Kidney Diet Tips

Cajun Cuisine: Bold and Spicy!

Many people enjoy talking about food. Overhearing someone mention Cajun chicken got me thinking … is that kidney-friendly? People with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end stage kidney disease (ESKD) cannot tolerate high amounts of sodium or processed foods with phosphate and potassium additives. By using recipes modified for a kidney diet like those on, people with CKD and ESKD can enjoy this entrée and many others.

Cajun Food History

The word “Cajun” comes from “Acadians,” who were a group of French colonists living in the Northern Atlantic area and were later deported to Louisiana in the mid-18th century. (1) Influenced by West African, French and Spanish cuisine, Cajun dishes are made with locally available ingredients.(2) Seafood caught in the Gulf of Mexico and along the bayou of the Mississippi River included crab, oysters, alligator, crawfish, shrimp and red fish.

Cajun Ingredients

Many Cajun dishes are made with “one pot.” The main ingredients of these one-pot meals included seafood, meat and/or poultry, plus rice, vegetables and seasoning like paprika, cayenne, black pepper, oregano, garlic and onion powder. The Cajun Trinity refers to three staples in Cajun cooking—bell pepper, onion and celery.

Gumbo (pronounced “guhm-boh”)

Gumbo is a Cajun stew thickened with okra or file (pronounced “fee-lay”), which is ground sassafras leaves. (2) Chicken and sausage or shrimp and seafood are paired to make a hearty stew. Make gumbo kidney-friendly by opting for chicken, shrimp or seafood instead of sausage. Instead of a regular soup broth, use a low-sodium version. To make the roux (pronounced “rue”) simply add oil and flour to a heated skillet and stir constantly until the flour turns the color of coffee with cream. Try the Louisiana Shrimp and Crab Gumbo recipe on A 1 cup serving provides 320 calories, 18 grams protein, 480 mg sodium, 370 mg potassium and 246 mg phosphorus. Considering this is a one-dish meal, these numbers are in the kidney-friendly range.

Jambalaya (pronounced “juhm-buh-li-yah”)

Jambalaya is a gravy based one-pot dish served with rice. Ingredients include shrimp, bell pepper, onion, fresh garlic, black pepper and oil, butter or margarine. To make Jambalaya kidney-friendly, choose low-sodium tomato sauce and low-sodium beef broth. One cup contains 294 calories, 20 gram protein, 186 gm sodium, 300 mg potassium and 197 mg phosphorus. Try’s delicious Cajun Jambalaya recipe.

Cajun seasoning

Cajun seasoning is bold, hot and spicy! has a recipe for Salt-free Cajun Seasoning that is safe for people with CKD or ESKD. Use this Cajun seasoning to season poultry, seafood and fresh pork.


  1. accessed June 30, 2021
  2.,techniques%20into%20their%20original%20cuisine accessed June 30, 2021

Additional Kidney Diet Resources

Visit and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.

Dawn Johnson, MS, RDN, LD

Dawn Johnson, MS, RDN, LD

Dawn Johnson MS, RDN, LD knew she wanted to be a dietitian when she was 18 years old. Now practicing over 20 years, Dawn has worked in various settings with a focus in renal nutrition over 12 years. She is passionate about addressing, examining and resolving people’s ambivalence for change. Dawn resides in Highland, Indiana with her husband and 2 young children. During her personal time, she likes to run, visit her local library and volunteer at church.