The Plan to Eat Podcast

#48: Interview with Jasmine and Ashley of Eat Well Exchange

January 18, 2023 Plan to Eat Season 1 Episode 48
The Plan to Eat Podcast
#48: Interview with Jasmine and Ashley of Eat Well Exchange
Show Notes Transcript

We are excited to have Ashley Carter and Jasmine Westbrooks on the podcast this week! Jasmine and Ashley are two registered dietitian Nutritionists who banded together to pursue their passion for preventing chronic disease through nutrition education.
EatWell Exchange is a nonprofit that teaches communities of the African diaspora how to eat their cultural foods in a healthier way. Providing gardening and culinary classes, and nutrition education to demonstrate how our foods can be healthy and still taste good. In 5 years, they have educated over 20,000 people about the importance of representation of our culture's foods in a healthy lifestyle.
In today's episode, we discuss their reason for starting the nonprofit, the challenges they have faced, and how they use cooking classes to educate a diverse population of students.

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Collard Vegetable Soup
Sauteed Okra and Mushrooms

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I'm Riley and I'm Roni. And this is the plan to eat podcast, where we have conversations about meal planning, food, and wellness. To help you answer the question what's for dinner. 

Roni: Thanks for listening to another episode of the Plan to Eat podcast. Today we are sharing an interview that we got to do with Jasmine and Ashley of Eat Well Exchange. They are the two registered dieticians who started Eat Well Exchange, which is a nonprofit organization that teaches communities of the African diaspora, how to eat their cultural foods in a healthier way.

Riley: we have been so impacted by what Ashley and Jasmine have done with Eat Well Exchange, uh, how they serve their communities, and specifically the focus on culture. Uh, they have, built this. Nonprofit out of just seeing a need. And so we love it. We are totally supportive of Eat Well Exchange and hope that they, uh, just continue to flourish and help so many people, and [00:01:00] we can't wait for you to hear all about it on this episode of The Plan to Eat Podcast.

Roni: Well, Ashley and Jasmine, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedules to talk with us today.

Ashley: Well, thanks for having us. We're excited to talk to you.

Jasmine: We're excited.

Riley: Jasmine, why don't you go ahead and tell us like what is Eat Well Exchange and how did you get started with it? And then I'll direct the question to Ashley too.

Jasmine: Absolutely. So Eat Well Exchange is a 5 0 1 nonprofit organization. And we provide pretty much nutrition education, telling people how to eat healthy, um, and providing access to food, but with a focus on culture. So we have that little bit of a spin on healthy eating. Um, some current things that we do are like cooking classes, cooking demonstrations, nutrition classes.

We have a culinary program where we teach people how to cook with their culturally, uh, significant and, uh, [00:02:00] amazing food. And we also have like gardening parties. We do a lot of. To different lower social economic communities to serve, um, those who are oftentimes don't have a voice around, you know, proper education and access to food.

Um, how we got started, well, 2017 or way back actually before, right before 2017, we were working at the WIC department in Florida, so in Tampa, Florida at the time. Um, and we noticed a demand we saw. You know, women, so WIC stands for Women, infants and Children. Women would walk into the facility, um, and was being told to eat foods that they had never heard of.

Eat foods that that would, that may not have been at their grocery store, um, and really didn't have any type of cultural relevance to them. Um, but once they. , a lot of the healthcare professionals we were working with would say, oh, they're non-compliant. They're not following what we're doing, what we're telling them to do.

[00:03:00] Um, and we're like, wait a minute. There has to be like another way, for this to really see, patients thrive in that type of environment. Um, and so we're like, why don't we just create our own nonprofit? And this was like after having like a girl's night cuz we're friends as well. So it was like an idea of.

Just kind of brewing in our head just from hanging out and we're like, let's have this nonprofit. So fast forward, um, I think I went to like a diabetes conference and I started telling everybody at the conference like, Hey, I got this new nonprofit. This is what we do. We end up meeting someone from Montego Bay that was a pharmacist.

He is like, yeah, I want you guys to come and teach us about our healthy foods. And, and I tell Ashley and Ashley's like, Jasmine, We don't have a nonprofit . Like we don't, we're not registered, we're not anything. So, um, that really, really held us accountable to create this nonprofit and to really do all the things that we needed to create it.

So that was pretty much the summed up story of how Eat Well [00:04:00] kind of came to be.

Roni: That's really cool. I love that you guys were kind of like pushed, pushed into that a little bit, right? Like you were like, I've got this great idea. You. I mean, getting a great opportunity is like the best reason to actually follow through with it, so that's really exciting. 

Riley: the most beautiful part to me is just that. Saw a need and you met it . You didn't get somebody else to, I mean, you know, you, you just, you filled this need that you saw, and I think that's incredible.

Roni: yeah. Ashley, um, can you tell us how, like, how long did you guys still continue to work as registered dieticians before you like moved more full-time into Ewell Exchange?

Ashley: Well, it's been a journey , so when we started Eat Well Exchange, our primary focus was to provide nutrition educat. with the focus on culture. But then as we begin to work with more and more communities, we saw how much there was a need to increase access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and [00:05:00] affordable foods.

So that's another focus area that we began to really like narrow down on. And then after that, we noticed as people were getting more foods, they were getting more education, but they still did not know how to cook those foods. So that's when we started more of the culinary components. After being founded in 2017, Jasmine and I were both working our full-time jobs and doing Eat Well Exchange.

Um, at this point we've taught over 20,000 people how to use their cultural foods to be healthier, and I just recently resigned from my job in April. Yay to do Eat Well Full-time. Jazz is still working on that transition right now, but that just shows you like most of the work, most of the existence, I guess we can say of Eat Well Exchange has been with both of us working our full-time jobs, eat well.

And then, um, Jasmine got her masters at the beginning of us founding Eat Well. I just completed my master's this year. So we've been juggling a. But Eat Well is our baby. It's our passion and we really see [00:06:00] the importance of what we're doing. So it's something that, you know, I guess you can't make more hours in the day, but we always make sure to find ways to kind of focus on Eat Well exchange throughout everything that we're doing.

Riley: talk about boss ladies. I man. Uh, that is a lot happening at the same time. I, how do you guys juggle all of that? Just day by day or ? Do you guys kind of take turns on kind of, I guess who's kind of handling Eat Well Exchange at any given day or week? Uh, how do you guys juggle at all?

Ashley: Well, I can say at the beginning, um, it was just us going crazy , because here's the thing, when we started eat, well, we did it because there's a need. So when you know that there's a community, depending on you, you can't really take a day off and say, oh, they'll be fine without us for a month. You know? So we always felt like this pressure to make sure that we're.

Living up to what we said we wanted to do. And we know that the problem is huge when it comes to food insecurity and you know, malnutrition in a lot of different areas. So for us it's just [00:07:00] like, at the beginning we were just going crazy. We were saying yes to everything. Jasmine and I, and also the other co-founder Deidra.

US three were just like a three-headed machine and we were just like doing everything together and getting everything done. Um, but growth . So now Jasmine and I, we try to delegate as much as we can to each other in any volunteers we have. A lot of times Jasmine will do an event where I will do an event and that way we can divide.

and you know, conquer the world. And also we just learn to be more realistic with our time. And sometimes we have to say no, we have to say not right now. Or we have to find a community partner that may be a better fit for some of the events that we are reached out to for just to make sure that we're giving, you know, the best versions of ourselves to eat well exchange, but also to ourselves and our family and our jobs and everything else as well.

Roni: I like that. You guys have the ability to say no to certain things That can be really [00:08:00] hard, when you have a lot of opportunities coming your way to actually be able to say no to certain ones. We. . We recently talked to a woman on the podcast and like her tagline is a yes to one thing is a no to another thing.

Um, and so like her focus is really on like what are the actual priorities and the ways that, you know, like are the most me, the things that are the most meaningful to you in your life. So I commend you guys for being able to say no. Cause I'm sure it's really hard because there's a lot of exciting things going on in the world.

Riley: Especially as a growing business, just it's hard to say no, to stuff

Roni: I'm curious, um, just kind of like what are some of the obstacles that you guys face running the nonprofit? Like aside from having incredibly, busy lives, like what are some of the profits that, some of the issues the nonprofit itself faces?

Jasmine: I think for us, like I don't say this being a problem, but it was definitely a learning experience. Like if we're honest as dietician, , we weren't taught how to run the nonprofit , so it was kinda like, uh, we should do this, or maybe we should do this, or we would get like canceled from, you know, [00:09:00] other people that may have had that experience.

And so we've been very lucky in that aspect because we know other. Dieticians and other professionals that have nonprofits that can give us like, that, that wisdom that we need to like, keep it going. Um, so I would say the problems actually turn into like a journey from, for us, like to learn about ourselves, how we are as leaders, and also just learn about how to run a nonprofit.

Um, and I honestly wanna thank our advisory board for that because doing this for at least like the first couple of years, Ashley and I didn't know we needed an advisory. Until we talked with someone else, we had a nonprofit that had a great mission, um, and was doing some great work, and they're like, oh, you all need an advisory board and this is what they're for.

And so we have an advisory board that have been able to like, keep us on track with eat well too, because there'll be a lot of opportunities that are great, in general, but they may not. eat wells. Um, I guess mission and values and, and vision. And so like Ashley was [00:10:00] mentioning, like it has to fit in, align with what we do.

So I would say that's one of 'em. And another one is not, again, not really a problem, but like a learning experience for us is hiring people because we're learning now that. Ashley and Jazz cannot do it all, especially when I'm in North Carolina and Ashley's in Florida. And so it's different. We're gonna have different needs.

We're serving different populations as well. And so now it's come to a point where we have to start onboarding other dieticians to do some of the things that Eat Well, may have an opportunity to do, but we may not be able to be there. And even our volunteers as well, so that. Kind of like a growing pain in a way, cuz like you said, we wanna do all the things and like, not be tired from doing all of them, but it's just physically, mentally, not possible to do.

And that's a part of just having the business to see it grow and flourish with other people as it inspires people, uh, that we serve in other professionals too.[00:11:00] 

Riley: Well, everyone I think, who's an entrepreneur is, is relating and resonating with these things because most people who get into. a business or a nonprofit like you guys when you were in college studying to be dieticians, you probably weren't thinking, I'm gonna have this whole business, this whole nonprofit.

And, um, you know, I, I started a business at one point in my past and I wish I'd had a business degree. Like there's, but I didn't know. And so I think so many people are in your position of it's all learning and it's all. Figuring it out day by day. So be encouraged cuz every entrepreneur was not planning to do the thing that they did.

But I just, I love that you're at a point where you are hiring other people, where you're, where you're able to do that. And then just helping more and more people because you're at that point and as you grow you can just help more people, which I'm sure is kind of the root of every, your heart of behind the business.

Roni: So you guys offer both cooking classes and gardening classes, right? Um, do you guys have [00:12:00] like a specific program or um, class that you. You, uh, teach or provide, that's the most popular that people really love and gravitate towards.

Ashley: I would say our culinary programs , because our culinary programs. Our community, the hands-on experience to get into the kitchen with us and cook. So I would just divide those into two. We have the kids culinary program, which is where we work with summer camps, different community organizations, um, police athletic leagues, so different.

Parks organizations and, um, even foster programs. And we teach the students how to cook using foods they're familiar with. So when I say foods that they're familiar with, I'm talking, um, Doritos, I'm talking ramen noodles, like the foods that they would grab on their way home and cook. And so as a registered dietician, , I'm making ramen noodles.

Everyone's gonna look at me like, what in the world is she doing? But we know that we have to be realistic with the clients that we work with. And we know that [00:13:00] for a lot of communities, this is what they're comfortable with and this is what they can afford. So why not take the ramen noodles and make them a little bit healthier?

So what we'll do is we'll cook them without the seasoning packet. We'll season them with our own herbs and spices and salt and pepper. And then we'll go ahead and add some veggies to it. We'll have the kids dice up their own carrots, broccoli, onions, and pepper. And then we add a source of protein. So it could be, um, chicken, it could be beans, depending on, you know, the population.

So we do different things like that to show them how they can make foods that they're familiar with, just a little bit healthier with foods that they have access to. And another part of our culinary program is the Prevent Diabetes, culinary class. And that is Jasmine's baby. So it was her idea to start a program to teach people that are, um, At risk for getting diabetes, how they can eat foods that they're familiar with and still be healthy.

And this is primarily for African-American women or women of the African diaspora. So that [00:14:00] includes like Hispanic women as well. And what we do is we take cultural foods, staples, mac and cheese, um, okra, collard greens, different foods like that, and show them how they can keep eating those foods and be. and that's important because we may talk about what to eat and what not to eat, but until you actually get into the kitchen with them and let them try different options, that's what really brings everything together. So that's why I feel like it's our favorite, because it's a full circle moment where they can learn about the foods, cook the foods, eat the foods, and just make that, make that change in that moment.

Riley: It's also every source or every, um, way you learn, right? It's, you're hearing it, you're seeing it, you're touching it. And then you're tasting it in this case. And they're realizing that people in your classes are, they're thinking, oh, this, this is good. I can and I can do this. And I just, it's, I just keep saying this, but it's so beautiful the way that you, um, are looking at the need and you're not, you're going right to the, like the source, like you eat ramen noodles, okay, we're [00:15:00] gonna cook ramen noodles.

And you're going right to where they're at and you're meeting them where they are. And that is so powerful. That's gonna, that's the launch point. That's how they learn, that's how they can grow. And, uh, you're making it so tangible for the people that you're serving. And that's just incredible.

Ashley: Definitely. And that's one of those points that we really, um, that really moves us because we know that we can set goals for these large change. Where we say, you know, never eat ramen noodles again, or, you know, just get other fresh noodles instead. But we know that that's not always, you know, the easiest option for the communities we work with.

And sometimes it's those small changes that really just causes huge impact because we know that even when it comes to, you know, our lives, if we're able to accomplish one thing, it propels us to accomplish five more. So the same goes for the communities that we work with. If we're able to reach one goal, even if it's small, like eating.

One serving a vegetable a week for someone who doesn't eat any vegetables at all. If they can [00:16:00] accomplish eating one vegetable a week, next week, they can eat two, and then before you know it, they can eat it with every single meal. So it's just those small changes that give you that confidence to just keep going to, you know, tackle bigger obstacles.

Riley: Ever receive pushback from other, um, dieticians? Like, uh, cuz of this approach is like, not what you learned or not what you're taught to teach people. Like, do you ever receive pushback in these areas or they just see the results and they're just saying, you go, ladies, you're doing exactly the right thing.

Ashley: Well, um, I would say that for our profession, we have to remember that only 2.7% identify as African-American. So what does that mean? That means that only 2.7% of dieticians are black. But also, what are we learning? Who's, who's teaching us, who's writing our books? More than likely not black dieticians. So of that being said, a lot of times there's this gap in our field, and I can [00:17:00] say as we've been getting called more and more to do speaking engagements that people want to learn.

So dieticians that are. You know, white, Asian, Hispanic, all from different cultures. They want to learn about different foods and it's because it's something that we're not taught, but it doesn't mean it's something that people do not want to learn. So we've actually been having a lot of dieticians reach out to us and refer, you know, different organizations to us.

A perfect example is one of my preceptors actually. She was asked to do. Cooking demo for Black History Month, and she's not black, and she's like, I could do it, but I would prefer to have Eat Well exchange, you know, represent your community better than I would do. So we have a lot of people like that that are like, you know, you guys weren't here before, but now that you are here, we wanna make sure that you're doing the best that you can to spread that knowledge and represent your culture in the best way possible.

Jasmine: Yeah. And I feel like too, like what I love about sometimes our communication in our presentations, [00:18:00] Yes, it's about, you know, different cultures, but also there's a little bit in every culture that we can all relate to. And so once we kinda, once they kind of understand like, oh yeah, I have my favorite, you know, family recipe that I know it may not be braided as the healthiest on the Mediterranean diet, et cetera.

Right. But I can connect in that way because I know how much it means to me. So now I can have a little bit more of a, I guess, a open viewpoint and think more deeply into how I recommend foods and be a little bit more sensitive. Because I know if someone told me the same, you cannot have this, how that will make me feel.

Um, I don't wanna make the people that I'm serving or teach and feel the same way. So I think for Eat well, I think we've done a really good job of. Making people understand, like we all have a lot of similar things about us. Even though we may be from different upbringings or different experiences, we all like food and we all need food, and we all connect to [00:19:00] food in different ways, but we also all want to be respected in our food choices and what they mean to us too.

So I think that's one thing that a lot of dieticians and professionals really see in us as.

Roni: Right. I was, uh, actually thinking a lot about that when Ashley was explaining the diabetes. prevention program and just thinking it's so cool that you guys are, you know, essentially teaching people, like you said, like the, the things that they currently eat, how to eat them in a little bit healthier way, because we all know that you hear all the time that, you know, the, the really strict diets or the yo-yo dieting thing, like it doesn't work for anybody and it doesn't really solve anybody's problem.

And so just giving that, you know, like longer lasting change in their. that's like gonna hopefully, you know, like propel them through the rest of their life is so much better than just saying, change your diet for the next month or whatever, you know, because that's not really gonna be the thing that actually helps people.

So I think that's, it's really [00:20:00] cool. I, yeah, I just love that that's part of your guys' mission,

Riley: is the model of eat. Well exchange something that, well, one, it seems very, um, reasonable for many cultures to implement what you're doing because you take this model of Eat Well exchange and you just apply it to where you are in the cultures that you're in, the communities that you're in. Do you guys, so you're located in Miami, are, are you gonna be able to replicate those other places?

Do you want to, are you hoping to expand? Like what are your goals with that? . Yeah. Talk to us about that. Either one of you.

Jasmine: Yeah, so we actually have, cause I'm in North Carolina, I used to be in Florida, uh, when we started. So that's actually happening right in front of our eyes. And I think it's, it's really started to ignite when we started to get people reaching out to us from different places. Like for example, we, um, had an event where it was like the free farmer's market that was done, that Ashley did in Miami and Liberty City.

From that, you [00:21:00] know, and posting that on Instagram and getting a lot of feedback from it. Then we started to get other people from different states that we had never been to wanting to do the same or implement the same. So it's little things like that that we are reminded of, I guess like every single week of, okay.

We definitely could see ourselves having like ambassadors or like we said, the onboarding of other dieticians in other states that can relate and want to do the same, but just may not know how they can really give the service, um, without creating an entire nonprofit right to do so. So I think that's the joy in it.

We know that it's not just like a regional problem, it's a problem in just about every state in this country. And cultural foods are not just in the country, it's international. And so that's led us to have opportunities too in actually Gwen Gu, Haiti, where we have, uh, community garden, uh, from the networking with someone in Miami.

So we can definitely see it being a national thing. We look at it as [00:22:00] national, even though the starting and the foundation was definitely in Florida.

So it's been very interesting cuz even moving here to North Carolina. I'm originally from Memphis. The people remind me so much of you know, who I am as a person in my family.

But then when I lived in Florida, I felt like Ashley kind of showed me the ropes of like all the different cultures in melting pot in Florida. , but to come back home to North Carolina or come back to the southern area, even though I'm from Tennessee, you know, you connect with the leaders in the community and you, you connect with, um, people that have that same mission.

Um, and talk to them and see what their needs are because their needs are gonna be different than the needs of people that are in Florida. Or the foods are gonna be a little bit different, even like what they call different foods. It'll be a little bit different cuz I remember moving here and I'm like, Ashley, have you ever heard of turnip green salad?

Just like, what is that? And it's like, it's actually just turnip greens. And so from talking to different people, you get to learn the lingo and things like that too. [00:23:00] So, um, we're definitely, we definitely will be expand.

Riley: Mm-hmm. . Um, yeah, it's making, my husband is a firefighter, uh, in a city near us. And, the thing I keep thinking is, Because of his job. He's in every community in the city. Because everybody has emergencies, , everybody has needs. and so I'm just thinking about like the people groups that live in the city, where he serves and how different they all are, um, and how even eval exchange could be such, uh, a bridge, um, in some ways because.

they have specific needs and foods and things that they're probably not being taught about or assisted in because it's very unique to them, uh, in the part of the world where they are from. And, uh, man, I just, I hope you guys expand all over the whole world.

Ashley: Thank you so much, and we hope the same because we really see the need and also. We've been doing more events like with different organizations where they're calling us in to do education for their staff,[00:24:00] 

and we've noticed that that's a great impact because whether it's a hospital, a food pantry, a community organization, they're still serving diverse populations and we know that, unfortunately, when you are from a diverse population, more than likely you're taught to a.

So you're taught to, especially if you're coming from another country, you need to come to America and just do what they're doing. Like you don't , you know what I mean? Like you, you go out of your way to make sure you're doing what Americans are doing, but that's not natural to you. And also that's not always the healthier option for a lot of people from other countries.

So when we work with organizations, we show people how you can speak up about your foods and how you can communicate as a professional, how you can dig and ask more questions like, what does your grandma cook? What do you like to eat? What are your favorite traditional dishes? What do you eat for the holidays?

So asking questions like that to get people to talk to you, because we know that for some populations it's not their first nature to just open up and tell you about their cultural foods [00:25:00] because I can tell you, at least for me, growing up, you never hear anything positive about those foods. So why would you say it to a dietician or to your physician or you know, a healthcare provider because you already assume that they're not good.

So that's what we do. We work up other organizations also and we teach them. So even though Jasmine and I can't physically, you know, teach all of the people that they reach, we can educate their providers so that way when they talk to their communities, they have a way of learning the language and being able to speak to them a little bit better to help create a bigger impact.

Riley: In that way, you both and eat well. Exchange are a bridge because you're that connection point between the entity that's serving the community and the community itself. And you're helping both sides, helping the community. Uh, learn how to, what to do with their foods to help make them maybe a little bit healthier.

And you're working with the entity that's serving them to say, Hey, here's the kind of questions you need to ask . Here's how you can serve these people, and here's how you can think about the way you serve them [00:26:00] completely differently, um, than when you talked about it at the beginning. Uh, women coming in and not even finding the foods that they eat, at the food pantry or I'm, it was a WIC program you mentioned.

And they're not even finding those foods, so they're feeling. Well served. And then the com the, you know, the entity is saying, uh, they're non-compliant, but there's that disconnect and you guys are really filling that hole, which is really incredible.

Ashley: Thank you so much. Yeah, that's, that describes it perfectly. That's really , you know what's happening. It's us being that bridge in between and just kind of helping each side get what they need or be able to help, you know, and just communicate better with one another.

Riley: Yeah. Really how, how we can move forward with anything like this is we have, they have to have that. The bridge, the mediator, the, yeah. Has to.

Roni: do you guys mostly connect with the people that you're teaching, um, through organizations like you can, like you connect with an organization and then they send, you know, people who work for [00:27:00] them or interact with them to you guys or do a lot of individuals come and like seek you out to try and, you know, like come to your courses and stuff?

Jasmine: I think it's a combination of both. Um, I know from recently for me it's been both, like if it's national, of course they reach out through like social media. They may see some things that we post. Being new in North Carolina, And you know, that's why I searched like nonprofits that align with us and then look for the leaders.

Because I always tell people too, like just a tip, , if you're trying to do the same work that we're doing, it's probably not advised to just go straight to the community and say like, I'm here, like I'm here to save the day type mentality because it may not go as well. Um, and so for me it was more about, even though I could relate more to them, because I grew up kind of in this area.

I still wanted to make sure that I talked to the leaders and see what their demands or their needs were before, assuming that [00:28:00] I knew what their demands and their needs were, if that makes sense. Because sometimes we tend to do that we'll. Read up on some things on the internet and say, oh, this is what they need , but it may not be actually what they need.

Um, so in my aspect right now where I am with Eat well, I'm definitely reaching out and we're actually getting a lot of, other people reaching out from outreach that we do here to say, Hey, I haven't heard of y'all, so tell me more. Oh, I saw you do the cooking demo here at this Farmer's market. Can you do it here in my church?

So it's kind of been like a domino. On my side for.

Riley: there's an element to that that makes me think about, uh, just being stronger together. Um, you know, cuz if you're connecting with those other organizations and kind of as long as your values and your mission align, it seems that if they've been doing the work in North Carolina longer, that you're stronger together to move forward because you guys.

What you're doing can impact what they're doing and make it better in what they're [00:29:00] doing in the community. They're already in it. It all just is working together and making a more united front. Um, which I feel like especially when you're going into a new area, is probably, really helpful because you're in a new area.

And so connecting with those people just helps it make a more stronger impact sooner. Sooner.

Jasmine: Yeah. Yeah. Building the relationships, and I think that's what. That's been like a big terminology for us this year. It's like building our relationships, you know, like talking to people, different people from different organizations. And I know Ashley says this a lot, so I'm gonna take it from you, Ashley, but it really stuck with me of what she said one day was, you know, make people.

understand how much in a way that they, that you fit into their organization. Like in a sense like, oh, I really do need you as a dietician in my organization. Like, let's work together and then kind of give them that vision of how. it can look. Um, but still also leaving enough room for them to understand like, I wanna [00:30:00] know what your needs are too.

So I do want your 50% in this relationship as well. So I think the relationship part is very important. Um, that old saying of like, it's about who you know, like that is a very true statement. Um, when it comes to like running a business or trying to make a difference in certain communities.

Ashley: And Jasmine's giving out all my secrets. . I'm just kidding. But that is, Top tier Ashley's number one networking tip. So that's where any profession, no matter what you're doing, like if you're listening to this podcast, know that when it comes to networking, that has worked for me all the time. I always tell people how I can fit into their job.

So even if I'm talking to a psychologist, then I'll say like, Hey, I'm a dietician. Did you know that dietician and psychologist, we can collaborate? when it comes to, you know, eating disorders, you know, or disordered eating when it comes to body image, dysmorphia, all these kinda things. So we notice that in our profession that a lot of times people don't know what to do with us.

Like, who needs a dietician? Is it to lose [00:31:00] weight? Like, what do you need us for? So that's what I always do. I always tell people how they can work with me, and nine outta 10, it ends up happening. Like I'm always like, Ooh, well I can go to your college and teach your students how to eat from the food pantry and then.

You could do that. It's like a Jedi mind trick.

Roni: I bet you're really good at writing a cover letter for a resume

Ashley: I am. I am So yeah, everyone, you can take my tip. Always tell people in your networking what you want to do with them. Instead of just saying, let's grab coffee, or let's meet, like literally tell them what you. and even if it sounds wild and out of this world, just say it and nine outta 10, it will happen because you're putting that vision in someone's mind, so it's easier to fulfill.

Riley: Yeah. That's great. I love it. So what would e each of you say is your favorite thing about Eat Well Exchange? uh, Ashley, you go first.

Ashley: Ooh, that's hard.

Riley: It doesn't have to [00:32:00] just be one

Ashley: exchange. But no, I can say for me the favorite, my favorite part about Eat Well Exchange is it gives people a place to belong. So even though we're not like a physical location that you go to eat, well, exchange is like this state of mind where it's making sure that dieticians.

Community members, healthcare professionals and professionals all across the globe have a way to relate to people. And it starts that conversation, and it really just teaches us how to redefine the visual of a healthy plate. So now, instead of saying that my food isn't good, we're allowing ourselves to see that the foods that we grew up eating, are good for us.

It's just us learning small modifications sometimes, and also learning how to categorize those foods so we can put them on a plate and they can be healthier. But that's one of my favorite things. It's just us giving people a place to belong and also a place to start. And the biggest thing is just being able to reverse a lot of those negative health outcomes that have been put on our communities.

So that would [00:33:00] be my favorite part.

Jasmine: I think kinda align with Ashley's a little bit. Um, I like the surprise on people's face when I tell them something is healthy and the benefits then what they assume to be healthy, like what they may see in media and social media. So that's definitely one of them, like their face and they're like, lighten up and it's like, oh my gosh, like this is so good and this is this what?

I couldn't get this, you know, This is easy. And it's kind of a relief, especially when I do like cooking demos and cooking classes. You know, keep in mind there's a lot of work to do that, but at the end of the day, it makes me feel like, okay, I have an impact and hopefully I'm passing that nugget to somebody else that can have an impact and inspire as well.

So again, like the domino effect of the impact that you make and the faces that you see, the smiles on their faces to know. Their foods are still healthy, um, and they can eat and it can be a great experience. That's one of my favorite parts for sure.

Roni: I really love both of those answers. I think giving [00:34:00] people a sense of belonging is so important. . We all wanna feel valued and important, and we all wanna feel like, the place that we come from is important and the food that we eat is important. So I think that's a really special thing that you guys do.

Um, did you have anything else that you wanted to share with us or our audience before we wrap up today?

Jasmine: I feel like we always mentioned social media, right? . It's like follow us on social media to see us in action. And I'm sure this will be in the show notes too, but. At Eat Well Exchange, you know, join the tribe as we call it, um, and be a part of Eat Well. We're always looking for people to volunteer. We're always looking for people, um, as opportunities come up to hopefully employ and, and give our opportunity to do the same and to represent us.

Yeah, just follow Eat Well Exchange

Ashley: And I do wanna say one more thing. A lot of times when it comes to working with different cultures, people are very afraid. Because they're like, I don't wanna say the wrong thing. I don't wanna do the wrong thing, but I just want you to know that a lot of [00:35:00] times when we do work with different populations, even if it's not where we're from, like I remember once doing a curry recipe and curries are very well known and like, you know, a lot of.

Jamaican cultures. And I remember a Jamaican lady came up to me and she's like, what do you know about that? ? But still, she was so happy. She was just like, what you're doing? She's like, what? I said, I'm a dietician. She's like, you're a dietician and you're making curry. She's like, you're making curry, um, chickpeas.

And I was like, I am. And she was just so happy because she's like, I've never seen someone do a cooking demo with foods that I'm familiar. So it's big. It's one of those things, just giving people that sense of belonging and just showing them like, you know, we care about you. We care about your foods, and your foods have a place.

So I just definitely motivate everyone. Of course, I don't want you just to jump out there and start just taking everybody's culture and making all kind of dishes that you're not familiar with, but it is okay to highlight those foods and a great way we do that is through Instagram. We have a plate challenge where we highlight foods [00:36:00] from different cultures using people from that culture, and that way we make sure that it's authentic and we make sure that we give them the spotlight what they deserve.

Riley: Oh, I love that. Thank you for adding that. That's incredible. We like to end every episode by asking our guests what kind of meal they've had recently that they loved. , so we're gonna ask you guys that, and I can't wait to hear the answers, uh, Jasmine, why don't you go first?

Jasmine: Okay. Because it's cold in North Carolina and I'm like grabbing anything that's hot right now. I'm in like a soup phase. So recently I made a, um, it was a collard green lima bean soup. So good. At like a, a black farmer's market and like everybody was flocking to my table cause we were outside in like 40 degree.

Like crazy people, serving, uh, soup. And so that's definitely gonna be one for me right now in this season. Anything soupy vegetable like definitely with the leafy greens, um, that my grandmother would [00:37:00] always have on our plate no matter what.

Ashley: I usually don't bring up my weather because I'm in Miami, so right now, 85 degrees So yes, I'm wearing shorts right now. I never bring it up because people don't like me when I do that, but still . But for me, I would say right now I've been in such like a okra and mushroom mood. So the other day I made a stir fry where I had like mushrooms, okra, carrots, broccoli, onions and peppers, and just kind of seasoned everything and put it all together and had it over a bed of rice.

So that's been my thing right now. I've been loving okra and mushrooms is something that. Like with every meal, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So I would say that's something that I've been enjoying right now.

Riley: Yu, those sound great. I, I grew up in the south, so these are very normal foods for me. Um, Roni is from Colorado, so she may not be quite as

Roni: I mean, I've had collar greens, [00:38:00] I've had okra, but they're honestly, okra in particular is very hard to find in . Colorado. So, um,

Riley: You can find it pickled 

Roni: you can find a pickled, yeah, but we don't usually have fresh okra in most of the grocery stores around here, so,

Ashley: Wow.

Roni: Well thank you guys for joining us today. It was really nice to talk to you and we'll make sure to put in the show notes links to everything related to Eat Well Exchange so everybody can connect with you and find you on Instagram and all that kind of stuff.

Ashley: Thank you 

Roni: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Plan to Eat podcast. We love hearing different approaches to food, and we hope that you enjoy hearing it too.

Riley: We would love to invite you to find all the recipes mentioned on the Plan to Eat podcast, um, in our podcast account on Plan to Eat you can go to that's PT, E P O D and the variety of recipes that you've heard about and the variety of eating types that we talk about, those can all be found in that account.

Roni: Thanks again for listening.