Express Cooking
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Express Cooking

By Laurie Latour

My husband has renal disease, and of course, there are days when he doesn’t feel well and doesn’t have much energy. If you have renal disease, and you do the cooking, it helps to use several hours on a good day to cook a bunch of meals, or big batches of one or two things. It’s much more efficient, and you’ll have something in the freezer for the days when you can’t cook—something that will be within dietary guidelines so you’re less likely to buy fast food laden with salt, etc.

I call it “Express Cooking” and I do almost all my cooking that way. It’s much easier and saves so much time—not to mention, money!

Below you’ll find four of my “renal recipes”:

Laurie’s Crispy Oven Baked Chicken Marinade Chicken Recipes Apple Rice Salad Master Ground Beef Mix for Meatballs or Meatloaf I hope you and your family enjoy them! Remember, if you have any doubts about the content of these recipes, don’t use them. Always check with your dietitian for your particular needs!

Bon Appetit!

Laurie’s Crispy Oven Baked Chicken Here’s a great way to make the best chicken ever—and it’s cheap!

Mix the following in a bowl:

3 cups flour 2 teaspoons paprika 1 teaspoon onion powder (not onion salt) 2 teaspoons thyme 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning* 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt) 1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes Pepper to taste (*Read the list of ingredients before using poultry seasoning. While some major brands have no salt, brands containing salt should be avoided.)

This is enough mix to coat 8-10 pounds of chicken pieces. I buy chicken leg quarters when they’re on sale. You can get them for 25-49 cents per pound; 10 pounds of meat for under $5.00 isn’t bad!

Coat a 9” x 13” pan or cookie sheet (the kind with edges) with 2-3 tablespoons of cooking oil. Rinse the chicken pieces, and while they’re still wet, dredge them well in the flour mixture. Place them in the pan or on the cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until juices run clear. Halfway through the cooking time, brush some melted margarine on top of the chicken. There is no need to turn the chicken, but you can if you want. Variation: Substitute cornmeal for half the flour in the above recipe. Gives it an extra crunch!

These freeze well. I usually prepare 10 pounds at once; that will be 15-20 leg quarters, depending on the size. If you freeze these, the coating will be mushy when thawed, but it will crisp right up when you reheat them. Reheat in the oven—not in the microwave. I usually use a toaster oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes.

The pan drippings make great gravy! Remove the chicken, then brown the drippings in the pan by either putting the pan back in the oven or browning on top of the stove. This intensifies the flavor. Add a tablespoon or two of flour to make a paste, then stir in 1-2 cups of chicken stock (low sodium) or water, and stir till thickened.

A word about herbs for cooking: Since people on dialysis shouldn’t use salt or a salt substitute, you need to rely on other seasonings (not a bad idea for all of us, actually). Buy your herbs at a health food store (not one that only sells vitamins, but one that sells some food). They carry herbs in bulk and will weigh out just what you need at a fraction of the price you pay for those little jars in the grocery store. But more important, the intensity of the flavor is incredible! You’ll wonder why you ever bought the stuff in the store. An ounce goes a long way, so I often buy just a half ounce at a time. Don’t store herbs longer than a year, as they lose their flavor. So, call a few health food stores until you find one that sells dried herbs and start your collection. It will really enhance your food.

Marinade Chicken Recipes Below are marinade chicken recipes (no salt) that we enjoy. They can be used with other poultry or meat, but I usually use them with chicken leg quarters (cheap!)

I mix the marinade, then pour it or brush it over the chicken and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. Put the chicken and marinade in a Zip-Loc bag and seal. Turn it several times while it’s in the refrigerator, to distribute the marinade thoroughly.

Chicken pieces will take 30-45 minutes (possibly longer) on the grill, depending on the size of the pieces and the heat of the grill. Make sure the chicken is done by cutting into the thickest portion. Juices should run clear. Discard unused marinade. If you want some marinade to add at the table for more flavor, mix up a new batch, keeping in mind that anything that comes in contact with raw chicken could contain salmonella or other bacteria. Food safety is important!

If you’re cooking the chicken in the oven, put it in a 9” x 13” (or similar) pan and cover with foil to keep it moist; or broil if you prefer.

Most of the marinades below contain a small amount of oil. I use olive or canola oil. There won’t be that much on the chicken, but if you must restrict fat intake, try substituting low sodium chicken broth for the oil to get some flavor. Some of these contain citrus juice. You won’t get that much citrus on a piece of chicken (most of the marinade gets discarded).

Curry Marinade 1/4 cup oil 1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder 1 tablespoon minced onion 1 teaspoon lemon juice, optional

Sherry Marinade 1/2 cup sherry (any type) 2 tablespoons honey 1 teaspoon dry mustard 1/2 teaspoon ginger 1/4 teaspoon paprika 1 tablespoon oil 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce, optional

Honey Dijon Marinade 2 tablespoons oil 1/4 cup prepared mustard (any type) 3 tablespoons honey 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Lime Marinade 1/2 cup lime juice 1/4 cup oil 2-4 teaspoons honey (depending on how sweet you like it) 1 teaspoon rosemary 2 teaspoons oregano 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt) 1/4 teaspoon onion powder (not garlic salt) 1/2 teaspoon paprika

Sesame Chicken 1/4 cup oil 2 tablespoons minced onion 1 clove garlic, crushed 1/2 teaspoon ginger 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (red pepper) Sprinkle chicken with sesame seeds in the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Orange Marinade 1/4 cup orange juice 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice 1 clove garlic, crushed 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, or ground cloves 1 teaspoon thyme 1/4 teaspoon black pepper or cayenne

There is no need for food to taste bland just because salt intake is restricted. There are so many wonderful herbs and spices. I don’t feel like we’re missing out because salt intake is restricted; I think many other people are missing out because they have not experimented with herbs! As I mentioned in a previous recipe, get your herbs at a health food store if at all possible. They are cheaper and more flavorful.

Apple Rice Salad Here’s a cold rice salad that is especially nice during the summer. This was adapted from a recipe in Better Homes & Gardens to meet the needs of a renal diet.

2 cups cooked rice, white, brown, and/or wild rice - chilled 2 cups chopped apple (about 2 medium apples) 1/2 cup thinly-sliced celery 2 tablespoons shelled sunflower seeds (unsalted) 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 teaspoons honey 2 teaspoons brown or Dijon mustard 2 teaspoons finely-shredded orange peel 1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder)

Combine the chilled rice, apple, celery, and sunflower seeds in a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Pour over the rice mixture; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately, or cover and keep in the refrigerator up to 24 hours and then serve. Makes 4-6 servings. If you’re not going to serve this immediately, chop and add the apple just before serving. It’ll be crisper, although we found that leftovers the next day were still quite good. Serve this salad on lettuce leaves for an attractive presentation.

Nutrition Notes: Wild rice is higher in potassium than white or brown rice (see below), but we enjoy a little once in the while, so I mix about 1/2 cup of wild rice with brown rice for this salad. It also gives a nice, crunchy texture.

Below you’ll find other food values, as found in Bowes and Church’s Food Values of Portions Commonly Used, 16th Edition (1994), by JA Thompson Pennington and HN Church:

1 cup cooked long grain white rice = 80 mg of potassium and 95 mg of phosphorus 1 cup cooked brown rice = 83 mg of potassium and 161 mg of phosphorus 1 cup cooked wild rice = 166 mg of potassium and 134 mg of phosphorus 1 ounce sunflower kernels (about 3 tablespoons) = 196 mg of potassium and 200 mg of phosphorus 1 (7 1/2”) stalk of celery = 115 mg potassium and 10 mg phosphorus Orange peel adds negligible nutrients! 1 tablespoon = 13 mg calcium and 1 mg phosphorus. Oranges are high in potassium. Fresh orange peels add great flavor without the potassium. Invest in a citrus zester. You can get them at any kitchen/housewares store for about $5.00. It’s about the size of a potato peeler but has just a few tiny holes on one end. Pull that part across the outside of the orange (or lemon, lime) to get thin shreds of citrus peel without cutting into the white pith (which is bitter). This is a simple way to add delicious flavor to your food!

Recipe Changes: The original recipe called for 1 cup celery, 1/4 cup sunflower kernels and 1/4 cup dried currants. I simply omitted the currants (which are very high in potassium), and cut the celery and sunflower seeds to half the amount. When I first started cooking for a renal diet, I’d skip recipes like this because several ingredients were a “no-no.” I’ve learned that it’s often not hard to make simple adjustments, and it’s really worth it!

Master Ground Beef Mix for Meatballs or Meatloaf You will need the following: 2 1/2 lbs. ground beef 1/4 cup diced onion (or more, to taste) 3 tablespoons low sodium Worcestershire sauce 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (no salt variety) 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt) Pepper to taste 4 slices soft white bread, cubed, crusts removed 1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a loaf pan with foil to make a meatloaf. For meatballs, line a cookie sheet with foil—be sure it has a lip all the way around it to catch the meat juices. Put the meat, onion, and seasonings in a large bowl. Place the cubed bread on top; pour the milk over the bread.* Thoroughly mix all ingredients; then press into a loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until juices run clear and no pink remains in the meat (make sure it’s thoroughly cooked). Or, shape into meatballs, place on the cookie sheet and bake 20 minutes or until done. Makes 6-8 servings. *NOTE: The soft bread cubes and milk help make the meat tender and juicy. Don’t use dry bread crumbs or other dry fillers such as oatmeal. They tend to make a dense, dry, finished product.

The Master Mix recipe above can be used to stuff green peppers. Cut the pepper in half, stuff with the meat mixture, place on a cookie sheet with the meat side up, and bake until done. You can also make cabbage rolls. Wash several cabbage leaves. Microwave them in a paper towel for about 30 seconds or until just wilted. If they are very large, cut them in half with a scissors. Shape a handful of the meat mixture into a log and roll with a cabbage leaf; fasten with toothpicks. Place in a covered dish and bake about 20 minutes or until the meat is done.

For a nice variation, try curried meatloaf. Use the master mix above, but omit the Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Add one peeled, finely-chopped, Granny Smith apple and 1-2 teaspoons of curry powder. Bake as usual. If you don’t like curry, leave it out and just use the apple. It gives a nice, moist flavor to the meat.

Try baking your meatloaf in a bundt pan for a very attractive dish. Most bundt pans will hold 3-4 pounds of meat. After baking, drain the juices and carefully invert the meat ring onto a plate. Fill the center with cooked rice, parsley, or cooked veggies. It’s quite attractive.

Want a sauce to replace catsup? Try this:

Stir 2/3 cup apple butter with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or white sugar if you prefer—slightly less potassium). Stir over medium heat until hot and the sugar dissolves. Here’s a nice variation for hamburgers: Make “crunchburgers” by adding chopped water chestnuts to your hamburger and then form into patties. One small can, finely chopped, is more than enough for 2 pounds of meat.

Permission received to post the following information:

Name: Laurie Latour
Jacksonville Beach, FL
Cause of spouse’s renal failure: Glomerulonephritis
Time on dialysis: 12 years
Treatments used: In-center hemodialysis, home hemodialysis, transplant
Date: April 2000