Archive | December, 2011

I Put Meat in My Magic Bullet….OR Meatloaf Muffins Two Ways

13 Dec

In hindsight that sounds kinda dirty.  Oh well.  Sorry mom!  Aaaaaanyway…I realized that my blog is heavy on the carb-y side and wanted to put something up here that was a great base for an every day meal.  I’m trying to get a lot of protein, and I’ve seen recipes for turkey meatloaf muffins fly around.  I think it’s a great idea.  Make your meatloaf in a muffin pan and then you have easy to see servings all premade for the week.  In my case, it’s also helpful that I can make them a couple ways using one good base recipe.  I am a leftover hater.  I’ll do it, and sometimes its great, but a lot of times whatever it is sits in my fridge and my brain goes “yuck” every time I look at it, no matter how amazing it was the first time around.  I am also so burnt out on “meat-veggie-small carb” meals that if I see another one I’ll run away (I’m not a screamer….more of a hider).  Chicken-salad-sweet potato just isn’t doing it for me.  Truth be told, I don’t like chicken so much any more because…it’s leftovers to me.  It’s every day, all the time, and gosh darn it I need something else.  Here’s where I came up with this recipe.  AND found out that you can indeed put meat in your Magic Bullet and get a great meatloaf base.

I had over a pound of 99% lean ground turkey, but I wanted to be able to split this and do other things with it.  I also had a very lean pork tenderloin that was staring at me going “I’m anooooothher booooring slaaab of meeeeaaat.  Beeee afraaaaaid.”  Or, you know, whatever other scary things a non-appetizing pork tenderloin would say.  I have tons of frozen chicken breast (frozen chicken breast just says “I’m boring.”) too, so that part was simple.  I took 1/2 a pound of the tenderloin, and a large defrosted chicken breast and trimmed them very well.  I cut them into large chunks and then did the tenderloin as a test.  It worked great.  Chicken went in…also great.  I ended up with 2 lbs, 4 oz of ground meat.  Yaaay!  Being on a budget, this was a big money saver for me.  Ground meat can be so expensive, especially to get it extra lean like I want it.  I usually buy the leanest meat I can on special, so this is a great way to stretch your dollar a little further as long as you don’t mind the actual process of meat in a blender.

Here’s the meatloaf base:

2 lbs, 4 oz extra lean ground meat (I’m sure 2 lbs-2.5 lbs would be just fine)

1 cup quick cooking oatmeal

3 egg whites

2 tsp pepper

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp worchestershire sauce (I CANNOT for the life of me say this word.  I’ve attempted it and it’s the one word in the English language that makes me giggle every time)

Mix it all up by hand (gross but it is the most effective way) and then divide it in half.  Put each half in it’s own bowl with enough room to mix and add more ingredients.

First meatloaf I did:  Apple-Fennel with Prunes

1/2 cup chopped granny smith apple

1/4 cup chopped yellow onion

1 chopped celery stalk

4 minced prunes

1 tsp rosemary

1 tsp ground sage

2 tsp dried fennel

1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp salt

Dash cinnamon

This one was sweet and had deep fennel-y flavors (refer to the pizza…I fennel) and just a hint of spice behind the sweetness.  I liked it a lot, although I wish I’d put in more apple and a teaspoon or two more worchestershire.  All in all, delicious.  The prunes added just a hint of something different and blended so well with the other flavors.  They also add moisture, which is great in a meal based on very lean meat.  You could take this one and serve it with potato (experiment with different kinds…sweet potato, purple potato, heck you can use cauliflower!)  pancakes and unsweetened apple sauce and it’d be super delicious.

Meatloaf #2: Spicy Red Bell Pepper-Veggie

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper (my cup was a little overflowing, but it was delicious in the end)

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup chopped yellow squash

1/4 cup chopped zucchini

1 heaping tsp paprika

1 heaping tsp garlic powder

3 dashes cayenne

Extra salt and pepper to your liking

This one was also awesome.  It’s chock-full of veggies and spice (I may add more spice next time, but I’m always cautious with a first attempt…better to underspice than over).  You could serve this with salsa to dip it in and it’d be great.  Or slice avocado on top.

And here’s how they look (yummm…the final product, not the ground meat…):

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For either recipe,  preheat the oven to 375.  Mix everything up (wash wash wash your hands, before, after, and inbetween mixes) and use 1/2 cup measuring cup to scoop your mix out into muffin tins sprayed with cooking spray.  I got 9 of the veggie, 8 of the apple, probably simply because there was more “stuff” in the veggie.  I’m going to add an additional 1/4 cup of apple to the apple recipe next time I make it, so that will likely even out.  I baked mine for about 40 minutes, but depending on your pans and your oven it may take less.  Check on them at around 35 minutes.  The tops start to brown and they pull away from the sides of the tin when they’re done.  They also go from pink to white.

All in all, this was a great experiment.  I’ve now got 15 (I had to eat one of each) muffins to get me through the week and two very different flavors to tackel my leftover snootiness.  It’s a perfect base to take and make your own, as many ways as you can think of.  I might try a center cut bacon, spinach, tomato one next with minced garlic and tomato sauce on top.  Mmmm.  The possibilities are really endless and it’s a very good-for-you meal!


Protein Waffles (Mine Look Like Mickey Mouse…)

13 Dec

Sooo…I had a boyfriend a few years ago who didn’t like to eat.  Or rather forgot to eat because, like the rest of us, he was super busy and trying to do a million things at once.  He was the inspiration for this recipe, as I was trying to make something he could grab quick for breakfast, heat up, and get a good meal out of without much thought.  The result?  A protein waffle.  I haven’t tried these as pancakes, but they’d work just fine that way.


Mickey waffle…

1 cup oat flour, plus 4 tablespoons wheat germ (or just more oat flour.  I just like the little bit of crisp and texture the wheat germ adds).

1 cup liquid egg whites

1/2 cup fat-free or 2% cottage cheese (I actually opted for 2% here…less sodium, more carb, more protein when I crazy-lady’d the labels)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

3 scoops protein powder (I think any flavor would work, but I did vanilla)

1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp reduced sodium salt (it’s what I had…regular is fine!)

2 packets stevia

Options: cinnamon, blueberries, whatever…be creative!  Cinnamon was delish though.

Mix it all up til smooth and pour into heated waffle iron or on a hot skillet.  Be sure to use cooking spray before and between batches, as there is no fat in here and they will definitely stick (I annihilated a Mickey face and had to scrape him out of the waffle iron because I forgot on one round…).  When I made them, I dunked them in unsweetened apple sauce.  Mini-me even ate half of one of these, which is miraculous.  I tried reheating one this morning, and spread it with just a tiny bit of sunflowerbutter (peanutbutter and I are frenemies…I love it, my stomach disagrees) and sprinkle on a Stevia in the raw packet…it was great.  Reheating was no problem at all!  I also got about 10 waffles out of this, so that was happy too 🙂

My breakfast

Breakfast-waffle, sunbutter, veggie sausage, raspberries.

Carrot Cake Protein Bars

13 Dec

Given that this was the inspiration for my blog originally, this just had to be posted.  It’s such an amazing and versatile recipe, and you will not believe how amazing it tastes.  I couldn’t wait to make this for AB, and he raved about it 🙂  Except I should make it double, ’cause this one also serves a purpose:  It can be dessert, or serve it’s original purpose which is protein bar.  And a darn good one too!  You’ll feel like you’re cheating, but trust me you’re not.

Carrot Cake Protein Bars (thank you Jamie Eason!)

1 cup oat flour (Oatmeal put in a blender til fine…then measure out one cup)
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon (I use a little more…I like cinnamon)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
20 Stevia in the raw packets
2- 4 oz containers of carrot baby food
3 egg whites

1/2 cup low fat low sodium cottage cheese or ricotta


1/2 cup quick cooking oats

Sprinkle of chopped walnuts

2 dates chopped, sprinkled on top

1 or 2 shredded carrots, folded in

Drizzle honey

I used all the above options when serving this as a dessert as opposed to a bar.  I add shredded carrots no matter what.  Seriously yum.

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray 8×8 pyrex glass baking dish with non stick cooking spray. Bake for 30 mins. Cut into 16 pieces. Serving size=2 squares. 94 calories (132 cal with oats folded in), 1.25 g fat (2 g fat with oats folded in), 10 g carbs (17 g carbs with oats folded in), 10 g protein (11 g protein with oats folded in)

You can add more protein or egg with discretion…more egg makes it gummy. I haven’t tried more protein powder, but I’d imagine an extra 1/2 scoop wouldn’t alter it in any way.

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It looks and tastes like cake. It’s miraculous. It’s amazing. And the dates and walnuts add a teeny bit of crunch and richness but with an equally tiny bit of added guilt. Shredded carrot is strictly for show…but it’s a darn carrot. If you’re gonna eat carrot cake…there should be carrot shreds.  I put up a pic of when I made it in a round cake pan, and added a little cream cheese icing (neufchatel cheese, 8 packets stevia, 1 table spoon powdered sugar, a little light smart balance…I didn’t measure here, I just blended until it tasted good and then spooned it over top.) , and split a sugar cookie my son sent AB that night and used it as a garnish.  It looks like a beautiful, not so healthy dessert.  Not so!  I’m going to make this for holiday dinners from now on 🙂  Oh, and AB agrees this one is just out of this world.  Love it when he’s that happy about a recipe 🙂

Gluten Free Soft Gingerbread Cookies

13 Dec

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So tonight I wanted ginger bread.  Badly.  Why?   I haven’t a clue.  I don’t normally like it because it’s so dense.  But…I wanted to try to make a cookie I could eat and not feel guilty about.  I have to say the resulting cookie is gluten free and delicious.  I haven’t had one cool yet.  Lol.

2 cups oat flour

3/4 cup almond meal (I threw almonds in my magic bullet til they were ground fine…gosh I love that thing.  You can buy almond meal, which is blanched skinless almonds, but 13 oz of organic raw almonds were 5.99 at my grocery store.  16 0z of almond meal was 11.99.  Yup…I’ll do it at home)

1  tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

3 tsp fresh grated ginger

1  1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp allspice

10 packets Stevia in the Raw

1/2 cup pureed prunes (prunes and water til it looks like baby food…about one part prune to water…again magic bullet) or prune baby food

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup light smart balance margarine, softened

1 egg

Preheat the oven to 350. C ombine wet and dry ingredients in two separate bowls.  The dry doesn’t have any flour and almond meal has oils in it, so it does not sift but it does mix well.  When both are well blended, combine wet and dry.  This dough is very wet…I’m actually thinking you could make a nice bread out of it.  It bakes up soft and cake-y due to the lack of fats.  It’s super moist and delicious.  Drop the dough by rounded tablespoon onto a cookie sheet prepped with cooking spray.  Be sure to leave room for them to spread and rise.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Aim for 24 cookies.

While this recipe is not sweetener-free, molasses is a great natural source of iron.  And it’s very reduced in sweetners as opposed to a regular cookie.  I loved these.  The almond meal adds a depth to the flavor of the cookie, and almost makes me want to experiment with making these into bars…throw in some shredded coconut, slivered almonds, orange extract and zest, chia seeds, and maybe some chopped dates…mmmmmm.  Gotta try that next!  But first…I gotta try another cookie 🙂

24 cookies: 115 calories per cookie, 3 grams of fat per cookie.  Because of the oat and almond flour, these are loaded with protein and fiber.  The addition of prunes adds potassium, as well as more fiber.    Molasses is a great source of iron.  Yes, they are still cookies.  But they are a better, healthier option with lots of nutrients.

How I Cook (Oooor…Lots of Madness, No Real method)

12 Dec

I’ll be the first to tell you that in 2011, with so many diets, allergies, and food restrictions it’s very hard to come up with an original recipe.  Even when you think it’s original, chances are someone has done it before.  And what people have done before is great.  I didn’t learn to cook by just randomly experimenting.  I’m a single mom on a budget.  When I started this journey, I was a newly separated overweight 24 year old who had no clue how to cook healthy (great at cooking unhealthy things), but knew I wanted to lose weight.  What did I do? I read.  Magazines, blogs, recipe books…everything I could get my paws on.  And you know what?   I learned.

I don’t think people start out knowing what they’re making might be a poor choice or it’s not so healthy.    Or even caring much all the time.  I certainly didn’t.  I’d make mac n cheese with all kinds of full fat cheese, regular pasta, cream and not blink an eye about having two servings.  I was really just happy to be cooking.  It’s something I’ve always loved, even when it was simply baking cookies each Christmas with my Oma.  Cooking is a way I center myself…it’s calming, and puts me ahead of stress.  It alleviates it before it piles on, so when stress does add up I’m a little less stressed than I would be.  And it’s just a few steps to the stove to alleviate even more.  I’ve made steps along the way…my mac n cheese had veggies added to it, then it had a change in cheeses, then dream fields pasta, then more veggies then a huge reduction in fats, then added flavors…it’s now a different but equally delicious animal that fuels my body and doesn’t make me think twice about eating it once in a while.  You can take what you already know and make it what you want it to be so easily.

I’m a nurse.  I’m also certified to teach spin, and I have a competitive streak.  I admittedly like to be good at things.  Sure, no one likes to be bad at things.  We wouldn’t do things we suck at.  But I like to be really good at things.  If I’m mediocre…I tend to look for things to do that I’m better at.  I’m a nurse because I like taking care of people, and enjoy giving whether it’s of myself or in a real sense. It’s kind of an innate need I have.  I’ve always done it, it just took me a while to figure out I could make a career out of it.  I also like to be the best at nursing, though in the case of nursing I compete with myself to do more and know more than I did the day or week before.  It feels good.  I leave work knowing that I really did something for someone, and knowing that without more hours in the day I did it the best I possibly could and really tried to do more than what was expected.  I think cooking falls somewhere between both of those needs…the need to be really good at something, and the need to take care of people.  I can make a meal and have it taste amazing AND feed people.  Cooking for me is a little slice of heaven.  I get to be selfish, nuturing, creative, inventive, and exercise my brain all at the same time.  Would I give up nursing to do it?  Not full time.  Nursing feels selfless and as a naturally selfish and competitive person, I need that grounding and opportunity to give in my life.  I also just love being with my patients.  If I could do both and split my week and still make money…heck yes.

So now I have a background in health, fitness, and I love to cook.  I also love to eat.  The next natural step for me was learning to cook in ways that fuel my body without runing it.  Up until recently, that’s what I’ve done to a degree.  I’m at the point where I can make a great meal out of almost anything without a heck of a lot of thought.  But can I make it healthy?  Can I make it low carb, low sugar, low fat, high fiber and protein, and as clean as possible?  That’s my challenge now.  I read recipes constantly.  Going to the grocery store with me is hell because I have to read the labels or google it in the middle of the store.  I know what I want, and I know that for me to be happy I need taste and variety.  A lot of what I make it is my own spin on what I’ve read.  I experiment, piece things together, and a lot of times it just comes out great the first time.  Is there room for improvement?  Always.  I would never say I know everything, and part of what I like is learning what has worked for other popele and incorporating it into my own cooking.  Like the cocoa I made this morning or the pizza I made over the weekend.  I’m absolutely positive people have suggestions and I welcome them.  I’m discovering new things every day.  Cooking is one thing, trying to eat clean and maintain and enhance my body is a challenge all on it’s own.

What does all of this add up to?  The fact that the best recipes happen by accident, or that some of what I post here is going to be my own twist on what another brilliant person has already come up with.  And I think that’s great.  Cooking isn’t a competition (well…unless you’re actually in a competition) and  as a society I think it’s great to share and learn from each other.  You find a base you like and make it work for you.  Or take half of one recipe, half of another, and using what knowledge you already have come up with the bionic version of what you started with.  There’s no limit to creativity.  Yup, sometimes things just don’t work.  But that in itself is learning too.

Pizza w/ Cauliflower Crust

12 Dec

While you may or may not have read about using cauliflower as a substitute for potatoes and in crust, I’m here to tell you that regardless of anything else, this crust is now the only crust I will use.  Ever.  Seriously, it is that good.  Not only does it have more flavor and taste waaay better than any crust I’ve ever had, you can eat it as “bread sticks.”  When my baby sister and I are finally reunited, I’m going to make this for her and watch her happy gorgeous face light up.  Yep, baby girl has celiac’s (booo).  She was a pasta and bread lover to the Nth degree (come on, if it wasn’t so bad for you wouldn’t you be too?) , so for her to be diagnosed was extra hard.  But I think this recipe will help anyone who has an issue with gluten.  Or just doesn’t want to deal with a wheat-based crust!

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Here’s the recipe for the crust.  The original made teeeeny little crusts, so I automatically doubled it:

1  head washed cauliflower with leaves and bottom of stem removed, (this makes two crusts, and trust me this stuff vanishes…make two), grated or put through the grater in a food processor (super easy that way)

2 cups mozzarella cheese (I use a mix of low fat and fat free)

2 eggs (I’m gonna see what happens with egg whites tonight)

4 tsp dried parsley

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp fennel

Any italian seasoning combo will work, but I HIGHLY recommend the fennel.  It added an amazing flavor to the crust that has my mouth watering now.

Preheat the oven to 450 and spray your pan with non-stick spray.

Heat the grated cauliflower in the microwave for 4 minutes.  You’re not cooking it, you’re just softening it a little.  Then set it aside but fluff regularly until it’s slightly cooled.  This prevents it from cooking the egg you’re gonna add.

Once it’s cool enough not to make scrambled eggs, scoop out two cups and add the cheese, eggs, and spices.  Mix well and shape into a pizza crust shape on the pan.  However deep you make it is how deep it’s going to be.  There is no rising or expanding that’s going to happen here.  I recommend aiming for a half inch. Thinner and it’ll fall apart pretty easy.  But the thicker crust held up great for us, was even foldable, and did not need anything but hands.  Pop it the oven for 15-20 minutes, and pull it out when it looks browned and the bottom looks a little black (trust me, this is good.  It means you have a solid base and it’s done)

You can then take it out and use it right away OR freeze it after it’s cooled (put the whole sheet in the freezer til solid, then wrap it up and store it in the freezer).

Top your crust with whatever you want, put it under the broiler until your topping cheese has melted (I don’t mean the crust…and as a tip, you don’t need a lot of cheese because of the base in the crust.  Cheese in this is more of a garnish.  Your ingredients are the “meat” of the recipe, literally or figuratively depending what you use.)

Eggplant Parm pizza

1/2 eggplant, cut into rounds or strips

Breadcrumbs (I used the plain old italian seasoning kind but you can use anything…gluten free, whole wheat, panko…whatever!)

1 egg, beaten

This one you’ll do while your crusts cool a little.  Leave the oven on 450.

When making eggplant, the first step is to sweat your eggplant.  This removes some of the liquid in it and along with it some of the eggplant’s natural bitterness.  Lay your rounds out on a couple layers of paper towel.  Sprinkle the rounds with salt, and let them rest.  You’ll see the liquids bead up like sweat.  Flip and repeat.  You can wipe off some of the salt with the paper towel after.  Dip the rounds in egg, then bread crumbs and place them on a cookie sheet.  I season them a little more at this point, with garlic, pepper, a little shot of cayenne, and whatever else I feel like on that day.  Then bake until they’re browned, flipping half way through.  It doesn’t take long.

Top your crust with sauce, mozzarella, and the eggplant.  Season as desired.  Sprinkle on a little cheese for some “pretty,” then bake under the broiler until the cheese is melted to your liking.  Done!


I also did a pepperoni and mushroom pizza.  For this, I sauteed the mushroom ahead of time in salt, pepper, and garlic.  Because all you do is broil the pizza on a pre-cooked crust, cooking time is fast and the mushrooms will come out mostly raw if they’re not cooked a little ahead of time.  Sauce, turkey pepperoni, mushrooms, and cover in cheese.  Again, under the broiler until it looks the way you want it.

I cannot say enough about how good this was.  The crust all on its own can be pressed in a loaf pan and made into bread sticks.  Dunk it in sauce and it’s sooooooo amazingly yummy.  I made this for my boyfriend, his brother, and his roomate…both pizzas vanished almost instantly with all of us wishing we’d made more.  I don’t know how the cauliflower in this doesn’t taste like cauliflower.  It really tastes like crust…but 100x better.  I’ve been challeneged by AB’s (awesome boyfriend’s) roomate to make this with a healthy version of white sauce with a ton of flavor to enhance the eggplant.  I’ll let you know how that goes 🙂

Hot Cocoa, guilt-free

12 Dec

So I woke up this morning (yaaaay!  Seriously, I live in baby steps.  Waking up=step one) and made my little boy breakfast, including hot chocolate.  Now…as previously mentioned my son is not an eater.  I spend a lot of time in this house making two very different meals.  I eat mostly clean, and try to keep my meals very high protein, low sugar, low carb, low fat.  For mini-me, I’m loading him up with whatever I can get in there.  His hot chocolate is real milk, Ovaltine, a packet of hot cocoa, and this stuff called Duocal that adds calories and fat without altering taste.  That way when my little one only eats a bite of a poptart and proclaims himself full and puts his jaw on lock down, at least I know he drank his hot chocolate and got a few hundred calories and good fat.  Luke has ADHD and after years of trying to avoid stimulant meds, is just one of those kids who legitimately needs them.  I know, I’ve heard all the opinions on this, I HAVE opinions on this, but we’ve tried E V E R Y T H I N G (I would define our version everything, but it’d take up even more room here)  and then tried Concerta.  I got a call from his teacher saying he was so different that she was a little frightened.  He feels great, he’s doing great, he has zero appetite.  Rarararararar.  I could start another blog called “I Wish My Son Would Eat Cake.”  I giggle sometimes at the suggestions people give me.  I know they’re with love, but for example last week a family member suggested I put sweet potato baby food in his macaroni and cheese.  Well…the issue isn’t veggies.  He’ll eat carrots and celery like a champ.  Super!  But I can still see his ribs and sternal notch because three bites in he’s full.  Macaroni and cheese takes hours.  I WISH we were at the “sneak stuff into his food” stage.  I’m great at that.  Sadly we’re still at “how much fat and calories can I cram in here so he doesn’t lose another half pound,” stage.   He won’t eat cupcakes.  He won’t eat a pancake.  He won’t eat french fries.  He might have one M&M.  And if you threaten him with starvation he’s all “Yessss….I’m great at this game!”

Aaaanyway…I took one smell of Luke’s hot chocolate and that was it…it became a “gotta have it,” morning.  Sometimes all this healthy stuff does feel like deprivation.  It’s why I cook like I do.  I like variety.  I like flavor.  I enjoy the heck out of food.  So what did I do?  Took my son to school (he had to drink the hot chocolate in the car because finishing it at home was going to take all morning) and went home to make my own.  Here’s what I came up with:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tablespoon cocoa powder (I like dark chocolate….a lot.  This makes it very “Hershey’s Special Dark,” kinda dark.  You could cut it down for a lighter cocoa taste.)

2 packets stevia in the raw

1 tsp vanilla extract

A dash of cinnamon (totally optional, but really  yummy)

1/2 scoop chocolate whey protein powder (I use Jay Robb…it tastes the best to me and at 110 calories and 25 grams of protein a scoop, sweetened with stevia  it just makes sense to me)

I put all the above in my blender to make sure I got all the protein powder chunks out and it was smooth.  Then I poured a cup of boiling water over the whole mix.  Is it Swiss Miss?  No.  Did it totally satisfy my craving without making me feel horrible and setting me back?  Absolutely!  And it’s way better than just a scoop of heated up protein powder and water.  I drank the whole thing, but you could have two 1 cup servings and divide the nutrition facts below in half.

105 calories, 0 grams sugar, 3 grams fat, 13.5 grams protein, 4 grams of carbs, 2 grams fiber.  48% of your daily value of calcium, 50% of your daily values of vitamins E and b12, 25% of your daily value of vitamin D.

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