Kidney-Friendly Foods from Minnesota

If you head toward the Land of 10,000 Lakes, North Star State, Gopher State, Land of Sky-blue Waters or the Bread and Butter State — you’ll find yourself in Minnesota. This Midwestern state lives up to all of its nicknames, although it’s reported there are closer to 11,842 lakes across the state. Minnesotans seem to have an appreciation for certain oddities, as their state is home to the largest ball of twine created by one person, annual milk carton boat races, sculptures of beauty queens made from butter, The SPAM® Museum (yes, the canned meat) and The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices. That should be enough to pique your interest about the 32nd state in the Union.

Some of the largest cities in Minnesota include Minneapolis and, the state capital, St. Paul. Together, they are known as the Twin Cities. Rochester is home of the Mayo Clinic, Duluth is a major shipping port on Lake Superior and Bloomington is home to the famous Mall of America, touted as the largest enclosed entertainment and shopping center in the United States.

You can’t think about Minnesota without picturing blankets of snow and frigid winter temperatures; however, DaVita renal dietitians say they love living in Minnesota. Amie feels, “It can get cold and snowy here in the winter, but the plows are out almost immediately — so people can usually get to dialysis. Snow is an adventure, not a hassle — to me anyway.” Although, Madonna says, “It’s a great place to live, because we get to enjoy four different seasons, spring, summer, fall and winter, except when the thermometer drops below zero degrees, then it’s not so fun.”

Whether they enjoy the cold, snowy winters or just tolerate them, Minnesotans have a way of persevering — bundle up and go out and play. “We do like to down hill ski, snow board and cross country ski in the winter,” shares Madonna.

Maybe all this activity is one of the reasons Minnesota is one of America’s most healthy states. Like most regions though, there are lots of tempting foods such as hotdish casseroles, cream soups and cheeses that dialysis patients need to limit in their diets. DaVita renal dietitians, Amie, Gail, Jessica, Madonna and Sandra try to work with their dialysis patients to modify favorite foods so their patients can enjoy what they eat and still adhere to a kidney-friendly diet. There are also delicious foods from the region including apples and wild rice that are recommended on a kidney diet.

Many renal dietitians say they enjoy their jobs because of the relationships that are established with dialysis patients and their families. Madonna says it was “personal reasons” that led her into the renal field. She explains, “For the last 26 years of my life, I helped care for my mother who was diagnosed with many diseases...I learned a lot about the health field, how patients are treated, but more importantly, how I need to care for the chronically ill. It’s been a life changing experience.”

Amie agrees with Madonna and says, “I think it’s important to always remember that our patients are somebody’s mom, dad, sister, brother, etc., and to treat them with respect.”

Gail finds that the best part of her job is “Seeing an improvement in the quality of the patients’ lives.” When it comes to being a renal dietitian, she says, “It’s all been interesting. There is always something new to learn.”

Jessica says she is sometimes surprised by “how honest patients are about their diets and lives.” She most enjoys, “Seeing patients excited about the improvements that they have made and the how those improvements impacted their lab results.”

Improving lab results is the goal for renal dietitians and their patients. Dietitians coach their dialysis patients and try to provide the tools so they can feel their best on dialysis. 

Madonna believes that the best thing patients can do to improve their health is “make health their number one priority. All of the education, resources, counseling, encouragement, will not improve their life or health, until they are ready to take control of it themselves. And, when they do, it’s a powerful thing to watch.”

If you ever do find yourself in Minnesota, in addition to meeting some really fine folks — you may even describe them as “Minnesota nice” — you can soak up some of the unique fun of this northern Midwest area. You may choose to vacation like a native. Madonna says that most Minnesotans “usually go up north. We are the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and I believe most of them are north of the Twin Cities. The north shore, which is north of Duluth, is absolutely beautiful. The highway runs parallel with Lake Superior.” You may want to visit the home and museum of the late Judy Garland, who was a Minnesota native along with other famous people including actors Richard Dean Anderson, Jessica Lang, Winona Ryder, Josh Hartnett, Jessica Biel and Vince Vaughn, musician Prince and comedian Louie Anderson. Minnesota born, Academy Award-winning film makers, The Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, have immortalized aspects of their region in the film Fargo. So much so that Amie wants you to know, “we don’t all speak like the movie Fargo.

Depending on the season, sports fans can watch the Minnesota Vikings play football, the Minnesota Twins play baseball, the Minnesota Timberwolves play basketball or the Minnesota Wild play hockey.

DaVita renal dietitians Amie, Gail, Jean, Jessica, Madonna and Sandra from Minnesota invite you to enjoy their state, whether it’s in the white of winter, the freshness of spring, the warm days of summer or for some of the spectacular fall foliage. They also invite you to try some of the flavors of Minnesota featured in their dialysis-friendly regional recipes.

Minnesota menu for a dialysis diet



Mid-afternoon snack

  • Swedish Rusks, 1 serving
  • Rice Dream® rice beverage, non-enriched, 4 ounces


Bedtime snack

  • Apple Pie, 1/8th of pie 
  • Coffee, black, 4 ounces

Minnesota menu nutritional analysis


Calories: 369
Protein: 13 g
Carbohydrate: 50 g
Fat: 13 g
Cholesterol: 249 mg
Sodium: 435 mg
Potassium: 287 mg
Phosphorus: 237 mg
Calcium: 183 mg
Fiber: 1.4 g
Fluid: 1 cup


Calories: 540
Protein: 26 g
Carbohydrate: 64 g
Fat: 20 g
Cholesterol: 45 mg
Sodium: 525 mg
Potassium: 752 mg
Phosphorus: 300 mg
Calcium: 176 mg
Fiber: 4.7 g
Fluid: 1-3/4 cups


Calories: 777
Protein: 35 g
Carbohydrate: 76 g
Fat: 37 g
Cholesterol: 177 mg
Sodium: 343 mg
Potassium: 620 mg
Phosphorus: 371 mg
Calcium: 123 mg
Fiber: 5.9 g
Fluid: 1 cup


Calories: 749
Protein: 7 g
Carbohydrate: 88 g
Fat: 41 g
Cholesterol: 53 mg
Sodium: 162 mg
Potassium: 216 mg
Phosphorus: 104 mg
Calcium: 40 mg
Fiber: 3.1 g
Fluid: 1 cup

Day Total

Calories: 2435
Protein: 81 g
Carbohydrate: 278 g
Fat: 111 g
Cholesterol: 524 mg
Sodium: 1465 mg
Potassium: 1875 mg
Phosphorus: 1012 mg
Calcium: 522 mg
Fiber: 15.1 g
Fluid: 4-3/4 cups

The above contains average nutrient values for menu portions. Your actual intake may vary based on portions and brand differences.

Your individual nutrient needs may be higher or lower than this sample menu. Always consult your dietitian and refer to your individualized meal plan to determine the amounts to eat.