Understanding Fetal Movement during Pregnancy

Feeling your infant action for the very first time is a magical minute. What starts as a scarcely apparent flutter quickly becomes a full-on kick as your youngster starts to make her presence felt and by the end it can feel as if she is dancing a jig inside you. You will most likely also view a foot or a hand making out from time to time in the final maternity stages – pregnancy miracle.

Having an energetic bump not simply functions as a remarkable way to bond with your baby however it is likewise an excellent indicator that is well inside the bump. So just what should you be feeling as well as when? Right here is what to watch out for with the infant’s movement in maternity.

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When will I feel my infant for the very first time?

If this is your very first maternity, you will probably first really feels something at around the 18 to 20-week mark, although it can be later. However, if you have actually currently had a child, you might begin seeing that tell-tale twinge a little earlier.

What does it seem like?

In the first stage infant’s activities in maternity can feel like a gentle flutter, just like the butterflies in your belly you obtain when you are nervous. By week 24, you ought to be feeling precise kicks in addition to the dizzying squirm as she executes somersaults in all her vacuum. Child is still very small so don’t run scared if you go a few hours and even a number of days without activity At 29 weeks, area is becoming a little bit more confined as you move through the different pregnancy phases and the movements will be smaller sized and also a lot more defined. The child’s activities in pregnancy have the tendency to tail off from week 32 as well as instead of the normal pummeling of little kicks; you will feel a big lurching movement as your child changes position in her cramped quarters.

Facts about Pregnancy: https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Pregnancy

Being familiar with your baby’s activity.

Once you have learned to recognize exactly what is a kick (and what just caught the wind is), you will begin to get to know your infant’s program. Some come to be a lot more energetic in the evening as throughout the day they usually sleep as you enter. Others obtain spooked after you eat as the surge in your blood sugar level gives them a rush of power. The same could take place if you are nervous and producing adrenalin. You may even have the ability to realized the routine jerky movement as your child obtains the hiccups.

Suppose the motions quit?

It is typical to not feel your infant relocate constantly. She will certainly often sleep or simply desire a rest. By week 32, your infant’s activities in pregnancy will reduce significantly as room ends up being tight. However, if you observe a continual fall in movements over several days, a large decrease in movements or assume that she has actually quit moving completely; call your midwife or General Practitioner promptly.

Check out http://www.enfusemagazine.com/ for more information

8 Drug-Free Ways to Calm Anxiety in Minutes

Pretty much everyone deals with anxiety at some point in their lives, and you don’t have to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder to need a release—so we spoke with experts about how to identify anxiety (and how to deal with it).

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“Anxiety can show up in our lives in many different ways,” says Ginger Poag, MSW, LCSW, a licensed therapist at Brentwood Wellness Counseling in Nashville, Tennessee. “But the most common are often irritability, lack of patience, worrying, difficulty sleeping, avoiding certain situations or people, inability to focus or concentrate, inability to relax, stress eating, tense muscles, and headaches.”

If you’re dealing with anxiety, it can be tough to keep going, and while there are a lot of ways to reduce anxiety in your life, we found some very specific options that you may want to try.

1. Listen to This Song

It may sound weird, but research suggests that listening to this song could help reduce anxiety by up to 65 percent. Music therapy has been shown to help reduce anxiety for patients undergoing procedures—and it may even help reduce pain.

Try This: Block out a few minutes and pop in your headphones to listen to this song. (Yes, I tried it. And yes, it actually works.)

2. Get App-y

Anxiety can make you feel like you’re on an island, which is why it can be super helpful to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Some people process things verbally, so talking about what’s going on in your head can help you begin to understand and cope with your anxiety.

“We can begin to catastrophize the problem and make ourselves believe the problem is much bigger and worse than what we originally believed,” Poag says. “I encourage clients to talk their anxiety out with a trusted friend or family member—by getting out our concerns verbally, we can begin to see the reality of our worries.”

However, sometimes it can be hard to talk to your friends and family when you’re feeling anxious, and therapy can be expensive or overwhelming.

Try This: Download an app like 7 Cups to work through any anxiety that pops up in your life. The app offers free trained “listeners” who are other users of the app, group chats, and even virtual therapy sessions to help when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Even just working through the app’s guided activities can help improve your overall emotional wellness and distract you when you’re feeling anxious.

3. Drop Into Cat-Cow

Need to relax fast? There’s a yoga pose (OK, a lot of yoga poses) for that. However, cat-cow pose is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety so you can focus on your breathing.

Studies show that a regular yoga practice can have a significant impact on anxiety levels in your daily life, so taking the time to find your zen can be good for both reducing existing anxiety and preventing more in the future.

“A regular yoga practice can teach you how to become aware of the present moment,” says Lauren Zoeller, a certified yoga instructor and Whole Living Life Coach. “When you learn to live in the present moment, your body and emotions are able to cope with anxiety more efficiently.”

Try This: Using a yoga mat, blanket, or the space behind your desk (we won’t tell anyone!), position yourself onto your hands and knees with your shoulders aligned with your wrists and your hips over your knees.

With your weight balanced evenly, inhale as you slowly look up and let your stomach drop toward the floor. After a brief hold, exhale and tuck your chin to your chest. Moving gently, draw your navel toward your spine and round your back up toward the ceiling. Repeat slowly for one minute.

4. Breathe With a .GIF (Seriously)

This might sound a little redundant—hello, we’re already breathing—but experts agree that deep breathing can have a serious impact on stress and anxiety.

“Deep breathing allows the brain to receive more oxygen, activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which, in turn, lowers heart rate and blood pressure, which allows the body to experience calmness and relaxation,” Poag says.

Translation: The parasympathetic nervous system is what helps you relax, which is definitely helpful when you’re feeling anxious.

Try This: Use the handy .GIF below to focus on your breathing. Set a timer to give yourself a mini-break and turn your phone on silent while you breathe.

“Two minutes of controlled breathing can significantly change your attitude and will immediately decrease your stress level,” Zoeller says. “Even if that means locking yourself in the bathroom stall at work.” a .GIF of a geometric pattern
Don’t worry about controlling your thinking or needing to find your zen, which can sometimes leave you feeling more anxious. Be gentle with yourself and focus on the movement—and getting that sweet oxygen—as much as possible.

5. Take a Five-Minute Break

“It is proven that a regular meditation practice can help you cope with difficult situations, ease mental and physical pain, and eliminate the common factors associated with anxiety,” Zoeller says. “Five minutes of meditation a day can drastically your decrease your anxiety level.”

In fact, one study showed that 20 minutes of mindful meditation practice for four days cut anxiety levels by nearly 40 percent. Yep. That much.

Meditation has long been known for its benefits, and they’re totally backed by science. Not sure where to begin? Turns out you only need five minutes to get started.

Try This: Poag suggests downloading a guided meditation app to help the process along, or you can try watching a video on guided meditation on YouTube. It only takes a few minutes to reap the benefits of meditation, making it a perfect tool to combat anxiety.

6. Turn Anxiety Into Excitement

If you’re feeling anxious about a big work project, a date, or karaoke night, studies suggest that traditional anxiety-relieving techniques might not do as much as we’d like.

Try This: Harness your anxiety and focus on turning it into excitement instead. Research on performance anxiety in highly skilled musicians shows that those who view anxiety as a good thing are more likely to perform better.

And, honestly, it makes sense: Perception matters, and science suggests that a little bit of stress can actually be beneficial. We spend a lot of time talking about getting rid of stress and anxiety (which, let’s be real, totally makes sense). But in reality, those things—in small doses—aren’t actually the worst things for us, so long as we perceive them as good.

7. Chew Some Gum

Chewing gum might not be the first remedy you think of when it comes to anxiety, but studies suggest that it may reduce fatigue, stress, and anxiety, and even boost your mood. Of the 101 study participants, chewing gum was also associated with a better perception of work performance.

A small study concluded that chewing gum helped reduce anxiety and increase alertness, and another determined that chewing gum reduced stress-related responses in the brain.

Try This: Pop a piece (or two) of gum into your mouth. This isn’t the time for casual chewing—one study suggests that the best benefit comes from more, uh, enthusiastic chewing.

8. Use the 5-4-3-2-1 Method

Project LETS—a nonprofit organization dedicated to erasing the stigma surrounding mental illness, diversity, trauma, and neurodivergence—suggests the 5-4-3-2-1 method as an emergency intervention for panic attacks or anxiety.

It involves using all of your senses and engaging your mind to find calm in the midst of anxiety. Plus, it’s something you can do out loud when you’re alone or in your head if you’re around other people.

Try This: Look around the room you’re in, and name 5 things you can see. Next, name 4 things you can touch or feel. Then, you’ll look for 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and—finally—one thing you can taste.

It might take practice, but the Mayo Clinic suggests that trying this grounding technique when you’re feeling anxious can help take the focus off your thoughts and place it on your surroundings instead. This might not seem like much, but disrupting anxiety before it builds can actually make it easier to cope in the long term.

The Bottom Line

Anxiety can make a big impact on your life, even if it’s not something you regularly deal with. If it is—and you’re struggling to identify the difference between anxiety and an anxiety disorder—try talking with a doctor or therapist.

“Anxiety is often related to an event or situation and tends to only last for the duration of that situation or event. Everyone may feel anxiety at some point, such as when a deadline is approaching,” Poag says.

Anxiety disorder, she says, is different in several ways. It can pop up for no specific reason, it’s often long-term and not situation-based, and it can seem impossible to control—especially if you start avoiding certain people or situations and worry excessively.

“Individuals should seek professional help if they have tried to control the anxiety and worrying with no success, and it has lasted for at least six months,” Poag says. “Or when anxiety begins to negatively impact relationships, work, or routine tasks.”

Stress and anxiety might be unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take steps to prevent them from negatively impacting our lives.

Jandra Sutton is an author, historian, and public speaker. She lives in Nashville with her husband and their two dogs, and Pluto is still a planet in her heart. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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17 Extremely Good Ways to Save Money When You Are Broke As a Joke

Being broke can teach you how to live very thriftily—trust us, we spent years figuring out how to live well on next to nothing. This is not one of those “Here’s how we saved $ 50k while only earning $ 20,000 a year” stories because, hi, that isn’t a real thing. Instead, we’re here to offer small, actionable steps you can use to help you get your money right so you can go from scraping by to building your savings.

1. Go through every meal kit subscription in the universe.

Seriously, try them all. Just remember to cancel your subscription after those $ 60 off, first-five-meals-are-free coupons have stopped kicking in.

2. Make a list of your luxury items and see what can stay and what can go.

Do you really need a paid Spotify account when the free one also works extremely well? How about your Hulu, Netflix, Mubi, and HBOGo accounts? You can cut back on two and get a library card—most libraries let you rent DVDs and stream movies and TV shows now too.

And ask yourself if some of your other monthly expenses are really that necessary. Is the super-fancy gym membership necessary, or would a more basic gym be Just Fine? (It would. And you can bring your own expensive shower products—worth it).

3. Family plan it up.

And when you decide that yes, yes, you really do need Hulu, Netflix, Mubi, HBOGo, and a paid Spotify account, start up a share system with friends and family. It takes a few minutes of planning, but if everyone in your group subscribes to one service, you’ll all save big bucks.

4. Be the host when you hang out with friends.

If your house becomes the hangout spot, you can avoid spending wildly overpriced bar prices for a glass of wine (and bonus, you don’t have to worry about finding your way home if you party too hard). Or create invites for BYO drinks-and-snacks picnics in the park—everyone shares, and you don’t even have to clean your place after.

5. You can find really, really good stuff used.

If you check out garage sales and secondhand shops, you’ll find plenty of clothes (not to mention furniture and a seemingly endless supply of charmingly mismatched, shabby-chic glassware) for cheap. Try searching your town’s name plus the word “garage sale” in the Facebook search bar to find a ton of local postings.

For furniture, sites like Craigslist and online community boards like Nextdoor are fantastic. You can get practically brand-new, high-quality items by just throwing the name of a brand you’re interested in (“Crate & Barrel”) into the search tool. And check out sites like Thredup that are basically gigantic online thrift stores. You can get really well-made, designer clothes for 1/16 of the retail price, and it’s a far more environmentally friendly way to live.

6. Get your cash right.

While lots of different savings accounts offer interest, credit unions typically have better rates and higher limits. You can also try the Mint app—it can help you figure out what you’re spending where and how to do better—use the discount-code-whiz Honey app whenever you shop online (it’s kind of amazing), and give the cash-back Ibotta app a go, because why not.

7. Check out discounted services.

Groupon hasn’t been as popular in the past few years as it used to be, but redownload it—it’s not just for restaurants. You can find everything from haircuts and spa services to dental and eye exams.

8. Do odd jobs.

This one kinda goes without saying, but if your paychecks aren’t stretching and you have some free time, a side gig is always helpful. You can always opt for Lyft and Taskrabbit, but don’t forget the classics like babysitting gigs (which you can find on Care), dog-walking (Wag!), or using sites like Upwork to make a few extra dollars doing creative tasks. Plus, having a fun side-gig like dog walking to occupy some of your free hours will keep you from overspending (… and the bonus cash doesn’t hurt).

9. Revamp your dining style.

Meal prepping can help you with eating healthy while saving money (and avoiding waste). Also, check out food co-ops to save money on fresh produce, always buy dry goods like paper towels in bulk, and don’t overlook the cheap (and delicious) benefit of starting your own garden.

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You can also create budget-friendly rules for yourself, like prepping food for meals you’ll be eating alone, which can create a little room for a dining-out budget with friends. And pro tip: If you start meeting friends for breakfasts instead of dinner and drinks, it’s way, way cheaper—and a really lovely way to start the morning.

If you’re someone who just hates meal planning and is always going to eat lunch out every day, try a service like Mealpal. You can buy a bundle of lunches from local spots for less than $ 6 a meal, and the company has great intro packages (like we’re talking 40 percent off) too.

10. Think before you spend.

It’s really easy to see something you want and drop a stack right then and there. But what if you just… didn’t? Adopt a two-week to 30-day policy before spending money on non-emergencies. Corporations spend a lot of time and money researching the absolute best ways to get you to spend before you have the chance to think, but you can avoid their Jedi mind tricks if you spend some time thinking first, do price comparisons, and assess value. Think first; spend later. It’s less fun in the moment but more fun when you realize you totally have the cash to go on vacation later this year.

11. Dust off your bike.

You can save so much money on transportation (plus give yourself a good cardio workout and avoid using fossil fuels) by opting for a bike ride over taking a train or a car. Don’t want to make the investment in a bike of your own? Check to see if your city has a bike-share program and hop on one of those bad boys—your wallet will feel the relief as much as your feet.

12. Put a personal trainer in your pocket.

These days, there are so, so many different options for in-app fitness, and they’re all super customizable for your workout needs. So even though having the one-on-one attention of a personal trainer is the bomb.com, we guarantee there’s a muuuuuch cheaper way for you to get that workout and still have it be, well… personal. At least until you win the lottery, that is.

13. Two words: Trader Joe’s.

This—and every other brand shoutout in this article—is not an #ad. But the entire Greatist office is obsessed with TJ’s, and we don’t care who knows it. We’ll shout it from the top of a tower of Trader Joe’s almond milk because it’s only $ 1.99 so we can afford it!

Seriously—not only do we love their products (have you had this?! Or this?!), but you can’t beat the prices on typically expensive items like quinoa or blueberries. Trust us when we say that the amount of food you can get for your money will practically double what you’d scrounge together at another grocery store. Long live the Hawaiian shirt!

14. Get scrappy with your movie/festival/concert candy.

Should you break the rules at the movie theater? Of course not! Great, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way: Who hasn’t snuck candy into a movie theater? You’ve gotta get crafty sometimes (jackets with pockets on the inside) because bag checks are (rightfully) common at theaters, but hey—drugstore candy is just cheaper and every bit helps. This also applies to festivals, concerts, and plays, so if you need to BYOC… we won’t judge.

15. And it’s OK to fool your friends into thinking you’re fancier than you are too.

Yeah, we’re not above refilling an old Aesop soap bottle with cheaper Mrs. Meyers so the bathroom seems nicer than it is. See also: upcycling the glass containers from nice candles into bud vases and mini planters for succulents (which you’ll kill, but oh well), and serving your friends from carafes of sangria, which you made with a few bottles of TJ’s “Two-Buck-Chuck” cab sauv, an apple, and a couple of oranges (no one ever needs to see the label).

16. Be your own ATM.

You know the saying “out of sight, out of mind,” right? We’re pretty sure that phrase originated when debit cards became a thing. Try taking out cash on Sunday night or Monday morning and let that be your allowance for the rest week—those Jacksons will feel infinitely more real in your hands than they do in your bank account.

17. Go for free.

Take advantage of the free cultural events in your area. You can get into some interesting things this way and, worst case scenario, it’s not the most amazing time you’ve ever had but at least you didn’t get spendy for it. We’re into free museum days, outdoor concerts, improv shows, cemetery walking tours… whatever’s happening, we’re game to try anything twice.

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The Reason You Always Get Sick After Vacation

After a relaxing vacation, you’d think your body would be so rejuvenated that your immune system would be in tip-top shape. But it’s like clockwork: The second your plane lands back home, sniffles or body aches surface out of nowhere. How on earth can a week of sipping mojitos on the beach cause you to get sick when that’s the opposite of the point?

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You’re not imagining that this is a common occurence. “I see patients that return from vacation sick quite often,” says pharmacist Inna Lukyanovsky. The CDC even has a special section of its website devoted to this phenomenon. Some people get sick before they even land at home, something so common that some doctors call it “leisure sickness.”

Whether you spend most of your vacation napping in a lavish hotel bed or walking miles through the streets of a new city, it’s certainly a change of pace from your life back home. That’s a lot for your system to adjust to, only for those changes to come to a grinding halt when you arrive back home again and jump right back into your usual routine.

Post-vacation illness is the ultimate letdown, but there are scientific reasons for it beyond the universe trying to make your transition back to the office grind as miserable as possible. Here’s the deal—and how to cope.

The Real Reasons You Get Sick

No, your body isn’t just doing this to torture you. Here’s why experts believe people get sick after vacation.

1. Planes (but Not for the Reason You Think)

Anyone with even mild germophobic tendencies cringes when boarding a plane. While it’s horrifying to imagine gross recycled air floating through the plane every time someone sneezes the next aisle over, that’s likely not the true cause of your health issues.

The real culprit behind most plane-related colds is the low humidity in flight. “Airplanes can be the worst,” pharmacist Lindsey Elmore says. “The low-humidity air can dry out nasal passages.” Thanks to the plane’s high altitude, you’re cruising through the sky in some seriously dry air. That dryness can irritate your throat and nose and can also make it tougher for your body to fend off bacteria.

The Fix: Over-the-counter saline nasal spray and some eye drops can go a long way to combating this issue.

2. The Usual Germy Suspects

It’s no surprise that the classic culprits, like being exposed to new allergens and germs, not washing your hands enough, and coming into contact with large crowds, can also make you sick on your travels. Airports, train stations, public transit, and tourist sites all put you in contact with big crowds, which can increase the likelihood of coming down with something.

“These days, with the ability to be in different hemispheres and continents so easily, transmissible diseases due to viruses and bacteria can easily spread to different regions quickly,” says Dana Hawkinson, M.D., assistant professor at the University of Kansas.

The Fix: The best thing to do is wash your hands regularly and for the right length of time (that’d be 20 seconds). You can also attempt to maintain some personal space in large crowds? Yeah, focus on the hand-washing.

3. Plain Old Exhaustion

The truth is, travel is freaking tiring. Even the most relaxing beach vacation in the world is fairly taxing to actually get to, especially if you’re the type who goes on a panicked frenzy to pack, complete your entire to-do list, and clean your house top-to-bottom the night before an early morning flight. (Raises hand.)

Before you even arrive at your destination, your body has likely already been subjected to several days of strain and exhaustion as you prepped for the trip, packed, and stuffed yourself into a tiny plane seat at an inhuman hour.

“Sleep deprivation is a major immune system depressant,” Inna says. “You often see people who spend sleepless nights on vacations or sleepless days when traveling for long hours.” This gets even more complicated when your vacation is in a different time zone. Jet lag is definitely not your immune system’s friend.

The Fix: Some effective time management can help you not freak out the night before a trip, and you can learn some ways to sleep better too.

4. Boozing It Up

There’s nothing wrong with celebrating on vacation—God invented swim-up bars for a reason! That said, the frustrating fact is that drinking more than you do during your non-vacay life can increase your likelihood of getting sick when you head home. “Excessive drinking during vacation can certainly inhibit your immune system and back up the detoxification system, leading to a virus or bacterial infections,” Lukyanovsky says.

The Fix: Consider spacing out your drinking with more low-key days in-between. If nothing else, stick to the old college trick of making sure you’re drinking a glass of seltzer or water for every glass of alcohol you drink. This will keep you hydrated (and help fend off hangovers).

5. Temperature Changes

Traveling between two different climates can confuse your body and make you more susceptible to illness. This is especially common if you jet off in the winter to lounge in a warmer destination.

“People traveling in the winter to a warmer climate often get sick coming back to cold weather,” Lukyanovsky says. “And the cold itself isn’t the reason; it’s the cold affecting the immune system response. That can trigger the virus that you normally would fight off without noticing.” In the moment, your body has bigger fish to fry—like readjusting to the cold—allowing viruses you’d normally fend off with no issue to creep in.

The Fix: OK, there really isn’t one for this, unless you want to start avoiding warm-weather destinations in winter (haha, no). But a little self-care won’t hurt…

Above All, Spoil Yourself

It’s not like you ever need someone else’s permission to treat yo’self, but remember that it’s extra important to coddle yourself when you get home from a trip. All of that flying and driving and time zone changing is a huge deal for your body. Whether you feel a cold coming on or arrive home feeling perfectly healthy, it doesn’t change the fact that your body needs to recalibrate.

If you can swing it, take a day off when you arrive home before heading back to work. On these days, give yourself permission to be a total couch potato. Laze around, do a relaxing exercise like yoga, and let your body adjust. Drink lots of water and eat fresh fruits and veggies. (Also pay attention to how you feel during this time. If you develop symptoms like persistent diarrhea, rashes, or a fever, check in with your doctor to rule out any pressing health issues that are linked to travel to certain regions.)

If you’re someone who struggles with letting yourself do nothing, remember that you’re doing this for your well-being! If you take the time to slow down, you’ll be a lot less likely to develop a surprise illness the second you dive back into your routine. The world keeps turning even when you sit still—promise. So kick up your feet, spend the day plotting your next vacation, and give yourself a high-five for putting your immune system first.

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A Guide to Balancing “Clean Beauty” With Science

When you read about the problems caused by “everywhere chemicals” like BPA and phthalates, it can be tempting to chuck everything, buy a mud-colored hemp outfit, and move to an off-the-grid commune for a life of hammock weaving. But if you’re someone who loves beauty products (and all that they promise), it can also tempting to just… shrug the whole thing off. Sure, every cosmetic ingredient will probably cause cancer or infertility—but not before the world ends, right?

Perhaps there’s a happy medium between knee-jerk fear and sheer nihilism, however. Maybe we don’t have to buy all our beauty products from companies like Goop and Whole Foods and can still live to tell the tale. Maybe Goop and Whole Foods shill products that are no healthier for you than the products you buy anywhere else, many of which are products made in factories that make no effort toward sustainability or waste reduction and cost five times as much as the perfectly safe products you’d find at a Walgreens. After all, it’s 2019, and there’s big money to be made by simply feeling green.

This won’t be an exact science, but here are our thoughts on how to try to find a reasonable “clean beauty” balance:

1. Follow the Watchdogs

One of the first places you can turn for information is the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep database, which rates almost 70,000 products based on their ingredients. Enter the name of a lotion you’re about to buy, and the search will tell you whether any of its ingredients are known to cause problems, or if they’re still in question. (Although we recommend Googling the name of the product and “EWG”—the internal search is not amazing.)

“One of the biggest problems is that many of these ingredients have never been tested,” says EWG’s director of healthy living science, Nneka Leiba. Unlike with pharmaceuticals, the ingredients in beauty products don’t have to proven completely safe before they hit shelves. “What we’re saying to the consumer is, if there is no science on something, you shouldn’t assume it’s safe.”

Basically, when there’s not enough information, EWG will sound the alarm—which does mean they can sometimes be, well, rather alarmist about ingredients that aren’t known to cause harm. So it’s up to the consumer to take a look through the flags EWG raises and see if they seem relevant.

The group also issues an EWG-verified seal to certain products that meet its high standards of safety (though these seals have nothing to do with how effective the products are—just how safe they’ve been shown to be).

“Under that seal, we’ve already looked for ingredients of concern to make sure that they’re fully transparent to the consumer,” Leiba says. “That they’re not hiding harmful ingredients under the term ‘fragrance,’ for example.”

Other groups, like Made Safe, also have a nontoxic seal for approved products. This system can help you choose products in a wide variety of categories. Yes, using these systems may mean you’ll miss out on some potentially safe, effective products, but if you want to avoid doing a bunch of research into cosmetics and personal care, they can be a good solution.

2. Ask Your Dermatologist

On the other hand, you could take the watchdogs’ warnings with a grain of salt. There are a lot of products that dermatologists regularly recommend to their patients that carry moderate or high hazard ratings from EWG.

For example, CeraVe moisturizer, which many dermatologists love, has a score of 4 (moderate hazard). Among the ingredients EWG finds hazardous is the preservative propylparaben, a long-chain paraben that can bind to estrogen receptors in the body. It has been difficult to prove causal relationships between long-chain parabens and cancer, but groups like EWG and the European Union believe there is enough cause for concern. (Short-chain parabens such as methylparaben are thought to be safe by both groups.)

“It’s really hard to find products that are completely paraben-free, but every week there are more and more that are available,” says dermatologist Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, M.D. He doesn’t yet specifically advise his patients against using products with parabens, but he is pleased that patients are able to find alternatives.

Another discrepancy is in retinoid products, which have a 9 rating (high hazard) from EWG because of the way they caused more tumors to grow in mice exposed to the sun. Dermatologists agree that retinoids increase sun sensitivity but simply recommend using it at night or with sunscreen.

This is why you shouldn’t be embarrassed to bring your own list of concerns to your dermatologist—there’s only so much you can learn from Dr. Google, after all.

“People come in with their long list of craziness: ‘Can I use this? Can I not use that?'” says dermatologist and RealSelf contributor Michele Green, M.D. But both she and Mudgil certainly don’t seem to mind that their patients are keeping them on their toes.

3. Go Natural—to a Point

Green finds that some patients do feel more comfortable when they mix up their own DIY skin care—”You know exactly what’s being put into them”—and isn’t opposed to the practice, as long as it’s done well.

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But the truth is, some natural ingredients are just as bad for your skin as the man-made kind—even formaldehyde comes from trees, after all. The biggest problem with plant-derived ingredients like essential oils is that they’re potential allergens.

“Repeated exposure to a potential allergen can cause allergies,” Mudgil warns, so even if you don’t think you’re allergic to the latest trendy natural ingredient, like coconut oil, using it every single day might make you allergic to it. Before you go mixing your own cleansers and masks, read about which ingredients dermatologists think are actually effective and which may actually make your skin worse.

When you do use natural products, pay attention to your reaction to them and avoid anything with that vague label “fragrance,” because it could still be hiding toxins and allergens.

4. Vote With Your Wallet

For years, Congress has been sitting around not voting on a bill that could expand the FDA’s authority over personal care products and force manufacturers to be transparent about all their ingredients. We’re not holding our breath on that one, but in the meantime, this might be a situation in which capitalism is working in our favor. And all those new products screaming “paraben-free!” is a prime example.

“Companies are being forced to test their products more because consumers are asking for those scientific studies,” Leiba says. “The companies are doing what the consumers demand because the consumers voted with their wallet. They have choices—and they’re not choosing companies that are hiding things from them.”

Sabrina Rojas Weiss lives in Brooklyn, surrounded by her fellow freelance writers and competitive stroller-pushers. Her work has appeared on Refinery29, Yahoo, MTV News, and Glamour.com. The views expressed herein are her own and are meant to be taken with a grain of salt. Follow her on Twitter @shalapitcher.

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7 Ways to Turn a Box of Pasta Into a Globally Inspired Meal

This article was created in partnership with Barilla® as part of Together at the Table.

If you think spaghetti only has a place on your table if it’s served with red sauce and meatballs, allow us to illuminate the possibilities. A box of spaghetti is a blank canvas: Add a few unexpected mix-ins and you’ve got a knockout meal.

To prove it, we turned to our friends at Barilla® and their recipe builders for inspiration. Then we created seven internationally inspired pasta combos you can whip up with just a few simple ingredients.

To get a steaming bowl of al dente goodness, boil Barilla Collezione Spaghetti one minute less than directed on the package. Next, sauté your ingredients in a pan until cooked through, toss with spaghetti, plate, and serve. Better yet, invite a friend or two to sample your handiwork.

Spaghetti Dinners
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How to Throw a Dinner Party on a Weeknight (Yep, It’s Possible)

This article was created in partnership with Barilla® as part of Together at the Table.

Why do we limit fun to the weekend? There are seven days in a week, yet we save all our socializing for precious Friday and Saturday nights (and the occasional Sunday, when we’re feeling adventurous). Gathering around the table on a weeknight can be a great way to connect with busy friends, practice your cooking skills, and still get to bed at a reasonable hour.

We partnered with our friends at Barilla® to talk about all the reasons you should host a weeknight dinner party—plus show you how to pull one off without stress or hours of cleanup.

Why Weeknight Dinner Parties Are the Best

1. People are more available.

Finding a free Friday or Saturday night that works for everyone is nearly impossible. But a Monday? The only plans you have to compete with are The Bachelor.

“Weekends get so booked for us that it’s nice to make time during the usual weekday schedule to spend time with friends we haven’t seen in a while,” says Erin Gleeson, the best-selling author behind The Forest Feast.

When you aren’t competing for a coveted Friday slot in someone’s social schedule, it’s much easier to get everyone together on the same night.

2. You get to party and get to bed early.

If you’re going out to a bar or restaurant with friends, the chances of making it home for an early bedtime are slim. But when you host your own party, you can end it as early as you like!

“I’m not really a night owl, so I like the fact that most weeknight dinner parties end earlier,” says Brittany Mullins, nutritionist and creator of Eating Bird Food. “That way, I can hang out with friends but still get to bed at a decent hour.”

Food, friends, and pj’s by 9 p.m.? That’s our kind of party.

3. Just about anything goes.

When you have people over on a Wednesday, no one expects you to have slaved over the stove all day. Your friends will be happy enough to eat a home-cooked meal they didn’t have to make.

“I like weeknight dinner parties because they feel less formal, so you can serve something relatively easy and casual, and everyone is still impressed and happy,” Mullins says.

Also, since you’re making the food, it’s easy to keep things simple and healthy. Eating out usually involves hidden salt, butter, and other less-than-ideal ingredients, but by playing host, you can ensure the meal is light and nutritious.

How to Pull It Off

1. Do as much as possible the night before.

“My best tip for hosting is to plan ahead and get as much done the night before as possible,” Mullins says. “You’ll feel organized the day of instead of running around at the last minute trying to get everything together.”

This applies to the cooking and any tidying up you need to do. Wipe down the bathroom, straighten up the living room, and put your laundry away. Also, “make sure your dishwasher is empty before the guests arrive,” Gleeson says. “That makes cleanup easier!” If you don’t have a dishwasher, just make sure the sink is clear.

You can also save time by prepping some of your food in advance. Know you’ll need a lot of diced onions? Slice ’em up the night before. Appetizers and desserts can also usually be made ahead of time.

2. Set the mood.

You don’t have to put together a Pinterest-worthy tablescape to give your dinner party a special vibe. Simply dim the lights, put out a few candles, and throw on your favorite music.

“Ambience, especially lighting and music, are very important for me, and I always try to have those set before guests arrive,” Gleeson says. “Candles are a must! I opt for unscented beeswax ones that are clean-burning and don’t compete with the delicious aroma of the cooking food.”

3. Start with every Instagrammer’s favorite: a snack board.

Setting out a few apps before dinner will keep guests entertained and give you time to put the finishing touches on your entrée. But don’t feel like you have to go all out with fancy bruschetta or a baked Brie. For wow factor without all the work, simply arrange a few of your favorite snacks on a plate or cutting board.

“Not only do [snack boards] look pretty, but you can put them together in a matter of minutes without having to cook anything,” Mullins says.

Start with vegetables like celery, sliced red peppers, carrots, cucumbers, and cauliflower, then add nuts, fruits, cheeses, crackers, or charcuterie.

And don’t be afraid to add something unexpected. Yumna Jawad, creator of Feel Good Foodie, likes to include candied ginger and wasabi sugar snap peas for extra kick. “They are great conversation starters for mingling and to get everyone talking about the different flavors they’ve tried,” she says.

4. Serve a simple entrée that still looks chef made.

When it comes to the main course, you don’t need to try some fancy new recipe with 100 ingredients.

“I usually stick with something that doesn’t require a ton of hands-on cooking time,” Mullins says. “That way I can enjoy time with friends and family the night of the party rather than being stuck in the kitchen.”

Pasta is a great choice for a crowd-pleasing dinner. It comes together in minutes; is made with real, simple ingredients (whole durum wheat and water); and is the perfect base for pretty much any flavor combo. We recommend reaching for Barilla Collezione pasta to make dinner feel extra special. It’s bronze cut—an artisanal way of cutting pasta that gives it a rougher texture, helping it hold onto sauces better. Plus, there’s nothing that brings people (even strangers!) together more than a delicious pot of pasta.

Gleeson recommends this easy recipe: Boil pasta until al dente, drain, then top with shaved Parmesan and sunflower seeds. (Pro tip: For extra flavor and moisture, toss the noodles in olive oil after draining.)

For something unexpected, Jawad suggests making her hummus pasta. The hummus adds a creamy, rich flavor that’s a little like a vegan Alfredo sauce. Just add your pasta of choice, and you’ve got a plant-based, protein-filled dish that will have guests begging for the recipe.

Or make cleanup super easy by trying Mullins’s one-pot vegan mushroom stroganoff. Once all the ingredients are in the pot, you’re pretty much done.

You can also check out these showstopping recipes from Barilla’s executive chef, Lorenzo Boni, or give one of Barilla’s flavor-packed recipe builders a spin.

5. Don’t forget dessert.

You don’t have to make a cake that would impress Mary Berry. As with everything else on this list, keep it simple. Set out a variety of fruits and berries with store-bought whipped cream or an easy chocolate ganache (microwave chocolate and heavy cream in 30-second intervals until chocolate is melted, stir to combine, and serve).

Or try make-your-own sundaes. All you need is ice cream, bowls, and a few toppings, and your guests can serve themselves. Gleeson offered up three unique sundae ideas:

  1. Vanilla ice cream with berries and a thick balsamic sauce for drizzling
  2. Vanilla ice cream drizzled with a good quality olive oil and topped with flaky salt
  3. Vanilla ice cream drizzled with honey and finished with a dollop of peanut butter

So really there’s no reason not to get a dinner party on your calendar right now. With just a tiny bit of prep, you’ll be able to spend more time around the table with the people you love.

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How to Get Away With a Super-Sweaty Lunch Workout

PeerFit Lunch Workout This article was created in partnership with Peerfit.

When it comes to squeezing in a workout, early risers and night owls have it easy. But what about those of us who feel our most energized in the middle of the day? Are we doomed to deskercise our way to stronger muscles? To monotonously count our steps around the office in hopes that hitting 10,000 will help us reach our fitness goals?

If getting your sweat on in the middle of the day is what works best for you, who’s to say you can’t make it happen? In fact, studies show exercise can boost energy, creativity, and productivity—exactly what you need to get through the rest of your nine-to-five.

We partnered with our friends at Peerfit to find the best ways to fit in a noon gym sesh. The fitness platform partners with companies and insurance carriers to make it easier (and cheaper!) for employees to work out. As long as you’re getting your work done, sneaking out for a lunchtime fitness class might be easier than you think. Here are our top six tips for pulling it off.

1. Keep extra workout clothes in your desk.

Not only is sitting in sweaty clothes post-workout a bad look for the office, but it’s not great for your skin either. Because sweat is wet and warm, it promotes the growth of bacteria and yeast on your clothes and body, which often leads to less-than-ideal skin conditions such as yeast infections or folliculitis. Keeping a spare set of workout gear (even down to your skivvies) in your desk guarantees you’ll stay fresh during and after your workout.

2. Pick your workouts wisely.

There are two key factors for choosing a workout in the middle of the workday: First, you’re more likely to make time for a workout you actually enjoy. Second, you want to find somewhere close to the office that makes the transition from studio to conference room a cinch.

But how to find those coveted locations? Sign up for Peerfit, a workout treasure map that gives you access to a long list of amenity-rich fitness studios and gyms across 48 states. Peerfit has a diverse list of class types—boxing, barre, CrossFit, you name it—and there’s no blackout times or price hikes during high-traffic hours. WFH and would rather not leave the house? Use Peerfit to stream workouts on your computer or TV.

Even better: You can get your work to foot the bill. Peerfit works with employers and insurance companies to pay for your gym time. Pretty sweet, right?

3. Enlist an accountabilibuddy at work.

Midday workouts are prime time for excuses—to-do lists pile up, meetings magically appear on your calendar, Susan from accounting just got a puppy and wants to show you 500 photos. That’s why having a coworker who is as committed to the workout as you are is a big help (even science agrees).

We recommend planning ahead and blocking off time on each other’s calendars so there’s no chance of ditching. It’ll feel like a meeting (who’s to say it isn’t?), and physically canceling an event will be a lot tougher than just saying, “Eh, let’s skip it.”

4. Fake a shower.

A blowout isn’t an option when you need to rush back to a meeting. And walking in with a drenched head of hair is a surefire way to feel self-conscious (and probably cold). A quick blast with a hair-dryer and generous dose of Gym Hair or dry shampoo into your roots will almost always do the trick. But, of course, not all scalps are the same, so check out this list of suggestions for managing sweaty locks of all types.

5. Remedy your red face.

Sure, you can change your clothes and dry your hair. But one dead giveaway that your doctor’s appointment was really a trip to the gym? Your face.

Oxygenated blood levels during aerobic training (we’re looking at you, cardio junkies) can lead to a red, blotchy complexion. For some people, the redness goes away pretty quickly, but for others (hello, us), it takes its sweet time.

If you’re a lunchtime runner or Spinner, try products that help to reduce redness and calm irritated, sweaty skin. Look for ones with ingredients such as aloe vera and tea tree oil, which are known for their anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and save the redness for the next time you have to present in front of your CEO.

6. Plan your lunch ahead of time.

Working out during your lunch hour should never replace, ya know, lunch. Meal-prepping makes post-exercise fueling a breeze—not to mention saves you time and money. Take 15 to 20 minutes the night before to pack a lunch that gives you the nutrients you need to recover from your workout and make it through the dreaded afternoon slump. Bonus points if it’s not another sad desk lunch.

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The Easiest Way to Make New Friends at Work

This article was created in partnership with Peerfit.

No matter how cultivated your social skills are, starting a new job always feels like the first day of school. You agonize over an outfit the night before, wonder who you’ll sit with at lunch, and have nightmares of getting stuck in the elevator with your new boss (just us?).

Work friendships can be complex, but there’s no denying it’s nice to have a buddy in the office. So what’s the best way to find your BFF when you’re brand spankin’ new? We teamed up with our friends at Peerfit to find out. Peerfit makes it easy to book workout classes and invite folks to join you, which is convenient because one of the quickest ways to meet people at work is surprisingly simple: sweat together.

No, not the nervous kind of sweat that makes your shirt feel uncomfortably damp—we mean exercise-induced sweat. We work out to relieve stress and better our overall mental and physical health, right? Exercising with a colleague means you get to share all those stress-busting, endorphin-pumping good vibes. Plus…

1. Working out together forces you to open up.

We’re our most real selves while exercising (it’s hard to fake a state of calm when you’re gasping for breath in Spin class or slamming away at a punching bag). While you might feel self-conscious at first, by the end of class you’re both likely to have let your guard down. After all, nobody looks like they have their life together after a round of burpees.

2. Group workouts inspire camaraderie (and even a little friendly competition).

Misery loves company! Pick a workout where you have to partner up or work next to each other. Peerfit, a platform that lets you sign up for workouts at thousands of different gyms and studios across 48 states, is an easy way to organize an out-of-office hangout. With a few clicks, you can book bags for boxing, bikes for cycling, or mats for om-ing, so you can commiserate, high-five, or compete to see who can hold a plank the longest.

And the best part? Peerfit works with employers and insurance carriers to pay for the classes. If it’s not part of your new gig’s benefits (you can check here), sign up for a personal subscription—for just $ 8.95 per month, you’ll get the same access. Just pay per class at a discounted member rate, and you’re good to go.

3. It’s healthier than happy hour.

It’s not breaking news that working out is better for your overall health than boozing it up. A lot of the reasons people drink together (to socialize, gripe, relieve stress) are also good reasons to work out together, so why not schedule fitness classes like they’re social events? It’ll also hold you accountable. And, hey, maybe you grab drinks after the workout—we’re not saying you can’t have it all. Just make sure you eat and hydrate first.

Connecting with a colleague in a stress-relieving environment has been shown to seriously improve overall health and even support personal weight-loss goals. And don’t forget: One in five people meet their significant other at work (!!), so who knows where one sweat date could lead? Just keep your chin up, newbie. Leave that gym bag where your coworkers can see it, and you’ll have a few new friends in no time.

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The Fitness Membership That Saved Me From Sitting at a Desk All Day

This article was created in partnership with Peerfit.

My weekday routine goes a little something like this: Sit and drink coffee. Sit and boot up computer. Check hair in bathroom mirror to make sure dry shampoo doesn’t look like dandruff. Sit and work. Small talk with coworkers. Sit and work. Bathroom break. Sit and work. Lunch at desk. Sit and work. Maaayyybe make it to the gym before crawling home for dinner, where I sit on my butt some more and reflect on how tired I am.

You get where I’m going with this. If sitting was an exercise, my bum would be in amazing shape—like superhero-in-tights-shape. Sadly sitting doesn’t really do us any favors. And I should know: I’m so freaking good at it.

While the solution is fairly obvious—stand up, doy—giving in to that sedentary life is so easy. That’s why Peerfit is my butt’s new BFF.

Imagine a fitness subscription that lets you sign up for a range of fitness classes and gyms near your office without any blackout times or price hikes. That’s Peerfit in a nutshell, but it gets better: Peerfit works with employers and your insurance to foot the bill, and it comes with social networking tools so you can coordinate workouts with friends at the office.

Here’s how it works:

  • Create a personal or corporate account. If your insurance/company won’t chip in, you can get a subscription for $ 8.95 a month, then pay a discounted member rate for each class you book.
  • Find your gym or a workout class. You can filter your search by type (boxing, dance, HIIT, yoga) and reserve your spot with one click.
  • Grab a friend. Once your class is booked, you can sync it to your calendar and invite coworkers with an email invite or social media event or by sharing a special link.
  • Sweat and save your butt from another full day in a chair.

I can attest that the system works. Our associate fitness editor (and wonderful pal) Jamey Powell lured my hermit self into the world with a boxing invite. After an hour of winded jokes, punches, and kicks, I felt totally revived and ready to annihilate my to-dos. A few days later, I kept the momentum going with a lunchtime session at my favorite NYC studio, 305 Fitness. It’s weird how making time for exercise becomes second nature when you’ve got a mile-long list of classes to try and good friends to sweat with.

So look, sitting might not be the new smoking, but being active with friends has benefits on benefits. Wouldn’t you rather give your desk a break and do your body and mind some good? Trust me when I say I can’t think of a $ 9-per-month subscription with more value than Peerfit. My butt totally agrees.

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6 Cooking Tips That Make Hosting a Dinner Party So. Much. Easier

This article was created in partnership with Barilla® as part of Together at the Table.

Hosting a dinner party is like having to sauté on stage in front of a crowd of critics. Even the most self-assured person in the world can feel a lot of pressure to create a fancy meal that’s *just right.*

Thanks to our friends at Barilla®, who always hook us up with great cooking tips and tricks, we know that preparing a delicious dinner doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s actually surprisingly easy to create a chef-quality dish without spending hours bent over the stove.

Below, three cooking and hosting pros share their best advice, so you can feel readier than ever to throw a gathering that will bring friends, family, and even strangers together. Your guests won’t even notice that it took almost no time and effort to pull off!

1. Make a good first impression.

Holistic nutritionist Brittany Mullins loves starting out with a veggie tray, so guests have something to snack on as soon as they arrive.

“[Veggie trays] are super easy, and everyone loves to have a healthy snack to munch on before dinner,” she says. “I keep the veggie platters exciting by finding unique, seasonal produce like endive lettuce or watermelon radishes.”

Mullins likes making guacamole to pair with, but she swears by a controversial secret ingredient: peas! Mix them in with the avocado, and you’ve got a lighter version of everyone’s favorite dip—no one will be able to spot the difference.

2. Reimagine classic dishes in new ways.

Nothing brings people together like a bowl of pasta. While you can never go wrong with classic spaghetti and marinara, a dinner party is a good opportunity to mix things up and surprise guests with something unexpected.

Erin Gleeson, the blogger and cookbook author behind The Forest Feast, looks for creative ways to incorporate color and fresh produce. A good example? Her snap pea pasta.

She combines roasted sugar snap peas and asparagus in a warm pot of al dente penne (the recipe calls for whole grain, but you can also try Barilla® Collezione Penne. It’s bronze-cut for a rougher texture that better absorbs sauce—yummm). Then she tosses with chopped basil and cilantro, olive oil, and shaved Parmesan. You’ll love how pretty it looks on your dinner table; your guests will love how totally satisfying it is.

Another pro move? Use Barilla’s recipe builders to create a unique pasta dish that’s all yours. The handy infographics make it easy to turn a box of pasta into a flavorful, plant-based meal that people will be talking about long after the table is clear. (Barilla® Orzo with pomegranate seeds, toasted pine nuts, chickpeas, olive oil, and za’atar, anyone?)

3. Don’t forget the garnish.

Herbs are total game changers when it comes to cooking. They add taste, texture, and color in a single stroke. Blogger Yumna Jawad of Feel Good Foodie says you should never serve a meal herbless. “There’s nothing that brings more flavor to a dish than fresh and crisp herbs added right before serving,” she says.

To keep herbs like parsley and cilantro (her go-tos) as fresh as possible, Jawad stores them with their stems in water or wraps them in a damp paper towel in a plastic bag. When you’re ready to use, just pat dry with a clean towel and chop.

4. Use your freezer.

Don’t be afraid of the freezer! It’s a wonderful tool that will help your ingredients last longer and cut down on day-of cooking.

Mullins has a brilliant trick for preserving fresh ginger: Peel it with the back of a spoon and store it in the freezer. “It lasts longer this way and grates so easily when needed,” she says.

The freezer also comes into play when you want to prep ingredients or meals in advance. For instance, homemade pesto can be frozen in ice cube trays, then reheated in individual servings when you’re ready to serve dinner.

5. Repurpose your food scraps.

Don’t throw out those veggie scraps or chicken bones! Jawad suggests using them to make broth. “Broth is such an easy way to flavor not only soups but also stews, pasta, marinades, casseroles, rice, and stir-fries,” she says.

Our fave: Add the broth to a jar of pasta sauce. This trick comes in handy particularly in vegetarian recipes, where Jawad notes that you don’t have the fat from meat to enhance the flavor (just make sure to use veggie broth if you want to keep the recipe meat-free). No matter what dish you upgrade with this trick, your guests won’t guess your secret—but they’ll definitely notice the taste.

6. Try new gadgets… and methods.

Mullins’s two favorite cooking techniques? Air frying and sous vide. Air fryers are amazing tools because you can cook your favorite indulgences in a healthier way, but they’ll still come out crispy and delicious.

Sous vide is a method that involves sealing food in an airtight container and then cooking it. Sounds complicated, but it’s really quite simple—and it helps make sure your meat is cooked evenly throughout. Try cooking steak or chicken sous vide before mixing into Barilla® pasta sauce.

No matter how many you’re hosting or what you’ve got on the menu, these simple tricks will help you pull off dinner with ease. That way you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the best part: sitting around the table with the people you love.

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