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Quick Dinners to Please Your Family AND Your Kidneys

School's back in full swing, your plate is filled with homework and after-school activities and you want your family to have the nourishment they need to succeed. Healthy, kidney-friendly meals can be on your table in 30 minutes or less. Here are five top meals from the National Kidney Foundation:

  1. Baked Fish with rice or pasta is a light and delicious but filling dinner that won't take all day to cook up.

    For the fish, you can choose from a variety such as salmon, tilapia or cod. Season with lemon pepper and fresh lime or lemon juice. Other alternatives are marinating with low sodium salad dressing or real maple syrup with crushed pineapple (that last one works really well on salmon). Bake it at 350 - 400 degrees for 10 minutes per inch of fish or until it is flaky.

    For the rice or pasta, stay away from instant mixes since they are loaded with salt. Instead, cook one cup of pasta, couscous or instant rice with two cups of water and season it yourself. You can use a salt free herb mix such as Mrs. Dash or try mixing some minced onion, chopped garlic from a jar with other fresh or dried herbs and spices and fresh lemon juice. Do this for a few weeks and your taste buds will adapt to the new, fresh flavors and stop craving the sodium.
  2. Burgers and Salad. Drive right by the local fast food joint, put on your apron and make your own quick, but healthy meal instead. Using lean fresh ground beef veal, chicken or turkey mixed with herbs, spices, eggs and low sodium breadcrumbs, form your hamburgers and cook them in the oven or on the George Forman Grill. If you have chronic kidney disease or are on dialysis, when buying the meat be sure to ask if there are phosphorus additives since it is better to avoid these.

    Buy a bagged salad mix and add a little fresh fruit such as blueberries, raspberries, mandarin oranges, or sliced apples and add it as well as grilled chicken strips. Season the chicken cutlet with low sodium teriyaki or a combination of lemon juice, flavored vinegar and olive oil. Cook it on the George Foreman grill and save some for another evening's supper and cut some into strips for the salad.
  3. Enchilada or quesadilla can be made with chopped chicken tenders (they cook very quickly) or shrimp and all strips of bell peppers, red onion and zucchini. Just sauté the chicken or shrimp and vegetables in some canola oil, then fold into a flour tortilla or place the ingredients between two tortillas and heat on each side in a frying pan.
  4. Flank steak and corn on the cob. Marinate the steak with lime juice and garlic overnight. Broil it for a few minutes on each side and then slice and eat. For the corn on the cob, you can use fresh or frozen corn and microwave it or boil it up in a pot. Corn only needs to cook for five minutes after the water boils.
  5. Stir fry meat and vegetable medley. Cut chicken, sirloin or shrimp into small pieces. Cook in one tablespoon or peanut, canola or sesame oil. Then add jarred crushed ginger or garlic and vegetables. Sliced Eggplant, cabbage, green beans, celery, carrot (in moderation), onions, baby corn are lower potassium choices. Start with the vegetables which take the longest to cook, such as carrots and onions. The whole dish will be done in 10-15 minutes, when the vegetables are tender-crisp.

Important tip: Don't use salt substitutes when replacing salt in your recipes. These usually contain potassium chloride which is not healthy for those with kidney disease.