Date-sweetened banana bread recipe | Pamela Salzman & Recipes
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Date-sweetened banana bread recipe

Date-Sweetened Banana Bread | Pamela Salzman

One of my pet peeves is when people label a dessert as “healthy,” and not because that is grammatically incorrect, but rather because desserts have sugar of some form and that will never be “good” for you no matter how much whole wheat flour you throw in there.  Of course, you could say one dessert is more healthful than another or that it will lead to the demise of your health less quickly than its traditional counterpart.  But to call a dessert healthful because we use yogurt instead of butter, but then add in 3 cups of sugar, is just plain delusional.

Date-Sweetened Banana Bread | Pamela Salzman

Would you call me a hypocrite if I told you I have a recipe for a healthful dessert?  I don’t blame you, but stay with me here.  I know of a sweet something that calls for no sugar of any kind — not even my favorite, maple syrup.  Don’t be silly, I am not going artificial on you!  It is a delicious banana bread sweetened only with ripe bananas and pureed dates.  Dates grow locally in Southern California, so we have access to some fantastic varieties here, my favorite being the Medjool.  If you are ever craving something sweet, but don’t want to give in to processed junk, take a pitted date or two and stick a pecan in the middle.  Amazing.  I digress.  The dates do double duty as sweetener and add moistness so we cut back on some of the butter, too.  The key, though, with any banana bread is using super ripe bananas, well-speckled with lots of black dots (the kind many people toss in the garbage — arrgh!).

Date-Sweetened Banana Bread | Pamela Salzman

Banana bread freezes beautifully and makes a terrific muffin, as well.  I adapt this recipe according to the season, adding blueberries in the summer, fresh cranberries in the fall and walnuts or pecans in the winter.  This banana bread is not as sweet as the ones you may be used to, so yes, you can add chocolate chips or a drop of maple syrup if you must.  Just don’t call it healthy!

Date-Sweetened Banana Bread | Pamela Salzman

Date-Sweetened Banana Bread | Pamela Salzman

4.8 from 45 reviews
date-sweetened banana bread recipe
Author: 
Serves: Makes 1 9X5 loaf
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dried dates (about 7 ounces), pitted
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter or unrefined coconut oil, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour, spelt flour or sprouted spelt flour
  • ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 3 large, ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup raw walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped (or fresh blueberries or cranberries)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan. (Can be lined with parchment if it is aluminum.)
  2. Place the dates in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the hot water and allow the dates to soften for at least 10 minutes. (I usually get the rest of my ingredients ready while the dates are softening.)
  3. Turn the mixer on low speed and blend until the water has incorporated with the dates. Turn the mixer to medium low speed and beat the dates until a smooth puree forms.
  4. Add the butter or coconut oil and beat until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter-date mixture and mix until just combined.
  6. Fold in the mashed bananas and walnuts.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes (I made it in many different ovens with this range of time), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out barely clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool on a rack.

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Comments

211 Comments

  1. good recipe….a keeper. I doubled it and made it in two loaves….added a little brown sugar to the recipe and topped it with oatmeal and brown sugar mixture before baking. turned out yum….half the loaf was gone after 10 mins out of the oven. thank you for the recipe

    • Mmmmm…..brown sugar and oatmeal on top! I need to try that!

  2. Hi Pamela!

    How long does this keep and should it be kept in the refrigerator or at room temp?

    Thank you!!

    • I would say 2 days at room temp and a few more days in the fridge.

  3. Hi, to sweeten desserts with dates instead of sugar is definitely the healthy option but you’re still using butter (the coconut oil would be the healthy option) and wheat flour, whole wheat or white, it’s the same thing. Spelt flour maybe slightly better but it’s still wheat. Can I substitute with coconut flour or almond flour? It will loose some of the texture I’d imagine but it would be truly healthy!

    • Um……ok. This is a treat food. No one is saying to eat this instead of a salad. This recipe is just a higher quality banana bread than the norm. There are people who have made the argument that almond flour is not truly healthy (I’m not one of those people.) That said, this bread can be made successfully with coconut oil (I made it just yesterday, actually) and I imagine ghee would work fine given the small quantity required. You cannot substitute coconut flour or almond flour in this recipe. I have a recipe on the site for almond flour banana-carrot muffins that I regularly make into cakes. You may find that recipe more to your liking: https://pamelasalzman.com/banana-carrot-almond-flour-muffins-recipe/ Enjoy!

  4. Hi Pamela! I’m so excited to try this recipe. I’m a student living in a small apartment and don’t have room for a mixer. Do you think a blender would do the job for the date puree?

    • Hi Kristin! I haven’t tried it with a blender, but it should work. A small food processor would work as well. I just made this today and it’s delicious!

      • Thanks, Pamela! I tried it and it was awesome. The blender worked! This is definitely a favorite of mine that I will be making again and again. 🙂
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        • Yay! Thanks for letting me know 🙂

  5. Hi, Can i use apple sauce instead of oil / butter ?

    • I haven’t tried that, so I can’t be sure. I would worry that the bread would get a little gummy. But it’s only 4 Tablespoons, so maybe it would work.

  6. Just made this banana bread two days ago. Between my boyfriend and I, it is almost completely demolished! Your recipes do no wrong. Definitely my go-to banana bread recipe from now on!

    • Well, thank you so very much! It has been my go-to banana bread for at least 10 years. Who needs sugar??

  7. I have made this twice and it is so good!! Everyone loves it! I have been only using dates as a sweetener for awhile now, so I really appreciate this recipe!

    • So glad! Thank you for leaving a comment — I really appreciate it!

  8. hi. i was wondering if i would still need the 1/2 cup water if i used fresh medjool dates instead of dried? thanks!

    • I’m not sure since the only fresh dates I ever had were literally just picked from the tree and they weren’t super soft. If the fresh dates you are referring to are very soft and pureeable, I guess it would work, but I honestly don’t know since I haven’t tried it.

  9. I love this recipe. I found it after I discovered that dates can be used to sweeten things. I have a toddler who doesn’t care much for veggies, so I made this once as written, really liked it, but then wondered if I could substitute sweet potato puree for the bananas. Long story short, I’ve been making sweet potato muffins using this recipe for months now. I put in about 2 cups puree, plus a tsp. of cinnamon. (I also have to admit I add 1/3 cup sugar or honey, but per muffin this is less than 1 tsp!) They take about 23 minutes to bake. It makes about 18-20 muffins. I keep most of them in the freezer and give them to the little guy as a snack or when he is just not eating well. He asks for them all the time! Thanks for this recipe!!

    • Lovely! What a nutritious snack for your toddler and thank you so much for the detailed notes on how you adapted the recipe. I love that, thank you!

    • This is exactly what I needed to know! I’ve made this recipe probably a hundred times for every potluck and event I can, and I make muffins for my family every week. I love it so much! I wanted to make a pumpkin version for Thanksgiving and planned to ask Pamela if it had ever been done before! This is pretty close. So I’m thinking of doing 1 can of pumpkin puree (15oz) and maybe 1 banana…perhaps honey if needed. Think it will work?

      • Awesome! Yes, you reminded me that I used to use a can of pumpkin (15oz) instead of sweet potato and it worked well. I don’t know about with the banana though. But yes, a little honey (1/3 cup is enough) gives it the right amount of sweetness.

  10. I just made the banana bread and ate a slice. Yum. What a great recipe. Took 60 mins @ 170c. Thanks for sharing.

  11. I love banana bread but because it normally has so much sugar I don’t eat/make it so often.

    I just tried your recipe today and it turned out great! (top was a bit too brown because my oven is very strong… but inside was moist and delicious)

    Thanks so much for this delicious but healthy version!

  12. Thank you for this recipe ..it’s awesome. And perfect for my pregnant sis. In law who is off refined sugar
    Want to upload a pic to show you

    • You’re welcome! This recipe is special to me because it was one of the first I ever created without sugar. So glad you liked it!

  13. What a great recipe! I have baked this today and it turned out beautifully. This loaf will definitely be a mainstay in our household. Thank you for providing a good alternative for refined sugar-free baking.

    • You’re welcome! It’s a staple in my house 🙂

  14. Just made two loaves this banana bread and it turned out great! I’ve been looking for a recipe that isn’t so sweet- and this is perfect! Bananas and dates add just the right amount of natural sugar. I added two tablespoons of cinnamon (for two batches) and some fresh garlic that I blended in with the wet ingredients. Will definitely be making this again 🙂

    • I agree that the sweetness is just right and not like a dessert :). But I am curious about something — did you mean to say you added fresh garlic to the batter?? Not sure about that one!

  15. Thank you so much for this absolutely delicious recipe. My 2yr old just loves it – and I don’t have to feel guilty because it’s genuinely healthy.

    • No guilt at all! Now that you know you like the recipe, try adding things to the batter like blueberries in the summer and fresh cranberries in the fall. 🙂

  16. Had a few old bananas and was looking for a recipe that included dates and walnuts when I found this. Turned out perfectly! I added 1/2 a cup of choccie chips as well because I like the gooeyness that they add. Just had a warm slice with a cup of tea and am very happy. This is exactly the right level of sweetness for me. Thanks for sharing.

    • That’s the thing — everyone’s preferred sweetness level is different, but I can’t handle a banana bread with 2 cups of sugar in it. Glad this recipe was pleasing to you!

  17. Great recipe, one of the very few I’ve tried that came out like it was supposed to. I had only 2 bananas, so I used more dates. Didn’t come out sweet enough for my tastes however. Next time I will be sure to use 3 bananas and maybe some jack fruit. I used home ground spelt which worked well, the bread’s texture came out nearly perfect. Thanks for your hard work crafting this recipe. I will do this again.

    • Thank you for your comment, Johnny. FOr sure try it with the 3rd banana next time and make sure your bananas are quite ripe. How lucky for you that you had freshly ground spelt flour. What a treat!

  18. Omg thank you! I made this last week and just finished off the loaf today. I am not a big fan of “cake bread” as I call most quick bead. I wanted something lighter, less sweet and healthier. This was by far my favorite quick bead recipe and I’ve tried many! I’m gonna try this with pumpkin for thanksgiving.

    • You are welcome! I agree, so many quick breads contain so much sugar, they’re really just cake. Glad you enjoyed it.

  19. Do you know how many cups of mashed banana you get out of three ‘large’ bananas? I don’t buy large bananas, so I’d like to know how much banana in total I need. thanks.

    • I think it’s about 1 1/4 cups. Usually 3 medium bananas is around 1 cup. Anywhere between 1 – 1 1/4 cups is fine.

  20. Mine was a disaster.
    I tried it with flax meal and wheat flour.
    It don’t rise and was not fluffy.

    • Sorry it didn’t work out for you. WHen you say you tried it with flax meal and wheat flour, do you mean you tried subbing flax meal mixed with warm water in place of the eggs? Of you tried subbing a combo of flax meal and wheat flour for the flour? I’ve made this bread about 100 times, so I know the recipe works. But I’d like to try to help you figure out where you went wrong.

  21. Turned out too soft inside while the bottoms were burnt (made in muffin cups). I suspected that was going to happen when I saw how wet the batter was. I used soft Iranian dates and organic sprouted spelt flour.

    • Oh shoot. That’s disappointing. I’m sorry. I’ve made this recipe at least 50 times, so I’m not sure what went wrong. Maybe your leavening agent was expired or mismeasured?

  22. I tried the recipe as it is and it was a big hit!

    I was wondering has anybody tried it with almond flour? Does it taste the same? I’ve never baked with almond flour before so not sure.

  23. Delicious! I made muffins (8 from halving the mix) with spelt flour, pureeing the dates with the fats (half coconut oil, half butter) in a small food processor, and they are the best banana muffins I’ve ever made – and I’ve made a few. I used black bananas and they are plenty sweet. Thanks!

    • That’s a great idea to puree the dates with the fats! Thanks!

    • What size muffins did you make? And how much did batter did you add to each muffin mould? Sorry but I’ve never made muffins earlier so..

      • Regular, standard muffins. You should be able to get 10-12 out of this batter 🙂

  24. This sounds great. We are trying to eat less refined sugar so cannot wait to try. I currently use dates to sweeten my morning smoothie. Re the banana bread, any thoughts on what to add to increase the fibre without tasting too strong of bran?
    Colleen

    • what about adding flax meal? In fact you can use flax instead of eggs. 2 Tbs. flax meal mixed with 6 tbs. warm water, allow to sit for 15 minutes before adding to batter. Use in place of the 2 eggs. Or add some rolled oats on top for decoration, but they have lots of fiber!

  25. I just tried the recipe for the first time & can’t wait to experiment further. I used a Vitamix to make the date paste & folded in the wet ingredients into that (on low, 1). The dates were Whole Foods Deglets and the bananas were frozen. I throw the ugly brown/black ones in the freezer before they gross me out completely. I also used a touch of maple syrup (freshly made here in my little town). It did take the full 60 minutes. Thanks!

    • Oh, one more thing… I also used the Earth Balance. And tomorrow morning, that plus honey & almond butter is going on toasted banana bread! Yum!

    • So helpful to know about your tweaks! Thank you sharing, sounds delicious!

  26. I made this for the first time last night and IT IS SO GOOD!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you!! Next time I’m going to use a few less dates but seriously, best banana bread recipe ever and it’s healthy too 🙂

  27. I just made this (twice in one weekend) with both whole wheat and then gluten-free all-purpose flour. My sweets-loving son took several pieces without even realizing that it was “healthy.” Everyone loved it. Thanks!

    • Feels good, doesn’t it?! 🙂 Love that! Thanks for sharing, Karen.

  28. Just made this recipe last night! SOO amazing! Hands down best banana bread I have ever attempted to make at home! I used the Earth Balance butter and pecans instead of walnuts. I also had to substitute cake flour for whole wheat flour(because that was unfortunately all I had) and instead of two cups I only used one cup of the cake flour, then I added 3/4 cup wheat bran and 1/4 cup of ground golden flax-seed mill. The consistency and moistness was undeniably good!

    • I absolutely love all the changes you made!! Great ideas for everyone! Thank you~~

  29. I just baked this bread this morning. I added some unsweetened coconut and walnuts that I hand on hand and toasted up before adding. I have made alot of banana bread in my time and this is easily the best. How wonderful it has no refined sugar!

    • Love the idea of the toasted walnuts and coconut — YUM! Thank you!

  30. i have made this recipe several times and every time i can’t quite get the center of the bread to bake fully. Do you know what could be going wrong? or how i might adjust it? the only thing that is different is that i do not have the paddle attachment and may not be getting the dates into a paste but otherwise i am doing everything as per the recipe. i also want to make them in muffins this weekend. is there anything different i should do for muffins?

    • Let me try to think of what could be wrong. Make sure you’re using the right size pan. If yours is an 8.5 x 4.5, that’s smaller than the one I used and the bread will be too thick. Or your leavening agents could be expired. Or you’re using too much banana. Lastly, your oven might run cooler than mine. Bake it until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with dry crumbs. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning it out and then make sure you cool it on a cooling rack so that the heat escapes and the bread doesn’t keep steaming itself. That’s all I can think of! Let me know if you have any other questions. I hope it works for you!

      • Make sure your not over mixing that could be the problem! stir just until ingredients are incorporated!

  31. I want to make this, but I don’t have a ‘paddle attachement’. I have an electric hand mixer, a food processor, and a vitamix. Would any of these work as an alternative? Thanks!

    • I haven’t tried this with an electric hand mixer, but to get the dates into a paste you’ll need something stronger. I’m sure the food processor would work great. Process all the wet ingredients including the dates in there and mix the dry in a separate bowl. Then add the wet to the dry, fold in bananas and you should be good!

  32. does this recipe absolutely need the eggs. I want to make a vegan version so i would like to know if it would work without the eggs. also can i use any other flour like oat or almond.

    • a good substitute for eggs in this recipe would be 2 Tbs. ground flax meal mixed with 6 Tbs. warm water. Allow the mixture to sit on the counter for 15 minutes before adding to the batter. Use coconut oil or Earth Balance instead of butter. I haven’t tried this with oat flour, but it’s heavier than wheat, so maybe use a touch less. You can sub spelt very well for wheat, although it’s not gluten-free. Almond flour is a whole different thing — different fat profile, etc. Are you also trying to make this GF?

    • Hi, my daughter was a vegetarian and became Vegan for a number of years and there is an egg substitute that you can use. It can be purchased at most Health/Organic style supermarkets. It works wonders and I used it for all my baking, muffins, scaones, bisuits, cakes, and cookies. It worked beautifully and there was nothing in it that should be a problem reading healthy ingredients/or vegan/vegetarian individuals. Hope this helps!

  33. Has anyone ever tried this recipe with coconut oil instead of butter? I use a coconut oil that retains a strong coconut flavor, and it might give this recipe a slightly tropical feel/taste.

    • I don’t normally do this, but when I was reading your question, I was in the mood to bake something and I had ripe bananas on the countertop so I gave the banana bread a go with coconut oil. I used dates to make a puree and 1/4 cup or room temperature coconut oil and it was just as delicious and moist as with butter. BUT, I didn’t taste any coconut flavor. Perhaps adding a handful of shredded coconut would get you closer to a more tropical flavor. Anyway, thanks for the suggestion since now I know the recipe works well dairy-free!

  34. Thanks for the recipe! I made the loaf with pecans for my family and they loved it! I have muffins with blueberries in the oven now 🙂

  35. I just made a batch of muffins from this recipe. Amazing! So moist and the perfect amount of sweetness. I followed the advice from one of the previous comments and added chocolate chips to the recipe so that my kids would eat them. This will be a keeper!

    • That’s great, Sheri! In the summer try adding fresh blueberries to the bread — sooooo good!

  36. I just baked this cake yesterday. It’s wonderful and moist and to me just as sweet as a cake full og sugar. Thank you for this recipie. It’s incredible that it’s baked with whole wheat flour. It really just tastes like the regular all refined ingredients and suger bomb and usually bake 🙂

    • Happy to hear that, Jade! Thank you~

  37. so if you’re substituting dates for sugar in other recipes, would you just use the same amount of dates that it calls for of sugar?

    • it’s a good question, but the substitution is not that straightforward. To start, it takes more dates than sugar in this recipe. I would sub 1/2 cup maple syrup or sugar for the 1 cup dates here. But also, dates add moisture which you may or may not want. I find that date puree works really well in quick breads and muffins, smoothies and other blended drinks, puddings, brownies, but not cookies, for example. If you have a specific recipe in mind, I am happy to offer my opinion for what it’s worth. =)

  38. Hi Pamela- I’m planning to make this after school tonight. Would this be a good use for the pulp leftover from my first batch of homemade almond milk? My kids won’t eat anything with visible nuts. Thanks!

    • Hmmmm, you got me there. I’ve never used leftover almond pulp in this recipe so I couldn’t advise you how much to add. I think it’s a great idea, though! If I were going to try it, I think I would start with 1/4 cup. Let me know if you try it — very curious!

  39. My loaf is in the oven as we speak. So excited to try this date sweetened loaf as we’ve recently removed sugar from our son’s diet and I was struggling to find “treats” without sugars of any kind. Dates have come to the rescue in a no-bake peanut butter “truffle” and now this banana bread. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • It’s definitely a challenge to come up with treats without sugars, but dates can be a great alternative. I very often use this date puree in other quick breads in place of 1/2 cup sugar and if the recipe calls for more, I sometimes add an extra spoonful of maple syrup. See the pumpkin bread recipe as an example. Hope you enjoy!

  40. I made these with flax meal/water for my egg free son into muffins for his birthday breakfast. They were so hearty and delicious. They really held up well without the egg and were a perfect treat with a couple chocolate chips tossed in. I can’t wait to make these again!

    • Thanks for sharing your egg-free experience! My son’s favorite is with chocolate chips, but I just made this bread this weekend with blueberries and I thought it was great :).

  41. This is my #1 favorite banana bread recipe and I have been on the hunt for a good recipe for some time. MUCH yummier, richer and moister than any other whole wheat version I’ve tried. My kids love it too!

    • Just what I want to hear! Gotta love those dates 🙂

  42. Hello Pamela,
    I made these last night & divided the “wet” mixture into 2 parts – the first I completed using wheat flour as per your recipe; the second I completed using a combination of rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch (I am gluten intolerant, but the rest of my family is not). Everyone loved it! Also, we celebrate lent by forgoing sugar, so this recipe was perfect for this time of year. We had the muffins for breakfast, and I packed what was left in the kids’ lunches. Thanks so much!

    • Thanks for your feedback, Justine! So glad it was a nice treat for everyone. Mashed ripe bananas and pureed dates are two of my favorite sugar-free tricks.

  43. If I am glluten intolerant and allergic to tapioca starch, what can I subsitute for tapioca in this banana bread recipe and other recipes that call for tapioca?

    • Hi Jo Elen, That’s tough since all the GF flour blends I have used contain tapioca. But I think the way you go is with blanched almond flour. I haven’t tested it with this recipe, but Elana Amsterdam at elanaspantry.com uses almond meal in all her baked goods. She has a very popular blog. Check out her recipe: http://www.elanaspantry.com/paleo-banana-bread/

  44. Thanks for posting this. My loaf is currently in the oven, but the batter tasted great. I may have used more dates than called for, but it seemed plenty sweet. I can’t wait to eat it.

    • Mmmmmmm…….i wish i had a loaf of banana bread in the oven right now. Enjoy!

  45. I just made your date-sweetened banana bread. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make. I brought to work for a school breakfast. It was quite delicious and very big hit at the breakfast!

  46. ok seriously these are amazing. i had this for breakfast today and then i couldnt resist and had it for snack after lunch and some for dessert. this is my new fave food. and the best part is…theres almost no sugar!!!!!

    • I love this bread, too! Actually, there’s NO sugar, except the naturally-occurring sugar in the dates and bananas. I should adjust the pumpkin muffin recipe to include an option for date puree in lieu of some of the maple syrup. You can soak the dates in hot water in the blender and cut half the maple syrup and it’s amazing — I like it even better as a loaf than muffins. Yum!

      • Hi Pamela,

        This sounds amazing! I was wondering if you knew the nutritional value specifically how many grams of protein?

        Thanks,
        Meg

        • I don’t, but there are many websites that provide nutritional calculators and you can plug in the ingredients pretty easily.

  47. I baked this batter in a muffin tin for 17 minutes. My only mistake was that I didn’t double the recipe!!! My family really enjoyed having banana muffins for breakfast.

    • If you make extra, they freeze great. You can take them out of the freezer, put directly into the lunch box and they are defrosted in time for snack or lunch!

  48. So I’ve made this banana bread a few times and it’s great, but I would highly recommend using really ripe bananas, even black ones. Because there’s no sugar or maple syrup, it won’t be sweet enough unless you use the ripest bananas. My kids like this a lot with chocolate chips or dried cherries or fresh blueberries. If I make it with just nuts, I add 2 Tablespoons of maple syrup and it’s just right for us. It’s one of the only really wholesome desserts I’ve found!

    • I agree about the bananas. I would say “just-before-fruit-flies-black.” Thanks for sharing how you adjusted the recipe to suit you. Love that!

  49. This is my kind of “comfort food”! A cup of herb tea and banana bread are a perfect treat!


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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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