Eat the Rainbow

They say the best way to get your necessary vitamins and nutrients is to eat a wide variety of colored fruits and vegetables

By Kara Glasco, MS, RCEP, HFS

We all know how important it is to consume a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals. I’m sure everyone’s mother made them drink a glass of milk a day or take a gummy vitamin when they were kids. As we age, it becomes especially important to get enough calcium and vitamin D to keep our bones strong. In this article, I will address a few of the lesser known vitamins that are essential for a healthy body.

Iron is an essential component of our red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen to lungs, muscles, and body tissues. Anemia can be a real problem for people with bone diseases, certain chronic diseases, and bleeding disorders. Low iron levels can also occur in vegetarians and vegans since the greatest sources of iron come from meat and seafood. The recommended daily intake of iron for males is 8mg and 18mg for females (1). Animal sources contain both heme and non-heme iron and plant based sources only contain non-heme iron. Many foods are fortified with iron such as cereals and breads. Always opt for the naturally occurring iron sources rather than fortified sources. Beans, nuts, and green leafy vegetables are also great sources of iron. One cup of black beans has 3.6mg of iron, one cup of cooked spinach has 4mg of iron, and 6 ounces of steak has 5mg of iron.

Vitamin K is one of the lesser known vitamins but nonetheless important for many functions in the body. Anyone who takes a blood thinner has to limit their vitamin K intake due to specific drug interactions and most healthy food has a good amount of this vitamin. One of Vitamin K’s main functions is to aid in blood clotting by synthesizing certain proteins in the blood (2). Calcium ions are also affected by vitamin K and this vitamin aids calcium bonding in the bones and tissues. The daily recommended intake of Vitamin K for males is 120mcg and 90mcg for females (2). Common dietary sources include dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, or broccoli, fats and oils. One cup of cooked broccoli contains 162mcg, 1 cup of cooked edamame contains 33mcg and one cup of cooked kale contains over 1,000mcg! Now that’s a lot of vitamin K!
When most people think of Vitamin A, they know it is good for their eyes and carrots are a well-known source for the vitamin. Vitamin A aids other systems in the body including the immune system, reproductive system and stimulates cellular growth of organs (3). Vitamin A has two forms, preformed vitamin A, also known as retinols, and provitamin A, known as carotenoids. Retinols are found in meat, fish, eggs, and dairy sources. Carotenoid sources are found mainly in plant sources of deeply pigmented green, orange, red, and yellow fruits and vegetables. According to the National Institutes of Health, the top carotenoid Vitamin A sources include carrots, broccoli, cantaloupe, and squash (3). The daily recommended intake of Vitamin A for males is 900mcg RAE and 700mcg for females (3). One baked sweet potato contains 1,400 mcg, one cup of cooked spinach contains over 1,000mcg, and one cup of carrots contains around 900 mcg of vitamin A.

When eating for health, search for the most colorful foods in the produce department because they will contain the most vitamins and minerals. In general, you can’t go wrong with dark green, deep orange and bright reds. Certain foods such as broccoli, kale, and sweet potatoes are vitamin powerhouses containing many of your daily nutrient needs. It is always better to consume vitamin sources from whole foods rather than dietary supplements. I encourage you to try some new foods, search for those healthy colors and eat the rainbow!


National Institutes of Health. Iron Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. Office of Dietary Supplements, 19 Feb. 2015. Web. 10 Aug. 2015.
National Institutes of Health. Vitamin K Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. Office of Dietary Supplements, 16 Feb. 2015. Web. 10 Aug.. 2015.
National Institutes of Health. Vitamin A Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. Office of Dietary Supplements, 05 June. 2013. Web. 10 Aug. 2015.

Portion Predicaments


By Kara Glasco, MS, RCEP, HFS

With portion sizes, consumption rates and sedentary lifestyles steadily increasing over the last few decades, it shouldn’t be a shock why obesity has such a gripping hold on our population. I have heard every trick under the sun when it comes to trying to control portion sizes. One fairly common suggestion is to use a smaller plate such as a salad plate. That may work for some of you, but I hear from clients that smaller plates are unsatisfying, lead to second helpings and usually don’t work. One dietician I know, recommended using a red plate since red supposedly signals the brain to stop eating. Now if I want to eat, no red plate is going to stop me from chowing down. Follow my tips below when trying to control your portions sizes for weight loss.

Eat Slowly, REALLY Slowly!

Have you ever heard that old wives tale, give yourself 20 minutes between helpings to determine if you are ACTUALLY still hungry? Well there is a lot of truth to that tale. Speed eaters generally consume more food because there is less time for the brain to register satiety. Eating slowly, enjoying your meal and a few other tactics can help you keep your portions in check. I always recommend eating the most filling foods first such as vegetables. Veggies contain a good amount of water and fiber, which makes you feel fuller faster. Next move on to the protein part of your meal, make sure to use a knife and fork to keep your speed eating in check. I also find sipping on a sugar free beverage (NO DIET DRINKS!) during your meal will also take up space causing you to feel fuller without the added calories. Another tip is to save the best part of the meal for last, which is usually the carbs for me. Ending the meal on a delicious note may help with satisfaction and boost your willpower to resist round two. My last tip is one that I use almost every day, I like to have a 50 to 100 calorie snack about an hour before dinner to kill that ravenous eat everything in sight hunger. I always make it something protein based such as a cheese stick, a few slices of turkey, glass of milk or even a spoonful of peanut butter.

Arrange The Plate

A common portion control strategy is to compare a food portion to an easily recognizable item. I’ve heard serving sizes described as palm size, which can be highly inaccurate especially if you have a giant-sized hand! It can also be hard to guestimate what a deck of cards, baseball, dice, or hockey puck looks like in relation to your free form foods. One of the easiest and most effective ways to control your portions is to section off your dinner plate into carb, vegetable, and protein sections. This can become more difficult with mixed ingredient dishes, but I suggest always making vegetables HALF of your plate. It is best to limit yourself to one plateful for lunch and dinner, but if second helpings are too tempting, follow your plate guide. Try to keep your second helpings to protein and vegetable sources only. If you are going back for carbs, make sure it stays within one quarter of your plate. Also, if there is more than one carbohydrate to choose from, pick ONE and only one to fill your plate. Make sure it is the best one though, mac and cheese always beats rolls!


The Slow Cooker for a modern cook

Curried stew with soy protein chunks, parsnips and quince cooking in a slow cooker.

by Kara Glasco, MS, RCEP, HFS

I am sure we are all in the same boat with too many things on our agenda and not enough time to get it all done. To make matters harder, we need to put together a healthy family meal at the end of the day. I have been experimenting with my new slow cooker that everyone told me I MUST put on my wedding registry. We all make soups, stews, and chili in our slow cookers but with the heat of summer, I am frankly not in the mood for any of those.

I’ve also tried making casseroles, BBQ, and other side dishes. In search of a one pot wonder, I came across the idea of putting a whole chicken into the crockpot. I know I’m not inventing anything ground breaking and people have been making this meal since the dawn of the crockpot. I just have to tell you, my crockpot chicken turned out so tender, mouth-wateringly juicy, bursting with flavorful, and it was SO DARN EASY! The look on my husband’s face after his first bite just said it all. His request to “please make this every week” made me want to share this awesome recipe.

Another brilliant part of this, oh so easy recipe is that the starch and vegetables are done along with the main course. I love that there are no extra pots or pans to wash too! In my effort to be even more Susie homemaker, I even made my own chicken broth from the remnants of the chicken. Every TV chef always says to use chicken stock rather than chicken broth for a more flavorful dish. In my naivety, I assumed that stock and broth were pretty much the same thing. They look the same when you buy them in a carton right? Well, from my new homemade stock experience, this crockpot stock couldn’t be more different than a goldfish and great blue whale. Now that’s a polar opposite!

See my additional tips below for how to make your own glorious crock pot chicken stock. I hope you enjoy my recipe and feel free to create your own concoction with any flavors, herbs, and seasonings of your desires.

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken Recipe

1 Whole Chicken (whatever size fits in your slow cooker)
1 LARGE handful of fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage, cilantro, dill, parsley, anything works)
5 large potatoes, chopped into medium chunks
5 carrots, chopped into large chunks
4 celery stalks, chopped into large chunks
2 large onions thickly sliced
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Other flavors: The possibilities are ENDLESS!
Citrus: lemon pepper, 3 Tbsp lemon juice, orange and lemon zest
Curry: curry powder, fresh cilantro, cumin, 1 can low-fat coconut milk
Taco: cayenne pepper, paprika, adobo powder, onion powder, garlic powder

Chop potatoes, vegetables and garlic and place in the bottom of the crockpot. Season with salt, pepper and a few sprigs of fresh herbs. Wash, empty the cavity and remove any excess skin from the chicken. Place directly on top of diced vegetables and potatoes breast side up. Stuff any extra fresh herbs into the chicken cavity and season the entire bird liberally with salt and pepper. Add any extra seasonings to the chicken if desired. Cover and cook for 8 hours on low. DO NOT ADD ANY LIQUID. After 8 hours, chicken will fall apart and be careful to discard bones before serving.

Additional Tip: To make homemade chicken stock, place all leftover liquid and bones back into the crockpot. Add 4 to 6 cups of water to the bones and leftover liquid mixture. Cover and cook for 4 additional hours on high. Strain all liquid with a metal strainer and freeze for future use.

Fall Fitness Goals, part 3

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Kara Glasco, MS, RCEP, HFS

As I mentioned in my first two articles for this series, (Fall Fitness Goals) it is very important to select the right distance running plan to meet your race needs.  It is also important to set realistic race goals whether it be to simply complete the race or set a personal record.  Selecting the right plan will help you achieve these goals and avoid common running injuries such as shin splints (Fall Fitness Goals 2).  Make sure you include strength training, stretching and foam rolling as part of your training plan.

In this third article, I will address other factors to consider when training for a distance race in the fall.

Temperature: Internal and External

With the summer heat in full blast, some runners may be opting for the cool temperatures of indoor treadmill running.  Heat stroke is a serious factor to consider when training outdoors.  Most runner try to do at least half their milage outdoors to get used to the temperatures they will experience on race day.  If you begin your training plan in the summer, try to run outdoors during the cooler hours of the early morning or late evening.  Acclimating to the outdoor temperatures before race day will also help your body sweat sooner therefore keeping you cooler.

Sweating allows the body to dissipate heat and if your body doesn’t sweat appropriately you can become overheated in the first few miles.  Wearing appropriate clothing is also essential for your race performance and running comfort.  Avoid less breathable fabrics such as 100% cotton because these fabrics trap sweat and prevent heat dissipation.  Dressing in layers may be something to consider if you race in certain fall climates.  Hats, gloves, and jackets are easy things to shed without slowing you down.  Pick articles of clothing you don’t mind throwing to the side of the road so you don’t have to carry them with you as you race.  Most sponsored races collect all the discarded running paraphernalia and donate it to local charities.  Sounds like a win-win to me!


Hydration can be a major factor in your race performance and it is essential you consume enough fluids before your race.  Some runners find consuming fluids during the race uncomfortable which makes it more important to consume enough fluids before you run.  Try to consume at least 90 ounces of fluid every day the week before your race.  Also avoid high sodium beverages such as sodas and avoid caffeinated drinks because these beverages are natural diuretics.  Carry a water bottle with you at all times to help remind you to drink often, even if you are not thirsty.  When it comes to sports beverages, avoid them unless your race is longer than 1 hour.  The sugar in these beverages can often upset your stomach while running.  Additionally, electrolyte loss is not a performance inhibitor for exercise lasting less than one hour.  Drinking enough fluids after the race and eating a well balanced post-race meal will replace all your lost electrolytes without all the extra sugar.

Eat to Win
Nutrition is equally important as hydration when it comes to running outdoors. Fuel your body with the right kinds of foods to help you feel great and achieve great things.  One of the most common racing misconceptions is to load up on carbohydrates the night before and morning of your race.  If you were a world renowned cyclist, competing against the toughest competition and racing at lightening pace then, yes, you need that giant plate of spaghetti the night before.  For the rest of us average Joes and Janes, a well balanced meal of protein, fat and carbohydrate will suffice.  Eating high-carb meals right before your race will leave you feeling tired, sluggish and heavy.

I also don’t recommend eating anything that is out of the ordinary for you on the morning of the race.  The last thing you need is an upset stomach or WORSE on race day.  If you are unsure of your pre-race meal, test it out the week before and try a run to see how it suits you.  Make sure your pre-race meal contains fats and protein for prolonged energy during the race.

When in the final prep stages for your fall race, remember to avoid high outdoor temperatures, stay hydrated and eat a well balanced meal on race day.  Now your SET, GO!

Total Madness!!

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It’s hot outside and you’re thinking of skipping your workout, again!  Don’t make excuses, get results with this Total Madness workout.  Grab a water bottle, towel, some basic equipment and LET’S GO!

Cardio 20-30 minutes: Treadmill run/walk, Elliptical, Stationary Bike or Rower
3-5 minute warm up: light pace just to get the joints and muscles warmed up
20 minute intervals: every 2 minutes increase either speed, resistance or incline for 1 minute
2 minute cool down:  Get off of the equipment and walk around

Resistance Circuits:
Equipment: Mat, Stability Ball, Resistance Band, Step, 15-25 lbs. Body Bar (BB) or Dumbbells (DB)
Walking Push Ups with 1 hand elevated on Step – 10 reps (5 each side)
Band Lateral/front shoulder raises – 10 -12 reps alternating lateral/front
Bench Dips – 8-12 reps
Bent Over Rows  (BB or DB) 8-12 reps
Reverse Lunges with Bicep Curls (BB or DB)  8-12 reps
Lateral squats with overhead press (BB or DB) 20 reps (10 each direction)
Hip Raises on Stability Ball or Bench
5 Minutes of Intervals Cycling, Rowing, Running/Walking or Elliptical

Repeat X 2

AB Circuits:
Bicycle Crunches on Mat – 15-25 reps.
Supermans on Mat – 5-10 reps. hold for 5 second count
Decline Crunches on Stability Ball – 8-12 reps
5 minutes of Intervals Cycling, Rowing, Running/Walking or Elliptical Intervals

Repeat X 1-2

5-10 minutes: Stretch/Foam Roll/Legs Up A Wall

Hit the Shower!

Muscle Knots, for real?



If you have ever had a massage or been through physical therapy as a result of a sports or fitness related injury, you probably have heard about muscle knots.   The New York Times, “Ask: Well,” addresses the debate over whether muscle knots actually exist and how to treat them.  Take a look…

Muscle Knots


Fall Fitness Goals, Part 2


By Kara Glasco, MS, RCEP, HFS

If you’ve started a 5, 8, or 10k training plan for the fall, I have a few things for you to consider while you are training.  In “Fall Fitness Goals, Part 1,” (Scroll down),  I highlighted common running program problems and how to select a safe and effective training plan.  Even if you have embarked on the perfect 5k plan, there is always a slight risk of injury due to the high impact nature of running.   Have you ever met a runner who didn’t experience a few aches or pains during their training?  In Part 2, I will concentrate on common running injuries, corrective exercises for these injuries, and why the right running shoes are so important.

Common Running Injuries
I believe that every runner, beginner or elite, has experienced the twinge of runner’s knee or burn of achilles tendonitis.  With so many different factors affecting the joints, it is no wonder running injuries are so common. Factors such as gait, stride length, foot strike, body weight, training surface and muscular imbalances can all affect your injury risk. According to Runner’s World Magazine, some of the most common running injuries are patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee), achilles tendinitis, hamstring issues, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, IT band syndrome and stress fractures (1).  Any of these injuries can affect a runner, but patellofemoral pain, hamstring issues, shin splints, and IT band syndrome tend to affect more novice runners.  These four common injuries can be worked through with strengthening exercises, stretching and myofascial release.  Plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis and stress fractures are much more serious and a visit to the doctor is a must.

Stretch, Strengthen, and Foam Roll
A multitude of factors can cause any of these common running injuries including muscle imbalances, weak joints, foot pronation and trying to run too much too quickly. Patellofemoral pain can be caused by overpronation of the foot or weak gluteal muscles, which cause the knee to turn inward as you run (1).  Hamstring issues arise from improper muscle length that leads to muscle weakness.  Your hamstrings may be overstretched, but most sedentary office workers tend to have excessively tight hamstrings due to prolonged sitting.  Shin splints occur when high amounts of stress are placed on the anterior muscles of tibia causing micro tears in the muscle (1).  Shin splints are generally a sign of doing too much too quickly whether it be mileage or pace.  IT band issues can arise from weak glutes, weak hip abductors and also trying to go too hard too fast.  Below I have some suggestion for alleviating these running ailments.  If your pain last longer than a few weeks, you should consult a qualified medical professional.


Treatment Suggestions
Patellofemoral pain: Rest + glute strengthening exercises (lateral exercises, squats, lunges) + stretch hip flexors + change stride length or foot strike.
Hamstring Issues: For tight muscles stretch and foam roll daily + strengthen exercises (hip bridges, leg curls, deadlifts)
Shin Splints: Rest + Ice + NSAIDs + stretches and strengthen muscles of the anterior tibia + modify training program (increase training time for slower progression) + change stride length or foot strike + foam rolling calf muscles may help
IT Band Issues: Rest + Foam roll IT band + stretch hip flexors + strengthen glutes, quads, and hip abductors (lateral exercises, squats, lunges) + modify training program (increase training time for slower progression)
One of the great perks of running is it requires little to no equipment except for a pair of running shoes.  Believe it or not, but old or improper running shoes can contribute to any of the injuries listed above.  When deciding on the right pair of shoes, I suggest visiting a specialized running store.  Most specialized stores can assess your feet for arch issues, pronation issues, and width needs.  If you have an abnormal foot type, don’t be surprised if the right shoe cost upwards of $120.00.  Spending a little extra cash for right shoe will not only help you train better, but save you from the aches and pains in the long run.

1 Sources – Aschwanden, Christie. “The Big 7 Body Breadowns.” Runner’s World 3 Feb. 2011: 49-60. Web.

Planning your Fall Fitness Goals



by Kara Glasco, MS, RCEP, HFS

Spring and fall are the most popular times of the year for road races.  With the fall races approaching, it is almost time to start a training plan.  Most of the information I highlight below can apply to an 8k or 10k race that a novice runner or “never run before” participant is going to start.  Carefully review my insights into training for your first 5k run and tips for selecting the right program for you.

Ready, Set, JOG?

Most “Couch to 5k” programs assume that participants are sedentary with no other physical limitations  that could impact their 5k abilities.  Most new 5k runners generally have a weight loss goal that influences their decision to complete the race.  I would warrant that previously sedentary individuals may have a few joint issues, mobility problems or health conditions that may make exercise more risky than the average 5k runner.  Most 5k plans tell participants start off easy, which I would recommend as well.  However, after multiple 5k plans, the first weeks of these plans may be too advanced for most beginners.  One beginner 5k program I reviewed had participants jogging on the first day of the first week!  If you have never jogged in your life, the first jogging workout may be a total shock to the system making your joints ache for days.

Another common flaw of these beginner 5k programs is their training plan length.  Most plans do not have enough training weeks to truly prepare novice runners for their first race.  I would have my novices walk three times per week for at least the first two weeks in order to build up their joint, muscle, and tendon strength.  As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, muscles adapt quickly but tendons and joints do not.  You need enough training time to prepare your cardiovascular system as well as your musculoskeletal system.  I would have a true beginner complete at least a 12 week training plan, and more experienced racers complete a 9 to 12 week plan.  Obviously this is for racers that have no other preexisting conditions that could make walking and jogging contraindicated.  Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise routine or more advanced training plan.

What’s Your Goal?

Another factor that the “Couch to 5k” programs do not take into account is each individual’s reason for completing the race.  Whenever I design a road race program, I use the client’s goals to help me make their plan.  Do you want to just simply complete the race?  Do you want to complete the race but have a real concern about getting injured? Do you have a time goal in mind?  Do you want to increase the amount of time you jog versus the time you walk?  Most internet plans are not tailored for these specific goals.  If you are more concerned about injuries, your couch to 5k plan should have specific elements to prevent that including stretching and flexibility exercises.  If you want to increase the amount you run or your race time, you should have a strength training plan in order to facilitate this goal.  I challenge you to find a “Couch to 5k” program online that includes a flexibility, mobility, and strength training component.

Programs Must Include

When selecting the right “Couch to 5k” plan for you, look for a program that has flexibility and strength training exercises.  Flexibility exercises will reduce your risk of injury, minimize muscle soreness and help with muscle imbalances.  Strength training is essential for improving your running abilities, can increase your cardiovascular endurance and reduce muscular fatigue at the end of the race.  I suggest you run a maximum of THREE days per week, and more days do not equal better performance.  Many programs will suggest you run upwards of five days per week which can be disastrous.  Remember it is about QUALITY runs not QUANTITY runs!  Also you should incorporate cross training (ellipticals, biking, rowing, swimming) on your non-running days to keep your cardiovascular endurance high while giving your joints a much needed break.  Stay tuned for  more tips for starting your 5k training program.

Saucy Substitutions

By Kara Glasco, MS, RCEP, HFS

Go to any fancy restaurant and I guarantee everything on the menu will come with a decadent and delicious sauce. Sauces can instantly elevate the most mundane of dishes and can be secret calorie traps.

Some of the oldest diet tips are to avoid cream based sauces (alfredo sauce), mayonnaise based sauces (ranch and blue cheese dressing) and fat loaded sauces (scampi). Where is the fun in that? I feel that often times the sauce is the best part of the meal! When trying to lose weight, cutting out nutritionally void calories such as the ones in sauces can be a big key to your success.

Another tip is to substitute an unhealthy sauce for another healthier one. Sometimes I get the yummy, yet fattening, sauce on the side, lightly dip my fork into it and use the sauce sparingly.

When deciphering restaurant menus, look for any of these sauces that will be lower in calories but high in flavor: salsa, guacamole, vinaigrette, marinara, salsa verde, tzatziki, and chimichurri.

Punch up the flavor

Lemon juice, mustard, vinegar, and hot sauce are great additives to jazz up the flavor of any dish without adding many calories. I really enjoy adding lemon juice to my steamed veggies and sauteed greens so I don’t need to use butter.

Anything vinegar based will always be very low in calories such as hot sauce and mustard. Try making a spicy marinade or mustard based rub instead of a ketchup or oil heavy marinade. I love making buffalo chicken skewers and I marinate the chicken in only hot sauce for a buffalo flavor with hardly any added calories. All the same flavors as your favorite wings with no added carbs, fat OR GUILT!

Another tip is to increase the amount of vinegar to oil ratio in homemade salad dressings. I tend to make my dressings and marinades heavy on the vinegar because it acts as a meat tenderizer and makes a little go a long way. I suggest using two types of vinegar or acid in salad dressings for a more rounded and less harsh flavor profile. My favorites are balsamic, of course, lemon juice and any type of wine vinegar.

Slimmer Sauces

Another great way to save some calories in your sauce recipes is to swap out part of the fattening ingredients for chicken or vegetable broth. Broth has only 5 calories per tablespoon and is packed with yummy flavor. I suggest only swapping half of the liquids or fats for broth so you don’t completely change the recipes flavor profile.

As I mentioned in my healthy substitutions article, I use low-fat condensed milk in place of heavy cream for a rich consistency without hundreds of extra calories.

I found this pesto recipe years ago, loved it the instant I tried it and will never make a traditional recipe again. This recipe is so light compared to the oil laden recipes most cookbooks use. The flavors really shine through as well because the ingredients aren’t somthered with all that oil. Traditional pesto has over 230 calories for 1/4 cup while this updated version is only 104 calories, what a saving!!!

Lighter Pesto Sauce
2 Tbsp pine nuts
2 cups basil leaves, fresh
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth (or homemade broth)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 or 2 medium garlic clove(s), peeled (depending on how much you like garlic)
1/2 tsp table salt

Over medium heat, toast pine nuts in a small pan for about 3 minutes. Toss frequently so they won’t burn. Pour pine nuts into a food processor. Add basil, broth, cheese, oil, garlic and salt. Process until it’s the smoothness of and thickness of your liking. If you like, let it stand overnight for melding/thickening purposes.

Serving size is 1/4 cup.
Calories: 104 calories
Fat: 9g


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