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Healthy Meal Ideas for CKD Patients and Families

Where can I find meal and menu ideas that are healthy choices for chronic kidney disease patients and our families? I don’t want to be cooking multiple meals for each member of my family.

This week I will share the process of the Brilliant Eats cookbook, give you some of my family’s favorite recipes, and hopefully convey to you the passion that went into the development of, what I think, is a fantastic tool for kidney patients everywhere!

First of all, I never dreamed that I would have the opportunity to be involved in a project that could help so many people. When approached by the Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation, the cookbook started out as a “small” manual, which would encompass some general diet guidelines and recipes for the PKD patient. As we got going, the foundation saw a need for this tool for all types of kidney disease.

My philosophy is you must be realistic. I refuse to take the individual person and blanket them with a strict, unreasonable, textbook diet plan.   Instead, dietary changes will only be successful if they taste good and are fairly easy to follow. The most important thing to me was acceptability of the recipes by the patient and the patient’s family. Ease of preparation and availability of ingredients was also key. In my own family, both of these are extremely important. Time is of the essence. Making two or three different meals for my kids and I is not realistic. The meals in this cookbook had to be acceptable to all ages, well, most of them anyways. I tried to give the reader options, while including familiar favorites and some new ideas.

The development of the recipes was an exciting experience. Most people would think that as a dietitian, I can cook. That couldn’t be further from the truth! The truth is, I am very good at telling you what you should/shouldn’t eat, but a cook…I am not! I am lucky though; my husband is an excellent cook! When choosing recipes…I modified them according to guidelines for each stage of kidney disease. Then, my husband would cook them, we would sample, change things, sample again, until we got it right!

Some of our favorite recipes include Easy Bruschetta, Roasted Corn and Edamame Salad, Hearts of Palm Salad with Ruby Red Grapefruit and Dungeness Crab, and Grilled Salmon with Papaya-Mint Salsa.

Some of my kid’s favorite recipes include Noodles Romano, Grilled Asparagus and Mozzarella, Honey Garlic Pork Chops, and Filet with Pesto. In short, they are going to be expensive dates when they grow up!

My favorite part of the cookbook is the ease of use for the chronic kidney disease patient. It is designed to make meal selection easy. Each recipe has a key which identifies what stage of chronic kidney disease that specific recipe is appropriate for, pre-dialysis, hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis or post-transplant. It makes meal planning extremely easy.

Much time, passion, dedication and involvement from a lot of different people went into the development of this book. One of the most exciting experiences for me was the photo shoot. I traveled to Kansas City where a food stylist, marketing team and photographer spent two days making some of the recipes and shooting them for the book. What a phenomenal experience.  I now truly appreciate the hard work that goes into making the food look so fantastic. Also, after this experience, I’ll never be disappointed again, when my meals don’t look exactly like the picture in the cookbook. Because now….I know their secrets.

Either way, in my opinion, the Brilliant Eats cookbook takes the kidney diet back to reality: giving real people and real families tasty options that fall within your kidney dietary needs. Always, keep in mind that moderation is key, variety helps and food should be enjoyable! So from my kitchen to yours…Bon Appétit!

To order your copy of Brilliant Eats, please visit

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