Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Crunchy Couscous Salad, NE NephCure Meeting

Here is a light summer salad I made for the kidney-friendly pot luck buffet we had during a recent NephCure New England Chapter support meeting.  Several parents and families came together for conversation, support, and to hear valuable information from an experienced renal dietitian from Children's Hospital. While my daughter is still in remission* and isn't on a special diet anymore (she was on a reduced sodium diet for two years, although we still watch her sodium intake), there's always something helpful to learn and I like to stay connected with NephCure and the families I have met over the past few years.

When we have these pot luck dinners I love to make a recipe from the DaVita website, a great resource for kidney patients and their families with kidney-friendly recipes and nutritional information.

Crunchy Couscous Salad
Recipe by Carol, a DaVita dietitian. Click here for their printable version.

1/2 cup dry couscous
3/4 cup water

1 cup cucumbers, thinly sliced and quartered (I used the English variety)
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped
2 tablespoon black olives, chopped (I used pitted Kalamata olives)
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine or unseasoned rice vinegar (I used unseasoned rice vinegar)
2 tablespoons feta cheese crumbles (I looked for the lowest-sodium)
1-1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon salt (I omitted due to the sodium in the feta cheese and olives)
1/4 teaspoon pepper (I used a few turns of the pepper mill)
Juice of half a lemon (my addition to the recipe)

I started with the couscous because it needs time to cool before adding the other ingredients.  In a medium sauce pan, bring water up to a boil. Remove from heat and add couscous. After about 5 minutes and all the water is absorbed, turn couscous into a large bowl and fluff with a fork. Let cool.

Next, I made the dressing so flavors would start building while I made the mixture. Simply combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Prepare ingredients for mixture and to the cooled couscous (fluff up some more and if not cool wait a few more minutes). Mix in dressing. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving. I thought it needed a little lemon so I squeezed juice of half a lemon over the salad.

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Nutrients per serving (my version might be a little different since I used Kalamata olives and lemon and omitted salt): Calories 121, protein, 3 g, carbohydrate 14 g, fat 6 g, cholesterol 4 mg, sodium 167 mg, potassium 105 mg, phosphorus 51 mg, calcium 47 mg, fiber 1.4 g

Renal and renal diabetic food choices: 1 vegetable, low potassium, 1/2 starch, 1 fat

Diet Types: CKD non-dialysis, dialysis, diabetes

Patients: Always check with your dietitian or nephrologist.

For more nutritional and helpful links for renal patients and families that the dietitian provided at our meeting click here.

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*Yes! My daughter is still in remission (she was diagnosed with FSGS Syndrome in February 2008 and has been in remission since February 2010). We received the good news yesterday from her nephrologist. Given her continued remarkable lab results, we are again reducing her Prograf, an immunosuppressant, by another 1 milligram. It's great news but any changes in her medication, even this tiny amount, could cause relapse so we'll be closely monitoring her protein level.


  1. Another wonderful salad I love. Such fresh, colorful and crunchy veggies, and also loving the dressing used with it. A nice mild rice vinegar dressing is always helpful.
    Sorry, about the misunderstanding...I was a little bit ahead of myself in your last salad, about the type of vinegar used...or not, probably in my head I would have used a dash of the white balsamic, and NO, you did not mislead me, at all:D

  2. Lin Ann-I'm also back again, after reading about the FSGS Syndrome after clicking on the link. I must be so ignorant because I never heard of this. Thank God your daughter has been in remission for over a year. You are taking such good care to make sure she eats the right kind of foods, and watch her protein level.

    Every family has some type of health related issues to deal with, weather it's a child, or adult. I wish your daughter a great success in her future recovery to full health!

  3. Yeah, yeah! The food, the daughter, and a very diligent and loving mother... all a blessing. *hugs*

  4. I can't even imagine having to deal with such an illness especially with a child. Kudos to you Lin Ann, and that support group of yours. Diet must play a huge part in keeping things in check.

    Delighted to hear she is in remission:) That is just wonderful news!!!

    Your salad is not to be left out. It looks and sounds amazing. I adore Couscous, I just don't prepare it often enough. I'll be saving this...

    Thank you so much for sharing...

  5. This sounds light and delicious! I love cucumbers and feta together.

  6. I started eating couscous very recently and totally love it :)

  7. Hope you are having a blast, Lin Ann! I could use one of those myself:) You have plenty of time to join the picnic festivities so "see" you when you return. enjoy:)

  8. I tried to leave a comment on your latest post but it seems not only are loading pictures a problem on that post so is leaving comments.

    I'll check back later and see how it's going. GOOD LUCK!!!

    Glad you're back. I hope you will be able to still make the Picnic Game...

  9. Hi Louise - thanks for letting me know that. My friend, Jayne, who write a blog on blogger also had trouble loading photos yesterday. The Picnic Game! Thanks for reminding me. I'm going to have time this weekend, if that's not too late. We are trying to get caught up this week. The kids are home from school and we are trying to get all their stuff done this week (cleaning up rooms, accumulating school papers and stuff).