Kidney Diet Tips

Spicin’ up Your Meals – One Dish at a Time!

Are you tired of having to think about every food that you put in your mouth? Do you feel as if you’re spending so much time and energy trying to figure out what you can eat that it’s taken the enjoyment out of eating? Do foods taste bland and unappealing to you? Does your diet need more spices?

You may have asked yourself at least one of these questions at some point in time. These are common questions I tend to hear from patients. They often feel frustrated. They are constantly doubtful of their ability to navigate through the dialysis dietary restrictions.

Focus on Spices and Herbs

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome these concerns to make dining a pleasurable experience. First and foremost, let’s talk about spices and herbs. Spices come from the roots, bark and seeds of plants while herbs are the leaves of the plants. Most spices contain essential oils, which are typically recovered by steam distillation. Both spices and herbs are readily accessible and may be used to intensify the flavor and aroma of a variety of dishes. The richness that spices provide may even take away the need for salt.

In addition to enhancing depth and flavor of food, spices and herbs may have a hand in reducing inflammation and pain, improving blood pressure, and supporting cognitive function (1).

Using Spices and Herbs

Below is a list of spices and herbs that are kidney-friendly and can be easily incorporated into many recipes. Keep in mind, these are just some of the most common spices and herbs that are used. There are also a myriad of other spices and herbs that are acceptable for use by people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) or for those on dialysis.

Garlic: Use this pungent bulb in its raw form to sauté for sauces, meat, potatoes and other vegetables. Garlic can also be used in its powder form. Add it to soups, meat and vegetables. Garlic powder may contain salts so make sure to read the nutrition label.

Onions: Similar to garlic, onions can be used to provide a sweet, rich flavor to soups, sauces, meat and vegetables. Use onions as a salad topping for an extra crunch to replace salty croutons! Try Braised Beef Brisket (Falda de Carne de Res Dorada), a recipe with flavor from onions.

Basil: is a great addition to curries and meat to enhance flavor. Also, it provides an aromatic cooking experience. Try Basil Pesto for optimal basil flavor.

Cumin: may be used in curries, meat and soups to add an earthy, nutty taste and a warm, somewhat refreshing aroma with hints of lemon. Cumin enhances many dishes, especially chili. Try the DaVita Firehouse Chili recipe.

Thyme: enhances sauces, pasta dishes, potatoes and meats. Thyme provides a subtle minty flavor. It is associated with reducing stress and improving digestion (2). Lemon Thyme Chicken includes fresh thyme as a key seasoning.

Turmeric: is a spice added to curries, meat, soups and fried rice. It provides a pungent, earthy flavor. Additionally, turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may aid in overall health benefits. Chilled Summer Squash and Turmeric Soup includes turmeric for taste, color and antioxidants.

Paprika: is great on egg or tuna salads. It creates a subtle smoky flavor and is a great way to savor your protein. Goulash is a traditional Hungarian dish seasoned with paprika.

Peppercorns: come in a variety of colors including white, black and red. It ranges from least to most spicy respectively. Try your favorite pepper on eggs, soups, sauces and even cottage cheese. If you like peppercorns you will love Peppercorn Pork Chops.


Herbs and spices are important food ingredients and can be consumed as is or used to flavor many foods and beverages. Sauces, meats, poultry and fish are a great place to start when experimenting with spices and herbs. Check out the latest DaVita cookbook, Today’s Kidney Diet Homemade Condiments, for recipes that use herbs and spices.

In addition, the next time you find yourself in the kitchen, feeling frustrated and out of ideas, try some of the recipes shown below. These tips and recipes will not only enrich your palate but also, may benefit your overall health.


  1. Kiran S. Panickar, Selena K. Tavener, Dennis E. Jewell, Chapter 3 – Molecular and Intracellular Signaling Mechanisms of Herbs, Spices, and Food Components in the Mediterranean Diet in Improving Cognitive Function, Editor(s): Tahira Farooqui, Akhlaq A. Farooqui, Role of the Mediterranean Diet in the Brain and Neurodegenerative Diseases, (

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.

Asmita Batajoo, MS, RDN, LD

Asmita Batajoo, MS, RDN, LD

Asmita Batajoo, MS, RDN, LD, originally from Kathmandu, Nepal, was raised in Madison, WI. She began her professional journey as a clinical dietitian and has worked with DaVita for the past year and a half. Asmita finds a great deal of satisfaction in working with kidney patients to help them understand that the renal diet does not have to be as daunting as it may seem. She enjoys doing yoga and barre exercises as well as cooking. Nepali cuisine is her specialty.