Food Network Chef Aaron McCargo, Jr.

Healthy Recipes and Nutrition
on March 12, 2012

Note: Aaron McCargo, Jr. hosts one of the Food Network's most popular cooking shows, Big Daddy’s House, where he shares his passion for big, bold flavors and fun, family cooking.

Maintaining a healthy diet is a goal for many people, but for those with chronic illnesses it can be a matter of life and death. Whenchronically ill patients are able to restore food as a pleasurable part of their daily lives, it helps raise their quality of life, encourages them to spend time with their family and can motivate them to be more active and healthy.

As part of its Healthy Lifestyle campaign, I’ve partnered with Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA), the nation’s leading network of dialysis facilities, to promote healthy diets that include tasty, satisfying meals for people with kidney disease.

Those with kidney failure receive dialysis treatments typically every two to three days and follow a strict renal diet, includingadequate protein and limited amounts of of sodium, sugar, potassium and phosphorus (found in dairy products, whole grains and legumes, among other foods).

Here are five tips that will help dialysis patients—and anyone interested in improving their diet–make healthy, flavorful meals part of their daily routine.

  • Be creative and save a buck. Look for recipes that you can turn into a whole new leftover meal (i.e., use leftover beef tacos to make a quesadilla, stew or a lettuce wrap).
  • Mix it up. Eat a wide variety of healthy foods to keep your diet exciting.
  • Use spice, not salt. Leave out salty ingredients, and add fresh or dried herbs and spices to build more bold flavors.
  • Skip the gadgets. Embrace one-pot cooking and limit your utensils to save time on cleaning dishes.
  • Ask an expert. If you have kidney disease or another chronic disease, work with a dietitian to develop a meal plan.


Try one of Chef McCargo’s favorite healthy recipes.