Happy New Year!!!

It seems that the newspapers are chock full of health and nutrition advice these days – it’s no surprise since January seems to be everyone’s favourite time of year to take stock and get ready to be healthier.  The flyers are dominated by fitness equipment and the parking lot at the gym is full!  It’s a great time of year to be a dietitian! I’ve been thrilled to see great articles about sodium, fat and processed foods over the past week and what I see in most of the really good articles is a common theme:

  • Eat fresh, unprocessed foods more often
  • Eat regular meals
  • Prepare food at home more often; eat out less often
  • Cut back on salt and sugar
  • Be conscious about what you eat – plan ahead

While none of these ideas are all that surprising (we all know these are good things to do), it’s great that they can all be applied to a kidney diet.  I can relate especially well to the last item.  Life gets busy and too often planning meals happens on the way home from work!  Planning ahead, making a list and having the ingredients on hand are all important to a healthy lifestyle.

I love new recipes and I’ve been perusing many of the sites looking for new and healthy recipes that are easy and fast but to my dismay many are simply low calorie or low fat and still far too high in sodium to really be called healthy.  Avoid recipes that call for processed foods in the ingredients list (for example: ham, sausage, processed cheese, broth or bouillon).  You can substitute better ingredients in many cases (for example: sodium free broth or unprocessed cheeses) but your finished product may not be what you expect.

If added salt is the problem try cutting the sodium in half or eliminating it altogether.  If you cut out the salt make sure to boost up the other flavour enhancers (herbs, spices, lemon, garlic). Beware of seasoning salts (onion salt, garlic salt) which are high in sodium and salt substitutes which contain potassium chloride (for example: NoSalt or Half Salt).

As always, read through the ingredients list and make sure that all the ingredients fit with YOUR nutrition requirements (low potassium, low phosphorus). Here’s a simple but delicious way to prepare chicken breasts…

Herb and Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Breast with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis

Stuffed Chicken with Ricotta Filling
1 clove garlic, sautéed
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup ricotta
1 egg
¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (eg: basil, parsley, thyme)
¼ tsp black pepper
4 chicken breasts (boneless and skinless with NO phosphate additives)

Sauté garlic in olive oil. Combine ricotta, eggs, garlic, and herbs. Cut slit in fattest side of the chicken breast. Stuff mixture into chicken breast. Heat olive oil in skillet. Brown chicken in skillet than transfer to a 350F preheated oven. Bake for approximately 20-30 minutes until no pink remains.

Roasted Red Pepper Coulis
1 cup roasted red peppers
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced

Puree all ingredients in a blender. Warm in saucepan or microwave. Serve with chicken. Can also be used as a quick pasta sauce.

1 stuffed chicken breast = 4 protein choices

Recipes developed by Chef Leslie Cairns

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