Food Blog Posts

Browned ground beef, chopped onions, celery, and garlic in a non-stick skillet ready to spoon into individual freezer bags.

March 23, 2018

I love to cook, but I’m always interested in learning about shortcuts.
That’s why I was really excited to watch this episode of “The Food Factor” – because MSU Extension Agent Natasha Haynes talks about saving time and money! (Photo by Brian Utley and Jonathan Parrish)

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A piece of hardware cloth encircles a small, layered pile of organic waste.

March 20, 2018

Compost is a great soil conditioner. It helps the soil hold water and improves clay and sandy soils. Starting your own pile is easy and can help keep organic waste out of landfills. (Photo by Gary Bachman)

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A green smoothie fills a tall clear drinking glass and has a red and white striped straw in it.

March 13, 2018

Confession: I have made some disgusting smoothies.
Whenever I’ve attempted to simply throw together a few ingredients, I have ended up with something that looked and tasted awful. (Photo by Kevin Hudson)

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Miniature green bok choi plants grow in small window box containers.

February 26, 2018

Intimidated by gardening? Yes?
Our advice: start small. You don’t have to commit to a half-acre garden. Try planting a few of your favorite vegetables in containers.
(Photo by Gary Bachman)

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USDA graphic explains egg grades and sizes and what the carton labels mean

February 16, 2018

Eggs are a staple in most kitchens, and for good reason. They’re a great source of protein and can be prepared a variety of ways for any meal of the day. They’re even good snacks. (Photo by USDA)

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An assortment of green, orange, and red vegetables are arranged in a heart shape.

February 9, 2018

Wearing red in February isn’t just for Valentine’s Day. It’s also worn to raise awareness of the dangers of heart disease.
The American Heart Association reports about 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day. 

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A football referee in a black and white striped shirt blows a whistle while another raises his arms to signal a touchdown. Another illustration uses a thermometer to depict the proper freezing, refrigeration, cooking and holding temperatures for food.

February 2, 2018

I may not be very interested in football, but I love food. So for me, Superbowl parties are all about the snacks! (Photo credit: Karen Blakeslee/Kansas State University Research & Extension)

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A group of ripening tomatoes are shown in a close-up.

January 27, 2018

Bone-chilling temps have you stuck inside dreaming of that first home-grown tomato sandwich? Well, this is a great time to prepare for a healthy crop. (Photo by Alan Henn)

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Close-up of a young leafy green vegetable plant growing in a salad table with other herbs and marigolds.

January 16, 2018

If you are planning for your vegetable garden this spring, a salad table or two might be in order. Salad tables are a great addition to a traditional vegetable garden or wonderful on their own.
​(Photo by Kevin Hudson)

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Five baked muffins loaded with fruit and nuts on a green floral plate. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)

January 12, 2018

Sometimes you need a quick energy boost that doesn’t leave you feeling guilty.

And sometimes your food preferences or allergies don’t line up with the ready-made options available, box mixes, or the recipes you find on Pinterest.

One solution to this problem is a recipe I like to call “Cook’s Choice Muffins.”

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Four Crispy Rice Peanut Butter Bites made with oats, peanut butter, mini chocolate chips, crispy rice cereal, and honey sit on a small dark turquoise plate with a floral border.

January 5, 2018

Need some energy but want full control over the ingredients in your treats? Look no further!
These tasty, bite-sized snacks are quick and easy to make, and don’t require any baking. If you have little hands to keep busy, this is a fun recipe to make together – you can learn about fractions and get them to help make their own food. Learning can be so sweet!
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A mixture of rice, apples, raisins and almonds is displayed in a colorful bowl.

December 13, 2017

Looking for something a little different for your holiday menu this year?

Consider adding Orange Wild Rice with Raisins and Apples to your lineup. Apples, raisins and orange juice add some sweetness to the savory rice, and the almonds give it a bit of added texture. Leaving out the parsley will allow more of the fruity notes to come through.

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Several varieties of lettuces grow in a raised bed.

November 15, 2017

I have a confession to make: I have garden envy.

This week I took a walk and stumbled upon this delicious looking plant.

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Several rows of fruit including apple slices, tangerine segments, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, strawberries, grapes and a pear are arranged on a white platter in the shape of a turkey.

November 13, 2017

Need a healthy snack to keep everyone out of the kitchen while you cook on Thanksgiving? Or are you interested in skipping the cheesy contribution to the office party? Then check out this fun and easy fruit platter you can build in just minutes. If you have kids, you might get them to build it for you, and even snack on the fruit while they work!

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a thumbs up symbol for remembering to say thank you while trick or treating.

October 23, 2017

Halloween brings back all kinds of memories from my childhood. From uncomfortable masks to itchy, thick face paint, not all of my brilliant costumes turned out as well as I had imagined. When I got too old to go out, I loved to answer the door and ask the kids to demonstrate skills related to their costume. 

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Sage green, bright orange, and golden Cinderella pumpkins line a hay-covered walkway at a pumpkin patch.

October 17, 2017

Most of the time I consider myself a person who exercises self-control. But take me to the pumpkin patch and I lose all reason. So many colors, shapes, and textures! Tiny pumpkins! HUGE pumpkins! I don’t want just one of each, I want multiples of everything available.

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Host Natasha Haynes stands in front of a green screen filming a scene for The Food Factor.

September 14, 2017

Every month “The Food Factor” crew assembles to film the next month’s episodes. This week we were in Clinton to talk about rice, a Mediterranean twist on macaroni and cheese, and our plans to add new, fun flavors to our family favorites.

Our host, Extension agent Natasha Haynes, makes it look easy, but she memorizes all of her lines – no teleprompter here! She’s also a good sport, because you never know what kind of crazy ideas the videographers will generate.

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A bowl of Italian ground beef and rice in a rainbow-striped bowl sits on a red tablecloth with a red and white cloth napkin and a spoon.

September 13, 2017

Sometimes when I cook rice, I make too much. Use leftover rice for this fast and easy one-skillet recipe. Be sure to season it to your liking with salt, pepper, and garlic powder or fresh minced garlic! You can also customize it with your favorite vegetables.

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US Rice Infographic showing 10 reasons to eat rice grown in the USA

September 5, 2017

If you love buying locally grown foods, you have multiple options for supporting Mississippi rice growers!

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August 23, 2017

U.S. farm-raised catfish is the star of August, National Catfish Month. Contrary to popular belief, deep-frying is not the only way to cook it – just the most familiar.

But who wants to deal with the heat and mess when you can get a healthier meal with less effort? Not me!

Here are some tips and recipes for tasty catfish without the hassle and calories of frying!

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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. Pretty good gig, right?

The three main writers for the blog are Ellen Graves (Seamstress of Social Media Strategy), Susan Collins-Smith (Content Connector) and Keri Lewis (Captain Cat Herder). 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

Recent Posts

Browned ground beef, chopped onions, celery, and garlic in a non-stick skillet ready to spoon into individual freezer bags.

Cooking ground meat in large batches and freezing for future use can save time and money. (Photo by Brian Utley and Jonathan Parrish)

Go Green: Save Money with Magic Meat Mixes
A piece of hardware cloth encircles a small, layered pile of organic waste.

You don’t have to have a fancy enclosure to compost your organic waste. Inexpensive hardware cloth can be used to enclose a small, layered pile. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)

Go Green: How to Start a Compost Pile
A medical doctor holds a vile of medication and talks to a young man in the Rural Medical and Science Scholars program.

Tyler Wilson, right, shadowed Dr. Steven Brandon during the 2016 Rural Medical and Science Scholars program. Participants in the program also receive college credit for two pre-med courses, visit various medical facilities, participate in lab-based hands-on learning activities and take part in a communications and study skills workshop. (Photo by Kevin Hudson)

Explore Healthcare and Science Careers with Extension Program