Stayin’ alive

A kidney dialysis/transplant diary

Good stuff, Maynard

I know people are out there looking for good things to eat on a renal diet. I know I was/am and I can tell others are by the number of times search engine requests for recipes and menus show up in my blog stats.

I haven’t been talking much about food on the blog because since the post-flood move to a “senior living center”, food isn’t much under my control. I don’t set the menu. I don’t make the food. I don’t cook in our apartment and I can’t afford the extra $200 a month to ask for a special diet.

All I do is eat around what they serve and, frankly, bitch about the taste.

I wouldn’t have the cook’s job here for anything: 20-plus residents who’ve been honing their individual food likes and dislikes for decades, a meat-and-potatoes generation who think sticky rice is a cook’s failure and blow torches have no place in a respectable kitchen. Add to that the kitchen staff cooks for two other buildings and you end up with suggestions in the box that would make the proverbial sailor turn scarlet and are nearly impossible to accomplish physically.

Then along comes a resident who  is a Type II diabetic with end stage renal disease. Talk about your diet restrictions, hoo boy. Just trying to order the “breakfast as you like it” can be like navigating a nutritional minefield.

Juice? Well, sure, but no orange juice (too much potassium and phosphorus not to mention the high sugar content). Grape? Um, too much sugar. Tomatoe? No, too much sodium (makes your body retain water, a real no-no for a renal patient, especially one like me with hypertension.) Cranberry? Well, that’s about as good as you’re going to get on a renal diet. Could I get that  ‘light’? Afraid not. Juices are dispensed through machines and there are no ‘light’ versions available through the suppliers.

Toast? OK, comma but (here it comes, the dreaded comma buts) no raisin toast. Raisins are like plague to the renal diet. Too much potassium and phosphorus. Uh, and whole grains aren’t good for renal patients either. Ditto the potassium and phosphorus stuff. (There goes the daily bowl of  oatmeal and the tasty 12-grain toast.) There is a loaf of nasty old white bread on the shelf. Have some of that.

Protein? By all means. ESRD patients need all the help they can get warding off illness and helping to build necessary things like red blood cells. And protein doesn’t elevate blood sugar (always remember that diabetes is at the root of most ESRD). Bacon, nope… too much salt and fat. Ditto ham. Cheese? No, gotta limit dairy products to 4 ounces a day. Eggs? Not the best cholesterol-wise, but a girl’s gotta eat.

All these decisions, all this denial and it isn’t even 8:15 in the morning.

Lunch and dinner offer even less control. The menus are made by the kitchen staff. Today’s lunch: Chicken fried steak with white gravy; mashed potatoes with brown gravy; creamed peas; baked custard. Sound a little, oh I don’t know, can you say starchy or carb loaded?

Potatoes are a staple on the menu here, of course. People like them, they’re filling and cheap. I love them, too. (Ready for the comma but?) But I shouldn’t eat potatoes unless they’re leached overnight. The kitchen staff ain’t about to do that, believe me.

The peas are so-so, the breading on the steak, again so-so, but when you tally up the carbs (which matabolize like sugar which is bad for a diabetic… well, I think you get the picture).

I think I’m lucky my labs have been as good as they have been and my blood sugars in control (knock on wood).

Oh, the “Good stuff, Maynard”? I made Posole for the whole gang the other night. It’s not terrible for an ESRD or diabetic. Here’s a recipe to get you started.


1 1/2 c. cooked chicken

1 qt. chicken stock (use low sodium)

1 medium can diced tomatoes with juice (use no salt added, if you can find it)

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 to 2 Tablespoons cumin

1 to 2 Tablespoons mild to medium chili powder

2 Tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil

1  4-oz. can chopped chilis (medium)

1 can white hominy, drained

Juice of 2 limes

1 tsp. lime zest (optional)

1/2 c. fresh cilantro, chopped (chop a cup full and save half to garnish bowls)

Tortilla chips

In a kettle or large saucepan, sweat onions in oil until translucent; add garlic and half of cumin and chili powder. Things should smell good already. Cook on medium heat until spices are slightly toasted. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, chilis and hominy. Simmer for 20minutes or so. Taste and adjust seasoning.

(You should have a rich  stock that looks spice-laden – a bit of an orange film on top. It is, but it isn’t going to burn your mouth, unless you want it to. You can add all the hotness you want. I don’t care, it’s your soup and your mouth.)

Add cooked chicken and just before serving add the lime juice, zest and chopped fresh cilantro. Don’t omit this step or these ingredients. They’re what make the soup “Good stuff, Maynard.”

You can add to the soup — black olives, etc. — but I wouldn’t subtract any ingredients from this basic recipe. Serve with as many Mexican condiments as you like (black olives, sour cream, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, chopped onions). You can also substitute meats (pork, turkey, cornish hen) in fact, the truly Mexican version calls for starting with a pig’s head. Sorry, you’ll have to tap Anthony Bourdain for that recipe.


February 28, 2009 - Posted by | diabetes, dialysis, health, kidney, renal diet, renal recipes, weight loss

1 Comment »

  1. Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

    Making Money $150 An Hour

    Comment by Mike | March 1, 2009 | Reply

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