Casseroles: Easy meals for busy folks

Another healthy, low-salt recipe from Northwest Kidney Centers in Seattle

Scalloped Potatoes

A while ago, I gave a friend a beautiful handmade casserole dish for her wedding. The new bride asked me what to cook in it. When I said casseroles, her blank face told me she had never made one. I couldn’t believe it!

Casseroles are easy meals for busy folks, perfect for making ahead of time or eating as leftovers. The problem is that lots of recipes call for high-salt canned soups to use as a thickener. High sodium (salt) in your diet can raise your blood pressure and put a lot of strain on your kidneys and many other organs.

Do yourself a favor and cut the salt. Use fresh ingredients or low-sodium canned ingredients in your casseroles. Give these low-salt recipes a try. All are fast, easy and comforting, especially on a cold winter night.

Easy Baked Cheese Soufflé

You can make this ahead of time and bake just before serving. It’s a great way to use up dry bread and cheese.

12 slices bread (try sour dough or whole grain)

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

½ pound grated cheese (any combination of cheese works: cheddar, Gouda, mozzarella)

6 eggs

3 cups nonfat milk

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

6-8 tomato slices

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease casserole. Spread butter on bread. Line bottom of casserole with bread. Top with layer of cheese. Repeat, 2-3 times, ending with cheese. Beat eggs then add milk and cayenne. Pour over bread, being sure to moisten all. Refrigerate 1-2 hours or overnight. Bake 30 minutes, top with tomato slices and bake 10-15 minutes more. Makes 6-8 servings.

Nutrition information (per serving): calories: 280, carbohydrates: 27 g, protein: 24 g, sodium: 550 mg

Scalloped Potatoes

5-6 potatoes with peels

2-3 onions

½ cup flour

2 tablespoons fresh thyme or tarragon, or 2 teaspoons dried

1/8 teaspoon flour

¼ cup butter or margarine

3 cups nonfat milk

½ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Slice onions and potatoes very thin. Grease casserole or deep baking dish. Alternate layers of potatoes, then onions. Sprinkle each layer with flour and thyme, then dot with butter. Continue layering. Pour milk over to cover. Be sure you have at least ¾ inch to top of casserole, or milk will boil over. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Remove lid, add grated Parmesan and bake until lightly browned, about 10 more minutes. Makes 6-8 servings.

Nutrition information (per serving): calories: 330, carbohydrates: 49 g, protein: 12 g, sodium: 252 mg

The recipes in this column are meant for people who want to keep their kidney health by following a low sodium diet. These recipes can also be used by people who have stage 1-3 kidney disease, but they may be too high in phosphorus and potassium for some people with stage 4-5. In most cases, except for dialysis patients, a diet high in potassium is thought to help lower high blood pressure. These recipes are not intended for people on dialysis without the supervision of a registered dietitian.

[Katy G. Wilkens is manager of nutrition and fitness services at Northwest Kidney Centers, a nonprofit provider of life-sustaining dialysis, plus kidney education and research. For more low-salt recipes, go to www.nwkidney.org]

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