Fall has arrived and with it the much anticipated holidays and special foods enjoyed at this time of the year. For people with kidney disease, a lot of fall favorites can seem "off-limits" because they contain high levels of nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, protein, and sodium that are supposed to be limited for renal health. Here is a list of foods that you can feel good about eating not only because they fit into a healthy renal diet, but also because they are delicious seasonal foods.
1- Green Beans: Whether you like your beans casserole-style, blanched and tossed with slivered almonds, or as a salad, they are a classic part of Thanksgiving. Green beans have a good amount of fiber, Vitamin C and K, and have very few calories, making them a nutritious part of a balanced meal.
2- Roasted Veggies: Roasting vegetables with oil, spices and herbs really brings out their flavor and creates desired texture. Some good vegetables to choose are onions, carrots, cauliflower, and bell peppers. Get creative with the flavors. Add curry powder and cumin seeds for a taste of India; add dried basil, thyme, oregano, and garlic powder for a more Italian feel; or do a small sprinkling of salt and pepper to bring out the natural flavors.
3- Apples: Apple season is a great time to go to the farmer's market (or to a nearby orchard) and get to know some of the more than hundreds of varieties of apples. Our options in the grocery store are often limited to the basics year-round, but a unique variety in season is something special. Eat one with a tablespoon of almond butter as an energizing snack, cook up some apple butter as a tasty spread, or bake them for a naturally sweet Fall dessert.
4- Cranberries: Cranberries are an amazing fruit, high in antioxidants and fiber, and bursting with flavor. Have a small glass of cranberry juice with your holiday meal or try a new recipe for cranberry sauce.
5- Biscuits: Biscuits often make their yearly debut during Fall and are a favorite for Thanksgiving. Since biscuits are typically made with white flour, they are low in Phosphorus and can be enjoyed with a special meal. Top it with a thin spreading of butter (or non-hydrogenated margarine), apple butter, or some low-sodium gravy.
6- Rhubarb: This celery-like vegetable has the benefit of being low in sugar and high in nutrients like Vitamin C and K, Calcium, and Manganese. It can be made into a smooth jam (put it on your biscuit!) or baked into a crisp or pie for a healthy twist on popular desserts.
7- Skinless Turkey Breast: By removing the skin, choosing a lean cut, and keeping the portion size to about the size of your palm, that roast turkey can move from the serving tray to your plate. For many, this is the only time that they eat this holiday favorite, so this healthy serving of protein should be savored.
8- Spice Cake or Apple Pie: Take your pick! What strikes your fancy? Spice cake fills the house with all the aromas of fall with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. Or you could make an apple pie (why not add some rhubarb too!) and garnish your slice with some non-dairy whipped topping. Homemade fall desserts are definitely something to relish.
9- Stuffing: Ah, the stuffing (or is it dressing?). Forget the boxed variety! Make this one from scratch so that you can control the sodium and decide what you want to add. Saute some onions, celery, and carrots for a nice mirepoix and use low-sodium broth to take this dish to your desired moistness. You can add a little dried cranberries for some tang.
10- Silk Nog: Egg nog--you either love it or hate it. For those that love it, it can be sad that this holiday drink isn’t so friendly to the kidneys. Don't despair! Have a small glass of Silk Nog and you'll have the taste without the excessive potassium and phosphorus (a 4oz serving has 150mg potassium and 50mg phosphorus).
Celebrate the fall and the holidays with these foods and you'll be taking care of your kidneys and enjoying the tastes of the season.
Michaela Ballmann, MS RD is enthusiastic about guilt-free eating, whole person care, and nourishing food. Her main interest is in getting people to love food, their bodies, and themselves. Connect with her through her podcast, blog, and nutrition counseling at Wholify, she seeks to share the truth about nutrition and help restore you to what you once were–a healthy, whole human being.