Wednesday, November 26, 2014

2 Shout-outs: Swanson and UMN research

Sodium is of huge concern to those with chronic kidney disease, and our food system is at a crisis when it comes to salt.  We can't really go out to eat anymore, as everything is over salted.  The only places we could even consider are local, organic restaurants.  Sodium is snuck in everywhere.  Not sure, go to your freezer and take out a pack of ground turkey, a roasting chicken, or pork chops.  Chances are they are injected with both sodium and potassium if you aren't buying organic.

This is why I literally jumped up-and-down this weekend when I saw Swanson Chicken Brother Unsalted.  Thank you for listening to my pleases!  Now, if you could just expand that to your organics and vegetable broths I will be set.  However, this is a big find for those of us that need to cook low-sodium, or even those that want to control their salt intake, but don't have time to make their own broth.  


I also need to do a shout-out to our own local Dr. Devin Peterson at the UMN, who does flavor research and is looking into sodium-alternatives in the Food Science and Nutrition Department.  There is a great 5:41 minute PBS video about this very issue. 



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Birthday Dinner: Maple-Glazed Chicken with Saffron Rice

These are kidney-friendly recipes, and super tasty.


This year I celebrated my 34 birthday with my best friend and twin, Panhia (no, not real twins obviously, but we share the same birthday and many mannerisms).  Panhia and Dave came down for dinner, and we had a lovely visit.  These recipes turned out quite tasty and are kidney-friendly, if you leave out the salt, which I did in both.


The saffron rice recipe is from The Splendid Table.  I didn't have curry leaves on hand, so I omitted them, and it was still excellent.

This is my foolproof chicken recipe from Food & Wine.  I usually double the onions when making two chicken, as I love the sweet onions with the chicken as leftovers.

Roast Chicken with Black Pepper-Maple Glaze

Ingredients
  1.  2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  2. 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  3. Coarsely ground pepper
  4. 2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  5. 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  6. Salt
  7. Two 3 1/2-pound organic chickens
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the maple syrup and 2 teaspoons of coarsely ground pepper. Remove the glaze from the heat.
  2. On a large heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet, toss the sliced onions with the olive oil. Season the onions with salt and pepper and spread in an even layer. Season the chickens inside and out with salt, then arrange them on top of the onions. Loosely tie the chicken legs together with kitchen string.
  3. Roast the chickens for 45 minutes. Brush the chickens all over with half of the maple glaze and continue roasting them for 1 hour longer. Increase the oven temperature to 425°. Generously brush the chickens with the remaining glaze and roast for 15 minutes longer, or until the cavity juices run clear and the chickens are richly browned.
  4. Transfer the chickens to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Pour the onions and pan juices into a large glass measuring cup and skim the fat from the surface. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the chickens.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pumpkin Soup and Turkey Triple Decker Grilled Cheese

This weekend was about emptying out the fridge and office.  I won a white pumpkin at work for dressing up for Halloween.  I decided to roast that and make some soup while it was still good.  Since it didn't make enough I had to add one can of pumpkin puree.

This is the yummy pumpkin soup recipe I used from the Minimalist Baker.  I used chicken stock, since I had a carton open, and also added a dash of paprika to give it a little zip.

Charlie also made a triple-decker grilled cheese for me with Ferndale Turkey (the only turkey I eat anymore- it is so good), and a variety of sliced cheese we had leftover.



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Freekah Good and Apple Squares

At this year's Farm Fest at Valley Natural Foods co-op I tried many new products, and one was freekah.  It was freekah good!  It is ancient young green wheat that is roasted, and has a nutty and chewy texture, kind of like a cross between brown rice and bulgur.  I went home right away and made their Asian Green Beans and Freekeh Salad, which is delicious.  I decided to whip up a quick lunchtime meal that I can portion out for the rest of the week, and this simple dish is quite tasty.


Roasted Squash Freekah

Ingredients
1 bag of rosemary and sage freekah
1 butternut squash
1/2 cup dried cranberries
EVOO
2 cloves of garlic, minced



Directions
1.  Dice the butternut squash into little bite-sized pieces.  Arrange on a baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, pepper, and 2 cloves of garlic minced. Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
2.  Prepare freekah according to directions. (I used chicken stock to give it even more flavor.)
3. Once freekah is done, toss in cranberries to soften with the heat of the grain.  Add squash when done, and mix.
4. Once room temperature feel free to add 1-2 tablespoons of EVOO, if you feel it is dry.  I didn't this time.  Enjoy for lunches throughout the week.




This past weekend I also made Splendid Table's Custardy Apple Squares.  It was a nice variation from the apple crisp we have been making, and is heavenly a la mode!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Stuffed Pork Chops and Polenta

Thank goodness two of our fall favorites are low in potassium and phosphorus for a renal diet: pork and apples!  This recipe turned out to be pretty tasty, even minus any salt.  Of course, if you are not on a low sodium diet, feel free to season with salt.




Stuffed Pork Chops

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 2 medium Haralson apples, diced finely (or other hard and tart apple)
  • 2 teaspoons minced parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 4 pork chops (I used boneless)
Directions
  • In a pan with a tablespoon of butter saute apples, onion, and caraway until tender.  Remove from heat and add in parsley and a little pepper (and salt if you can have it).
  • Cut a pocket in each chop by making a horizontal slit through the meat, but don't puncture the other sides.  
  • Heat a large pan with 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Stuff each pork chop with the apple mixture and secure closed with two toothpicks each. Season with pepper (and salt, if you can).
  • Searing each side of the pork chop in the oil, about 2-3 minutes a side.
  • Transfer pork chops to a baking dish if your pan can't go in the oven.  Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes.  Use a meat thermometer and take the pork chops out of the oven when it reads 145 degrees.
  • Cover with foil and let rest at least 5 minutes.  Remove toothpicks and enjoy!
I served them with polenta sprinkled with a little bit of Parmesan, and green beans.  



Renal Diet: Support FDA in Nutrition Labeling Changes

As many of you know Charlie is in kidney failure, so that means we are fallowing a renal diet. Renal diets turn everything you know about healthy eating upside down.  No more whole grains, rather white bread, white rice, and pasta are your friends. You have to be super strict about your phosphorus, potassium, and sodium.  Everything has some amount of phosphorus and potassium.  We are really tired of conventional stores and where all the places potassium is hidden.  If you don't buy organic meat, go look at the wrapper.  I can almost promise that they inject that pork chop with potassium and sodium to make the shelf life longer, and more appealing in color.  Now we are member-owners of Valley Natural Foods, and buy most of our items there, as most items do not have added potassium.  Please join me in supporting the FDA in changing their nutrition labels to require manufactures to put in the amount of potassium.  This is not only important to those with kidney issues, but heart as well!

Monday, October 13, 2014

CURRY VEGETABLES WITH CHICKPEAS AND CREAMY POLENTA

This was a pretty tasty quick-fix meal.  You can get it on the table in 30 minutes flat, and is a great way to use up those last fall veggies from the garden before the frost hits.  This is an adaptation from the Curry Grilled Vegetables with Chickpeas and Creamy Polenta. Sorry I didn't get a nice picture before I ate all of it, so you have a picture of my lunch leftovers.



Ingredients

Polenta

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
Vegetables
  • 3 small summer squash, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 teaspoons curry power
  • 1-2 teaspoons  zatar seasoning
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • cilantro or parsley chopped
  • feta or cheese on hand
Instructions
  1. Bring water and broth to a boil.  Stir in polenta; cook until polenta begins to thicken. Cover and reduce heat to lowest setting.  Simmer polenta for 25 minutes, stirring and scraping the pan bottom and sides every 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter. 
  2. Over medium heat heat olive oil, sauté summer squash, red pepper, onion and garlic cloves.  Once softened add spices and add chickpeas until warmed. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice.
  3. Spoon polenta into a bowl, top with vegetables, sprinkle with cheese and herbs.  Enjoy!
  4. Since we are trying to reduce our sodium, I did now add salt, and I rinsed the chickpeas and soaked them in water while the polenta was cooking.