As discussed in my last post, my full-time job is working with patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). There is a large body of emerging research supporting the benefits of a plant-based diet for people with CKD. This diet would include nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, whole grains, and many other foods traditionally discouraged in this population. One of the many reasons why a plant-based diet may be beneficial is that humans do not absorb the phosphorus in plant foods as readily as they do animal foods. This is because much of the phosphorus in plants, such as nuts and beans, is bound to phytates which humans do not absorb. To someone who has had CKD for a long time, recommending a plant-based diet might seem a little crazy since it goes against what they have been taught in the past, but the research to support this diet is strong. Almost everyone that I talk to with CKD tells me that they are trying to limit nuts and beans, if not avoiding them altogether. Because of the newer research about plant-based diets, and the numerous health benefits of plant protein such as nuts and beans, I try to help patients focus on getting appropriate (but not excessive) portions of these foods. This recipe uses chickpeas, which are lower in potassium and phosphorus than most other beans. It also limits portion to a half cup serving. While traditional pesto uses pine nuts, this recipe uses walnuts, which contain about 2/3rds the potassium and phosphorus per ounce as almonds and many other popular nuts.
A low sodium diet is important for people with CKD to normalize blood pressure and prevent excess weight gain from fluid. It’s important to use a variety of seasonings in order to flavor foods when salt is being limited. Olive oil and lemon juice are both great options. Added salt in this recipe is limited to 1/8 teaspoon per serving (less than 300 mg sodium), which easily fits into a low salt diet with about 2000 mg sodium per day.
The recipe I created below using FLAVIS fusilli pasta complies with low sodium, low potassium, low phosphorus, protein controlled diet guidelines, while being 100% plant based.
FLAVIS Fusilli with Spinach Walnut Pesto
1 cup FLAVIS fusilli pasta
1 cup chickpeas (canned, no salt added)
1 cup broccoli florets
Spinach walnut pesto:
1 oz walnut pieces (about 1/4 cup)
1 cup baby spinach, raw
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1. Add all of your pesto ingredients to a small blender/food processor and blend until smooth. Add a little water to thin, probably about 2-4 tablespoons.
2. Cook FLAVIS fusilli pasta according to package directions.
3. While the pasta is cooking, steam your broccoli. Add to a microwave safe bowl with about 1 tablespoon of water and microwave for 3 minutes until cooked.
4. Drain pasta. Add back into the pot and mix in the pesto, broccoli, and chickpeas. Enjoy!
Nutrition information (makes 2 servings): 485 calories, 9g protein, 73g carbs, 12g fiber, 335 mg sodium, 615 mg potassium, 155 mg phosphorus