This pasta recipe serves up all of the delicious flavors of the Mediterranean along with a healthy dose of veggies. Plant-based and low in protein, this dish is ideal for those following a low protein diet to slow the progression of kidney disease. It’s completely customizable to your taste and nutritional needs. Any way you spin it, this dish is simple to make and is a delight for your taste buds!
What makes this Mediterranean pasta a kidney friendly dish?
1. It’s plant-based
Studies show that dietary patterns rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts are kidney protective. Although our recommendations are client specific, including more plants is one that we recommend to everyone!
There are so many benefits to eating a whole food, plant-based diet. Below are just a few of the many reasons to add more plants into your day:
- Plants are gut nourishing! Plant foods are full of fiber that our gut microbiota thrives upon. Fiber also promotes regularity, this is important for the removal of potassium and phosphorus. In a recent study, fiber was also shown to reduce uremic toxins.
- Plants are alkalizing. The kidney’s help to regulate the acid-base balance in the body. Plant-based foods are alkalizing which decreases the acid load (aka stress!) from your kidneys.
- Plant foods can decrease inflammation. CKD is characterized by persistent low grade inflammation. Plant foods are rich in antioxidants which play an important role in reducing inflammation.
2. Low in protein
This pasta dish contains only 8 grams of protein per serving making it an ideal choice for those following a low or very low protein diet to preserve kidney function. Consuming too much protein can cause hyperfiltration which is damaging to kidneys and can accelerate the progression of CKD.
To cut back on the protein in this dish, we opted for brown rice pasta instead of pasta made from semolina flour. Many of the gluten free pasta on the market has a lower amount of protein than traditional pasta. Always check the label to be certain because many of the legume based pastas can pack quite a bit of protein! We also love using Flavis pasta because it is low in protein and was created specifically for people with CKD.
3. It contains healthy fats
Following a low protein or very low protein diet means a big portion of the days calories are removed. Making up for these calories by adding more healthy fat such as olive oil is an important strategy when limiting protein.
Eating enough calories is important to prevent malnutrition and fat also helps to promote satiety.
Want to learn more about how the power of nutrition can help preserve kidney function?Print
This Mediterranean pasta with kale is big on flavor and couldn’t be easier to make!
Recipe developed by Clarissa Paimanta, RD and tested by Jessica Prohn, MS, RD, CSR, LDN.
- 8 oz gluten free, brown rice pasta
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or sliced
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 4 cups kale, chopped
- 1 cup artichoke hearts, canned in oil, drained and chopped
- ½ cup pitted olives, sliced
- 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper each, to taste
- ½ lemon, juiced, to taste
- Optional: ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Cook pasta per package directions. Once pasta is cooked, reserve ½ cup of the pasta water and drain.
2. Meanwhile, prepare vegetables: mince or slice the garlic, halve the tomatoes, chop the kale (remove the tough center stem if preferred), chop the artichoke hearts into bite-sized pieces, and slice the olives.
3. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add minced or sliced garlic and cook while stirring until fragrant and the garlic turns barely golden in color, about 30-45 seconds.
4. Then add the tomatoes, kale, and ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water and cook for 3-4 minutes until the tomatoes begin to break down and the kale starts to wilt.
5. Add the artichoke hearts, sliced olives, and drained pasta. Toss to combine. Season with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and optionally red pepper flakes to taste. If the pasta appears too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water to loosen it up.
6. Remove from the heat and garnish with the chopped parsley. Give it one last toss before serving.
Substitutions: Feel free to use your favorite vegetables in this recipe in place of or in addition to the kale.
Make it cheesy: Add a sprinkle of nutritional yeast before serving for a cheesier flavor.
Lower calorie: Use artichoke hearts canned in water instead of those canned in oil.
Higher Protein: Add 1 to 2 cups of cannellini beans or chickpeas * Note that this will increase protein and potassium
I adore all of the flavors of the Mediterranean and this dish had them all! The richness of the olive oil mixed with the saltiness of the olives and herby artichokes, I was in heaven! It was a crowd pleaser with my whole family and we customized our toppings. My family enjoyed this topped with parmesan cheese, I enjoyed mine with some crushed red pepper for a bit of spice and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. I’ll be making this one again and again for a quick and easy meal in one!
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