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Mississippi fresh chef

4-H’er’s recipe appears in national cookbook

Story by Susan Collins-Smith • Photos by Kevin Hudson

A smiling teenage girl stands behind a table covered in ingredients for a recipe displayed on a phone screen she holds in front of her.
Sydnee Thompson, Hinds County 4-H’er

When Sydnee Thompson found out the National 4-H Council was putting together a cookbook, she decided to submit one of her family’s favorite recipes.

That recipe, “Easy Almost Southern Collard Greens,” was selected to appear in the 4-H Fresh Chefs digital cookbook. The publication is part of the National 4-H Council’s Healthy Habits program. It features 50 recipes from 4-H’ers, supporters, and alumni, including celebrity chef, author, and 4-H alumna and Healthy Habits program ambassador Carla Hall.

“I like to cook, and I help my dad and my grandparents in the kitchen all the time,” says Thompson, 16, who is a member of the 4-H Inspire Club in Hinds County, a Mississippi State University Extension Service program. “We have a garden and a greenhouse where we grow all kinds of vegetables, like tomatoes, peppers, and greens.”

Thompson said her 4-H involvement revolves mostly around entrepreneurship, and she is interested in communications, healthy living, finance, and business development. She also has a love of animals and plants. She is willing to try all kinds of 4-H activities.

“Sydnee is very outgoing,” says Rocheryl Ware, 4-H agent in Hinds County. “She’ll try anything. We saw that they wanted recipes to possibly include in a cookbook, and Sydnee wanted to submit one.

“They didn’t tell us that her recipe would be included in the cookbook,” Ware says. “When it came out, it was in there. We were surprised.”

Thompson has participated in other nutrition and cooking programs during the 6 years she’s been in 4-H, including a cooking camp and several activities related to healthy living. She also has participated in robotics, sewing, and modeling projects.

I like to cook, and I help my dad and my grandparents in the kitchen all the time. We have a garden and a greenhouse where we grow all kinds of vegetables, like tomatoes, peppers, and greens.

— Sydnee Thompson, Hinds County 4-H’er

The cookbook is just one aspect of the 4-H Healthy Habits program, which provides research-proven information about nutrition and physical activity to young people and their families. It gives teens tools to help influence their friends and family to incorporate sustainable, healthy lifestyle choices into everyday life.

As a result of what she’s learned through 4-H, Thompson and her family have made some changes to their eating habits.

“I switched to drinking only water last year,” she said. “We also try to use spices instead of salt and fats to season a lot of the things we make. Spices are a good way to add flavor.”

The Inspire Club has a community garden, which they plan to move to downtown Jackson so they can expand their membership.

 

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