4 Ways to Fry Foods on the Kidney Diet

Although there are healthier ways to cook food instead of frying, it can be an occasional treat for people following a kidney diet. For those who have difficulty getting enough calories or gaining weight, it can be a good cooking option because oils are high in calories.

If weight control is an issue, you may want to limit how often you fry foods. Large amounts of fried foods are not recommended as part of a healthy diet for anyone, whether a person has chronic kidney disease (CKD) or not. When you have CKD or are on dialysis, be sure to talk with your dietitian about how much fried foods you can have so that you maintain a healthy weight but aren't deprived of the foods you love. 

There are four different methods you can use to fry foods: 

1. Sautéing

Sautéing is a quick way to prepare many kidney-friendly foods. Suggested items include lower potassium vegetables such as celery, garlic, mushrooms, onions, peppers, leached potatoes; firm fish, shrimp or scallops; boneless chicken breast or thighs or thin sliced turkey breast; and tender cuts or small, thin-cut pieces of red meat such as beef tenderloin, lamb, pork or veal.

To sauté these foods:

1. Pour 1-3 tablespoons of oil into a sauté; pan (about 1/8-inch deep).
2. Place over high heat. When the pan is hot, add food.
3. Move the pan to flip or toss the food a few times to ensure even, fast cooking.

After sautéing meats, deglaze the pan by adding a liquid such as low sodium broth or wine to dissolve the flavor-packed particles of cooked food on the bottom of the pan. Use the deglazed liquid to make a sauce for the cooked meat. Sautéed foods are best when served immediately after the food is cooked.

2. Stir-frying

Your favorite Asian restaurant may come to mind when you think about stir-frying. Foods cook quickly due to the very high heat and small amount of oil, similar to sautéing, but the pan stays in place as the food is stirred. Follow these easy steps:

1. Prepare all the stir-fry ingredients first by cutting into bite-sized pieces and measuring sauce.
2. Heat 1-3 tablespoons of canola oil in a wok or large frying pan.
3. Add ginger or garlic and stir until you smell it cooking.
4. Add meat and stir to be sure it cooks evenly. When done, remove and set aside.
5. Add vegetables according to approximate cooking time. For example, carrots take a couple of minutes longer to cook than mushrooms.
6. When vegetables are partially cooked, add fruit, seasoning sauce and cooked meat.
7. Continue to stir-fry to desired doneness.

Try beef, chicken, pork, shrimp or turkey along with egg or egg whites to add high quality protein to a stir-fry meal. Stir-frying helps maintain the texture and flavor in vegetables. Vegetables such as asparagus, bean sprouts, bell pepper, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, snow peas and spring onions are kidney-friendly, low-potassium choices. Add sweetness with mandarin oranges, pineapple or grapes. For seasoning, use ginger, garlic, sesame oil or hot chili oil, hot chili peppers, reduced sodium soy sauce, hoisin sauce, Worcestershire sauce, low sodium stock or broth, lemon juice or lime juice. If using a commercial sauce, find the lowest sodium product and use only a small amount.

3. Pan-frying

Pan-frying is the frying method most often used by home cooks. It works best for cooking larger pieces of meats or vegetables that take longer to cook. Pan-frying calls for more oil and less heat than sautéing or stir-frying.

1. Fill a pan or skillet with 1/4-inch of fat or oil.
2. Heat until hot, and then add food. Do not overfill the pan because the temperature will drop too low and food will not cook evenly.
3. For meat or chicken, brown on the presentation side first, turn, then brown the other side.
4. Reduce to a moderate heat and finish cooking until brown and crisp. Time varies with the meat thickness and cut. For example, bone-in chicken pieces take anywhere from 20-40 minutes to cook by pan-frying.
5. When cooked to doneness, remove from the pan and drain on paper towels to soak up extra fat.
6. Serve immediately. If not, keep warm in an uncovered pan until serving time.

Some meats and vegetables are dredged in flour or breaded before pan-frying. Breaded veal or pork cutlets, fried chicken, sliced eggplant or zucchini, fried okra and hash browns made from leached potatoes are all kidney-friendly examples of pan-fried foods.

4. Deep-frying

Deep-frying requires a deeper pan and more oil so that the food is completely immersed in the hot oil, and often breaded or battered. Usually deep-frying kidney recipes requires the following steps: 

1. Dry the food; dip in white, all-purpose flour seasoned with pepper or other low sodium seasoning; thinly coat the food, shaking off excess flour.
2. Coat food with egg white or other type of liquid mixture and let it drain off.
3. On a separate plate, place liquid-coated food onto bread crumbs or crushed reduced-sodium crackers. Gently press on crumbs, cover completely, and shake off the excess crumbs.
4. Submerge coated food into a deep fryer or deep pan of hot oil using tongs or a wire mesh spoon. Do not overload the fryer.
5. Remove food from hot oil when food begins to turn golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
6. Serve immediately or keep warm in an uncovered pan.

Placing food on a plate lined with paper towels after removing it from a deep-fryer will allow the excess oil to drain away. Eliminating excess oil should cut down on the calories and fat in your food.

Batters made from flour, liquid and egg may be used instead of the above method. For your kidney diet, be aware that batters may contain milk, baking powder or salt which add extra sodium and phosphorus. It is important to use quality oil and to heat it to the proper temperature. Examples of foods to deep-fry for a kidney diet are protein sources such as small, whole fish, fillets or fish sticks; calamari, shrimp or scallops; and chicken.

Deep-fried vegetables low in potassium include onions, mushrooms, stuffed jalapeno peppers zucchini and potatoes. Kidney patients who follow a low potassium diet can leach cut-up potatoes. A small portion is recommended to help keep potassium in check.

Fried recipes for the kidney diet