Kidney Friendly Smoothies

June 01, 2017, 3:38pm EDT

By Katy G. Wilkens, MS, RD
Smoothies are all the current rage -- you see them at the malls, your kids make them for breakfast, and the juice shops advertising them abound.
Supposedly full of good, healthy things, a smoothie can pack more calories, potassium, phosphorus and fluid in them than a milkshake, so they can be a little hard to swallow if you need to limit any of those things due to your kidney health.  
To help make your smoothie kidney friendly, try using lower potassium fruits like strawberries, blueberries, or fresh apple. Skip the banana typically added to smoothies, and use low potassium applesauce to thicken them instead, or decrease the banana to ½ a small one, which is plenty to sweeten your smoothie and add body, without adding too much potassium.
Protein powders are often added to smoothies – look for simple soy or whey protein powders, most found in a grocery store will do – just make sure it’s with the least amount of vitamins/minerals added. Some formulations, especially those that are used by body builders, can have extra vitamins, minerals and other additives that are not good for kidney patients. If you are not sure, ask your dietitian or your doctor.  Be careful, adding too much may make your drink taste gritty.
Another great protein idea found in most grocery stores are pasteurized liquid egg whites. You will usually find them in a carton in the refrigerated section near the eggs. Because they are pasteurized, you can mix them in your smoothie safely. Don’t use raw eggs.
Silken Tofu (soft) is often found in a container in the refrigerated section near the vegetables and is a great protein addition to your smoothie. Be careful as there are other textures of tofu that don’t blend as well as this.
To cut down on volume, try sharing your smoothie with a friend, or freeze half for a delicious high protein popsicle latter. Using an 8 oz glass will help you control fluid intake, too. 

Berry Smoothie

¼ cup cranberry juice cocktail
2/3 cup silken tofu, firm
½ cup raspberries, frozen, unsweetened
½ cup blueberries, frozen, unsweetened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pour juice into a blender. Add rest of ingredients. Blend until very smooth. Serve immediately and enjoy! 
Nutritional Information
Serving size: 1 cup
Calories 188, Carbohydrates 28 grams, Protein 8 grams, Dietary Fiber 7 grams, Fat 3 grams, Sodium 6 milligrams, Potassium 163 milligrams, Phosphorus 30 milligrams

Banana-Apple Smoothie

½ banana, peeled and cut into chunks
½ cup plain yogurt
½ cup applesauce, unsweetened
¼ cup almond or rice milk
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons oat or wheat bran
Place banana, yogurt, applesauce, milk and honey in blender. Blend until smooth. Add oat bran and blend until thickened.
Nutritional Information
Serving size: 1 cup
Calories: 292, Carbohydrates: 61 grams, Protein 9 grams, Sodium 103 milligrams, Potassium 609 milligrams, Phosphorus: 140 milligrams

Easy No Milk Shake

½ C Pasteurized Liquid Egg Product
½ C Frozen Non-Dairy Whipped Topping
Flavor of choice – almond extract, lemon juice, vanilla extract
½ cup berries, apple or banana or 2 tablespoons peanut butter
Nutritional Information
Serving size: 1 cup
Calories 203, Protein 19 g, Sodium 195 mg, Potassium 52 mg, Phosphorus 1mg
in addition to nutrients added to by flavor and peanut butter
Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers, Seattle WA. A recipient of the Susan Knapp Excellence in Education Award from the National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition, she has a Master of Science degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Washington. See more of her recipes at