Mexican Coleslaw and Tangy Turkey Stew by LaBonte E. from California

From first century BC, stew has been recorded as a cuisine of many cultures and times. Stew has been so popular for such a long time, that no country can claim it solely as its own. Now DaVita renal dietitian, LaBonte from California, offers her Tangy Turkey Stew. Bubbling with herbs, meat and veggies, but low on salt and fat, LaBonte, modified her recipe to make it a healthy option for the dialysis diet.

Pair tangy stew with a side of Mexican Coleslaw, and you can stretch the main course as far as it needs to go without sacrificing low-carbs or taste. This slaw tastes best when it’s had two hours refrigeration for the flavors to “marry,” so make it first, pop it into the frig, and then start prep for your stew.

Like many dietitians, LaBonte was pointed in the direction of dietetics by a family experience. “My father had a heart attack and worked with dietitians to change his diet,” says LaBonte. “I thought it was the perfect way to blend science and health.”

After working in clinical, administrative and outpatient hospital positions, LaBonte was ready for a change and moved into the renal dietitian field. Now she’s been with DaVita for over five years. Along the way she has faced challenges and received many rewards. ”I find the most challenging part of the job is reaching long-term non-adherent patients.” LaBonte tries to help her patients “take one little step forward at a time” to follow their renal diet and keep their lab results in a healthy range. When that happens, LaBonte experiences the most rewarding part of her job, “Seeing patients begin to feel and do well,” she says.

LaBonte says her approach when working with patients is to be “reasonable, assuring and positive.” She also finds that using humor goes over well with her patients. LaBonte has discovered that even though, kidney failure is a serious subject, it doesn’t mean a dialysis clinic has to be depressing. She feels she is offering hope for a better lifestyle for people with chronic kidney disease. “I help them find that practical balance between real life habits and the stringent renal diet limits,” states LaBonte.

One of the perks of working with renal patients is that you see your patients on a regular basis. “I enjoy meeting all types of people that I never may have had to opportunity to really get to know,” says LaBonte

In addition to patient interaction, LaBonte enjoys working for DaVita. She explains, “DaVita offers amazing clinical support, continuing education meetings and super patient education materials that are ready to give out.” LaBonte remembers, “When I first came in for my DaVita interview the medical director was in the clinic. I knew him from outpatient work at the hospital. He called me over and inquired what I was doing there. When I told him he commented, ‘A dietitian can really make a difference here.’  That reinforced the renal dietitian’s ability to have an impact on patients’ health in dialysis and that the dietitian had the support of the medical director in the clinic.”

LaBonte has made a difference in the lives of her patients by offering them recipes for delicious meals with modifications to make them appropriate for the dialysis diet. Tangy Turkey Stew is the all-around wholesome meal choice for all kidney diets. The recipe yields 8 portions, and refrigerated overnight, the flavor is even better the next day. The same goes for Mexican Coleslaw, which also provides 8 portions, and gets better with refrigeration. Either recipe is great by itself or paired with different sides, as well.

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