Mediterranean Couscous Salad

Mediterranean Couscous Salad

Earlier this month I had the good fortune to participate in a project called the Kidney Diet Challenge. This video is a recording of my cooking demonstration that took part during night 3 of this event. But, before you watch me cook a delicious Mediterranean Couscous Salad, let me tell you a bit about this project.

People often feel their doctors don’t understand how dietary advice actually affects their patients. They also feel doctors aren’t trained in nutrition, food, and applying practical dietary advice. And, usually, that is the case.  With the Kidney Diet Challenge, we set out to change the knowledge and insight of kidney doctors and other health care practitioners who routinely ask their patients to follow a restrictive kidney diet.

Organized by Drs. Sayna Norouzi and Rajeev Raghavan from Baylor University, this 5-day immersive learning symposium was born from their experience counseling people on a strict kidney diet. Both of these physicians are kidney doctors, and both had learned a specific type of diet can both benefit kidney health and prevent people from going on dialysis. Unfortunately, that’s about all they knew. When counseling patients on a restrictive “kidney” diet, they were unable to give specific guidance on what types of foods to eat or avoid, how to incorporate the food into the patients’ daily lives, and how much of an impact that diet would have on their patients’ quality of life.

If you have kidney disease, especially if it is Stage 4 or 5 Chronic Kidney Disease, you know the difficulties of a restrictive kidney diet. These diets are often limited in sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and protein; making it difficult to create flavorful foods that fit within these limitations.

To give kidney doctors, dietitians, and other healthcare professionals the insight into what their patients would go through under this restrictive diet, these doctors dreamed up the Kidney Diet Challenge.

Over the course of 5 days, anyone who was interested in learning more about this diet tried to follow it as much as they could and posted pictures on social media documenting their experience. Along the way, the participants attended nightly seminars teaching them about the specifics of the diet and giving practical tips along the way. The first seminar was from Dr. Edlyn Bustamante, who has a Ph.D. in kidney nutrition. She described the practical points of a restrictive kidney diet, discussed how to build a meal plan that can keep people off of dialysis, and answered questions. The second lecture was from Dr. William Mitch, an expert on the science behind the kidney diet. The attendees learned exactly why certain foods are restricted and why protein often has to be limited for people with Stage 4&5 Chronic Kidney Disease.

My demonstration came on the third night, and the cooking part is shown here. We discussed creating flavor without added salt, and varying recipes to accommodate any level of chronic kidney disease.  I also had one of my patients discuss how she has been successful following a strict kidney diet, and how her diet has kept her off of dialysis for many years. That part is not shown in the video.

With 500 participants, we have hopefully created a more knowledgeable set of physicians who can better relate to their patients and who can provide practical advice as well as delicious food.

Head over to Twitter and check out #kidneydietchallenge or the account @dietkidney to see more of the great pictures and discussion. And, be sure to watch the video and subscribe to my Youtube channel so you never miss a new recipe and are notified as soon as my new book, The Cooking Doc’s Kidney Healthy Cooking, is published.

The recipe is a version of my Mediterranean Chickpea Salad that is already on my website. To create the exact replication, use red peppers instead of tomatoes, and serve the salad over 2 cups of cooked pearl couscous.

And don’t forget to #changeyourbuds.

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