Kidney Diet Tips

Kidney Diet Tips: A New Recipe for Sodium Girl’s Low-Sodium Recipe Rally

This week I’m stepping up to the challenge. Sodium Girl, who blogs on living salt-free and who has first hand experience dealing with kidneys, has challenged her readers to take a salty recipe and replace the high-sodium ingredients with low-sodium substitutes, creating a low-sodium dish full of flavor. I found out about the challenge a day ago, so had little time to to stew on what to create. Last night my hubby kept popping into the kitchen to check on the end result of the yummy smells and clanging pots.

I started with a couscous recipe I love from Here’s the original (and to give credit, it was created by Levedi, a cook who has shared several recipes.)

Couscous, Cranberry and Feta Salad


  • 1/3 cup couscous
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing, or to taste
  • salt to taste


  1. Place the couscous and cranberries in a heatproof bowl. Pour in the boiling water, and stir with a fork. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Fluff the couscous with a fork, and fold in the cucumber and feta cheese. Season to taste with balsamic vinaigrette and salt.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrients (my calculations–used 1/4 tsp salt for the recipe)

243 calories, 6 g protein, 40 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat, 13 mg cholesterol, 455 mg sodium, 175 mg potassium, 116 mg phosphorus, 91 mg calcium, 2.9 g fiber.

The feta cheese, salad dressing and salt to taste–all full of flavor and sodium, were my challenges. Additional challenges–the mushy cuccumber I had planned to use, and an almost empty bag of dried cranberries, plus keep it kidney-friendly with low potassium and low phosphorus ingredients. Needless to say, my creation was a bit different from the original recipe, but ended as a pleasant culinary surprise.

Here’s my low-sodium rally recipe:

Couscous, Apple and Carmelized Onion Salad 


  • 2 cups thinly sliced white onion (Maui or other sweet onion variety)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar glaze
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 small apple, cut, cored and thinly sliced (leave the skin on)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted sweet butter
  • 1/3 cup couscous
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and cook onions over medium heat, stirring often. When the onions are translucent and soft, cover with a lid and continue to cook until carmelized, about 15 minutes. Stir about every 3-4 minutes and adjust heat if needed.
  2. In a separate nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray, cook apple slices over medium heat until tender. Reduce heat to medium low and cover with a lid. Continue cooking until soft and slightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add balsamic glaze and honey to caramelized onions and stir.
  4. Boil the water, add butter and stir until melted. Pour over couscous in a bowl. Cover and let set for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle cinnamon over couscous and stir with a fork to mix.
  6. Add onions and stir until well mixed; add apples, toss and serve.

Tip: Serve hot or cold–it’s great both ways!    

Makes 2 servings


230 calories, 4 g protein, 37 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 7 mg sodium, 155 mg potassium, 66 mg phosphorus, 32 mg calcium, 3.4 g fiber.

I loved participating in this challenge. Sodium Girl has not only proven you can live with and enjoy a low sodium, salt-free diet, she has also prompted a whole group to create and prove there is flavor without salt. Thank you Sodium Girl!

What’s next? March is National Nutrition Month. Find out what the DaVita Dietitians are doing to celebrate!

Additional Kidney Diet Resources

Visit and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

DaVita Food Analyzer

DaVita Dining Out Guides

Today’s Kidney Diet Cookbooks

DaVita Kidney-Friendly Recipes

Diet and Nutrition Articles                                                      

Diet and Nutrition Videos

Kidney Smart® Virtual Classes

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.

Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara Colman, RDN, CDCES

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 30 years experience working with people with diabetes and kidney disease. She is co-author of the popular kidney cookbook "Cooking for David: A Culinary Dialysis Cookbook". Sara is the Manager of Kidney Care Nutrition for DaVita. She analyzes recipes and creates content, resources and tools for the kidney community. In her spare time Sara loves to spend time with her young grandson, including fun times together in her kitchen.