Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Our Philosophy

Holistic Wellness Model

Holistic wellness is the optimal health of your entire being, Corporeal (physical), Cerebral (intellectual), Conscious (emotional), and Communal (social). Holistic wellness emphasizes the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts. If there is imbalance in any of the core components (Corporeal, Cerebral, Conscious, & Communal) or their subcategories, the entire system will be affected. The goal is to bring your entire being back into balance.
Your level of wellness directly correlates to the decisions you make about what you eat and drink, what you think and feel, what toxins and chemicals you are exposed to, as well as the amount of physical activity you engage in. Life does not have to be a struggle, when you are honest with yourself about where you are and where you want to go, when you become aware of the attitudes and behaviors that helped or hurt you, and you commit to change your life, anything is possible!

The Enlightened Lotus Wellness Process

Phases of Change

Phase One: Awareness
Includes assessment of your current attitudes and behaviors that influence your overall satisfaction with life and your current situation. By using the How Balanced is Your World? Life Assessment ©, you become aware of the areas in your life that need your focus and energy first in order for you to begin to restore balance to your world. In this initial phase, you acknowledge the behaviors and attitudes that have helped or hurt you on your journey to living your version of a wonderful life. You become aware of your core personal values and your highest priorities, so that you can live in a way that is personally fulfilling.
Phase Two: Clarity
In this phase you define your version of a wonderful life, what you want and how you are going to achieve it.
Phase Three: Progress
This is the phase where you take action & implement your personal strategy.
Phase Four: Improve
In this phase you review and revise your personal strategy. You assess and improve on what you are currently doing.
Phase Five: Sustain
Sustain your efforts, maintain your personal strategy. Remember that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit and 21 months to develop a new lifestyle.

Elements of Holistic Wellness


The Four Core Components of Holistic Wellness

Corporeal (Physical)

Wellness as it relates to the physical body and its health. Includes learning about proper diet and nutrition, engaging in regular physical activity, practicing effective self-care, and becoming aware of your internal warning system (listening to your body).

Cerebral (Intellectual)

Wellness as it relates to the mind and engaging in creative, stimulating mental activities. Includes self-improvement, using your creativity, and your profession or career.

Communal (Social)

Wellness as it relates to your connections and contributions to personal relationships, society, and your environment. Includes the value system you use to bring meaning to your existence, and improving how you relate to others in order to build a better living space for you and your community.

Conscious (Emotional)

Wellness as it relates to your emotional state and the ability to be aware of and accepting of your feelings so that you may feel positive and passionate about yourself and your life. Includes the realistic assessment of your attitudes, living your life with passion, and managing stress.
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Friday, July 20, 2012

Healthy Seasoning Blend Recipes

spice rub
spice rub (Photo credit: Danielle Scott)

At the request of Janet from Anvil Artifacts, I scoured the internet looking for interesting seasoning blends that I could modify into the healthiest versions to share with you.  The following collection is pretty broad with some everyday staples as well as some excursion into the exotic. If you missed my in-depth explanation of salt and the role it should play in your diet, read: Salt: Friend or Foe. Trying different seasonings keeps your food interesting and exposes you to unusual tastes, get creative you may discover a new favorite! Check if your local grocery store sells herbs or seasonings in bulk if you would like to try an unfamiliar spice first or if the amount you would used it doesn’t justify buying a whole bottle. I know here in Colorado, Sprout’s farmers market sells spices in bulk.  If you would like to make any of the blends salt free, do so and let people season their individual plates at the table with unrefined sea salt. Making your own seasoning blends is a great idea if you are trying to avoid food additives &  MSG or if you would just like to control the amount of salt in your diet. It is always best to store your finished blends in a glass jar in a cool, dry, dark place and don’t forget to shake well before use. Enjoy!

Savory Salt-Free Seasoning

1 tbsp. cayenne
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 1/4 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. marjoram (optional)
1 tsp. dried ground lemon peel
Mix well in a small bowl. Use as an all-purpose savory seasoning. Store for up to 4 months.

Steak Seasoning

Enough to season 6 steaks
2 tbsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp. organic sugar (if you are going to use the entire amount right away, you could substitute honey or agave syrup)
1/2 tsp. thyme
Mix well in small bowl. Rub seasoning into steaks and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Grill to desired temperature. Remaining seasoning can be stored up to 1 month.

Classic Beau Monde

Use for poultry, fish, veggies, sauces
1 tbsp. coarse ground, unrefined sea salt
1 tbsp. ground bay leaves
2 tbsp. ground white pepper
2 tbsp. ground black pepper
1 tbsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tbsp. ground cloves
Mix well in small bowl. Will store up to 4 months.

Cajun Seasoning

Use on ribs, chicken, blackened fish, shrimp, in sauces, or in blackened pasta
3 tbsp. coarse ground, unrefined sea salt
1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup Hungarian paprika (or just use regular)
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. coarse ground black pepper
1 tbsp. dried basil
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. cayenne, ground
2 tsp.  dried thyme
1/4 tsp. cumin, ground
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
Mix well. Store up to 3 months.

Seasoned Salt Blend

Blend in food processor or blender for even texture
4 tbsp. coarse ground unrefined sea salt
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. marjoram
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 1/4 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. dill
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Mix well. Store for up to 3 month.

Poultry Seasoning

Blend in food processor for fine texture
1 tsp. coarse ground unrefined sea salt
1 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. ground bay leaves
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
Mix well. Store up to 3 months.

Taco Seasoning

Enough to season one pound of meat (ground beef, buffalo, chicken, or turkey)
1 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. organic sugar
1/2 tsp. unrefined sea salt
Mix well. To use: Brown meat, drain oil. Add 1/3 cup water and seasoning cook 10 minutes over medium low, or until water is cooked out.

Espresso Cardamom Rub

Rub into chicken or pork chops
1/4 cup finely ground espresso
1/4 cup organic granulated sugar
3 tbsp. coarse ground unrefined sea salt
3 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. cardamom
1 tbsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. garlic powder
Mix well. To use: Mix 2 tbsp. seasoning with 1 tbsp. grapeseed oil, rub into chicken or pork chops. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes and then grill or cook as desired.

Chili Seasoning Mix

Adjust the crushed red pepper to suit your heat preference.
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
4 tsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. crushed red pepper
1 tbsp. dried minced onion
1 tbsp. dried minced garlic
2 tsp. organic granulated sugar
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. unrefined sea salt
1 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. oregano
Mix well. Store up to 3 months.

Ranch Seasoning Mix

Can be used to make ranch dressing
1/2 cup dried buttermilk
1 tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried dill weed
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. dried minced onion
1 tsp. unrefined sea salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor. Blend on high until smooth. Store dry mix up to 3 months. To use: 1 tbsp. = envelope of ranch dressing mix
To make dressing: 1 tbsp. mix + 1 cup milk + 1 cup (mayo made with olive oil or sour cream or no-fat plain, Greek or regular, style yogurt.) Mix well, use within 1 week, keep refrigerated.

Garlic Seasoning Paste

Use for lobster, shrimp, fish, grilled steaks, chicken, veggies or sauces
2 Heads of garlic, peeled
1/2 cup cold water
2 tbsp. unsalted, organic butter
In food processor or blender, puree garlic and water until smooth. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat, cook garlic puree until water has evaporated and small holes form on the surface of the puree. Do not overcook or the garlic will become bitter. To use: add  to dishes shortly before serving. Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Grill Everyday, by Diane Morgan
http://food.com (chef: Angela Curtis)

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Parenting and Sensory Integration Dysfunction

Communications between the brain and the body ...
Communications between the brain and the body through sensory cells (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As a parent, you hope for happy, healthy kids that grow into happy, healthy, and well-adjusted adults.  When your little bundles of joy are still in infancy it is often hard to diagnose problems if they do not manifest physically.  As was the case with my oldest son Jacob, it wasn't until around his 3rd birthday that I started to become concerned, until then his motor skills were fine, he could run and jump and play, but his lack of verbal communication could no longer be dismissed in my mind as just being somewhat slower to develop these skills in relation to other children. When I expressed concern at the doctor, she set him up an appointment with the speech pathologist and told me I needed to take him to the psychologist? ! ?  I was confused, I understood the reasoning behind the speech pathologist but a psychologist for a 3-year-old? Really?
He started with the speech pathologist shortly after and she referred him to the Colorado Child Find Program for further testing.  It was at this appointment that I found out the speech pathologist was really referring him to be tested for autism, while this was the first I had heard of this concern, the team at Child Find did not think autism was a concern but that he had sensory processing integration issues.  It was also at this appointment that I was urged to go ahead and get Jeremiah tested as well.
Sensory integration dysfunction (aka sensory integration disorder or sensory processing disorder) is the diagnosis I received to explain the speech delays my  sons were experiencing. I had never heard of this disorder so I researched as much information I could find about the causes, the treatments and theories behind them. Sensory integration is a process that most of us take for granted, but for those that experience dysfunction in this area, symptoms can manifest in a variety of unusual behaviors. Processing sensory information happens on four levels and when the brain has problems processing this information it is described to be like a traffic jam in the brain. What causes sensory integration dysfunction? What determines normal processing from dysfunction? What are the signs and types of sensory processing issues? How is this dysfunction treated and how positive are the results? Are there any other factors that can influence sensory processing disorders? What can I do? After the diagnosis that both of my sons had issues with sensory integration I needed answers to these questions.
Sensory Integration (SI) is the neurological process that organizes sensation from one’s own body and the environment. The theory of sensory integration predicts that when an infant is able to successfully meet the challenges of his or her environment, there is an increase in his brain’s ability to organize sensations for production of increasingly adaptive response. (Paul, et al., 2003). Sensory information is processed at four levels; the first is registration, which is the detection of stimuli from the body or environment. Modulation is the second level which deals with the ability to match arousal, attention and activity level to the demands of the environment without being distracted by irrelevant sensory input. The third level is discrimination or the identification of the temporal and spatial characteristics of sensory information and recognition of their meaning as in stereo gnosis. Praxis is the final level; it deals with developing and carrying out a motor plan for interaction with the environment. (Miller, 2005).
Children that are affected by sensory integration problems often have been institutionalized, physically deprived in some way, or exposed to prenatal toxins (alcohol, drugs, and nicotine). If the quality or lack of prenatal care results in prematurity, low birth weight, or birth complications, processing issues may result. Prenatal stress impairs sensory processing via altered regulation of stress hormones. Heredity factors may also contribute to sensory integration disorders. Normal sensory function depends on receipt of normal sensory inputs during infancy. (Miller, 2005).
Sensory integration dysfunction may manifest itself in varying degrees, depending on the child. If a child displays behaviors such as withdrawing when touched, avoiding certain textures or having to wear certain clothes they may be sensory defensive. Other signs of sensory defensiveness could be a fearful reaction to ordinary movement activities such as playground play, sensitivity to loud noises or distractibility. Seeking out intense sensory experiences such as body whirling, falling, and crashing into objects, or appearing oblivious to pain or to body position could signal the child being under-reactive to sensory stimuli. Coordination problems are another sign of sensory integration issues, this may manifest in poor balance and difficulty learning new motor tasks. Sensory integration problems may lead to delays in pre-academic achievement or activities of daily living, such as, handwriting, scissor use, or buttoning and zipping clothes despite normal or above normal intelligence. The final area signs of sensory integration may be observed is in poor organization of behavior. The signs of poor organization of behavior are, impulsiveness, distractibility, an inability to anticipate results of ones actions, difficulty adjusting to a new situation or following directions, difficulty with transitions, frustration, aggressiveness or withdrawing. (Miller, 2005).
There are six types of sensory defensiveness. Tactile defensiveness results in a dislike to light touch, crowds as well as getting a haircut or washing the hair. Oral defensiveness is when certain textures of food are avoided and tooth brushing is often disliked. Gravitational insecurity is when there is a fear of changes in position such as moving the head backward or washing hair in the tub. Auditory defensiveness is sensitivity to loud noises especially high pitched ones. Over-sensitivity to light and gaze avoidance are signs of visual defensiveness. Hypersensitivity to smells has been termed olfactory defensiveness. (Miller, 2005).
Sensory Integration Theory was first introduced by Jane Ayers. This theory is based on the assumption that there is plasticity within the central nervous system and through the provision of controlled tactile, vestibular and proprioception sensory inputs, the ability of the brain can be modified. This sensory integrative process occurs in a developmental sequence since the brain functions as an integrated whole, but is comprised of systems that are hierarchically organized. Higher level brain functions evolved from and are dependent upon the lower level sensorimotor experience. Evincing an adaptive behavior promotes sensory integration. An adaptive behavior is defined as, “one that is purposeful and goal directed and it enables the individual to successfully meet the challenge and learn something new.” Ayers also ascertained that humans have an inner drive to develop sensory integration through participation in sensorimotor activities. ( Paul, et. al., 2003).
The role of the occupational therapist (OT) while working with children with sensory integrative dysfunction is to promote the child’s full participation in the occupations and activities of everyday living. The OT has a variety of approaches and techniques at their disposal and the chosen approach depends on the perspective of the occupational therapist regarding the nature of the problems experienced by the child and how to address such problems. Impairment oriented approaches focus on body functioning and structure to improve activity and participation of the child. This approach is based on the assumption that competent occupational performance depends on properly functioning nervous and musculoskeletal systems and that damage or abnormal development of one or more of these systems results in dysfunction. Impairment oriented approaches aim to reduce impairment and restore function through targeting the impaired body structure and function. Sensory based approaches are those described as providing specific sensory stimulation such as using a weighted vest or sound therapy. This approach assumes targeted sensory input will lead to the remediation of impaired sensory processes. Sensorimotor approaches provide a variety of motor activities with an inherent variety of sensory stimuli and are based on the assumption that the motor system cannot operate optimally without processing and integrating sensory information and that the coordination of sensory and motor information is essential to motor performance. Performance oriented approaches focus on performance to improve activity and participation, not being directly concerned with the underlying impairment in body structure or function, but rather the focus on the performance directly often relying on systems theories to understand the reasons for the observed activity limitations and participation restrictions. The aim of direct skills teaching approaches is to teach specific skills, such as throwing a ball; such approaches make use of teaching, coaching and motor learning principles to enable the child to acquire set skills. Cognitive based approaches aim to teach children to use strategies that enable their learning of chosen activities. In a consultation model, the therapist does not provide intervention directly, but spends most of the time discussing the child’s needs with a parent or teacher, determining and designing intervention, trading others to implement intervention, and monitoring both the implementation of the intervention and the child’s outcomes. For children with typical levels of intelligence, the performance based approaches may hold the most promise. (Polatajko & Cantin, 2010).
According to Ayers, the increase in environmental toxins, such as air contaminates, and other chemicals may combine with hereditary factors in some children, thus contributing into dysfunction. (Becker, 1982). Children’s risk of toxic chemical exposure exceeds that of adults because of children’s physiological and behavioral characteristics. In relation to adults, infants and small children have higher food, fluid and air intake per kilogram of weight; developing and immature organ systems; higher metabolic rates; and behaviors conducive to increased chemical exposure. (Graff et. al., 2006). A known neurotoxin, mercury, can be found in amalgam fillings, food, interior latex paint and some vaccine preservatives. It influences mental and neurological processes even at levels as low as 35mug g-1creatinine. (Thilo-Korner, 2000). The National Academy of sciences (NAS) estimates that 25% of developmental and neurological deficits in children are due to the interplay between chemicals and genetic factors and that 3% are caused by exposure to chemicals alone. (LeBeau & Gagnon, 2006).
Sensory integration dysfunction is still a controversial field with some in the medical community continuing to question its validity. In my opinion, there is no doubt  that sensory integration dysfunction is very real. The diagnosis of my sons is still fairly new and I am still experimenting with what approaches yield the best results but it is reassuring to know there is an explanation behind some of their unusual behavior. Research into this field is still rather limited so I may have to approach many solutions by trial and error. My focus now is limiting their exposure to as many chemicals as possible both in their diets as well as in their home environment. I hope in the future research is expanded to include what nutritional interventions may be indicated. I do have them on an all organic diet and I am thrilled with the results.
I hope by sharing my story, I bring awareness to this condition. Jacob is now 4 and getting ready to start pre-school, he has made great strides since his diagnosis and we can now have a conversation, which is pretty awesome. Jeremiah, now 2, does not have the processing issues to the severity that Jacob does and is in weekly therapy, he is starting to get clearer in his speech. While they have both been diagnosed with the same disorder, it has manifested very differently in  them. Jacob hates clothes and prefers to run around in his diaper (no he is not potty trained yet :( despite all my efforts) while Jeremiah dislikes to be without clothes. Parenting is not easy and we all have to work within the situation and skill sets we have been given, so next time you see a parent struggling, instead of judging, lend a hand. You never really know what someone is dealing with, being helpful is always better than being hurtful.
Jacob & Jeremiah 2012
Becker, M.S. (1982). Level of sensory integrative functioning in children of Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange. OTJR, 2(4), 234-244. http://search.proquest.com/docview/907243573?accountid=35996

LeBeau, K., & Gagnon, M. (2006). Chemicals & developmental disabilities- get the mercury and pesticides out of your diet. Exceptional Parent.36 (2), 60-62.

Miller, L. (2005). The Handbook of International Adoption Medicine: A Guide for Physicians, Parents & Providers.Oxford University Press, Inc. New York, NY.

Paul, S., Sinen, P., Johnson, J., Latshaw, C., Newton, J., Nelson, A., & Powers, R. (2003). The effects of a sensory motor activities protocol based on the theory of sensory integration on children diagnosed with preprimary impairments. Occupational Theory in Health Care,17(2), 19-34

Polatajko, H.J., & Cantin, N. (2010). Exploring the effectiveness of occupational therapy interventions, other than the sensory integration approach, with children and adolescents experiencing difficulty processing & integrating sensory information. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy,64(3), 415-29. http://search.proquest.com/docview/503270117?accountid=35996.

Thilo-Korner, D.H.(2000). Environmental infection & Heavy metal analysis in more than 400 patients. Part 1: Metal analysis of Aluminum, Lead, Selenium, Zinc. Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine, 10(2), 133-143.
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Monday, July 2, 2012

Meatless Monday: Burger Alternatives


Summer is the time of the barbecue, gathering with friends and family and enjoying the best summer has to offer, is an awesome way to spend any day! Barbecue staple foods are not always the healthiest choices so if you would like to offer some meatless choices at your next barbecue, here is some inspiration!
If you would like to submit your own meatless recipe to be featured, submit it here.


Mexican Black Bean Burgers:

Makes 6 Burgers

For the Pico de Gallo:
3 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1-2 Hot Peppers (jalapeno, serrano, habanero-depending on your taste preference), seeded and finely chopped
1/2 of a lime
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil or sunflower oil
1 tsp. organic agave syrup
1 tsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
unrefined sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

For Burgers:
2 15.5 oz. can no-salt added black beans, drained and rinsed, divided
1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 Red bell pepper, stemmed seed and finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs (wheat if you can find them)
3 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. grapeseed oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano, dried
1/2 tsp. unrefined sea salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
6 Whole-wheat or multi-grain buns; or for an added Mexican twist serve on toasted corn tortillas
1 Large avocado, seeded, peeled, and sliced
  1. To make Pico: Combine all ingredients in a glass or ceramic dish, stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to to allow flavors to blend.
  2. Combine panko breadcrumbs with 2 tsp. oil in a small bowl, toss to combine. Toast breadcrumbs in skillet over medium heat until golden. Remove from heat, cool completely.
  3. Place 2 1/2 cups black beans in a large bowl. Mash beans with fork until mostly smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, 1 tbsp. oil, cumin, salt, oregano, and cayenne. Whisk until well blended. Add egg mixture, cooled panko breadcrumbs, remaining beans, onion, bell pepper, garlic, and cilantro to the mashed beans. Stir until evenly combined. Divide into 6 equal portions. Lightly pack into 1 inch patties. (May be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before cooking).
  5. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in skillet over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. cook patties 4 minutes on each side or until well browned. (Add 1 tbsp. oil to skillet for each batch of patties that you cook)
  6. Serve on buns or tortillas topped with sliced avocado and pico. For variety this burger is also good with traditional burger toppings, just serve the pico with chips instead. Enjoy!

Grilled Portobello Burgers with Avocado Spread:

Makes 4 Burgers

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce or low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. grapeseed oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 Large Portobello mushroom caps
1 Large avocado,seeded,  peeled and chopped
1/2 cup no-fat plain, regular or Greek-style yogurt
2 tbsp. cilantro
2 tsp. lime juice
1 clove garlic
Dash cayenne pepper
unrefined sea salt to taste
4 Wheat or Multi-grain buns
Tomato slices (1/4 inch thick)
4 Green leaf lettuce leaves
  1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl, whisk well. Place mushroom caps in a 13 x 9 glass or ceramic baking dish, pour vinegar mixture over mushrooms, turn to coat. Cover and allow to marinate at room temperature for 2 hours or in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, turning occasionally.
  2. Pre-heat grill to medium.
  3. While grill is preheating, combine avocado, yogurt, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, cayenne pepper and salt in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy, set aside.
  4. Place mushrooms, gill side down on a grill rack, lightly brushed with grapeseed oil. Grill 4 minutes on each side. Toast buns.
  5. In place of mayo use the avocado spread on toasted buns, top grilled mushrooms with lettuce and tomato. Enjoy!!

If you would like me to give you a healthy alternative for your favorite food, let me know, I would love to help! Email me here.

Have you tried this recipe, let me know how you liked it, leave a comment!
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