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Soul Food + Fruit & Veggies Month

June is Soul Food month and fruit and vegetables month! Luckily both can be celebrated in a kidney friendly diet.

What is Soul Food?

Soul food historian, Adrian Miller, stated the term soul food "brilliantly captures the humanity and heroic effort of African-Americans to overcome centuries of oppression and create a cuisine that deliciously melds the foods and cooking techniques of West Africa, Western Europe, and the Americas." Soul food comes from the Deep South and was introduced throughout the United States during “The Great Migration” when African Americans moved to the North, Midwest, and West between 1910 and 1970. The actual term “soul food” was used starting in the 1950s.

What Foods are Included in Soul Food?
  • Meat dishes can include fatback, fried chicken, fried fish, ham hocks, hog jowl, hog maw, offal, ox tails, pickled pig’s feet, pigs’ feet, port, pork ribs, poultry, and turkey.

  • Vegetables and legumes can include black-eyed peas, collard greens, Hoppin’ John, mustard greens, okra, sweet potatoes, and turnip greens.

  • Breads and grains can include cornbread, grits, hoecake, hushpuppies.

  • Sweet potato pie is a common dessert.

How Can Soul Food be Kidney Friendly?

While some recipes may be higher in salt and saturated fats, changing how you prepare each dish allows people with kidney disease to enjoy a soul food meal. Soul food meals are rich in plant foods with leafy greens and legumes and meal plates can be built around these foods. The earliest version of a Soul Food diet was really a plant-based diet with small pieces of dried, salted smoked meat uses sparingly for seasoning. Baking, air frying, and grilling rather frying meats are a great way to cut back on saturated fat. You can also swap out lard with vegetable oil in cooking and try smoked turkey in place of ham. Season without salt by using herbs, spices, and vinegar in recipes. For people following a lower potassium diet, use a double-boil method to reduce the amount of potassium sweet potatoes, yams, potatoes, and cassava. Portion sizes are important too! A vegetable and fruit serving is ½ cup and a protein serving should be the size of the palm of your hand. Depending on your specific kidney needs you may need to keep protein to half of the palm of your hand or more than the palm of your hand. Have questions? Contact our dietitian, Melissa Prest, for a personal consultation. Office number: 312-321-1500, extension 246 or email:

Recipes to try from Eating Everyday

Double-Boil Method for Root Vegetables
  1. Wash and peel the vegetables.

  2. Cut into thin slices or dice into small cubes. The smaller the pieces, the more potassium you can remove!

  3. Place the sliced vegetable in a pot with room temperature water. Use two times the amount of water to the amount of vegetable.

  4. Place the pot onto the stove and bring to a boil. Then remove from heat once the water begins boiling.

  5. Drain off the water, leaving the vegetables in the pot, and add fresh, room temperature water. Use two times the amount of water to the amount of vegetable.

  6. Bring water to a boil. Cook until veggies are tender. Then drain the water again. Season your vegetables with herbs and no-salt spices

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