Baking on the Kidney Diet

You may walk into a bakery and see foods that look inviting, smell great and taste delicious. Unfortunately, some foods from your local bakery are off limits when you are on the kidney diet. This doesn’t mean you can’t have any baked goods. The best way to eat baked foods that are kidney-friendly is to bake them in your own kitchen. You can control the ingredients and still satisfy your desire to eat something fresh out the oven. Find out how you can start baking on the kidney diet.

What can I bake on the kidney diet?

There are a variety of kidney-friendly recipes that you can bake. They range from foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert:

  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Breads (yeast breads, quick breads, muffins, biscuits)
  • Pies
  • Pastries
  • Meat, fish and poultry dishes
  • Vegetables
  • Casseroles

Kidney-friendly baking ingredients

When you are on a kidney diet, you will find that you need to control your intake of sodium, phosphorus, potassium and sometimes calcium. Every person has individual nutritional considerations. Your dietitian will talk to you about which baking ingredients are kidney-friendly for the diet you need to follow. Here is a list of regular baking ingredients that may need to be monitored closely by people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and a list of kidney-friendly substitutes:

Regular baking ingredients

Kidney-friendly baking ingredients

Whole wheat flour (higher in phosphorus and potassium)

White flour (lower in phosphorus and potassium)

Self-rising flour (higher in sodium and phosphorus)

Plain, all-purpose white flour (lower in sodium and phosphorus)

Regular butter or margarine (higher in sodium)

Unsalted butter or unsalted trans-fat-free margarine (lower in sodium)

Sugar (for diabetics — adds additional carbohydrate)

Sugar substitutes (lower in carbohydrate)

Eggs (higher in cholesterol and phosphorus)

Egg whites or egg substitutes (lower in cholesterol and phosphorus)

Salt (high in sodium)

Reduced amounts of salt in recipes, more use of herbs and low-sodium spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.)

Milk (higher in potassium and phosphorus)

Nondairy creamer, soy milk, unenriched rice milk (lower in potassium and phosphorus — use brands recommended by your dietitian)

Ingredient substitutions may require additional recipe changes to keep the right balance of acid, fat, liquids and leavening agents. For best results, look for kidney-friendly recipes to follow or experiment with an altered recipe several times to find the right balance of ingredients.

Breads and cakes need a leavening agent to rise properly during baking. Most leavening agents used to bake breads may contribute large amounts of phosphorus, potassium, sodium or calcium, making the recipe unfriendly for people with kidney disease. Some products substitute calcium and magnesium for sodium or phosphorus. See which leavening agents contain these minerals:

Leavening agent 
(1 teaspoon)

Sodium 
(mg)

Potassium 
(mg)

Phosphorus 
(mg)

Calcium 
(mg)

Magnesium(mg)

Baking powder —double acting, aluminum sulfate (Calumet® and Clabber Girl® brands)

488

1

101

270

0

Baking powder-double acting, phosphate (Rumford® brand)

363

0

456

339

0

Baking powder-low sodium(Featherweight® brand) Ener-G® baking powder

5

505

344

217

0

Ener-G® baking powder

0

0

0

600

180

Baking soda

1259

0

0

0

0

Ener-G® baking soda substitute 

0

0

0

800

240

Cream of tartar

2

495

0

0

0

Baker's active dry yeast (1 pkg)

4

140

90

5

7

Homemade Phosphorus-Free Baking Powder

420

330

0

0

0

Yeast is one of the best leavening agents to use because it is lowest in the minerals limited in a kidney diet. You can make your own leavening agent at home. Homemade Phosphorus-Free Baking Powder is a combination of baking soda and cream of tartar. The advantage of using it as a substitute for baking powder is it is phosphate-free, although the sodium and potassium content is similar to other leavening agents. 

Measuring kidney-friendly ingredients

Measuring out the ingredients properly is essential for successful baking. If you guess the amount of ingredients you need for a recipe, the food may not bake correctly, which causes it to be undercooked, overcooked or not to look and taste as it should. Baked breads or cakes may be dense with tunnels instead of being light and fluffy as expected. Here are some tips for measuring kidney-friendly ingredients: 

  • Be sure to have the right measuring tools, such as measuring cups for liquid and dry ingredients, measuring spoons and correct pan sizes. Avoid measuring ingredients with eating utensils because they may not be exactly the size of a tablespoon or teaspoon.
  • Stirring flour is good to do before you measure it out. Sifting flour is necessary if the recipe calls for it. To sift flour, use a flour sifter (looks like a large, open aluminum can with a handle attached and small holes in the bottom) or a sieve (resembles a small colander with tiny holes, and a long handle).
  • For liquid measurements, such as water, try to use a clear measuring cup. If you use liquids that are sticky, such as honey or syrup, spray the measuring cup or spoon with cooking spray beforehand so excess ingredients can be removed for easy cleanup.
  • Level off any overflowing ingredients, such as flour, so that the measurement is exact; use a butter knife or spatula to do this.
  • Use a baking thermometer to check the temperature of your baked goods.

Other tips for baking on the kidney diet

Here are other tips to remember when you prepare kidney-friendly baked goods: 

  • Read the recipe carefully. Make sure you have the right ingredients and kitchenware/appliances for baking. Think about baking as a formula that works best when exact measurements and steps are followed.
  • Have your baking tools (pans, measuring cups and spoons, ingredients, paper towels, etc.) laid out in front of you for easy accessibility.
  • Preheat the oven before you mix your kidney-friendly ingredients. Baking is not to be rushed, so allow yourself time for this type of cooking.
  • The right pan size for your baked dish is important. Generally, a baked recipe provides you with enough ingredients to fit the appropriate-sized pan.
  • When checking to see if cake, cupcakes and quick breads are fully baked, poke the item in the center with a toothpick. Slowly take out the toothpick. No crumbs or very few crumbs sticking to the toothpick usually indicates that the baked item is ready.
  • Follow the recipe directions on how long to cool a baked item before removing it from the pan and before adding icing.

What can I eat at the bakery?

Some foods at the bakery may contain high amounts of phosphorus, potassium or sodium, which may be limited for people on dialysis. Here is a list of baked foods you may want to limit or avoid because they do not have kidney-friendly ingredients: 

  • Chocolate or cocoa (chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, etc.)
  • Nuts
  • Baked foods containing banana (banana nut bread, etc.)
  • Baked foods containing large amounts of milk or condensed milk
  • Baked foods containing peanut butter (peanut butter cookies, chocolate peanut butter cake, etc.)

There are some bakery foods that are more kidney-friendly: 

  • Sugar cookies
  • Shortbread cookies
  • Vanilla wafers
  • Vanilla cake
  • Angel food cake
  • Lemon cake
  • Apple pie
  • Blueberry pie
  • Peach pie
  • Yeast breads made with white flour (white, sourdough, French and Italian breads, cinnamon rolls)
  • Bagels

Foods from the bakery should be eaten in moderation. Baking at home is your best bet for managing the ingredients in your baked foods. Your dietitian can guide you on the best choices from the bakery. 

Diabetes and baking on the kidney diet

For people who have diabetes and are on the kidney diet, baked foods may be more restricted than for people who don’t have diabetes. Sweets that are baked, such as cakes, cookies, breads and fruit-filled pies, contain carbohydrates. When you have diabetes, carbohydrate intake is managed closely so that your blood glucose levels are under control. Even sugar-free desserts can have a high carbohydrate count. If you choose to include these items, keep portions small and limit how often you indulge.

People with diabetes who are on the kidney diet are often told to limit or avoid sweets. With careful planning, you can still work some desserts into your diet by substituting for other carbohydrate-containing foods and limiting portions. You can bake other foods that aren’t on the dessert menu. Recipes for baked meat, vegetable and fruit dishes are a great choice for lunch or dinner.

Baked recipes for the kidney diet

If you haven’t started baking yet, here are some recipes from DaVita.com/Recipes to help you begin. For people who have baked kidney-friendly recipes, there may be some on this list that you have yet to try.

Breakfast

Blueberry Dream Muffins

Cranberry Muffins

Egg Bake

Pioneer Pumpkin Bread

Strawberry Bread

Super Simple Baked Pancakes

Lunch

Baked Stuffing

Carrot-Apple Casserole

Easy Shepherd’s Pie

Eggplant Casserole

Homemade Pizza

Tasty Baked Fish

Snack

Are You Kidding Me Artichoke Dip

Hot Crab Dip

Lemonade Wings

Soft Pretzels

Wonton Quiche Minis

Dinner

All American Meatloaf

Baked Fish ala’ Mushrooms

Baked Pork Chops

Eggplant Seafood Casserole

Shake and Bake Chicken Extravaganza

Southern-style Cornbread — Low Phosphorus

Dessert

Blueberry Peach Crisp

Buttermilk Pie

Cranberry Orange Biscotti

Golden Cornmeal Cookies

Lemon Cookies

Low Sugar Carrot Cake

Old Fashioned Short Bread Cookies

Mary’s “Bada Bing” Cherry Pie

Soft Ginger Cookies

Sugarless Heart Cookies

Summary

Baking can be fun and rewarding, especially when you can control what you put into home-baked recipes to make them healthier for your kidney diet. Baking is more than just making a warm bread or dessert — you can use this cooking method for any meal. From casseroles to cookies, pies to pork chops, baking may become one of your favorite ways to cook. Talk to your dietitian about more ideas and tips for baking on the kidney diet.


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