Category Archives: Adventures in Cooking

Fresh Lemon Cookies!

Weird that I’m making summery, fresh lemon cookies the only 2 days it’s actually raining in Los Angeles, but hey, they still taste good 🙂

Found this via Whisk Kid, which turns out to be a pretty cool blog on top of having an awesome lemon cookie recipe!

Recipe adapted from Whisk Kid

Ingredients for cookies:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • Lemon zest, from 1 lemon
  • Lemon juice, from half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Ingredients for lemon icing:

  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • Lemon juice, from half a lemon

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the egg, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. Sift in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Drop by 1.5 teaspoons onto lined baking sheets and bake for about 12 minutes until lightly golden around edges. Let cool on sheets completely, about 10 minutes. Makes 2 dozen.

2. Beat together the confectioners sugar and lemon juice. Drizzle over cooled cookies. Eat.

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Nothing a little baked oatmeal treat won’t fix…

So…I’ve been really missing cooking up fun and exciting dishes this week because of a disaster I had on Monday morning. I came home from an early morning client to pour myself some coffee, and was itching to slice a piece off my Brioche Loaf #2, when I gave my thumb a flat-top. I didn’t know what happened until it happened. Luckily, the bleeding slowed eventually and it was clear that the wound wasn’t deep enough to require stitches. My fiancĂ© helped me clean it out and bandage it and it has been healing ever since, but hurting the top of your thumb isn’t conducive to working in the kitchen. The only good thing is that it also isn’t conducive to washing dishes 😉

Of course I had to injure the thumb on the hand with my new bling:

Anyway, enough with the self pity. I mostly just wanted to share this so you guys would know that I’m not just being a lazy bum…

My blogger friend over at Creative Noshing posted an awesome Baked Cranberry Oatmeal recipe a little while ago, and it seemed harmless enough for me to make. It turned out AMAZING. Go, go check out the recipe. It didn’t make very much though, so I will be making this again here shortly, but I’ll probably be quadrupling the recipe (and maybe adding a couple more ingredients, stay tuned). Yes, I’ll admit it, this portion size just isn’t enough to feed Mambo. But still, I had it this morning with my greek yogurt & agave and it made me so happy.

Thank you Creative Noshing! Turned out YUMMY!!

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Brioche! Brioche! Brioche!!!!!!

Is it right to be THIS EXCITED about making bread, successfully? YAHOO!!!!

So, I have never made bread before. Pumpkin bread, yes. Banana bread, yes. But REAL bread, the kind that requires yeast and takes time to rise and all that good stuff? No. Not until yesterday. This is why I was so freaking excited when they came out of the over beautiful & delicious…

Of course I had the itch to make brioche loaves after we returned from France. I could really get used to having bread at each meal the way they do. I know, I know, as a trainer, you’d probably expect me to be on a high protein diet with minimal carbohydrates, but I am also a long distance runner and I was also raised on good, delicious carbs like bread and pasta and cookies. Bread is not the devil. In fact, quite the opposite…

Before I get off track on this topic, let me post the amazing recipe and some pictures. I bought the Barefoot Contessa Paris Edition while in Paris (bad choice, I should’ve just bought it cheaper online but I was too excited), and this is the first recipe I tried. I’m still jumping for joy that it turned out, considering I didn’t have a water temperature gauge nor a mixer with a paddle attachment. This just proves to me that you don’t need all the fancy gadgets, although the fancy gadgets may save you some prep time 🙂


recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris

  • 1/2 cup warm water (110-120 degrees; if you don’t have a gauge, just make sure it’s not too hot that you can’t dip your fingers into it)
  • 1 package dried yeast
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 medium egg mixed with 1 tbsp low fat milk, for egg wash

1. Combine the water, yeast, and sugar in a medium/large mixing bowl. Mix with your hands and allow to stand for 5 minutes until the yeast and sugar dissolve.

BEFORE: when the warm water, yeast, and sugar are first combined

AFTER: 5 min of sitting, the mixture will smell yeasty and foam up a little

2. Add the eggs and beat on medium speed for 1 minute, until well mixed. With the mixer on low speed, add 2 cups of the flour and the salt and mix for 5 minutes.

3. Now the mixture starts getting too thick for the rinky dinky hand mixers, so you will have to switch to using your hang to knead the dough and to continue the mixing process. Add 2 more cups of flour and mix for 5 more minutes. Using your hands, break off chunks of the soft butter and mix for 2 minutes, until well blended. Sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup of flour and knead/mix enough so that the dough looks smooth throughout.

4. Set the dough into a medium/large buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

5. The next day, allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Grease two 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5 inch loaf pans. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and cut in half. Pat each portion into a 6×8 inch rectangle, then roll up each rectangle into a cylindrical loaf. Place each loaf, seam side down, into a greased pan. Cover the pans with a damp towel and set aside to rise at room temperature until double in volume, 2-2.5 hours.

6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. When the loaves have rises, burs the top of each with the egg wash and bake for 45 minutes. The tops should have a slightly hollow sound when tapped. Let the loaves cool. Makes 2. I keep one in the fridge while we eat the other, so it stays fresh!

I can’t wait to try some of the other recipes in this book!!!

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Wow. Red Velvet Brownie Bites with Cream Cheese Frosting. Wow.

ALERT: This recipe is NOT healthy for you. 

I know most of what I like to eat is healthy – lots of fish, greens, veggies, fruits, grains, etc. That tends to be the bulk of recipes I cook. I do occasionally bake, but usually it’s nothing more than just some chocolate chip cookies, or maybe an oatmeal cookie. Nothing too exciting. Well, yesterday, I gave my boyfriend the choice of what he wanted for dessert, and mind you, he has an extremely well-developed chocolate specific sweet tooth. Naturally, he asked for some really rich desserts, and this was the recipe that won.

I highly recommend it, but please, only bake it after you’ve had a great workout that day AND plan on doing another one tomorrow. Don’t eat this on your rest day, otherwise, you might not be too happy with yourself 🙂 Love you guys! And enjoy!!

RED VELVET BROWNIE BITES with cream cheese frosting

adapted from the much more talented than I, Brenda from A Farmgirl’s Dabbles (hers are a lot prettier too, but hey, I’m working on it!)

Hahaha, can you tell this pic was taken after we already devoured our first piece?  My boyfriend was getting anxious with me for wanting to take pictures when he wanted to eat!

Red Velvet Brownies:

  • Canola oil, for greasing the pan
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 1.5 cups granulated white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 fl oz liquid red food coloring
  • 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 ounces 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cup sifted powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Lightly wipe an 8×8 aluminum pan with canola oil. Be sure to cover the sides as well as the bottom. Stir butter and chocolate in a heavy large saucepan over very low heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.

2. Whisk in sugar, then eggs, 1 at a time. Stir in vanilla, salt, and food coloring. Sift flour and baking powder over mixture and stir to blend well.

3. Transfer batter to the prepared pan. Bake the brownies until puffed and dry-looking, for about 30 minutes. Test toothpick should come out with some moist batter attached, but not too much. All the brownies to cool in the pan completely on a rack.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting by first beating together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy (remember that these two ingredients MUST be at room temperature). Add vanilla and mix a bit to incorporate. Then add the sifted powdered sugar and beat to combine. Once brownies are completely cool, spread this frosting evenly across the top and cut into desired size bites!

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Scallops, Butternut Squash Pasta Salad, and Nutmeg Spice Muffins

Random? Yes, indeed.

I was having a not-so-great day, and I didn’t feel like working out. I know, it’s crazy. Me. No running, no yoga, no lifting, nothing. It happens to all of us every now and then. The ONLY thing I could think to do that would calm my brain down was to cook. And cook a lot of different things at the same time. I don’t think I’ve ever multitasked so well in the kitchen (not surprised that I did though since I multitask at EVERYTHING and share this sentiment with David Kanigan), but I certainly did this time. And here was the result:


adapted from “Small Plates: Appetizers as Meals” by Marguerite Marceau Henderson (awesome book, by the way, I’ve made many things from it and it has served me well! Thanks Mom! :-))

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 lb scallops, patted dry
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp dried tarragon (depending on your taste for it, I don’t prefer a lot)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 cups spring mix

Almond-Cucumber Dressing

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp dried tarragon (again, can also be to taste)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1. In a bowl, combine scallops, oil, parsley, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Be sure to drudge all scallops well in the mixture. Heat a grill. Add the scallops and grill for 4-6 minutes per side.

2. Remove scallops to a platter lined with spring mix. In the meantime, whisk together lemon zest & juice, oil, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Stir in almonds and cucumber. Pour over scallops, and reserve a little for individual toppings. (I found this made a lot of dressing, so I saved quite a bit and have been using it as a regular salad dressing this past week. Very delicious with our without the scallops!)


adapted from Budget Bytes

  • 1 butternut squash (about 3 lbs), peeled & diced into small cubes
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 lb pasta, medium shells
  • 1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup shredded parmesan
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the squash cubes, sage, and a generous amount of salt & pepper. Saute until tender, about 15 minutes (or to preferred consistency). Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente (7-10 min) in a pot of salted water. Drain the pasta.

2. Once the squash is tender and the pasta is drained, add the pasta, cranberries, and parsley to the skillet containing the squash cubes. Set to low heat so everything stays warm. Stir to combine. Finally, drizzle the last 2 tbsp of olive oil over everything, add salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the parmesan. Serve warm! (Oh, and makes a TON, so this would be a great one for potlucks, etc.)

Nutmeg Spice Breakfast Muffins

adapted from The Faux Martha

These muffins were delicious. I took the recipe from The Faux Martha (she’s kind of awesome at this sort of thing), but she calls them “cupcakes” on her site. I would prefer to actually call them “muffins” because the consistency is thicker and much more bread-like than the consistency of typical cupcakes (perhaps because I used cornstarch and not potato starch..?). She also topped them with frosting, which I opted out of because frankly, I REALLY suck at making frosting, and also because when eating them like muffins, they are perfect without the frosting. I particularly enjoyed them with some french press coffee for breakfast! Ok, blah blah blah, here’s the recipe:

  • 1 cup superfine sugar (you can throw the sugar in the food processor to make it “superfine”)
  • 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp allspice, depends on how much you like spice 🙂
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted and at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup half and half, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp spiced rum (I used Sailor Jerry’s, it’s our favorite for drinks), at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, at room temperature
  • 2 whole eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line a cupcake pan with 12 liners. Set aside. Combine sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt, nutmeg, allspice, and baking soda in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.

2. Combine butter, half and half, rum, vanilla, eggs, and egg yolk in a container with a tight fitting lid (I used a mason jar) and shake well to combine. Make sure all ingredients are room temperature or separation will occur.

4. Lightly whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until well combined. Evenly fill cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until tops are golden and tooth pick inserted comes out clean. Eat for dessert, but most importantly, eat for breakfast!! Yum.

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Chicken Piccata with Mushrooms & Capellini

My sister brought her adorable puppy over last night, and I made some yummy chicken piccata for dinner while we watched the dogs play (our new pastime, haha!).


(adapted from EatingWell)

  • Approx. 6 ounces capellini
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, additional to taste
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, additional to taste
  • 5 chicken breast tenderloins, (about 3/4-1 lb total)
  • 4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 10-ounce package sliced mushrooms
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, add a bit of olive oil, and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, whisk 5 teaspoons of the flour and chicken broth in a medium bowl until smooth. Place the remaining flour in a shallow dish. Season both sides of the chicken pieces with sea salt and pepper, and completely cover each piece with flour. Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned and no longer pink in the middle, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; cover and keep warm.
3. Heat the remaining 2 tsp olive oil in the same pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add garlic and white wine to the same pan and cook for about 2 minutes, or until it’s reduced by half. Stir in the reserved broth-flour mixture, lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.
4. Stir the parsley, capers, butter, and the reserved mushrooms in the sauce. Add in additional salt and pepper to taste (if necessary). Measure out 1/2 cup of the sauce, and set aside. Toss the pasta in the pan with the bulk of the sauce. Serve the pasta topped with the chicken and the reserved sauce. And rosemary bread with olive oil & balsamic vinegar for dipping. Oh, and white wine.
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Ginger and Cilantro Tilapia

I’ve never owned a food processor before, and I FINALLY bought one the other day from Steamy Kitchen (if you’ve never been here, check it out!). It’s just a small 3.5 cup Cuisinart, but it worked beautifully for our meal last night!! I made some delicious ginger & cilantro tilapia with red potatoes and some lightly fried rice.


adapted from theKitchn

  • 4 small tilapia filets (about 3/4 lb)
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro

1. Pre-heat the oven to 475ÂșF. Season the tilapia lightly with sea salt and pepper, and place into a baking dish. Set aside.

2. Put pepper, garlic, and ginger in a small food processor with the soy sauce, white wine, sesame oil, and cilantro. “Chop” until well-blended. Pour the sauce over the fish, rubbing it in a little. Bake for 8 minutes. YUM.

yay! shiny new food processor!

3. Serve with red potatoes, lightly fried rice, and chardonnay…see below.


  • 4 small red potatoes, cut into 1 inch squares
  • 1 large garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1/8 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Sea salt to taste

1. Just cover potatoes with salted water, and bring to boil. Add in pressed garlic, ginger, onions, and cilantro. Reduce to medium heat and cover for about 10 minutes (or until potatoes are at a texture you prefer!). Drain any excess water.

the fresh cilantro turns the mixture a little green while cooking! ha! 


  • 1 cup white rice, cooked (I had leftovers from the night before that I’d put in the fridge)
  • 1 tbsp garlic oil
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat garlic oil over a low-medium heat, and stir in already cooked white rice. Stir in egg and onions, adding a little salt and pepper. Continue to stir for about 7-8 minutes.

And Sterling 2010 Chardonnay…

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BBQ Chicken & Creamed Corn

Let’s just say I was in the mood for a southern style meal…and I didn’t have much time so I needed it to be fairly quick and easy. It turned out pretty good, and slightly healthier than a full-blown southern meal would have been 🙂


adapted from Stick A Fork In It

  • 15 pieces frozen chicken breast tenderloins (I use the ones from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 bottle BBQ sauce (I always use Stubb’s original)
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

1. Mix BBQ sauce with vinegar, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, and garlic powder. Place chicken in crockpot. Pour sauce over it and stir to be sure all chicken pieces have been immersed in the sauce. Cook on LOW for 4-6 hours, and check about halfway through to stir the chicken around a bit. Serve with white rice, and creamed corn (see below for recipe).


  • 4 cups fresh corn kernels (or you can use frozen corn, just be sure to defrost)
  • 3/4 cup 1% milk
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • Sea salt to taste

1. Put 2 cups of corn, milk, and cornstarch in a blender, and blend until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan, add the remaining 2 cups of corn, and salt to taste (probably about 1/8 or 1/4 of a tsp…you really don’t need too much because the corn’s flavor will take care of itself). Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring often, until you see some simmering. Continue to cook for about 7-8 minutes, or until corn mixture has thickened and corn is tender.


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Glazed Salmon & Caramelized Red Potatoes

Yum… last night’s dinner was a great send-off for my boyfriend who is heading out for yet another weekend out of town. Delicious meals can only be accompanied by delicious wines (and water), and last night we had ours with Francis Coppola Chardonnay. Mmm…

(adapted from mykitchenintherockies)
1 lb salmon (wild salmon from Alaska is the most eco-friendly choice)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
1/2 cup good balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoons light maple syrup
1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, pressed
Organic baby arugula, about a handful for each plate served
1. Heat a grill and baste with oil.
2. In a small pan, heat balsamic vinegar, syrup, mustard, and garlic. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for about 12 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
3. Rub salmon steaks with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. Cook salmon on grill for about 5 minutes on each side. Plate salmon on a bed of arugula, and drizzle with glaze.
(adapted from My Fabulous Recipes)
8-10 small red potatoes cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium carrots, sliced into 1/2 inch circles
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat 1-inch water to boiling in 3-quart saucepan. Add potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Continue to boil about 3-5 minutes and reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook about 12 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
2. When the potatoes are tender (and most of the water is absorbed) add butter, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, salt, and pepper; stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to simmer until the sauce thickens. Serve with salmon.
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Appetizers for Girls Night In!

Friday night four of my girl friends came over for a night in. (While my boyfriend is in Vegas with his man crew, lol!) Naturally, I decided to experiment with some awesome appetizer/side dishes that I’ve been eyeing. My friend Zohreen photographed most of these dishes – she is extremely talented. Check out and subscribe to her photo blog HERE!


credit for this dish is given to The Girl Who Ate Everything, my adaptation is below
photographs by Zohreen

Cherry Tomatoes
Fresh Mozzarella Balls
Fresh Basil Leaves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Sea Salt and Pepper
Place one cherry tomato, a basil leave (or half a leaf if it is large) that is folded into a square shape, and a mozzarella ball on each toothpick. Make as many as desired and line them up on a work surface. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, and pepper. Roll each stick around in the mixture before placing on serving dish. YUMMERS!!
credit for this dish is given to The Sweets Life, my adaptation is below
photographs by Zohreen

1 lb large strawberries
8 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Graham cracker crumbs

1. Rinse strawberries and cut around the top of the strawberry. Remove the top and clean out with a paring knife, if necessary (most are already hollow inside). Prep all strawberries and set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Add cream cheese mix to a piping bag or ziploc with the corner snipped off. Fill strawberries with cheesecake mixture. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs on top of each strawberry.

**Note: I didn’t do this this time, but next time I try this recipe, I think it might be a great idea to mix the graham cracker crumbs directly into the cream cheese mixture so you get a little more graham cracker crumb in each bite!


6 small/medium avocados
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup diced sweet onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
In a medium bowl, mash together the avocados, lime juice, and salt. Continue to mash in the onion, cilantro, tomatoes, and garlic. Stir in cayenne pepper. Refrigerate 1 hour for best flavor, or serve immediately.
photo by Zohreen
photo by Zohreen
* I used the Pesto Perfectto from Basiltops (all natural, lactose free) – it’s delicious and they have tons of flavors to choose from!
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