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March 1, 2021

Zucchini and tomatoes in a colorful bowl

Video by Jonathan Parrish.

I’m always looking for easy vegetable dishes with a lot of flavor, and this one hits the spot!

This recipe serves four, so you may need to double it, depending on the size of your family.

Did you know you can save some calories and fat by cooking your vegetables in water or broth instead of butter or oil? At about 100 calories per teaspoon, fat can add up quickly.


Grilled marinated chicken breasts

The Food Factor: Sweet and Tangy Chicken Marinade

August 25, 2020

Have you ever fallen into a cooking rut, using the same spices and flavorings on all your foods?  There’s nothing wrong with relying on a few faithful flavors—I love lemon pepper!—but trying new recipes can open up your taste horizons and renew your enthusiasm for cooking.

Marinades are a fun way to experiment with flavors, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money on premade options. Combining different oils, acids (citrus juice, vinegar, soy sauce), and spices can take your taste buds on an adventure.

Two wooden chairs on a porch underneath a tan shade sail.

How to Install a Shade Sail

August 21, 2020

If there’s one thing all Mississippians can agree on, it’s that the summer sun can be brutal. I enjoy spending time on my back patio, but it’s hard to enjoy without shade. I’ve noticed several restaurants, parks, and pools have installed shade sails to provide shade to visitors. Why not install one in your own back yard? 

Beef and potato kabobs on a stainless steel platter

The Food Factor: Beef and Potato Kabobs

August 18, 2020

Grilled kabobs just shout summertime! The best part about kabobs is getting to choose your favorite vegetables to include. This traditional take on kabobs includes potatoes and zucchini. But you could easily add other veggies, including mushrooms or peppers.

You may be thinking, “Potatoes?! I’ll burn up my steak before the potatoes are done!” Never fear! You will microwave the potatoes before grilling to be sure they’re properly cooked!

Descriptive graphic explaining what webworms are and how to treat them.

How to Treat Fall Webworms

August 14, 2020

If you’ve noticed spiderwebs in your pecan trees, chances are they’re not spiders. They’re fall webworms.

A woman stands in front of a house as children with backpacks appear in the backgroud.

How to Make Healthy Lunches and Snacks for Children

August 11, 2020

No matter how your children go back to school this year, healthy lunches and snacks will provide them with the nutrition they need to learn, grow, and build their immune systems.

Graphic with symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

How to Recognize Heat-Related Illness

August 7, 2020

It’s hot! And the heat isn’t just uncomfortable, it can be dangerous. Learn to recognize the signs that tell you your body is overheating.

Three plates with tortillas, fish, and a completed grilled fish taco with peach salsa on a picnic table.

The Food Factor: Grilled Fish Tacos with Peach Salsa

August 4, 2020

Fans of The Food Factor know I like spicy food, and these tacos bring the heat! What I love about this recipe is how the peach salsa has both sweet and spicy elements that enhance the flavor of the fish.

While the original recipe recommends tilapia, you can substitute Mississippi farm-raised catfish and support your local farmers!

A cluster of bright pink roses.

Gardening Tasks for August

July 31, 2020

Whew. It’s hot outside! Just a trip to the mailbox makes me break into a sweat. As you’re outside working in your lawn and garden, remember to stay hydrated and come inside if you start feeling overheated Here are four tasks to complete in your yard for the month of August: 

Graphic showing kids wearing masks with tips for parents.

How to Help Children Stay Healthy at School Amid COVID-19

July 28, 2020

If your children are headed back to the classroom, they may be required to wear a mask. We have some tips to help you and your children get ready for this new rule.

An orange butterfly on a yellow flower.

Seven Native Plants for Pollinators

July 24, 2020

What are pollinators and why are they important? Bats, bees, beetles, birds, butterflies, and other mammals play a vital role in our environment. These creatures help move pollen from one flower to another, which helps fertilize plants so they can reproduce.

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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