Guest Dietitian Ashlee Writes on Mindful Eating

This blog is written by Ashlee Wright MDA, RD, LD/N who has been a registered dietitian for 7 years. She shared her recipe with me and we loved it. The first time I made the recipe, I followed it exactly and it was delish. The next time, I omitted the chicken broth and put the thick, flavorful chili on corn tortilla chips for nachos. The group of friends I served it to had no idea that it had a vegetable hidden under those layers of flavor. Thanks Ashley for the recipe and welcome to Cooking With Jacque

Prior to becoming a RD Ashlee worked in nutrition research at Penn State University after obtaining her bachelor’s degree there. So cool to have that kind of background for sharing nutrition tips with us. On top of all her experience, she holds a Master of Dietetics Administration from Utah State University. She has been primarily working in the outpatient setting and loves meeting new clients and showing them that living a healthier lifestyle does not have to be difficult. In her free time, she loves to cook and experiment with new recipes. She also loves spending time with her husband Taylor, daughter Hope, and their black lab mix Porter exploring all that Central Florida has to offer.

Mindful Eating by Ashlee Wright MDA, RD, LD/N

To me, mindful eating is one of the most important topics to discuss when it comes to health and nutrition. How often do you sit down for a meal and you feel distracted by your computer, work, phone, or television? Being mindful is all about being in the moment. Mindful eating involves being focused on the food, without distractions. It is more about the how and why we eat rather than what we eat.

I will often tell someone to take a piece of dark chocolate and try to take at least a full minute to eat the piece of chocolate: smell it, savor it, really focus on it. Often times, you’ll find that you are less inclined to want multiple pieces of chocolate. It’s more satisfying when you’re taking your time and paying attention to it. A study from the University of Wisconsin concluded that eating mindfully and slowly actually improves our digestive process.

In addition to eating mindfully, it is vital to develop a positive relationship with food in order to achieve success in weight loss, disease prevention, or in simply changing habits. We are bombarded with negative messages on a daily basis, saying ‘don’t eat this’, ‘what to avoid to shrink belly fat’, ‘never eat these 5 foods’. Flipping the switch to positive messages really makes a difference in our thinking. For example, instead of saying that you should not eat processed foods, let’s change that to eating less processed foods will improve your health and provide more energy.

Food journals can be a helpful tool in mindful eating. Instead of counting calories and fat grams, use a food journal to write down how certain foods make you feel, what you did that day, if you were tired, stressed, happy, sad, calm, etc. This is a helpful tool to recognize eating habits and they why and how you eat. Think about if you really enjoyed the food that you were eating. Eating is meant to be a joyful experience while we are nourishing our bodies, it is not meant to be another source of stress.


This is one of my all time favorite chili recipes. Inspired by one of my favorite recipe websites,, this is a variation on her Crock Pot Turkey White Bean Chili. This is such an innovative approach to the traditional, tomato based chili. I typically make it over the stovetop, total time between preparation and simmering the chili is about 45 minutes.


This chili is requested by my husband at least once a month and it lasts us for several meals throughout the week. I always plan to have at least one dinner of leftovers. This would freeze great as well if you’d like to pre-portion for an easy lunch. You could use lean ground beef instead of turkey or make it a vegetarian chili and leave the meat out (I would add another can of beans in that case).


 Turkey Chili with A Trio of Beans and Pumpkin

  • 1 lb. 99% lean ground turkey
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves (I used my garlic press)
  • 1 jalepeno pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • 1 (15 oz.) can of reduced sodium garbanzo beans
  • 1 (15 oz.) can of reduced sodium black beans
  • 1 (15 oz.) can of reduced sodium kidney beans
  • 15 oz. can of pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth



  1. Brown ground turkey in a sauté pan until fully cooked through, set ground turkey aside.
  2. Using a stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat, add oil, garlic, and jalapeño. Sautee for about 2-3 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.
  3. Add chicken (or vegetable broth), pure pumpkin, beans, turkey, and spices to the pot, mix thoroughly.
  4. Simmer chili over low heat for about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

*I like to have mine with a few blue corn tortilla chips on the side.

Serving size: About 1 cup
Recipe yields 8 servings

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