligosaccharides, found in beans are some of our gut bacteria’s favorite food. Humans cannot digest these carbohydrates on their own, which is why they arrive at the colon intact. The symbiotic relationship with our gut bacteria makes it possible to absorb some of the nutrients these carbohydrates have to offer. Unfortunately for us, gas is a byproduct produced when breaking down the oligosaccharides. This gas then leaves the colon and we all know where it comes out.

People often experience the greatest amount of gas when they start to ingest high fiber foods in large quantities. We need to train our bodies to break down this indigestible fiber efficiently. To do so we must slowly introduce these high fiber foods to our gut. Always remember to increase your fluid intake as well. Fiber binds to liquid in the gut. Without enough liquid you can become constipated.

Tips to reduce gas:

  • Rinse pre-soaked or canned beans several times before cooking.
  •  Reduce swallowed air:
    • Chewing gum, drinking pop, sipping from a straw, and talking while eating can all increase the amount of air we ingest into our digestive tract which can increase flatulence.
    • If you are lactose intolerant look for lactose-free options or take a lactase enzyme pill before consuming dairy products
    • Steer clear of large quantities of low calorie sweeteners

You can start introducing some tasty fiber to your plate this summer with the refreshing black bean and corn salad below. I adapted it from AllRecipes.com.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ½ cups frozen corn kernels (or 1 can of corn)
  • 1 avocado – peeled, pitted, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Place lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper in a small jar. Cover with lid, and shake until ingredients are mixed well.
  2. In a salad bowl, combine beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro. Shake lime dressing and pour it over the salad. Stir salad to coat vegetables and beans with dressing and serve.
Laura Ledas

About Laura Ledas

Laura is UBC Dietetic Intern completing her 10 month internship with Northern Health. Even during the Prince George winter, Laura dreams about her summer garden. She loves spending time being active outdoors and is looking forward to enjoying more seasonal vegetables as the weather begins to warm!

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Foodie Friday: Grow your own

Rebecca's daughter waters the garden at their home.

Rebecca’s daughter waters the garden at their home.

As the days continue to get warmer and we spend more time outside, my thoughts always turn to gardening. I love watching the tiny seeds I plant turn into something green and then, with luck, something edible. After a crazy day of work, I find gardening to be a huge de-stresser – whether I’m pulling weeds or just sticking my fingers in the dirt, my stresses melt away. Gardening has some great health benefits and is a fun activity to do as a family as well. My daughter’s favorite activity is watering!

Gardening has the following great benefits:

  • The food is local and you know exactly how fresh it is.
  • It tastes great.
  • It can be cheaper.
  • It is a source of physical activity.
  • It teaches your children where food comes from.

Some vegetables that grow well in our climate without a greenhouse include: potatoes, Swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, carrots, peas, beans, beets, radishes, zucchini, cucumber, turnips, and parsnips.

If you have leftover zucchini, here are some ways to use it up:

BBQ:

Turn your BBQ on to medium heat. Take a small zucchini and cut it in half lengthwise. Brush olive oil on the zucchini and then sprinkle with herbs such as oregano, rosemary, salt, pepper, etc. Grill the zucchini for four minutes on each side or until a fork goes in easily.

Stir fry:

Because zucchini cooks quickly, it can be cut into small pieces or rounds and added to a stir fry.

Make relish:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • ½ tsp mustard seed
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 zucchini (~12 oz), finely diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch

Instructions:

  1. In a saucepan combine the oil, onion, mustard seed, turmeric, salt pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using) over medium heat, stirring often until the onion softens (about 6 minutes).
  2. Stir in zucchini, red bell pepper, brown sugar, and vinegar and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in ½ cup of water and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes until the zucchini is tender.
  5. Whisk cornstarch with 1tbsp of water and add to the mixture.
  6. Cook, stirring until the mixture thickens.
  7. Pour into an airtight container and let cool.
  8. Store in the fridge up to 2 weeks.

What are some of your favourite things to grow in your garden and how do you like to serve them?

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Tales from the Man Cave: Knowledge versus “knowledge”

Are you using credible sources to create your knowledge?

Are you using credible sources to create your knowledge?

Knowledge is more accessible than ever. Between the internet and 24-hour news stations, we’re swamped with it. But there’s knowledge and then there’s “knowledge.” Let’s discuss the difference between the two, because separating them is vital to your health.

For me, knowledge is information gained through evidence-based research. This includes checking your sources and the sources of the people providing you with the information. That’s one of the reasons I follow the Northern Health position papers. Many heads have worked on them, combining research from a variety of credible sources.

“Knowledge,” on the other hand, is the 10-second sound bite. It’s the picture of a piece of fruit on Pinterest that comes with a quote like, “Seven strawberries a day cures the common cold” without offering a source. These more accurately align with Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness.” They may have portions of the truth or they might just feel like they could be the truth. But we weren’t we all taught from a very young age not to believe everything we’re told?

Between the knowledge and “knowledge,” I always choose the first, burying my head in books and listening to audio books, all by credible sources. And that’s the key isn’t it? It has to be credible.

Here are some tips that are based on sound research from credible sources to help you stay healthy in mind and body:

That’s just scratching the surface of the available knowledge that will help us stay healthy. We can’t fit all of it into our brains, but we have to make sure that what we do hold onto comes from a good place (as is the case with all of the links in the above health tips).

Good luck to you!

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.

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IMAGINE Grants profile: Kids Helping Kids

Children take part in an exercise at a Kids Helping Kids event.

Children take part in an exercise at a Kids Helping Kids event.

When two grade seven students at Immaculate Conception Elementary School in Prince George observed that many of their classmates were leading sedentary lifestyles, their principal challenged them to educate their peers to be more physically active. They responded by recruiting more students, Action Schools! B.C., the City of Prince George, and School District 57 to create “Kids Helping Kids” – an IMAGINE Grant funded program that promotes the immediate and future benefits of healthy eating and physical activity.

The growth of the program throughout School District 57 has been remarkable. “The first year was run as a pilot project with independent schools,” explained Sue McDonald, Coordinator with Kids Helping Kids. “Year two, the program was offered to approximately half of the schools in the area, and last year it was offered to all schools in the Prince George area.” According to McDonald, the next phase of Kids Helping Kids is to expand beyond Prince George with the intention to “firmly embed [healthy eating and physical activity] as part of each school’s culture, truly making a difference in the future.”

Students take leadership roles, teaching other students about the value of nutrition.

Students take leadership roles, teaching other students about the value of nutrition.

Along with the program’s expansion, Kids Helping Kids is unique because of its peer-to-peer emphasis that teaches students life-long leadership skills. “…I am so thankful to have been in a leadership role,” said David, a School District 57 student and Kids Helping Kids participant, “teaching younger students and making a difference in their lives.”

“I went from a 15-year-old boy who could barely run a kilometre to a 17-year-old who is healthy, happy, and physically fit,” David continued, describing the impact that the program has had on his life. “I learned keeping healthy isn’t just about being more physically active. It’s about eating properly and making sure you’re not having too many candies, not eating that box of cookies that you have in your cupboard. It is keeping yourself running around, playing games and having fun with what you do. [Taking part in the program] was a lot of work, but it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. It was also one of the hardest.”

Northern Health couldn’t be more proud of Kids Helping Kids and of children like David.

About the IMAGINE Grants

Northern Health’s IMAGINE Grants fund health promotion projects by community partners, including northern groups/organizations and schools or districts, to support the health and wellness of northerners where they live, work, learn, and play. Ideas for projects are inspired and guided by Northern Health’s Position Statements. We’re happy to introduce an ongoing series of blog posts that will highlight past recipients of IMAGINE Grants and share their great work with you!

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Project Assistant in Health Promotions. He started at Northern Health in October of 2013. Mike grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007, when he moved here to pursue a career in radio. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, watching sports, reading, and ice fishing. His favourite thing about the north is the slower pace of life and the fact that he no longer has to worry about traffic every morning.

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Foodie Friday: Taste the Rainbow Potato Salad

A vibrant, colourful potato salad in a bowl.

Liven up your summer BBQ with this potato salad!

School is out, the sun is shining, and Canada Day is just around the corner. Summer is here! That means picnics at the lake and backyard barbeques with family and friends. For me, no summer barbeque is complete without the quintessential summer salad – the potato salad. While there are plenty of ready-made potato salads that you can pick up from your local grocery store, nothing quite compares to the homemade version. Trust me, it’s worth the effort!

This potato salad recipe is my interpretation of the famous potato salad that my boyfriend’s mother makes. His family can’t get enough of her potato salad, and I must admit, it might even trump my own mom’s potato salad (shhh – don’t tell her!). I love this recipe because it incorporates a variety of vegetables into the salad in a way that even picky eaters can enjoy. Extra veggies mean not only extra vitamins and nutrients, but extra flavor as well!

My mom did teach me one great tip: to steam your potatoes over boiling water instead of putting them in boiling water. This lets you control how tender they get and keeps them from absorbing too much water. You end up with the perfectly cooked potato that is tender yet still keeps its shape in the salad.

So, forget the store-bought potato salad — liven up your barbeque with this colourful dish, and enjoy all of the fun that summer brings.

Taste the Rainbow Potato Salad
Serves 6-8

  • 2 lbs. of potatoes (use a mixture of colours if you can)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2-3 stalks celery, diced
  • 5-6 radishes, grated
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 4 dill pickles, grated
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper to taste

1. Quarter (or more if they are larger) your potatoes and steam or boil until just fork tender. Set aside to cool.

2. Hard boil your eggs by placing your eggs in a saucepan, covering with water, and bringing to a boil. Set the timer for seven minutes, then remove the eggs, and place the saucepan in the sink. Run cold water over the eggs (without draining) until they are cool. Peel and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine the carrot, celery, radishes, green onion, pickles, mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, and Dijon mustard. Grate in your eggs, and mix thoroughly.

4. Add your potatoes, and combine gently so as not to break up the potatoes too much. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Chill in the fridge for a few hours so the flavours can meld and enjoy!

Food Safety note: As this potato salad contains eggs, mayonnaise, and yogurt, you want to make sure you keep it refrigerated or in a cooler on ice. Too much time in the hot sun equals unhappy tummies later on.

Source:  frenchfriestoflaxseeds.com (my blog).

 

Marianne Bloudoff

About Marianne Bloudoff

Born and raised in BC, Marianne moved from Vancouver to Prince George in January 2014. She is the Registered Dietitian with the Shapedown BC program at UHNBC. Her passion for food and nutrition lured her away from her previous career in Fisheries Management. Now instead of counting fish, she finds herself educating people on their health benefits. In her spare time, Marianne can be found creating new recipes and writing about them on her food blog, as well as exploring everything northern B.C. has to offer.

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Celebrate Aboriginal Day!

seaweed, Aboriginal health, healthy eating

Seaweed is left in the sun and open air to dry (Kitkatla, 2011).

I have learned so much about the many Aboriginal customs in  my work here at Northern Health. Did you know 30% of the Aboriginal people in B.C. live in the Northern Health health region?

Aboriginal peoples include three distinct populations: First Nations, Inuit and Métis. There are 54 First Nations in the health region with a great diversity of traditions, cultures and languages. There are six Métis associations across the north and a small Inuit population. Of the 300,000 people we serve, over 17% are Aboriginal. In the northwest, this jumps to 30%!

June 21st is Aboriginal Day all across Canada!

soapberries, Aboriginal health, healthy eating

Soapberries are whipped to make an ice cream-like treat!

This Aboriginal Day, I encourage you to make an effort to get to know the Aboriginal cultures in your area! Many communities host local events. Check out this interactive map from the First Nations Health Authority to find an event in your area or check your local event listings. For example, there will be a parade and event in Fort George Park in Prince George. Come out and celebrate Aboriginal cultures and traditions! I know I’ll be going with my children.

My favorite part of Aboriginal Day in previous years has been watching the dancers, especially the young children. It brings tears to my eyes seeing their joy and pride in who they are. I also love the food. Every year, I look forward to getting some salmon, fried seaweed and clam fritters. I also can’t resist the fried bread and berries!

What’s happening in your community? Do you plan to stop by?

Victoria Carter

About Victoria Carter

Victoria works in Northern Health's Aboriginal health program as the lead for engagement and integration. She is an adopted member of the Nisga’a nation and was given the name “Nox Aama Goot” which means “mother of good heart.” In her work she sees herself as an ally working together with Aboriginal people across the north to improve access to quality health care. She keeps herself well by honouring the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of her life through spending time with her friends and family, being in nature and working on her own personal growth.

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Tales from the Man Cave: Heart Advice for Men’s Health Week

A healthy heart is essential to be a healthy man.

A healthy heart is essential to be a healthy man.

In honour of Men’s Health Week, I want to talk about things men (and everyone, really) can do to help reduce the risk of heart disease. To do the subject justice would require a book but for today I will mention only the briefest of actions that can be carried out.

Here is my list of factors you may be able to change which will help the health of your heart:

  1.  Smoking. Just quit. This is beyond doubt the number one thing you can (and should) do. It is the number one modifiable factor under your control which can help you have a longer life. About 30% of all deaths from heart disease in the U.S. are directly related to cigarette smoking.
  2. High blood pressure. Cigarette smoking injures the lining of the blood vessels and increases the risk of developing blood clots, which contributes to hardening of the arteries. Even inhaling others’ cigarette smoke has been shown to lower good cholesterol. Studies have shown that HDL levels often go up soon after a person quits smoking.
  3. High blood cholesterol. Fatty foods are a contribution to poor heart health. Check out Canada’s Food Guide for advice on eating well.
  4. Diabetes. I’m talking about type 2 diabetes which can come under your control somewhat by monitoring what you eat and engaging in physical activity.
  5. Physical inactivity. Plan to do at least 30 minutes of physical activity a week. If you work in an office make a plan to stand up many times during your working day. Remember our mantra “every move counts.” Decrease screen time and get outside as much as possible. Walk the dog or just walk.
  6. Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines

    From Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines

    Excessive alcohol consumption. Drinking too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure and contribute to the development of heart disease and stroke, among other things. Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines can help you.

  7. Stress. The direct relationship between stress and heart disease perhaps lies in all of the above. If people have stressful lives, suffer anxiety and depressed mood, these can contribute to all of the other negative behaviours and at the same time make changing behaviour much more difficult. Increased alcohol consumption, comfort eating and watching more movies on TV, may provide short-term stress relief through self-medication, but in the long run will not work well for you. It’s better to go for short walks in nature and learn some relaxation strategy such as meditation. Decrease alcohol consumption and increase physical activity to release those feel good hormones and engage with the family and community. In addition to this guys need to talk about their stressors.

No one can guarantee the health of your heart in the future but by following some simple steps you can decrease your risk and feel less stressed.

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.

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Foodie Friday: Tropical overnight oats

Ingredients for the overnight oats recipe and a bowl of it with the ingredients combined.

Get the day started on the right foot with this easy and tasty breakfast!

As we transition into the warmer summer months, I notice that my food choices change with the rising temperature and that I begin craving my typical summer breakfast choices. Gone are the mornings where all I want is a steaming bowl of oatmeal.

With the change in seasons, many of us see a change in our eating habits. Summer is BBQ season and a time for cool, refreshing dishes that get us away from the stove and into the sunshine. If you aren’t careful, summer can bring with it less balanced meals. Here’s a recipe to get your day started off right, with a refreshing and balanced breakfast!

I also serve this dish warm in winter months. In the warm version,  I cook the first four ingredients on the stove top and use everything else as garnish. The cool, summer version below comes together in minutes, making for a quick grab and go breakfast in the morning! Whichever version you prefer, this a great breakfast choice that packs the fibre and protein to get you through till lunch!

Tropical overnight oats:
Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup instant oats or Muesli
  • ½ diced banana
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk or Greek yogurt
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp pineapple tidbits or diced pineapple
  • 1 tbsp shredded coconut
  • Garnish to your liking (brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, nuts, chia seeds, etc.)

Instructions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a Mason jar or Tupperware container the night before. It will be ready to eat by morning!
Rilla Reardon

About Rilla Reardon

Rilla is a Registered Dietitian working for Northern Health since 2013. Rilla moved to northern BC from the east coast to continue developing her skills as a dietitian in a clinical setting while enjoying all that the north has to offer. Outside of work, she can be found experimenting in the kitchen or navigating the trails around Prince George with her dog, Henry. Rilla channels her passion for nutrition into practice, inspiring others to nourish their bodies, minds and souls with delicious and healthy food!

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