My September Resolutions

September always feels more like New Year to me than January! With the kids going back to school and a new group of dietetic interns starting at our hospital, I always find this is the time of year I make resolutions about food! Last year, I decided to get my kids more involved in making meals (very messy). This year, I’ve decided to do a better job with packing lunches – my own!

Packing a lunch or healthy snack can feel like a chore. But the alternative can leave you with no option except for eating out. This can be especially tricky for kidney patients who are on restrictive diets. And unfortunately the option in most hospitals looks a lot like fast food and is often expensive! While I wish that every health care centre and hospital would offer inexpensive, low sodium, healthy menu options that could easily fit into a kidney diet that just isn’t our current reality.

So what to do?

  1. Plan ahead – make a list of snacks and meals that are portable and easy to eat. Do your grocery shopping with this in mind. If you go to dialysis 3 times per week, make sure you have what you need on hand for each treatment.
  2. Use your freezer – try making muffins and loaves that can be frozen individually. When running out the door you can easily grab something to go.
  3. When going to the hospital for appointments always bring a snack – you never know when an appointment will get delayed or extra tests will get ordered. Planning ahead can help you to avoid grabbing a bag of chips or a chocolate bar.
  4. Cook with leftovers in mind.
  5. Practice safe food. Make sure the food you bring is kept cold. This is especially important for meat, eggs and fish. Invest in an ice pack and insulated lunch bag. Remember the golden rule when it comes to food handling – when in doubt – throw it out!
  6. Talk to your dietitian for suggestions and ideas. Check out or for more recipe ideas.

I tire easily of sandwiches so a change is always good! Here is a lovely barley salad that goes just as well with any grilled meat (or on its own) and is even tastier the next day.

Southwestern Beef and Barley Salad (6 servings*)
1 cup barley, dry
3 cups “no salt added” beef stock or water
1 cup corn
1/2 cup red pepper, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/3 cup red onion, diced
454 grams (1pound) strip loin steak

Steak Marinade
2 cloves garlic
3 chipotle peppers
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Bring water/stock and barley to boil in a large sauce pan. Simmer uncovered until barley becomes tender (approximately 30 minutes). Set aside in a large mixing bowl to cool. Prepare the steak marinade by blending the garlic, chipotle peppers, and extra virgin olive oil together. Pour marinade over steak and let marinate in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Steak can be marinated up to 24 hours in advance. To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the spices, lime juice, and extra virgin olive oil. Preheat BBQ or grill pan over medium/high heat. Cook steak to desired doneness. To assemble the salad, pour vinaigrette over the cooked barley. Add corn, red pepper, cilantro, green onion, and red onion. Mix together with a spoon. Fan sliced steak on top of the salad and serve.

* Renal exchange: 3 Protein, 2 Starch, 1 Veg
If you have diabetes: 1 serving = 2 Carb Choices


Calories 291Kcal Total Fat 8g
Proteins 24g Sodium 142mg
Carbohydrates 32g Potassium 500mg
Fibre 7g Phosphorus 281mg


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