Grilling Tips for the Kidney-Friendly Diet

When the weather gets warmer, take the cooking outside the kitchen!

Grilling can be an enjoyable way to spend time cooking with family, rather than spending time indoors while everyone is out by the pool.

You can have a large cooktop to work with, and some come with extra features like a side range. But even if it doesn’t there are a ton of ways you can cook a full meal straight on the grill. And all while still following a kidney-friendly diet.

Moving your cooking to the outdoors during summer is a great way to keep the house cool while serving up a great meal for the whole family!

Moving your cooking to the outdoors during summer is a great way to keep the house cool while serving up a great meal for the whole family!

  1. Use all-natural, lean proteins

    Be sure to purchase your chicken, fish, beef, or pork without injected marinades as they often include phosphorus additives. (You can read all about phosphorus here).

    Picking leaner proteins will also help keep the saturated fat content of your protein down, which can be very good for your heart health.

    Be careful with hot dogs - these can be very high in sodium and phosphorus. Be sure to choose 100% natural beef or pork with no additives; low-sodium if possible. Otherwise, I’d recommend sticking to chicken breast/thigh or other whole proteins.

  2. Make your own rubs and marinades

    Instead of using a pre-made, sodium-laden blend, try your hand at a lower sodium version. DaVita has a great meat marinade and ton of spice blends. There are also salt-free spices like Mrs. Dash or Chef Prudhommes.

    Or you can try it on your own with your favorite spices. Here’s what I use almost every time:

    • 1 tsp chili powder

    • 1 tsp paprika

    • 1 tsp roasted garlic powder (regular garlic powder works too, just be sure it’s not garlic salt)

    • 1 tsp onion powder

    • 1/2 tsp black pepper

    • 1/2 tsp salt

    • 2 Tbsp olive or canola oil

    I mix this all together an add it to about a pound of protein like boneless, skinless chicken thighs or pork chops. Let it sit with the protein in a sealed bag for at least 30 minutes before throwing it on a hot grill.

  3. Focus vegetables, either low- or high-potassium

    Summer squash, corn, green beans, and asparagus are all great examples. Use a grill basket or liner to keep it from slipping between the grates, and toss with a little oil to prevent burning.

    Try a variety of bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions on kebabs to make delicious grilled low-potassium veggies!

    Even throwing a head of romaine lettuce on the grill for a minute before chopping into a Caesar salad can be a fun spin on a veggie side.

    Remember, your potassium needs are dependent on your kidney disease diagnosis and doctor orders. Stick to what you’re told to prevent cardiac complications.

  4. Keep cool

    Just because you took the cooking outside doesn’t mean you’re immune to the heat from cooking!

    Stay in shade as much as possible, use a hat and cold towel, and put some ice on the back/side of your neck if you need to cool of while on a fluid restriction.

    Need more tips? Check out my post 10 Tips to Control Your Fluids in the Summer Heat.

  5. Finish with dessert

    Don’t forget about some fruit! Grill some slices of watermelon and top with a small scoop of lemon sorbet for a refreshing treat. Just be sure to keep the watermelon in check - it’s low in potassium only if limited to 1 cup.

    Other delicious options are grilled peaches or pineapples with some whipped topping.

I hope you enjoy your outdoor cooking as much as I do! Tag me in your social media pics to share what you’re grilling up this summer!

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