Craving some comfort food this fall? Try our Pumpkin Mac and “Cheese” adapted for a plant-based kidney friendly diet!
This recipe is also gluten-free and dairy-free, making it a great choice for reducing inflammation.
What’s the big deal about dairy for people with CKD?
You’ve probably noticed that dairy products, including cheese, are on the “NO” list for a renal diet. We know that this is tough news, cheese is typically one of the hardest foods for people to part with.
So what is about cheese that makes it not a great fit for CKD? Cheese can be a significant source of phosphorus. How much phosphorus depends on the type of cheese.
For example, Processed American cheese is one of the highest in phosphorus clocking in at about 200 mg per ounce. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for phosphorus is 700 mg per day.
Just two slices of American cheese adds up to over half of the recommended daily amount! Phosphorus adds up pretty quickly! On the other hand, some cheeses are lower in phosphorus. Such as soft goat cheese which only contains 75 mg phosphorus per ounce.
Plant-based sources of Phosphorus
Phosphorus is an essential mineral in our diets, however, most Americans consume much more than the recommended 700 mg per day. Healthy kidneys get rid of extra phosphorus from the food we eat. When kidney’s aren’t functioning well, extra phosphorus from food may not be fully removed. This can cause high phosphorus levels that can cause damage to the body.
You’ve probably noticed that beans, nuts, and whole grains are on the avoid list as well. Wondering why we include them in our recipes?
Our bodies can only absorb 30-40% of the phosphorus from plant foods! Compared to 60-80% of phosphorus absorption from meat and dairy, and 100% of from Phosphorus additives, that’s not much phosphorus after all!
Plant foods also have the the added benefit of fiber, nutrients, and healthy fats. Including them in a a plant-based renal diet is essential to support kidney health!
Cashew Cheese- a great plant-based substitute for cheese
Worried about missing cheese? Fortunately, there’s a great plant-based substitute… CASHEW CHEESE! Sound complicated? Trust us, it’s a lot easier than you might think!
All you need for equipment to make cashew cheese is a food processor or a powerful blender. Soaking the cashews is an important step because it softens the cashews. This will result in a “hummus-like” consistency.
Nutritional Yeast is an essential ingredient for cashew cheese, because it provides the “cheesy” flavor! What is Nutritional Yeast you ask? It’s an inactive and pasteurized form of yeast. In addition to being a great cheese flavor substitute, it’s a great source of Vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that helps prevent anemia. Some of the best sources of Vitamin B12 are animal products like meat and dairy foods; 2 of the main foods we recommend limiting on a plant-based kidney diet to preserve kidney function. Therefore, Nutritional Yeast is a great product to keep on hand!
In conclusion, we think you’ll love this delicious plant-based and kidney friendly spin on a classic comfort food!
This recipe was a hit with my whole family, even my sometimes picky 6 year old! We loved that it was creamy and had a great depth of flavor from the pumpkin, smoked paprika and Dijon mustard. And best of all, my family didn’t know that there wasn’t any cheese!
We sampled the pasta with and without the almond topping and loved it both ways. This will definitely be a do-over in our house!
***Important Note From our Team***
We are excited to produce more recipes so people can answer the question, “What can I eat?” Due to the volume that we are currently uploading and developing we are not writing full blog posts on the recipes but will include nutrient facts. As we move forward, we will be updating our posts to include more information about the cooking journey with each recipe and the principles used that people with CKD can apply to their nutritional plans. If you have recipe specific questions, please comment below. We cannot provide individualized nutrition guidance on specific cases via email or in comments due to medical liability but will do our best to answer cooking specific questionsPrint
Pumpkin Cheese Sauce
- ½ cup cashews, raw, soaked in hot water for at least 1 hour
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 large carrot, peeled, roughly chopped
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon salt, to taste
- A pinch of pepper, to taste
- 10 ounces gluten-free macaroni pasta, uncooked
Almond Breadcrumb Topping (optional)
- ½ cup almonds
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
1. Soak cashews in hot water for about 1 hour until tender, then drain. Skip this step if using a powerful blender.
2. Make pumpkin cheese sauce: heat avocado oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook while stirring for 3-5 minutes until fragrant and almost translucent, being careful not to burn the garlic. Then add in the vegetable broth and the chopped carrots and cook for another 5 minutes until the carrots are fork tender.
3. Pour the onion-garlic-carrot mixture into a blender along with the drained cashews and pumpkin puree: blend until smooth. Add nutritional yeast. Dijon mustard, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper; blend once more and adjust seasoning to taste.
4. Cook pasta: In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add in dry macaroni. Cook pasta one minute shy from the recommended cook time in the package instructions.
5. Optional: while waiting for the pasta to cook, make the breadcrumb topping by blending the almonds, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt to a coarse mixture. Do not over blend. Set aside.
6. When pasta is done cooking, drain and place back into the pot. Pour the blended pumpkin cheese sauce into the same pot and cook until everything is warmed through.
7. Optional: transfer mac and cheese into a casserole dish, top with breadcrumb topping, and broil for 1-2 minutes while keeping a close eye to prevent burning. Serve immediately.
8. If you are planning to store this mac and cheese, it is recommended to store the pasta, sauce, and topping separately because the pasta will absorb the sauce and become dry rather quickly. Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Boost your vegetables: add spinach or grated zucchini to the sauce
*Nutrition Facts calculated with almond breadcrumb topping
You may have heard that nuts, beans, and whole grains are not a great choice for a kidney-friendly diet because they are high in phosphorus. Wondering why we include them in many of our recipes? We include beans, nuts, and whole grains because only about 40% of phosphorus found in these plant foods are absorbed by humans. This makes them a good fit for most people’s diets! If you have questions about adding these foods to your diet, please reach out to your dietitian.
If you try this recipe, let us know what you think in the comments below!
ALL information you read on KidneyRD.com is purely for informational and educational purposes. Information is not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease.