Favourite Fitness & Nutrition Podcasts 2017

December 11, 2017

I like podcasts. Maybe you do, too. We should talk about that.

It’s been ages since I did a favourite podcasts post (my first podcast round-up was back in 2011 if you want a LOL, and then I wrote one in 2013 and later in 2013).

Many of those podcasts have departed to the great audio booth in the sky, and some are still around but either they’ve changed direction of (more likely) I have.

Either way, it’s time for an update. Here’s what I listen to on the regular.

(Most are about training and/or nutrition, but I’ve included some of my favourite business / personal development ones, too. You can only listen to so much industry chat, you know, however good the content and solid the banter!)

Got any recommendations for me? Leave me a comment.

Shredded By Science
(Lawrence Judd & the SBS team)

The SBS podcast is hosted by Lawrence Judd with regular input from Patrick (of Eat, Train, Progress) and SBS head honcho Luke Johnson. This podcast is mainly aimed at fitness professionals, but don’t have to be one to get a lot from it. If you’re interested in training, nutrition, and how the industry is changing, you’ll learn a lot (and laugh a lot!) They discuss great topics and have some brilliant guests. And Lawrence’s very dry humour often has me literally LOLing (awkward since I listen to podcasts when I’m out walking the dog)

3D Muscle Journey
(Andrea Valdez & the 3DMJ team)

3DMJ are kind of the OGs of the “flexible dieting” world, and the collected wisdom of host Andrea Valdez, Brad Loomis, Jeff Alberts, Alberto Nunez, and Eric Helms packs a punch. The 3DMJ podcast is firmly aimed at natural bodybuilding competitors, but anyone who is interested in training and eating for body recomp will get something from it. By the way, I’m #TeamJeff.


Muscle Box Radio
(Team Box)

The Muscle Box podcast will at any one time feature two or more of Team Box’s six coaches. Sometimes you even get all of them, which is equal parts hilarity and knowledge overload. This podcast will interest you if you’re into flexible dieting, training for hypertrophy, competing, and staying one step ahead of industry BS. Each of the coaches brings their own experience to the topics, and you’ll get plenty of clear advice to cut through diet and fitness confusion. Oh – you must like puns if you listen to this podcast. Sorry, I can’t decide which #TeamBoxCoach I am. That’s like asking me to choose my favourite member of Take That.


Push Pull Legs podcast
(Dan Meek and Tom Hall)

A second mention for Dan Meek (who is one of the Team Box coaches). The PPL podcast will interest you if you’re more into training as well as nutrition, since co-host Tom Hall is a powerlifting coach. As the name suggests, there’s plenty of training and programming talk on the PPL podcast, plus myth busting and the regular “Stupid Things We’ve Seen On The Internet”.

Sigma Nutrition Radio
(Danny Lennon)

If you’re into sports/performance nutrition, you’ll want to listen to Danny Lennon’s Sigma Nutrition show. It can sometimes be heavy going, but this is not designed to be magazine-style fluff. He has some outstanding guests on and discusses latest research, and his hosting style is really engaging. Listen to this podcast and you will be more clued-up than the majority of the people in the industry.

Mastery podcast
(Mark Coles)

M10’s Mark Coles is back with a new podcast that gives unmissable content on business mindset and personal development. He puts out some very short weekly content, aimed at getting you focused and fired up for the week ahead. And his longer episodes delve deeper into the key personal development topics that Mark is known for throughout the fitpro industry. I love listening to this on a Monday morning dog walk.

Mindset With Muscle
(Jamie Alderton)

Anyone who has the kind of attitude to life that means he will run backwards for 24 hours to raise money for charity is worth listening to (yes, Jamie did that). This podcast is packed with his trademark no-nonsense, practical, motivational content about business, personal development, and self-improvement. There’s something here for everyone. I deny you not to get fired up. (Although you might not go out and run backwards for 24 hours… but that’s OK.)

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.

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“Where Did I Get My Protein?” As A Vegan…

December 3, 2017

This is a post-script to my Vegan Month blogs. Someone asked me to blog about the various protein sources I ate during Vegan Month. So – here they are!

The obvious ones

Tofu

I mostly used firm plain tofu for slicing/chopping and putting into dishes. I used Cauldron brand, but I’m sure there are others. I bought their marinaded chunks of tofu a couple of times (good for putting on salads etc) but the macros are surprisingly high.

Beans and pulses

I went with cooking my own from dried. It doesn’t take long (well, it does, but you just leave them cooking), and I think they turn out much nicer than canned. Plus, you know, less packaging to throw away. I did a weekly batch of chickpeas, red lentils, and split peas (usually with some spices and/or a stock cube in the water).  I also discovered fava beans for the first time – a real favourite! They don’t need pre-soaking. I cook them with turmeric, chilli flakes or fresh chilli, black pepper, and maybe a bit of garlic. Just let it all cook until the water has disappeared. Delicious.

Grains

Now, obviously there is some protein in almost everything. So I’m not going to list everything that “gave me protein” during Vegan Month because that would end up including broccoli etc. I’ll just mention the things I used to try and keep my protein high. Quinoa and buckwheat were two things I introduced that I don’t usually eat. I used buckwheat for savoury dishes (like you would use rice), and for sweet (like porridge). Both very easy to cook and store for a few days too.

“Alternative” pastas

I ate pastas made from green pea, chickpea flour, lentil flour, and soybean. These aren’t cheap, but they are a good way to “rethink” a meal – making the formerly carb aspect (pasta) the protein, and the formerly protein aspect (the sauce) carb. So I’d have one of these pastas with a veggie topping, maybe with some chickpeas and/or tofu in it. All of these pastas are tasty. You can get a green pea one and a red lentil one from most supermarkets (the rest I got from health food shops or online). This is one brand I found, but a couple of supermarkets have started doing their own brand (usually in the Free From bit).

Protein powder

I was sent a couple of big bags of Bulk Powders’s Vegan Complete protein which was a godsend. It’s a blend of plant-based protein powders and very tasty. I used it in place of whey in my morning porridge, and had it after training. I won’t be going back to whey protein now. I will continue to use a vegan protein blend, or a pea protein powder. Protein powder is an obvious way to get your protein up without carbs or fats. There are a lot of vegan protein powders and protein blends available these days.

Quorn

Now then! I had no idea that not all Quorn products are vegan – thank you to my friend who pointed this out, otherwise I probably would have picked up a load of products without realising. You have to look for the ones which are clearly labeled as vegan on the front. The others contain egg. I used the Quorn chunks (which are actually decent, in a pasta sauce etc).

Soy/meat free mince

Don’t use the Quorn brand version which is not vegan. I used supermarket own brand, but you do have to check that it doesn’t contain egg. I also used dry soya mince a few times but it’s not the best. You have to use it in a bolognese type affair and season the living daylights out of it.

Yoghurts

I’ve gone right off the idea of yoghurt for some reason, but there were a couple of times that I really fancied something different and sweet. So I had the little fruity Alpro yoghurts – the multipack with “banana and something” and “pear and something” is nice.

And an honourary mention for

My homemade seitan. I did tell you that I made seitan from scratch, didn’t I? Oh, good. 😉

Hope that helps with ideas for vegan protein (from a temporary vegan!)

All the Vegan Month posts can be found here >> Vegan Month experiment <<.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


My Vegan Month: The Round-Up

December 1, 2017

So Vegan Month has come to an end, and we need a round-up post. I would have written this yesterday but, you know, I was too busy making seitan from scratch… 😉

So. Let’s revisit my first post and answer my own questions…

Did I feel any healthier eating 100% vegan?

Hm. Yes, on balance I did. I always eat a lot of veggies anyway, cook all my own food, rarely if ever get takeaway etc. But what I noticed during Vegan Month is that I just bought less snacky sweet “excess” stuff. This was mostly because I couldn’t be bothered to read the labels on everything. I know there’s vegan chocolate, vegan icecream, etc. But I just kind of couldn’t be bothered. As a result, the amount of unplanned snacking definitely went down. I also ate a lot less in the way of sauces and dressings (because so many of them have milk/cream/egg). My diet was a lot simpler as a vegan.

Did I sleep better?

No change here. My sleep is largely dictated by the noise levels of my neighbours.

Has my body changed at all (composition and/or size?) 

Weight has stayed the same, but then again I did make an effort to eat the same calories as previously, so I wouldn’t expect a change. I do think I look a bit leaner, but this could be because of training frequency which has increased these past few weeks.

Is my training performance affected at all (better/worse)?

I’ve been training hard and feeling good. The only times I’ve felt shit in training is when I’ve been exhausted (see above re: noisy neighbours).

Did I feel hungrier?

No, not at all. In fact maybe less hungry?

How easy (or not) was it to hit my normal macros? 

My protein went down and carbs went up. It was difficult to hit higher protein (because vegan protein is all mixed in with carbs), and difficult not to eat higher carb (same reason). I was hitting around 250g carbs a day with no effort at all – just because carbs are kind of everywhere with a vegan way of eating. This is fine by me, by the way, I have no issue with carbohydrate! I felt/performed/look much the same or perhaps a bit better. Protein wasn’t low (lowest was something like 125g) but lower than pre-vegan diet.

What kind of recipes/meals did I end up cooking, and will I keep any of them in my regular diet?

Sorry, did I mention that I made seitan from scratch? I did? Oh. Well I also made lots of curry-type things with tofu and/or pulses. (Some of the recipes are here.) And I discovered fava beans, which I made into a kind of daal with turmeric and spices. I really enjoyed everything I made (I guess it would be odd if I didn’t, given that I made them?!) and will keep them in my regular diet. I will actually make seitan again!

Will I carry on with all or any of my vegan food choices after 30th November?

Definitely. No milk or yoghurt – the thought had been making me feel a bit “ick” for a long time before I did this vegan experiment. I’ll carry on using non-dairy milk. I doubt I’ll want yoghurt but if I do, there’s Alpro. I really dislike honey. I suspect I’ll go back to regular cheese. I will eat eggs and egg whites again. As for meat? I will eat it again, but I don’t have any specific plans. I didn’t get any meat out of the freezer last night ready to eat today. And I haven’t eaten any today. I am looking forward to a bit of salmon and – oddly – tinned tuna.

I hope you’ve enjoyed following this month-long eating experiment. If you have any questions for me, please ask and I’ll do some follow up posts.

All the Vegan Month posts can be found here >> Vegan Month experiment <<.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.

 


Making Homemade Seitan for Vegan Month

November 30, 2017

Today is the final day of Vegan Month, so I decided to go out with a flourish: by making homemade seitan from scratch.

Now, please bear in mind that I have never eaten seitan. Or even seen it. It’s very difficult to make something when your brain has absolutely no idea what the thing should look like.

What is seitan?

It’s a vegan protein source often called “wheat meat”. It is made from vital wheat gluten (gluten is after all a protein – the protein in wheat, rye, barley and some other grains I can’t remember right now). Needless to say, seitan is not going to be good for coeliacs or Crohn’s sufferers.

But I have no reason to avoid gluten, so off I went to my local independent healthfood shop (holla Folkestone Whole Foods who were extremely helpful, and even high fived me!)

The recipe

I used the basic seitan recipe from Fit Pro Client Recipes (which also has various recipes for how to use your seitan once you’ve made it). But, me being me, I adapted it a bit. Oh, and totally forgot to add one ingredient (I found it under my jumper halfway through).

Here’s how the seitan happened.

Ingredients:

  • 140g wheat gluten
  • 5 “normal” spoons of nutritional yeast (meant to be 3 tbsp but I don’t own any tbsps)
  • 1.5 vegan stock cubes (recipe called for various amounts of “broth” but I just used stock cubes)
  • 2 “normal” spoons of olive oil (meant to be 1 tbsp)
  • 8 “normal” spoons of soy sauce
  • 8 “normal” spoons of lemon juice (meant to be 2 tbsp but I like lemon)
  •  2 garlic cloves (not very well chopped – I should have crushed them)
  • Various herbs and spices: paprika, black pepper, coriander.

Method:

  • Fill a pan about 6″ with water and add one of the stock cubes and 1/2 of the soy sauce. Set this boiling whilst you make the seitan. (This is the broth that the seitan will “steam” in to cook).
  • In a big bowl, mix the wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, and spices/herbs.
  • In another bowl, mix the 1/2 stock cube with cold water, add the other half of the soy sauce, the garlic, the olive oil, and the lemon juice.
  • Pour the liquid into the dry mix and mix it about with a wooden spoon. It will clump together.
  • Then get in there with your hands and knead it. It gets really bouncy and weird. Knead for about 3 mins.
  • Cut the dough (are we calling it dough? We are now) into 3 with a sharp knife.
  • Take each piece in your palms and knead it a bit more, then form it into whatever shape you want. I went for “patties” but I guess you could make sausage type things?
  • Lower your seitan into the boiling broth, then reduce it to a simmer. Put a lid on the pan but leave a gap for the steam to get out.
  • Simmer the seitan for 45 mins, turning it occasionally. Then turn the heat off and let it sit in the broth for 10 more mins. Then take it out and put it on kitchen towel.
  • Then… use it!

This makes it sound a LOT more complicated than it is. It’s easy. It took me about 15 mins (plus the steaming time). It’s essentially: dry mix, wet mix, combine them, knead it, steam it.

Macros

I’ll be honest, I didn’t calculate it. Sorry. But seitan is obviously high in protein (the highest protein non-animal source?), and the only added fat in this recipe is from the olive oil.

The verdict?

Wowsers! I am seriously impressed (so was the dog, as you’ll see if you have a chance to watch my Insta story in the next few hours).

It looks like meat.
It slices like meat.
It has the texture of meat.
It’s chewy like meat.

It doesn’t taste like meat, but then again there is no single “meat” taste anyway, is there?

It tastes… hearty, and chewy, and of all the flavours you add to it. I guess you could make a more spicy version, or one with Thai/BBQ/Indian (etc) flavours to suit. You’d also use your seitan like meat – in a dish – so more chance to flavour it then too.

But honestly I just ate a couple of slices once it had cooled down, just like this. OK I’d just got home from the gym so I was hungry, but hand on heart I enjoyed it.

So – thank you to the people who challenged me to make seitan during Vegan Month! I’m really glad I did, and I will make it again.

Final Vegan Month round up post to come tomorrow. It’s been fun!

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


My Vegan Month: 4 Weeks In

November 26, 2017

I’m blogging because it’s Sunday… but I don’t honestly have an update for you. I was just on the phone to my Mum and she kind of reminded me that I needed to write a Vegan Month update, and she asked me what I was going to say.

(Mum) “Are you finding it difficult?”

(Me) “No, not really. I’m enjoying all the cooking, and I like the things I eat.”

(Mum) “So you’re finding it easy?”

(Me) “Um… well, it’s just fine. Neither one thing or the other really. I’m not desperate for it to end, but I imagine I’ll be glad to eat a bit of salmon or something.”

(Mum) “Are you getting bored of the food?”

(Me) “No… well, yes maybe a bit. It’s not so much that I’m bored of what I am eating – because I genuinely enjoy lentils and all that kind of thing. But there have been a couple of times this week when I’ve just wanted… something different. Nothing specific.

(Mum) “I imagine that it would be different if you knew you’d never be eating fish/meat/eggs ever again…”

(Me) “Yes definitely. I actually think the ‘wanting something different’ feelings I’ve had this week are a bit of a throwback to bodybuilding prep. It’s not that you physically want anything specific. You just sometimes feel like you want to kick out against the ‘rules’.”

(Mum) “Anyway darling, so when you come up to watch “Hay Fever” in December, Liz might come with you. Ooh and I thought we could do some Christmas shopping that afternoon?”

(Me) “I should probably stop typing this phone call onto my blog now.”

So, to summarise that fictionalised account of a real phone call:

  • nothing to report
  • I’m still eating mostly the same kinds of foods I have been this whole time: lots of “curry type” concoctions with tofu, veg, and lentils/split peas
  • I discovered fava beans (obviously not alongside liver) – they’re really nice. I cook them like red lentils (with turmeric, garlic, red chili etc) into a kind of daal
  • In terms of training/bodybuilder life, I don’t know that this vegan diet is optimal, but I also can’t say that it’s been detrimental. I’m training really hard at the moment – 6 times a week, “legs” 3 times a week. I’m recovering fine, and someone in the gym commented that I’ve “lost weight” (I haven’t in terms of scale weight, but perhaps a slight bit of body recomp?)

So, only 4 days remain of Vegan Month! Am I planning a specific meal or snack for the 1st December? No. A salmon fillet fell out of the freezer earlier, and the thought was appealing. So maybe I’ll have that on the 1st, but then again maybe I won’t.

Let’s run through a list of non-vegan foods and see how I feel about them right now:

Milk: bleugh. o/10 I should add that I’ve been off the idea of dairy for ages, not just since Vegan Month.

Yoghurt: not fussed, would rather go without. 2/10

Cottage cheese: I used to love it, so I’m going to say 4/10 but the idea doesn’t appeal at all right now.

Cheese: depends what kind. A sharp hard cheese would be 8/10 but I’m not fussed on anything else (my family will disown me for this) I actually think the vegan cheeses are fine. They’re much more expensive than regular cheese.

Fish: I do miss fish. 10/10 for oily fish. 7/10 for anything else. 8/10 for tinned fish because it’s so convenient.

Chicken: meh. 2/10 I know it’s convenient and can be tasty but I can’t say I’m eagerly awaiting my first bite.

Red meat: yeah. 8/10. I think I will enjoy a bit of steak, and cooking beef mince dishes again.

Liver: hm, had to think hard about this one. 10/10 for the actual eating of it. But – and this surprises me – 2/10 for buying it, handling it, cooking it. I’ve never given this a second thought before.

One more thing before I sign off on this incredibly boring update. Seitan. I’m going to make it.

A friend challenged me to make it from scratch, and I said sure (assuming I wouldn’t be able to get hold of vital gluten or whatever the key ingredient is called). Well, more fool me because the local health food shop is going to order it in for me. It arrives on Wednesday (the 29th). So I shall be ending Vegan Month in a flourish of over-achievement: making seitan from scratch.

Got any good seitan recipes? Hit me up!

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


Vegan Baking With Protein Pow’s Pea Cooking Mix

November 15, 2017

Banana & Cacao Nib Squares (Vegan – obvs – and Gluten Free)

I couldn’t let Vegan Month go by without attempting some baking. I used to bake “protein” things all the time: bars, cookies, muffins etc. But over the past few years of bodybuilding prep, I’ve got out of the habit (bored of it, I think!)

So my recipe-creating skills were a little rusty for inventing a vegan baking recipe!

Add to that the twin challenges of 1) no eggs allowed and 2) only the scrapings out of the bottom of the coconut oil tub remaining… and things were about to get interesting. (For “interesting”, read “probably dry and crumbly”).

However, I forged ahead with my zero eggs and probably-10g-if-that oil.

  • I knew I wanted to make a banana bread type creation
  • I knew I didn’t want it to be too sweet (just not my thing)
  • And I knew I wanted to use Protein Pow’s Pea Protein Cooking Mix as the base (because it’s awesome, and vegan, and does half the work for me!)

The Protein Pow “Pea Protein Pow Mix” is gluten free, vegan, and contains just five ingredients: pea protein powder, GF oats, coconut flour, coconut sugar, and vanilla beans. I’ve been using it during Vegan Month to make mug cakes, and as an addition to breakfast oats. But I was keen to bake with it, since that’s really its forte.

Here’s what I made: Vegan Pea Protein Banana & Cacao Nib Squares

Ingredients:

  • 2 large bananas (240g, FYI) – mashed
  • 25g ground flax mixed with water to make a “flax egg” (apparently that’s a thing)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 300g Protein Pow Pea Protein Cooking/Baking Mix
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 40g cacao nibs
  • 300ml almond milk (that much because the batter was really dry… !)
  • 10g coconut oil (the batter reeeeally needed more, but I had the end of a tub so I microwaved that and used what I could pour out) (then gave the empty tub to the dog)

Instructions:

  1. Make the flax “egg” by mixing the flax with water and leaving it aside
  2. Mash the bananas in a bowl
  3. Combine the Protein Pow mix, cinnamon, and baking powder in a big bowl
  4. Mix the cacao nibs through the dry mix
  5. Mix the flax egg into the mashed banana
  6. Add the banana/flax to the dry mix and form a batter (add the milk as you go)

I used a silicone baking tray but you could use muffin cases or whatever you want. Pour the batter into whatever you’re using and bake for about 30 mins at 180*C. Let it cool in the tray then cut into 9 squares.

It looked a bit dry but kind of firmed up as it cooled. The squares held their shape just fine once I cut it into 9 portions.

The verdict? Tasty, actually surprisingly moist and un-crumbly, not too sweet, perfect for a snack with a coffee. The fibre is pretty high (oats, coconut flour, cacao nibs…) so I probably wouldn’t have one before training, but they’d be good for after. I made nine squares out of this recipe but they are pretty big (espresso-cup saucer below for scale… what do you mean you don’t have espresso cup saucers?) – you could definitely cut them into 12 (for fewer cals per bar) or leave out the cacao nibs (?) if you wanted.

Nutrition per 1/9 recipe:
Cals 202
Pro 13.4g
Carb 24.3g
Fat 6.8g

Have you baked or cooked anything with the Protein Pow Pea Mix? Let me know – I’ve got more here and am keen to experiment.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


My Vegan Month: One Problem With It Being “A Month”

November 10, 2017

Just a quick mid-week update today, because I hit a bump in the road on my Vegan Month adventure. I could have predicted it: after all, doing “a vegan month” will inevitably mean contending with a month’s worth of hormonal peaks and troughs.

Yesterday (and today) have been a trough.

I did wonder (in my intro post) whether the time around my period would lead to any cravings for meat/iron rich foods/fattier foods. It’s common knowledge that most women gravitate towards certain foods just before or during their periods. For me, it’s never been chocolate (sorry to shatter the cliche). But I definitely crave red meat, oily fish, and richer/fattier foods in general.

I’m no nutritionist, and this is totally a n=1, but I guess my body is asking for more iron (?), more calories (?) (fats being the most calorie-dense macronutrient), or… something. I dunno. But I physically crave red meat and even organ meat (sorry, vegans!) at this time in my cycle. It’s not just a vague “ooh I quite fancy that”. It’s a sudden physical need.

Anyway, all of that is to give context of how I usually feel, and to say that I went into this Vegan Month wondering if I’d get my usual cravings (and – if so – how I’d cope).

Well, yes, I did. Last night I did a pretty hefty pull session and was very hungry when I got in. I cooked my tofu and veggies in spray oil, and had that with the lentil “pasta” above. But even as I was making it, I knew it wasn’t what I really needed. I wanted beef mince with that pasta. Or even an egg stirred in or on top. Meat. Eggs. Egg yolk. Red meat.

Sigh.

What I don’t know is how to “replicate” what I need via vegan foods. I’m pretty sure I’m getting enough iron, B Vitamins, and everything else. I really do eat a wide variety of foods. Was it habit? Who knows.

So today I made an extra effort to make my meals super-tasty with herbs and spices etc. And I upped my fats a bit, and made sure I got them from “useful” sources (like the Omega Oil I’m using whilst I can’t have fish oil) rather than…er…vegan protein bars 😉

That’s my quick update. Kind of something and nothing really. But if any vegan ladies are reading – particularly those who haven’t been vegan their whole adult lives – I’d love to know if you crave particular foods around your period, and what vegan foods you turn to?

Ooh! Another question. I’m giving blood next week and had a sudden thought  – are any of the snacks at the “post-donation sit down area” vegan?! THESE ARE THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS, PEOPLE!

Proper update coming on Sunday as usual!

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


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