Senior Living Resources Lutheran Senior Services
One More Bowl – Enjoy the End of Chili Season with a Dietician-Approved Bowl!

One More Bowl – Enjoy the End of Chili Season with a Dietician-Approved Bowl!

As winter wraps up, there’s still time to enjoy one more bowl of chili. Here Jake Risk, Director of Clinical Nutrition at Lutheran Senior Services, shares his secrets to a healthy and delicious bowl of chili that anyone can whip up.


Lutheran Senior Services (LSS): It’s easy to think that if a recipe is healthy it won’t taste as good, especially when it comes to comfort food like chili. Why is that not true?

Jake Risk (JR): There are so many herbs and spices available that can enhance the taste of food without impacting the nutritional profile. For example, chili powder, cumin, and red pepper are common ingredients in chili. These spices are low in sodium and fat free and would be considered “healthy.” Additionally, you can use a lean protein that is lower in fat since chili is slow cooked. There is no need for a marbled, high fat protein. You can select something lean without sacrificing flavor.

LSS: What’s a small thing we can change in our food choices each day that would make a huge impact in our overall health?

JR: Salt is an acquired taste. If you gradually reduce the amount that you use in cooking and at the table, in a few short weeks you can really decrease the amount of sodium in your diet.

LSS: What role does a dietician play in the health of residents at LSS communities?

JR: Dietitians are an important part of the interdisciplinary team that works with residents. A dietitian’s role is to look at how food and nutrition impacts a person’s overall health and develop strategies to ensure individuals have the necessary micro- and macronutrients to achieve optimal health outcomes. You cannot heal if you have poor nutrition.

LSS: Do you have any advice to residents or anyone reading this when it comes to their nutrition and how they take care of their body?

JR: Slow down when eating. Give your stomach a chance to tell your brain when it is full.  This will help with overeating. Also, it is ok to enjoy the foods you eat. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a cupcake. An occasional treat can be worked into any diet plan.


Low Sodium Turkey Chili (6 servings)

1 pound ground turkey

½ cup chopped yellow onion

1 clove minced garlic

1 cup of low sodium diced tomatoes

¾ cup of tomato sauce

¾ cup of water

1 tablespoon of chili powder

1 teaspoon of ground pepper

2 tablespoons of granulated sugar

1 can of pinto beans drained

1 can of kidney beans drained

  1. Cook the ground turkey, onions, and garlic in a large pot until meat is browned. Drain grease.
  2. Mix the low sodium tomatoes, tomato sauce, and seasonings. Add the tomato mixture to the ground turkey mixture. Cook and stir until blended.
  3. Add beans to the pot. Bring to a boil
  4. Cover and lower the heat. Simmer for one hour. If the chili become too thick, add water.


Additional Toppings

  • Cheese
  • Green Onion
  • Sour Cream (Plain Greek yogurt can be a healthy substitute)
  • Corn chips
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