Blog Posts by Oprah.com

  • 5-Minute Salted Caramel Cake, Plus Other Microwave Treats

    By Lynn Andriani

    Photo: Teri Lyn FisherThe Gourmet Mug Cake

    There are endless variations on the five-minute dessert phenomenon known as the mug cake-but here's one you probably haven't seen yet. It combines caramel and fleur de sel, so you get a hit of sweet and a subtle saltiness, too (fleur de sel's flavor is more delicate than that of other salts). This recipe, from Leslie Bilderback's Mug Cakes: 100 Speedy Microwave Treats to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth, makes two cakes, and the impressive finished dish belies the easy prep: You pour the batter into mugs, microwave for 30 seconds, top the cakes with caramel candies and cook for a minute more.

    Get the recipe: Caramel-Fleur de Sel Mug Cake

    Related: 6 Essential Dishes to Make This Season


    Healthier, No-Box Mac 'n' Cheese

    You can cook pasta in the microwave, but since boiling shells or elbows in water takes less time, stick with the stovetop for that (make about 3/4 pound) and make the sauce in the microwave. Into a 2-quart glass bowl, pour a

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  • 5 Mistakes People Make when Meeting Someone New

    By Amy Shearn

    Photo: Thinkstock

    Mistake #1: Offering to Order Everyone Drinks from the Open Bar

    It doesn't look like a mistake. It doesn't smell like a mistake. In fact, it seems like exactly the right thing to do: Who doesn't love the lady with the tray of daiquiris? But according to contemporary research, when people do a favor for you, they tend to subconsciously justify their actions by assuming they helped you out because they like you. Plus, asking someone a favor makes her feel useful, which can be a generally pleasant sensation. So ask a new friend if she wouldn't mind bringing you a vodka soda from the open bar, and watch a sudden warmth bloom between you. (It's not just the vodka soda talking. It's SCIENCE.)

    Related: 9 Things to Ask Before You Say Yes

    Mistake #2: Connecting by Complaining

    Sharing gripes is an easy way to bond-after all, everyone has so many-but what starts as an ice-breaker can quickly launch a snark spiral. You have the right idea, which is to find common

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  • The Best Snacks to Combat Pre-Lunch Stomach Grumbles

    By Jena Pincott

    Photo: Thinkstock

    When You Need the Most Bang Per Calorie...

    You may have seen the headlines: Dieters who eat midmorning snacks lose less weight. But that could be because those people choose the wrong snack says Roberta Re, PhD, a nutrition researcher at Leatherhead Food Research-that is, they probably aren't eating almonds. Re and her colleagues found that when people ate a portion and a half of almonds (1.5 ounces) around 11 a.m., they were less hungry at lunch and at dinner and ate fewer calories daily than non-almond eaters. And when volunteers snacked on more than a standard-size 1-ounce serving, they also reported feeling much less angry. Re says she has tested many foods in the past decade, and very few have shown an effect like almonds. (If you become bored of naked nuts, try these recipes for spiced, spicy roasted, cinnamon glazed and "firecracker" flavors.)

    How much: 1.5 standard portions (1.5 ounces total) or about 35 nuts

    Extra perk: If you can, chew your

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  • 4 Ways Doing Good Can Make You Healthier

    By Leslie Goldman

    Illustration: Katherine Streeter

    As a boy, whenever Stephen Post got a bad grade, or felt left out of his older brother and sister's games, or was otherwise having a rough day, his mother always said, "Why don't you go out and do something for someone else?" At which point he'd head next door to rake Mr. Mueller's leaves or go across the street to help Mr. Lawrence with his boat. "I always came home feeling better," says Post, now a professor of preventive medicine at Stony Brook University School of Medicine and author of The Hidden Gifts of Helping. Turns out, there was science behind his mom's kitchen-table wisdom: Practicing philanthropy is one of the surest steps you can take toward a happy, healthy life. Here's why.

    Related: 11 Sentences That will Keep The Peace

    Longer Lifespan

    A 2013 review of 40 international studies suggests that volunteering can add years to your life-with some evidence pointing to a 22 percent reduction in mortality. How much time must you spare? A separate

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  • The Worst Foods for Your Skin

    Photo: Thnkstock

    By Corrie Pikul

    The Wholesome Drink That's Linked to Acne

    Studies linking the consumption of dairy to breakouts date back to the 1960s . In fact, doctors used to treat acne by recommending patients give up milk, says Alan Dattner, MD , a holistic dermatologist who practices in New York and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). But then, as medication to treat pimples became more effective and available, Dattner says, there was less of a focus on preventing breakouts through dietary changes. That didn't stop the evidence (and the anecdotes) from piling up over the years, and in 2010, an influential research review published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found an association between dairy consumption and acne . Now the AAD suggests that acne sufferers talk to their dermatologist about limiting dairy to see if that helps.


    Try this: Consider cutting back on skim milk, Dattner says, which has shown the strongest link with skin flare-ups.

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  • Infused Sea Salt Recipes that Make Great DIY Gifts

    Photo: Andrew PurcellRecipes by Heidi Swanson


    "Since the holidays are always busy, I make these finishing salts ahead of time to have on hand for gifts. They're not fussy, and you can tweak them to your liking. The flavor my friends and family love most, winter citrus, adds a bright finish to curries, soups, stews-I even sprinkle it on banana bread!" -Heidi Swanson, blogger at 101cookbooks.com and author of Super Natural Every Day

    Winter Citrus Salt
    Makes 3/4 cup.

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
    • 1 Tbsp. grapefruit zest
    • 2 tsp. orange zest
    • 1 tsp. lemon zest (preferably Meyer)
    • 1/2 tsp. ground fennel seed

    Directions
    Active time: 10 minutes
    Total time: 30 minutes

    Preheat oven to 300°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, mix salt with grapefruit, orange, and lemon zests, working zest into salt to eliminate clumps. Add fennel and spread across prepared baking sheet. Bake until zest is completely dried out, about 15 minutes (it Read More »from Infused Sea Salt Recipes that Make Great DIY Gifts
  • 4 Ways to Strengthen Your Family

    Photo: Darren BraunHow Can I Know My Loved Ones So Well-And Yet Not at All?

    My cat, at least, is another species, so I don't pretend to know why he sniffs chairs or chews plastic bags. It is enough simply to share our love of shrimp and napping. But the humans I live with? In some ways they are utterly familiar: I know that my daughter has a fever because I wake to some invisible molecular disturbance in the room, that my son hates his frittata though he insists he doesn't, and that when I bend to sweep up the spilled oats, my husband is ogling my behind. And yet everywhere, there is evidence of their otherness. I discover that one of them has Googled "Jamie Lee Curtis" during the night. I find a cupful of rocks in the freezer. Billy Joel's "Piano Man" comes on, and my daughter sighs: "This song makes me sad. If all those people are putting bread in his jar, how is he going to get his tips?"


    They are strangers. And thank goodness! Otherwise there would be no awe, no suspense, no exquisite wonder-even

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  • What the Happiest People Do at Work

    Photo: ThinkstockBy Jena Pincott


    They're remembering a famous ad campaign.

    There are multiple realities-and happy people choose the most helpful and positive one, writes researcher Shawn Achor in his new book, Before Happiness. He likens it to the HSBC advertisement in which there were three identical photos of the back of a bald head, each bearing a different caption: STYLE, SOLDIER, SURVIVOR. What assumptions do you hold? The same goes when the boss walks into the room, Achor explains. Some of us think "stress" or "threat" or "I am powerless." "Someone who has learned to add vantage points may still see some of these descriptors, but he or she would also see additional ones, like 'human being,' 'mentor,' 'opportunity to impress' or 'key to promotion,'" Achor writes. When Achor and his colleagues trained workers to think of their stress response (pounding heart, shaky hands, etc.) as "helpful" (it increases clarity and mental toughness) instead of "harmful," they performed better at work,

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  • Is Your Medicine Making You Sick?

    Illustration: Ciara PhelanIllustration: Ciara PhelanBy Christie Aschwanden

    You already know that aspirin can upset your stomach and antihistamines may make you drowsy. But you might not recognize forgetfulness as a side effect of your cholesterol-lowering statin, or a torn Achilles tendon as the result of an antibiotic. Even though a drug's possible risks are included on the leaflet that accompanies the pill bottle, the list isn't necessarily complete, says Leana Wen, MD, coauthor of When Doctors Don't Listen. Pre-approval drug trials typically aren't large enough to identify every potential negative outcome, so more problems are likely to turn up once a medication hits the market. From 2008 to 2012, the FDA saw a 90 percent uptick in the number of reported adverse drug incidents (due in part to the 266 new drugs that came on the scene). However, staying informed about side effects is getting easier: These resources are a good starting point to determine whether a drug designed to help one problem is causing another.

    RELATED: Are

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  • The Only Thanksgiving Menu You'll Ever Need

    Photo: Tina RuppClassic Roast Turkey in Less Than 3 Hours

    This traditional turkey recipe is easy to follow, just as you'd expect from Mark Bittman, aka Cooking Channel's The Minimalist. The bird comes out moist and luscious after just about two-and-a-half hours in the oven.

    Get the recipe: Classic Roast Turkey with Stuffing and Gravy


    Photo: Craig Cutler

    An Anything-But-Boring Green Bean Side

    Ecuadorian American chef Jose Garces says he finds himself adding Latin American ingredients to everything he cooks-and that includes his take on green bean casserole. Garces tosses the beans with oranges, dates and almonds to liven things up-plus a sprinkle of his secret ingredient, smoked paprika.

    Get the recipe: Jose Garces's Green Beans with Oranges and Dates Recipe


    Photo: Craig Cutler

    The Stuffing That Emeril Is Crazy About
    Chef Emeril Lagasse says this stuffing (or dressing, if you prefer) might be the best thing he's ever eaten. It's filled with spicy sausage, lots of parsley and milk-soaked bread. (If you need further proof of

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