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Calorie Count Blog

Baking Your Way to a Slimmer You


By +Janice D'Agostino on Aug 05, 2011 10:00 AM in Recipes

By Marisa Churchill at Marisachurchill.com

Whoever said “never trust a skinny cook,” clearly was not trying to fit comfortably into their summertime bikini. Otherwise they might have thought twice about who should be trusted in their kitchen! 

I am often faced with skepticism and disbelief when I tell people that I am a pastry chef.  The fact that I was not always so trim seems to bizarrely comfort them….as if my long ago lost “freshman 15” somehow has made me a better chef.  I find it ironic that in most life situations we try to follow those whom we wish to emulate.  Yet none of us aspire to be an overweight chef, so why would we want them teaching us how to cook?

I began to cook with my Greek grandmother (who for the record, was a skinny cook) when I was barely old enough to reach the stove. The love of cooking that I discovered early in life eventually drew me into the professional kitchen.  Through my years of baking, and trying to watch my own diet, I have discovered some great ways to trim away the fat and calories when cooking, without sacrificing flavor.  The key is to cut down, not remove altogether. As soon as I feel deprived, my cravings come at me with a vengeance! Sound familiar?

So whether you are trying to get back to a slimmer you, or simply are learning to eat more healthfully, these simple tips from my cookbook, Sweet & Skinny, will help to cut fat and calories out of your diet, without leaving you feeling deprived.

1). Cut the butter – Butter is not a four letter word, but it does get over used in the kitchen.  In my recipes, I replace about half of the butter in cookies, biscuits and pie crusts with reduced fat cream cheese. Light cream cheese (also known as Neufachtel) has a similar texture to butter, reacts similarly in baking, but has a fraction of the fat and calories.

2). Utilize egg whites – When baking cakes, custards and cookies, replace some of the whole eggs with egg whites or Egg Beaters. Every egg yolk contains about 5 grams of fat and 213 mg. of cholesterol.   By replacing some of the yolks with additional egg whites, you can cut down on the fat in many desserts. Both your hips and your heart will thank you.

3)  Add orange juice – American’s drink about 5 million gallons of orange juice per year, and now we are baking with it too! Relying on fruit juice to provide some of the sweetness in a recipe, rather than just using sugar, is a great way to cut back on the empty calories you often find in desserts.  For example, when I make my Sweet & Skinny lemon bars, I use 3 parts lemon juice and 1 part orange juice. This is a great way to create some natural sweetness, and use less refined sugar. This trick can also be used for lemon curd, lemon meringue pie, and other citrus desserts.

4). Substitute sugar with a natural sweetener -   Whether you can’t have sugar for health reasons, or are simply trying to cut back on calories, using a natural sweetener can be a great alternative. For my “Sweet & Sugar-free” desserts I use Truvia® natural sweetener, made from the Stevia plant.  It is a natural, zero-calorie sweetener, making it a great way to enjoy dessert and still feel virtuous.  To bake sugar-free I do suggest you follow a recipe, as it is not a straight swap when replacing sugar.  However, if you are looking to just cut back on the sugar, a good rule of thumb is to replace ¼ cup of sugar in a recipe with 1/8 cup Truvia. 

5). Replace the oil – After so many uses: bake sales, birthday parties, and pot lucks, it’s time to give your favorite cake recipe a 25,000 mile make over! Many popular cakes call for oil.  The oil gives the cake a nice texture, moist crumb, and about 900 extra calories per ½ cup!  Thankfully fat free, or reduced fat, plain Greek style yogurt does the same trick with only about 85 calories per ½ cup. I replace 2/3 of the oil in my cake recipes with reduced fat Greek style yogurt, making it easy to indulge in a slice of birthday cake while still feeling as carefree as I did in my youth.  



Comments


Below are other egg free replacements that I use. Some recipes I have found need no eggs, like pancakes and some cookies. Flax seeds are an awesome replacement in cookies and add a nutty flavor! Many of the options below also add fiber to the diet.

• 1 egg = 1/4 cup applesauce
• 1 egg = 1/2 mashed banana
• 1 egg = 1/4 cup mashed potatoes
• 1 egg = 1/4 cup canned pumpkin or squash
• 1 egg = 1/4 cup puréed prunes
• 1 egg = 1/4 cup silken tofu
• 1 egg = 2 Tbsp. water + 1 Tbsp. oil + 2 tsp. baking powder
• 1 egg = 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed mixed in 3 Tbsp. water



Excellent.  Many thanks for these ideas.



thanks!!! I can't wait to try them



What's wrong with using an actual egg?I've lost 123 lbs. and I eat them. One large egg has only 70 cals. and 4.5 grams of fat. In moderation, they  are a good, inexpensive protein choice.   



philfan1 - Aug 05, 2011 08:38 AM

What's wrong with using an actual egg?I've lost 123 lbs. and I eat them. One large egg has only 70 cals. and 4.5 grams of fat. In moderation, they  are a good, inexpensive protein choice.

------------------------------------------------------------ -------------------

I was thinking the same thing!



Nothing wrong with actual eggs.  But handy to know of substitutions when recipe calls for many eggs, or you run out of eggs or cholesterol is a huge problem for someone.  Loved all the tips in this article. Especially the use of fat-free greek style yogourt.



Original Post by: lolagal

philfan1 - Aug 05, 2011 08:38 AM

What's wrong with using an actual egg?I've lost 123 lbs. and I eat them. One large egg has only 70 cals. and 4.5 grams of fat. In moderation, they  are a good, inexpensive protein choice.

------------------------------------------------------------ -------------------

I was thinking the same thing!


Some people are allergic

some choose not to eat them as tehy don't approve of teh treatment of animals in most companies

some don't like the taste or texture, and knowing that it's there makes them sick.

Sometimes you need to think beyond your own calorie cutting to reach other people's reasoning.



I am allergic to eggs, but I love baked goods.  Thank you VERY much for the egg substitution chart.



Thanks for posting about your cookbook!  I love to bake and am always looking for ways to make sweets healthier.  I'll definitely be looking to buy your cookbook.



Just want to say that when my doctor and I were discussing my diet (nutrition and food intake, not weight loss plan) and I mentioned that I was using ground flax seed, he cautioned me against its use.  He said the digestive problems it can cause greatly outweigh its benefits.



another trick for backing cakes is use pumpkin or another fruit puree instead of oil, butter or milk.

 



The substitutes are also nice if you want to play with the texture of the food. 

For example, using flax seed dissolved in water will give you a "crumblier" texture.  Using applesauce or banana gives you a denser, moister texture. 



When I made my first marble cake at the age of 13, I neglected to add the eggs to the mix, and the cake did not rise.  It came out like a doorstop: hard and heavy.  Does the egg have something to do with the cake rising? 

I do love the idea of substituting pumpkin, but I'm a little gunshy about not using any egg at all. 

Any commments???



Go read Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes or Why We Get Fat which is sorta a condensed version.  The Fat-Cholesterol Hypothesis is bull.  Butter is not even close to your enemy or eggs if you have high cholesterol.  "David Rittenberg and Rudolph Schoenheimer, demonstrated that the cholesterol we eat has very little effect on the
amount of cholesterol in our blood."

There are many other important things to read in either book.  Instead of fat and cholesterol in the diet its chronically elevated carbohydrates which leads to heart disease, stroke, diabetes type 2, and many other modern illnesses.

Which is sad because the government wants people to eat 300g of carbs a day....so sad.  Also watch Fat Head...the guy in it loses weight and improves almost everything about his blood lipid panel on a fast food diet.  He doesn't do it by avoiding fat he does it by keeping carbohydrates to around 100 grams a day.

jackkruse.com read everything on leptin....actually eventually you should read everything because he describes links to Alzheimer's Disease as well as several other things like Parkinson's.  They are all linked to inflammation which is caused by the standard american diet full of carbohydrates and packaged foods with bad omega-6 to omega-3 ratios.  You're supposed to have 1-1 ratio but with SAD people have 20-1 or worse.

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-primal-carbohydrate-conti nuum/

 



I have a lot of vegan friends so I bake without eggs for them. Applesauce, canned pumpkin, and flax work really well in cakes and cookies (obviously you can't make a quiche or omelette ;)

Hobbbs, the cakes rise fine if you have used the right amount of baking powder/soda and don't over-mix the dry ingredients with the wet. Missing out on eggs and not replacing them with anything else will probably make a harder cake - it's not necessarily the egg, but just having the right quantity of something as a moistener/binder.

I cut back a bit on the sugar as well if I use applesauce instead of eggs.



Original Post by: catherinegs

Just want to say that when my doctor and I were discussing my diet (nutrition and food intake, not weight loss plan) and I mentioned that I was using ground flax seed, he cautioned me against its use.  He said the digestive problems it can cause greatly outweigh its benefits.


What specific issues was he referring to?  I use ground flax seed regularly with no digestive problems.  I'd have to see some specific data and research concerning the issue rather than just reacting to the "digestive problems it can cause."



I am not sure if the eggs help the cake to rise.  Maybe use a little extra baking soda.  I have not used eggs in recipes and the cakes come put fine.

 

 



Original Post by: raiken3712

Go read Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes or Why We Get Fat which is sorta a condensed version.  The Fat-Cholesterol Hypothesis is bull.  Butter is not even close to your enemy or eggs if you have high cholesterol.  "David Rittenberg and Rudolph Schoenheimer, demonstrated that the cholesterol we eat has very little effect on the
amount of cholesterol in our blood."

There are many other important things to read in either book.  Instead of fat and cholesterol in the diet its chronically elevated carbohydrates which leads to heart disease, stroke, diabetes type 2, and many other modern illnesses.

Which is sad because the government wants people to eat 300g of carbs a day....so sad.  Also watch Fat Head...the guy in it loses weight and improves almost everything about his blood lipid panel on a fast food diet.  He doesn't do it by avoiding fat he does it by keeping carbohydrates to around 100 grams a day.

jackkruse.com read everything on leptin....actually eventually you should read everything because he describes links to Alzheimer's Disease as well as several other things like Parkinson's.  They are all linked to inflammation which is caused by the standard american diet full of carbohydrates and packaged foods with bad omega-6 to omega-3 ratios.  You're supposed to have 1-1 ratio but with SAD people have 20-1 or worse.

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-primal-carbohydrate-conti nuum/

 


after my heart attack in  feb, my dr said take meds, exercise and try  to eliminate saturated fat especially cheese, ice cream and red meat.  these are high in cholesterol and sat fat.  these foods elevate blood serum cholesterol. 

higher carbs may be a culprit of high blood serum cholesterol because excess calories will get stored as fat which will get dumped into the blood stream later.

im not an expert, but i think its best to eat a balanced diet w whole grain carbs (and veg and fruit), lean proteins and polyunsaturated fats.



Comment Removed

Polyunsaturated fats are eaten way too much they aren't good for you.  PUFA's have more omega-6 and less omega-3.  Saturated fat has more Omega-3 if I remember right they are actually better for you if you don't have too many carbohydrates.

Saturated fat is used in the brain its an important fat in your diet.  Please just read jackkruse.com.  Many doctors operate on conventional wisdom which is flawed and based on bad research.  Several instances in Good Calories Bad Calories Taubes points out where Ancel Keys research pointed to carbohydrates and not to fat but since Ancel Keys was convinced it was fat he ignored the results.  He kept only what he thought was correct.  He thought if it was fat and cholesterol than it couldn't be carbs.

It is carbohydrates chronically elevated that lead to issues though not fat...I will point out though that if you do eat too many carbs and fat at the same time they have a sort of synergy and it is bad.  If your carbohydrates are kept in check.  Ideally between 50-150 unless you workout heavily fat is not a major issue.  Eliminating sugar is of course a good idea because its carbohydrates simple ones at that.  The Red meat and cheese are not a problem if you don't eat too many carbohydrates.

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-primal-carbohydrate-conti nuum/

Read this please.  Grains even whole grains make the body produce too much insulin and blood sugar spikes which lead to your body keeping hold of the fat in your cells.  If you want the body to use fat cells for energy which is a good thing you need to keep carbohydrates to less than 150 with the exception of if you do heavy weight lifting or something like that.  The details of what different levels of carbohydrates are good for are in that marksdailyapple.com forum post.

Jack Kruse is a doctor too by the way and he even posts on the marksdailyapple.com forum from time to time.  The best diet is not one with whole grains.  Low fat is not necessary or helpful if you keep the carbohydrates in check.  Vegetables and fruits in limited amounts are good carbohydrate sources because they have lots of nutrition and don't spike your blood sugar near as much.  If you're trying to lose weight though you want to keep high glycemic index fruits to a minimum or not all though.



http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/1400033462/ref=sib_books_pg? p=S001&keywords=Gary+Taubes&ie=UTF8&qid=13093815 09#reader_1400033462

http://www.amazon.com/Why-We-Get-Fat-About/dp/0307272702/ref =pd_sim_b_1

Both books are around 10-15 dollars.  Why We Get Fat is shorter but has some things Good Calories Bad Calories didn't have.  Good Calories Bad Calories has more of the research and technical stuff.

Please read one or both and keep and open mind you'll be better off for it.

 



I have a friend who suffers from colitis and is not able to use flax seed. Perhaps if you have other digestive issues flax is not for you. I have a hiatal hernia but all symptoms disappeared 3 years ago when I began "eating clean" and exercising regularly. I eat 1 - 1 1/2 T of ground flax seed 5-6 times a week and do fine. Actually, I tend to have digestive problems if I DON'T get my flax seed regularly. 



YES, eggs act as a leavening agent in baked goods!  I don't know the precise chemistry but I do know that much. 

"Grains even whole grains make the body produce too much insulin and blood sugar spikes which lead to your body keeping hold of the fat in your cells.  If you want the body to use fat cells for energy which is a good thing you need to keep carbohydrates to less than 150 with the exception of if you do heavy weight lifting or something like that.  The details of what different levels of carbohydrates are good for are in that marksdailyapple.com forum post."

-- I think it depends on a person's body chemistry.  Some people do remarkably well on a vegetarian diet.  Some people are more sensitive to carbohydrates and do better on a low-carb diet.  Some people need low-fat diets.  In short, there is no "one size fits all" diet (no pun intended.)  If low-carb works for you, fine, but there's no need to advocate that EVERYONE should do a low-carb diet. 

(Incidentally, I have watched "Fat Head" and he had as many flaws in his experiment as Morgan Spurloch did in his.)



The only people that need more than 150 carbohydrates a day are those that do heavy training.  If your doing heavy weigh training it makes sense to add some carbohydrates, but the best carbohydrates for workouts are potatoes, sweet potatoes and other starchy vegetables not grains.

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-grains-are-unhealthy/

There are many reasons to stay away from grains.  Rice being one of the less objectionable grains can be used for workouts without much issue.  Good carbohydrates are fine in certain circumstances such as workouts.

 



Just going from a logical perspective it makes perfect since that anyone would want to be lower carbohydrate to lose weight.  The body uses carbohydrates first for energy if you want to lose fat you have to get the body to use the fat for energy.  With constantly elevated insulin and carbohydrates your body won't use body fat it'll use the carbohydrates and than muscle tissues.

 



I wish I could edit...I hate making silly mistakes....since should be sense*



Original Post by: cboustead

I have a friend who suffers from colitis and is not able to use flax seed. Perhaps if you have other digestive issues flax is not for you. I have a hiatal hernia but all symptoms disappeared 3 years ago when I began "eating clean" and exercising regularly. I eat 1 - 1 1/2 T of ground flax seed 5-6 times a week and do fine. Actually, I tend to have digestive problems if I DON'T get my flax seed regularly. 


A couple of years ago I was introduced to flax and chia seeds... the flax seeds are ground and, as cboutstead says, I tend to have digestive problems if I don't get my flax seed... It has made such a difference, no more constipation, I feel great, how did I ever make it without it?

Also, about eggs, one egg a week is OK, because of the protein, for me... otherwise, I have egg whites and now that I have learned about substitutions, will bake some goodies...

Thanks so much!!  Great post...



no offense raiken, but i think i will follow the cardiologists instructions. 



No offense taken but do you think 30 days will kill you?  Try it for 30 days.  http://www.marksdailyapple.com/definitive-guide-to-the-prima l-eating-plan/

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-context-of-calories/

Read these two things.  http://jackkruse.com/chapter-one-on-leptin/

Read all three parts on the leptin blog.  Its very interesting information and this is a doctor.  Sure hes not a cardiologist, but neurosurgeon beats cardiologist :P.  I know this isn't true just joking.  Either way a 30 day trial isn't going to give you a heart attack.

Try it before your next doctor appointment and see if your numbers are better.  See if you can get a VAP test Doctor Kruse likes them a lot because they give you the amounts of type A and B LDL cholesterol.  Its not total cholesterol that's important but the kind.  There are large fluffy ones that aren't much of an issue and small dense LDL that gets stuck in artery walls.

Its a bit more complicated than that but if I were to type it all out it would be too long.



We use Smart Balance Lite butter for brownies and sweet breads and cakes, and no one can taste the difference.  However, I've noticed that with cookies real butter is best.  I can taste the difference in cookies, for some reason. 

Also, how can the egg be the problem in something like brownies, sweet breads or cookies, where you use like 2-3 eggs and it's spread out over like 12 servings?  Divide the calories from the egg down and using it or not using it doesn't really make a difference.  I'd think the sugar and oils would be the worst. 

I like the cream cheese idea; I'd never heard that one before.  Might try it for a cake first, since I think that'd be a safer bet on getting the texture right...



omg why does every blog post become a fight? i think that "skinny" baking is a great idea. my family has been making those changes for years.and if you are vegan good for you. not every one wants to be vegan nor do they want you to tell them how to eat.



SADSAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSS



Great ideas. I hate that saying about not trusting a skinny cook. I am the cook in the house, and I have lost over 90lbs so now I am a skinny cook, and that has reflected in my cooking because I cook a lot healthier but everything is so flavorful and delicious that my family keeps requesting I make certain dishes again because they loved them so much. And my family has lost a few pounds eating my cooking too, so maybe we should come up with a better saying.



The article asks if you should trust a skinny chef.  I would not trust a "professional" chef who could not spell an ingredient or bother to check the spelling of an ingredient.  "Light cream cheese (also known as Neufachtel) has a similar texture to butter, reacts similarly in baking, but has a fraction of the fat and calories."

The ingredient is neufchatel.  It is named for the area in Normandy, France where it originated.



wow someone is on a high horse are you going to complain next that i'm not capitilizing or using punctuation....everyone makes typos or other spelling mistakes sometimes.  are you sure it isn't an alternative spelling?



raiken - I have to say I agree with your idea on low carb. Low carb especially cutting out whole grains is the only thing that allows me to reduce body fat levels past a certain point. I also don't crave sweets or other white carbs, like I did when I had (whole grains) in moderation. Now don't get me wrong I will have a cupcake now and then but I follow it up with a pretty strict low carb day the next day. While I agree with you on carbs, I also think that sugar is a huge culprit. Added sugars are to me worse than whole grains. And unfortunatley added sugar is in EVERYTHING!!! I'm curious to know your opinion on steel cut oats - which is a whole grain - but people are on the fence about it becasue it is "so good for you." Also how about  dairy such as cottage cheese/greek yogurt - and How do you feel about the use of sugar alcohols?



- All things in moderation.

- I cut the sugar in all sweet recipes in half and no one can tell the difference, except me because I no longer get a sugar high. ;^)

- I had cardio tests ran every year for 14 years and was always told, "There is something wrong, we just don't know what." Then when things became life threatening, the cardiologist told me, "It's nothing a little weight loss won't fix," when in fact I had put on weight fast after being slender and active my whole life. It turns out I have lupus, but I am the one who figured it out and had to inform the doctors myself. Amazingly enough, I was right! No offense and not trying to start an argument, but doctors do not know everything. You know your body better than anyone else and you are entitled to make the best choices for yourself.

Happy choices everyone!



Original Post by: nonnastrega

The article asks if you should trust a skinny chef.  I would not trust a "professional" chef who could not spell an ingredient or bother to check the spelling of an ingredient.  "Light cream cheese (also known as Neufachtel) has a similar texture to butter, reacts similarly in baking, but has a fraction of the fat and calories."

The ingredient is neufchatel.  It is named for the area in Normandy, France where it originated.


Sorry for jumping in three days after the fact, but I just wanted to say that when I read the article this mistake made me extremely annoyed, as well.

Typos, mispellings, and the like are not unexpected in forum comments (I understand that you can't always preview your response or edit your post if you don't see your mistake until after posting), but I expect a little more checking before the "submit" button is pushed in a main article, especially if it's someone who has written a book and is therefore out to impress us.

Btw, I am impressed with the suggestions in this article and plan on trying some of them when I get a chance!  I love to bake, and anything that will help make my goodies a bit healthier is a plus!



See, I misspelled "misspellings" and now I can't go back and change it!

How's that for ironic!  Tongue out



I don't really care much about misspellings or typos as long as they aren't numerous or distracting so that you can't understand what the people are saying.

I wouldn't even mind seeing one in a published book....does it really matter as long as the point they are making isn't changed?  Not saying people should spell check their stuff but I don't see a point in making a big deal out of it.



It's amazing to me how petty and judgemental people can be. We are here to help eachother get healthy, not to be critical of the way we spell stuff. Who really cares about that unless you can't understand what someone is saying.



Original Post by: lolagal

philfan1 - Aug 05, 2011 08:38 AM

What's wrong with using an actual egg?I've lost 123 lbs. and I eat them. One large egg has only 70 cals. and 4.5 grams of fat. In moderation, they  are a good, inexpensive protein choice.

------------------------------------------------------------ -------------------

I was thinking the same thing!


AGREED! i read somewhere to eat a hard boiled egg before and after a workout! apparently it helps woth muscle and protein intake..



Original Post by: raiken3712

Go read Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes or Why We Get Fat which is sorta a condensed version.  The Fat-Cholesterol Hypothesis is bull.  Butter is not even close to your enemy or eggs if you have high cholesterol.  "David Rittenberg and Rudolph Schoenheimer, demonstrated that the cholesterol we eat has very little effect on the
amount of cholesterol in our blood."

There are many other important things to read in either book.  Instead of fat and cholesterol in the diet its chronically elevated carbohydrates which leads to heart disease, stroke, diabetes type 2, and many other modern illnesses.

Which is sad because the government wants people to eat 300g of carbs a day....so sad.  Also watch Fat Head...the guy in it loses weight and improves almost everything about his blood lipid panel on a fast food diet.  He doesn't do it by avoiding fat he does it by keeping carbohydrates to around 100 grams a day.

jackkruse.com read everything on leptin....actually eventually you should read everything because he describes links to Alzheimer's Disease as well as several other things like Parkinson's.  They are all linked to inflammation which is caused by the standard american diet full of carbohydrates and packaged foods with bad omega-6 to omega-3 ratios.  You're supposed to have 1-1 ratio but with SAD people have 20-1 or worse.

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-primal-carbohydrate-conti nuum/

 


Just from my experience in a family who has long had high cholesterol problems, I want to be very quick and clear to say that, YES, the intake of cholesterol you eat definitely affects  your blood chemistry.  I have relatives who are careful how they eat (concerning cholesterol) and those who do not.  And their numbers reflect that.

I'm not saying butter is evil or eggs are bad.  In fact, the cholesterol levels in eggs are almost certainly not as high as the nutrition label says; since hens are generally grain fed now as opposed to meat/scrap fed, their intake of cholesterol is less, and thus, the egg yolks have less cholesterol.  Eggland's Best is making a killing profit-wise off of "less cholesterol eggs" when really, they've already factored the change in the hen's diet.  Eggs are good for you.  However,  you still need to watch your cholesterol.  Go ask any MD, and ask people who actually suffer from high cholesterol if it makes a difference.

Also...while one can definitely lose wight on a fast food diet, I wouldn't advise that.  Those preservatives and trans fats aren't great for you.  That being said...mmm, bacon cheeseburger from Wendy's and a fresca taco from Taco Bell :)



Original Post by: nonnastrega

The article asks if you should trust a skinny chef.  I would not trust a "professional" chef who could not spell an ingredient or bother to check the spelling of an ingredient.  "Light cream cheese (also known as Neufachtel) has a similar texture to butter, reacts similarly in baking, but has a fraction of the fat and calories."

The ingredient is neufchatel.  It is named for the area in Normandy, France where it originated.


Seeing as only the "a" was left out, I'd say this was a simple typo.  Sure, better proofing would have caught that, but the rest of the article is not any less valuable because of one accidentally misspelled word.



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