Kidney-Friendly Foods from Michigan

Michiganders are no strangers to merrymaking—and food is a big part of it. DaVita dietitian, Shelli, has gathered three favorite recipes from her home state that reflect the true spirit of down-home cooking. Firehouse Chili, Ground Sirloin Pasties (aka Upper Peninsula Pasties) and Traverse City Cherry Crisp will tantalize your taste buds while being mindful of phosphorus and potassium levels.

Shelli is proud to be from Michigan, and is eager to share information not only on regional foods and recipes, but also on the natural beauty and culture found there. Shelli points out that the state bird is a robin, the state flower is the apple blossom and the state capitol is Lansing. In Michigan, where towns are linked by snow mobile trails overlooking rivers and pine trees drooping with thick layers of white powder, Shelli admits there are some unique challenges to dialysis treatment. “Snow and ice storms can make it difficult for patients. If the weather becomes too much for patients to make the trip, we rearrange schedules to make sure we can fit them in the next day. We try to avoid missing treatments as much as possible.”

Shelli admits that regional food temptations based on meat-and-potatoes style, down-home cooking can make potassium control difficult. She recommends leaching vegetables, such as potatoes, by cutting them into 1” pieces and soaking them for 4 hours in a pot of water. This helps to lessen the potassium intake, while allowing patients to occasionally enjoy their spuds.

Winter Chili Cook-off competitions are a fun winter event in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Such events prompted Shelli to create Firehouse Chili. She altered one of her favorite chili recipes by substituting beans with pasta, and limiting the amount of tomato to make it more dialysis-diet friendly for her patients. This chili is much lower in potassium and phosphorus compared to the original recipe.

Pasties were introduced in the U.S. by Cornish miners, who immigrated to the Michigan Upper Peninsula in the 1800s. A pastie is a piecrust filled with hearty ingredients such as beef, pork, veal and/or lamb. Other ingredients include potatoes, turnips, corn or peas, along with seasonings. The pie crust encompasses the mixture, making it portable and easy to reheat. In the mines, reheating was often done by putting the pastie on a shovel and holding it over a head-lamp candle. Today, you can just pop your pastie in the oven or microwave.

Traverse City, Michigan is known as the Cherry Capital of the World. It is one of Shelli’s favorite places to visit, especially during the Cherry Festival. Traverse City Cherry Crisp is a recipe Shelli developed to help her DaVita patients celebrate this great summer festival.

Other interesting details about Michigan include the fact that the factories located there make about one fourth of all the cars and trucks produced in the U.S. And in the early 1900s, W.K. Kellog and C.W. Post turned the small town of Battle Creek, Michigan into “the cereal bowl of the world” by inventing quick and easy breakfast foods.

There are many wonderful things to see, do and eat in Michigan. For a starter try Shelli’s trio of favorite Michigan recipes. All three reheat and freeze well, for economical and easy-to-serve additional portions.


Michigan menu for a dialysis diet


  • 1 Blueberry Muffin
  • 1 bowl Cream of Wheat (3/4 cup water, 3 tablespoons cereal)
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar or Low-calorie Sweetener
  • 1/4 cup Nondairy Creamer
  • 2 teaspoons tub Margarine
  • 1/2 cup Coffee
  • 1/2 cup Cranberry Juice
  • 2 scoops Protein Powder (10 grams protein) added to cereal or juice


  • 1 Ground Sirloin Pastie
  • Salad made with: 1 cup Iceberg Lettuce, 1 tablespoon Dried Cranberries, 3 slices Cucumber, 1 tablespoon Crumbled Blue Cheese (optional) and 2 tablespoons Honey Mustard Dressing
  • 1 Deviled Egg
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) Lemonade with 1/4 cup ice


  • 1-1/2 cups Firehouse Chili
  • 2 slices Italian Bread
  • 2 teaspoons tub Margarine
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) Chilled Iced Tea with Lemon and Sweetener
  • Traverse City Cherry Crisp


  • 1/2 cup Apple Juice or Apple Cider
  • 4 Low-salt Ritz® Crackers
  • 2 tablespoons Chicken Salad
  • 1 medium Apple
  • 1/2 cup water for medications

Michigan menu nutrient analysis


Calories: 503
Protein: 15 g
Carbohydrate: 77 g
Fat: 15 g
Cholesterol: 35 mg
Sodium: 388 mg
Potassium: 264 mg
Phosphorus: 246 mg
Calcium: 102 mg
Fiber: 1.7 g
Fluid: 2 cups


Calories: 790
Protein: 26 g
Carbohydrate: 68 g
Fat: 46 g
Cholesterol: 270 mg
Sodium: 711 mg
Potassium: 557 mg
Phosphorus: 278 mg
Calcium: 114 mg
Fiber: 3.3 g
Fluid: 1 cup


Calories: 837
Protein: 32 g
Carbohydrate: 114 g
Fat: 29 g
Cholesterol: 85 mg
Sodium: 801 mg
Potassium: 798 mg
Phosphorus: 292 mg
Calcium: 94 mg
Fiber: 6.4 g
Fluid: 1 cup


Calories: 311
Protein: 8 g
Carbohydrate: 45 g
Fat: 11 g
Cholesterol: 50 mg
Sodium: 236 mg
Potassium: 406 mg
Phosphorus: 80 mg
Calcium: 56 mg
Fiber: 4.2 g
Fluid: 1 cup

Day Total

Calories: 2441
Protein: 81 g
Carbohydrate: 304 g
Fat: 101 g
Cholesterol: 440 mg
Sodium: 2136 mg
Potassium: 2025 mg
Phosphorus: 896 mg
Calcium: 366 mg
Fiber: 15.6 g
Fluid: 5 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.