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Developed by CORU registered kidney (renal) dietitians

Enjoying the Summer Holidays on a renal diet

As the holidays draw ever nearer, food is constantly on my mind!  What to cook, when to cook, how much to cook and of course trying to make everyone happy.   And I don’t even have to worry about a renal diet! So to make life seem more manageable I try to make lists and do some of the food preparation in advance.  While it’s never quite as smooth as I would like, I am always very happy when I am able to pull a quick meal out of the freezer or have all of my ingredients at hand!

The holidays can be challenging on a renal diet, especially when you’re eating at someone else’s home, in a hotel or B&B, and you aren’t certain what’s in the food you’re being served. Here are a few strategies you can use to make the holidays go a bit more smoothly.

  • make a list (check it twice) of the meals you’ll be cooking and the ingredients you will need; this can save time and money
  • offer to bring something and plan on a dish that is kidney-friendly that you know you enjoy
  • ask about the menu in advance; if there’s something you aren’t sure about you can ask your dietitian before you go
  • make it a “recipe potluck”; suggest everyone brings enough copies of the recipes for the items they bring to share. Everyone gets to take home new recipes (a great memento of a holiday get-together) and you get to scan all the recipes to make sure you know what you’re eating!
  • watch your portions; keep servings small and avoid going back for seconds – eat slowly and join in the conversation!
  • don’t be too polite; don’t feel you need to clean your plate or try some of everything, especially if the food doesn’t fit well into your kidney diet
  • avoid the “extras”; condiments and sauces such as, gravies, pickles, olives, cheese, nuts other than peanuts(not salted) or cashews etc – all of these “extras” can be sources of salt, phosphorus, or potassium. See more suitable homemade recipes on the next page.
  • avoid skipping meals; if you’re starving you will be much more likely to overeat!

Tips on dining out easier on a renal diet:

“If ordering in an Asian restaurant, ask for sauces on the side as dishes can be very high in salt”


When you know you will be eating out for dinner, plan your breakfast and lunch at home accordingly. Cut back on serving sizes and foods high in sodium and potassium during the day. Call ahead or check their website to learn more about the menu and how the food is prepared. Choose a restaurant where it will be easiest to select foods best suited for your diet.
Restaurants where food is freshly prepared and made to order are the best choice. Eating at fast-food restaurants is not totally out of the question.
It does, however, take some thought and planning. Fast food restaurants tend to have pre-prepared components for their meals, and often these are pre-salted too. This can make it challenging modify the meals according to your needs. Though, they usually have nutritional analysis of their meals which can be useful when making the best choice from their range of meals.


We love a bit of sunshine here in Ireland, but unfortunately it does not come around very often! But when it does, there is nothing quite like sharing a BBQ with friends and family. Some BBQs meals have high salt or high phosphate content, not to mention risks of food borne bacteria. But this does not mean you should miss out on delicious tasty meals! Here is an appetising BBQ meal you could enjoy!


While you are waiting for the BBQ to get started …


Starter: Pesto Pasta salad (Serves 4)



  • 600g Pasta twists
  • 80g red pepper, chopped
  • 40g fresh basil
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 10g crème fraiche


  1. Add the pasta to boiled water and cook until tender. Drain the pasta into a bowl and allow to cool – keep the cooking water in a jug
  2. Add the basil, olive oil, white wine vinegar and crème fraiche into food processor and blitz until it is a smooth consistency. (If it looks too thick, add some cooking water from the pasta – this will help coat all the cooked pasta).
  3. To finish, add the chopped red pepper to the pasta and mix the pesto through until all the pasta is coated. Serve chilled.
Per portion this starter dish provides a  ½ vegetable portion. Check your daily allowance to see if you have enough remaining for this dish


The Main course : Pork Kebabs (Serves 4)




For Kebabs

  • 1 medium (75g) red onion, peeled
  • 1 medium (80g) green pepper, removed core & seeds
  • 325g pork fillet, cut into 1inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp of red wine, to brush on during cooking

For marinade

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ level tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp of fresh rosemary, chopped


  1. Place 8 wooden skewers in water to soak (this will prevent them burning). Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a bowl, and then stir in the pork. Cover and leave this to marinade for 2-3hours in the fridge.
  2. Preheat barbecue for high heat.
  3. For the kebabs, cut the onion into 16 equal size pieces. Also cut the green pepper into 16 equal sized pieces.
  4. To construct the Pork Kebabs, remove the skewers from the water and the meat from the fridge to start treading the pieces onto the skewers. Start with a piece of the meat first, then red onion, then green pepper, and repeat this again, and end the skewer with another piece of pork (the pieces of meat at both ends keep the pieces secure)
  5. Lightly oil the barbecue cooking grate. Arrange skewers on the prepared barbecue. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, brushing occasionally with red wine, until meat completely cooked through and juices run clear.
Per portion
  • this dish provides 3 protein (meat) exchanges and a ½  portion of your vegetable allowance. Check your daily allowance to see if you have enough remaining for this dish

Summer salad (Serves 4)



  • 1½ desert bowls (125g) Cos lettuce, roughly chopped
  • 25g red onion, finely chopped
  • 50g raw runner beans
  • 1 level tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 level tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice


  1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and gently mix to coat the salad
Per portion this dish provides 1  portion of  vegetable from your daily  allowance. Check your daily allowance to see if you have enough remaining for this dish
Check your daily allowance to see if you have enough remaining for this dish

Couscous (Serves 4)



  • 250g couscous
  • 50g green beans, blanched for 2 minutes
  • 50g red pepper, chopped finely
  • 1 level tsp ground cumin
  • 1 level tsp ground coriander
  • 1 level tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp of lemon juice
  • 250ml boiled water


  1. Mix the cumin, coriander, black pepper, lemon juice and honey into the boiling water and pour onto the couscous. Leave to soak for 5minutes.
  2. Fluff up the couscous with a fork and mix in the remaining ingredients.
Per portion this dish provides a ½  vegetable  portion  from your daily  allowance. Check  to see if you have enough remaining for this dish

Written By Lorraine Moran, Abbott Nutrition on behalf of the Renal Interest Group of the Irish Nutrition & Dietetic Institute