Skip to main content
Thrive On

Chef Aaron McCargo & FMCNA Renovate Recipes to be Dialysis-Friendly

Company’s Dietitians Collaborating with Celebrity Chef during National Kidney Month.

WALTHAM, Mass. – March 3, 2014 – This March, during National Kidney Month, Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA) is bringing Chef Aaron McCargo, Jr. on a four-city media tour of regions with some of the country’s highest rates of kidney failure to share his recipes and tips for preparing mouth-watering meals that people on dialysis, or anyone, would love.

McCargo’s tour begins in Knoxville, Tenn., on March 4 then moves on to:

Cleveland, Ohio, on March 18

San Antonio, Texas, on March 26

Austin, Texas, on March 27

At each stop, McCargo, host of Food Network’s “Big Daddy’s House” cooking show, will meet with the company’s dietitians, as well as local media, to discuss his experiences with “renovating” conventional recipes. Many recipes need to be adapted for dialysis patients, whose hearts and bones can be damaged over time by consuming too much phosphorus, potassium, salt and saturated fats.

For instance, McCargo recently collaborated with FMCNA dietitians on a “Bourbon Glazed Steak Sandwich” recipe that offers a kidney-friendly alternative to typical steak sandwiches by using vinegar and unsalted butter to reduce sodium to about 400 milligrams (mg) per sandwich. The recipe suggests using flank steak, which has only about half the fat of skirt steak, as well as an oregano, paprika and black pepper spice rub for seasoning, instead of store-bought marinades.

“Our dietitians are excited to participate in Chef McCargo’s recipe renovation tour, and to be able to share the results with our patients,” said Robin Russell, lead dietitian for FMCNA’s North Texas region, who has collaborated with the chef on several recipes. “These recipes help people living with kidney failure, and their families, learn how to cook healthier, more satisfying meals, which ultimately allows them to live better lives on dialysis.”

Following are kidney-friendly cooking tips from McCargo and FMCNA:

Kidney-Friendly Cooking: Top 10 Ways to Renovate Recipes

Use lemon juice or vinegar – These acidic liquids enhance flavors and give tartness to foods without adding calories or salt.

Try kosher salt – If you must use salt, coarse-grained kosher salt contains about 16 percent less sodium per teaspoon than regular table salt.

Deglaze the skillet – Use the low-sodium flavor left in your skillet after cooking meats to make sauces.

Reserve pot liquid – Save the juice from steaming vegetables to make a flavorful low-sodium sauce.

Mix your own – It takes a few more steps to make bread and cakes from scratch, but you can use less sodium and phosphorus than boxed mixes.

Avoid commercial baking powder – For low-phosphorus quick breads, substitute ½ teaspoon of baking soda and 3 teaspoons lemon juice for every teaspoon of baking powder called for.

Use real cheese – As a general rule, always choose fresh instead of processed foods. Processed cheese such as Velveeta or American is high in sodium and phosphorus. Healthier options (in limited quantities) include Brie, cream cheese, and low-fat cottage cheese.

Rinse canned foods – Rinse canned vegetables and meats in a strainer to remove some salt.

Go lean – Choose lean cuts of meats such as sirloin, top round and bottom round for stews or roasting. They’re less fatty and can cost less than fillets, rib-eyes or New York strip steaks.

Rub it in – Flavor meats with salt-free spice rubs rather than pre-made sauces, marinades and salty spice blends.

Dialysis is a life-sustaining process that cleans waste products and removes extra fluids from a person’s blood when their kidneys have failed. FMCNA is the nation’s leading network of dialysis facilities.

For a complete list of Chef McCargo’s dialysis-friendly recipes, as well as fitness tips, videos and other information about staying active and maintaining a healthy diet on dialysis, visit FMCNA’s Healthy Lifestyles website.

About Fresenius Medical Care North America

Through our leading network of more than 2,150 dialysis facilities in North America and our vascular access centers, laboratory, pharmacy and affiliated hospitals and nephrology practices, Fresenius Medical Care provides renal services to hundreds of thousands of people throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. We are also the continent’s top producer of dialysis equipment, dialyzers and related disposable products and a major supplier of renal pharmaceuticals.

For more information about the company, visit

 About Chef Aaron McCargo, Jr.

Chef Aaron McCargo, Jr. competed on and won season four of “The Next Food Network Star” in 2008, beating out thousands of culinary hopefuls for the ultimate dream job – his own Food Network show. “Big Daddy’s House” premiered in 2008 and continues to be a success. On “Big Daddy’s House,” Aaron shares his passion for big, bold flavors and fun, family cooking, bringing a down-to-earth vibe and warm smile to the kitchen. He recently published his first cookbook, “Simply Done, Well Done.” Whether cooking for his children, relatives, friends, or even himself, big food and big fun reign supreme. FMCNA and Aaron have been working together since 2011 to encourage dialysis patients to get back in the kitchen by developing dishes with big, bold flavors that they can enjoy, while still adhering to the restrictions of their dialysis diets.