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Cooking with Rice: Tips for a Kidney Diet

Rice is a great choice for the kidney diet—it provides energy and is low in minerals of concern for people with kidney disease or those on dialysis.

White rice is by far the most popular rice because it’s tender compared to brown or wild rice, and the subtle flavor complements other ingredients in the dish. The nutty flavor and chewiness of brown rice is from the germ and bran, which is removed from white rice during refining. Most people in the early stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD) don’t have problems with mineral balance, and can include all types of rice. For people who are limiting phosphorus and potassium in their diet, white or wild rice is recommended over brown rice, because brown rice is rich in these minerals. However, brown rice can be eaten on a dialysis diet with attention to portion, and balanced with other foods to avoid an excessive intake of potassium or phosphorus. Your dietitian can advise you on the best rice to eat for your needs.

How to cook rice

Electric rice cookers: Simply add one-part rice to two-parts water and push the timer to start the cooking process. The cooker is self-timed and will turn off once the rice is cooked.

Stovetop: To boil rice, use a heavy pot, and add two cups of water for each cup of rice unless the package instructs otherwise. Bring the rice and water to a boil, cover it with a lid and reduce to a simmer for 12 minutes. Once your rice is cooked tender and water is absorbed, fluff it with a fork and let it sit for five minutes before serving. Do not remove the lid or stir rice during cooking.

Oven: Heat the oven to 350° F. In a Dutch oven or oven-proof dish, heat rice and a tablespoon of cooking oil over stovetop and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add double the amount of liquid than rice and bring to a boil. Cover the dish and place it in the oven for 20-25 minutes until rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Fluff rice and let it stand for five minutes before serving.

Microwave: Place two-parts water to one-part rice in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover loosely with a plastic cover or vented plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 12 minutes, then let it sit for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Microwave rice cookers are also available.

Additional tips for cooking rice

If your rice comes out too soggy, try using less water. If it’s too dry add 1/4-1/2 cup more water. Experiment until you get it right.

Rice cooked in broth or with added seasonings may be preferred, but keep it kidney-friendly by choosing low-or reduced-sodium broth or bouillon without potassium chloride. Choose fresh or dried herbs and spices or salt-free seasoning blends.

Seasoned rice mixes are quite popular, but for anyone with high blood pressure or kidney disease, the sodium content is too high.

Food safety is important when storing leftover rice. Dry rice may contain spores produced by toxin-producing bacteria called Bacillus cereus. It can cause food poisoning if contaminated rice sets at room temperature too long. Once cooked rice cools, store unused portion in a shallow container in the refrigerator.

Try these kidney-friendly recipes from DaVita dietitians:

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