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.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Farm To Table Simple Salad

Sometimes it's just what this family needs. Nothing complicated. Simple, fresh vegetables. A salad. It's a relief. A lesson, even, in the art of simple eating.

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The temperatures soared the other day. It was the second day of high 90 degree heat and very high humidity. While driving home from an Essence of Tuscany cooking class at Johnson & Wales University I thought about making something light for dinner. 

I imagined pairing the gorgeous red lettuce I had picked up at our local farmers' market with the plump luscious-looking strawberries growing in my garden. 

Kale, swiss chard from Confreda Greenhouse & Farms
Red lettuce, onions, cherry tomatoes, radishes from Oakdale Farms
See links mentioned below

As I drove home from class, I pictured the deep rich colors together, like the palette of a masterful baroque era oil painting.

Well, when I got home, my dreamy salad never turned into that beautiful painting I pictured in my mind. I went out to pick the strawberries and they were all gone! All of them. Poof! Gone. Nothing left. I guess some little creatures had the same dreamy idea.

Thank goodness I had picked up some other terrific vegetables at the farmers' market. Broccoli from Confreda Greenhouse & Farms. In addition to their red lettuce, I had cherry tomatoes from Oakdale Farms Country Barn & Garden Shop.

The cheese is also local, "Atwells Gold" from Narragansett Creamery. It felt good to make the meal from mostly local food, local businesses and farmers.

Chickpeas, while not local, are always a staple in my pantry closet and were a nice addition for a little added protein.

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