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January 26, 2021

Chicken tortilla soup in a colorful bowl with a small glass bowl of cilantro in the background

In wintertime, I want to come home to a supper that’s ready to eat and will warm me up, inside and out. This spicy soup hits the spot! If you like more zip in your soup, use hot green chiles or hot salsa instead of mild.

Rinse the canned beans to reduce the sodium in this recipe and keep your broth clear. Don’t forget our handy trick for shredding chicken in a hurry: you can use a hand-held mixer on low speed to shred it!


Rows of spices in clear jars with silver tops.

Tips for Reducing Added Sugar in Your Diet

January 31, 2020

Has anyone heard about the ‘freshman fifteen’? During my first semester of college, I gained more than fifteen pounds. The main culprit was added sugar in soda drinks and desserts

A person with yellow gloves on planting a shrub.

Gardening Tasks for February

January 28, 2020

It may be chilly outside, but don’t let that deter you from going outside and working in your garden and landscape. Grab a jacket and your gardening tools, there is plenty to be done during February! 

Hand with meat thermometer chicken middle of 3 chicken breasts on outdoor grill.

The Food Factor: Freezer Meal Prep for Orange Teriyaki Chicken

January 23, 2020

Freezer meals are all the rage as everyone looks for ways to save time in the kitchen. This recipe is a simple, marinated chicken recipe that you could easily double or triple.

A tree planted in green grass with brown mulch around it.

How to Mulch

January 21, 2020

If you are planning your spring garden chores, mulching is likely on your list. But you may not know that there is a right and wrong way to apply mulch.

Venison burger on a bun sitting on a white plate.

Spicy Venison Burgers

January 16, 2020

Video by Jonathan Parrish

You may not know that our “set” for The Food Factor is a real kitchen in the home of one of our team members. Her husband loves to hunt and share food, so while we are working on the show we often get to sample a variety of venison dishes.

We found this flavorful recipe for Spicy Venison Burgers in a venison recipe booklet from Cornell University Cooperative Extension and thought it would be perfect for The Food Factor!

A group of house plants sitting next to a window.

Tips for Growing Indoor Plants

January 10, 2020

If you need something green to brighten up your space or get you through the winter months, there is a plant out there for you. But efore you shop for plants, understand the environment of your home or office because different plants have different needs. You must consider six factors when choosing indoor plants if you want to be successful: light, temperature, water, humidity, soil, and fertilization. 

Kale topped with pecans and dried cranberries in a colorful bowl.

How to Make a Kale Salad

January 10, 2020

Kale is a healthy leafy green vegetable that you’ll find year-round in the grocery store but grows abundantly in winter. While it’s great chopped up in soups and stews, it can also be delicious as the base of a tasty salad.

I've discovered two tricks that help make kale better as a salad green. Let’s be honest: kale can be tough to chew and bitter in taste. The first trick is to remove the kale leaves from the stems and massage them. The stems are typically stringy and crunchy, so that helps with the chewiness. Massaging the kale leaves gives them a softer, more silky texture and also reduces the bitter flavor.

A green recycling bin sitting next to a black trashcan.

Easy Ways to Start Recycling

January 7, 2020

Video by Michaela Parker

At the beginning of a new year, everyone makes goals and resolutions to keep throughout the coming months. If you want to make more eco-friendly decisions, here are a few tips to help you become intentional with recycling. 

  1. If you are fortunate to have curbside recycling or drop off locations in your community, take advantage of the opportunity! Be sure to check when recycling is picked up and where drop off sites are.
  2. Know what can’t be recycled. Batteries, electronics, plastic bags, clothing, garden hoses,
  3. ...
Almonds in a white bowl.

Tips for Controlling Portion Sizes

January 3, 2020

The holiday season is finally over and life is slowing down a bit.  Everyone has made their New Year’s resolutions to be the best versions of themselves for 2020. 

Natasha Haynes.

The Food Factor: Top 5 Posts for 2019

December 16, 2019

To wrap up 2019, we wanted to share with you our most popular posts this year.

It's always fun to see what resonates with our food-loving friends. We strive to share recipes we think are healthy, fun, and realistic -- no 25-ingredient recipes here! 

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About Extension for Real Life

Extension for Real Life is a product of the MSU Extension Service’s Office of Agricultural Communications.

That’s a long way of saying we are professional communicators who get to talk about food, families, 4-H, flowers, and farming for a living.

Blog content is created by a core team of communicators, including Susan Collins-Smith, Ellen Graves, Natasha Haynes, Keri Lewis, Michaela Parker, and Jonathan Parrish. But we get by with a lot of help from our friends in Ag Comm and Extension!

You can reach us at 662-325-2262 or extreallife@msstate.edu