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Food Blog Posts

Food Factor host Natasha Haynes holds a mug of cocoa while standing in a kitchen

February 16, 2021

Many recipes—on The Food Factor and elsewhere—make multiple servings. Typically, I’m a fan of leftovers, but hot chocolate just does not warm up well in my opinion. That’s why I was excited to discover this fast, microwavable option for a single serving.

A woman stands outdoors on a grassy lawn.

February 8, 2021

High cholesterol increases your risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease), which is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Lifestyle change is a key component that can prevent or help manage high cholesterol. 

A slice of chocolate angel food cake on a small saucer with the entire cake on a blue platter in the background

January 29, 2021

Last year, our recipe for Tropical Angel Cake was by far our most popular post. So, when we found this recipe for a different take on angel food cake, we knew we had to try it!

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

January 26, 2021

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!

three zucchini fritters on a blue plate

January 19, 2021

Zucchini is a versatile and budget-friendly vegetable, and this recipe takes a popular kitchen staple to the next level without a lot of prep time. I like to make these on nights when I want something a little more fancy than sliced zucchini with my meal. It’s also a terrific entrée for your friends or family members who don’t eat meat but will eat dairy and eggs.

A woman and man walk for exercise.

January 11, 2021

A new year often signals a new start or reboot, which is a great thing. For many, this means setting health and wellness goals like losing weight, eating healthier, and being more physically active.To be able to achieve your goals and make your resolutions a reality, your goals need to be realistic and measurable.

Apple pie smoothie in a blender

January 5, 2021

Some of my favorite winter desserts are fruit-based, including apple pie and apple crisp. But as we begin the new year, I need to get back to healthier eating habits!

If you are looking for a bright apple flavor without the calories found in a pie or caramel apple, try this smoothie! A 1-cup serving is just 90 calories!

Omelet ingredients cooked on a foil-covered sheet pan

December 14, 2020

If you have a large family and need new breakfast ideas, this sheet pan omelet will please a crowd and keep you from spending hours in the kitchen. Best of all, you can customize it for your family's taste preferences.

You don’t have to precook any of the toppings, but they may be a little crunchy. I prefer to sauté the mushrooms, onions, and peppers first to cook out some of the water and get the flavors to blend together a little before adding to the egg mixture. You know I love spicy foods, so I’d even add a little salsa to this for some more kick!

Hot cocoa sprinkled with cinnamon in a terra cotta mug

November 30, 2020

Nothing says “happy holidays” like a cup of hot cocoa! This year, treat yourself to a homemade treat—spiced cocoa from scratch!

Sure, opening a premade mix is easy, but once you try these delicious homemade options, it will be hard to go back to the packets!

Enjoy, and happy holidays from The Food Factor crew!

Yellow flowers turned brown.

November 24, 2020

12/12. We’ve finally reached the end of 2020. I think everyone can agree that it’s been a heavy year. Here’s to 2021, right? I hope staying active in your lawn and garden has brought you a sense of normalcy during this crazy year. If anything, hopefully it’s been a good distraction!

Oven-roasted carrots in a clear glass bowl

November 23, 2020

Need a quick side dish? Tired of your usual preparation methods? Try these Balsamic Roasted Carrots for a budget-friendly, flavorful veggie that goes with almost any main dish!

roasted turkey on a platter with herbs, cranberries, and orange slices

November 20, 2020

Before you put that giant turkey in the sink, STOP! Rinsing your bird before baking won’t reduce your chances of foodborne illness.

In fact, if you rinse the turkey, you have a greater chance of getting sick because of cross-contamination.

Butternut macaroni and cheese in a clear glass bowl.

November 16, 2020

For many people, macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Traditionally, this calorie-laden dish is loaded with fat, fat, and more fat, plus simple carbohydrates in the pasta. Definitely not on the menu for people interested in healthier foods!

But wait! You can have your mac and eat it too!

A woman smiles in a kitchen.

November 9, 2020

More than 308,000 Mississippians live with diabetes, and approximately 600,000-750,000 Mississippians have prediabetes. Managing diabetes starts with maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Balancing what you eat is a great place to start. Here are a few tips!

pumpkin spice oatmeal muffins on a colorful plate

November 3, 2020

Whether you love or hate the pumpkin spice craze that takes over every fall, you can’t deny that pumpkin is a healthy food! High in fiber, low in calories, and packed with vitamin A, pumpkin is a terrific addition to your diet.

When shopping for pumpkin puree, be sure you don’t buy pumpkin pie filling. For even healthier muffins, substitute whole-wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour. You can make these in a mini-muffin pan or in a standard-size muffin pan.

Banana in aluminum foil

October 26, 2020

Do you ever feel like you have to trick your kids into trying new foods or eating healthier options? Sometimes all it takes is a different cooking method to turn a finicky eater into a fan!

Most people don’t think of fruit as a hot treat unless it’s a sugar- and fat-loaded pie or cobbler. These Banana Boats can be cooked on a grill, in the oven, or even over a campfire or fire pit! The best part is their versatility. The original recipe calls for a tropical combination of banana, pineapple, and coconut. But you can try other combinations, too: banana and strawberry, banana and blueberry, or even banana and peanut butter!

A woman stands on a sidewalk.

October 20, 2020

Being a Registered Dietitian and daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I understand the importance of using a healthy lifestyle and nutrition to reduce cancer risk. Certain foods high in phytonutrients, dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins may reduce cancer risk.

Three corn pancakes on a terra cotta plate.

October 13, 2020

I love versatile recipes, and these corn pancakes fit the bill! You can use canned, fresh, or frozen corn, so whether you slice it off the cob or use some of the bags of frozen corn you bought during a major sale at the grocery store, you’ll have a great side dish in no time! I also love that I can make the batter from scratch or use a ready-made pancake mix.

A slow cooker filled with a meal sits on a counter.

October 9, 2020

Slow cookers are great for quick and easy meals any time of year. Winter, spring, summer, or fall, this small appliance can help you when you are too busy to cook or you need to free up oven space when you’re cooking a large meal. Check out these recipes from The Food Factor previously featured on the blog.

Cooked chicken, noodles, and spinach in a clear glass bowl

October 6, 2020

Who says comfort food has to be unhealthy? This delicious casserole is loaded with flavor, and best of all—you don’t have to heat up the oven! Before you start putting all of the ingredients in your slow cooker, please note: the noodles, spinach, and cheese are added *after* the chicken cooks for 6–8 hours. You’ll cook the noodles separately, so this is not technically a one-dish meal, but it’s pretty close!

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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 extreallife@msstate.edu