Oh, what we would do for a simple plate of ham and beans!! This dish is as old as time and steeped in tradition. Did you know that ham and bean soup is on the U.S. Senate’s restaurant menu every single day. (No, really, check it out here!) The problem for the renal diet with classic bean soup is 3-fold: sodium, potassium, and to some extent phosphorus. It is no small task to make a kidney friendly ham and beans, so we aimed for “more” kidney friendly (and the result was so good!)
What’s in Ham and Beans?
The potassium and sodium are the two biggest concerns with a ham and bean soup. The phosphorus found in the beans is not readily absorbed, but should still be monitored if your phosphorus levels are up.
A cup of ham and bean soup, per the NCCDB, contains a whopping 800 mg of sodium and 632 mg potassium. It rolls in around 140 mg phosphorus. The phosphorus is primarily organic phosphates so these are not readily absorbed, although we took this in consideration.
The Challenge of Ham and Beans for Renal Diet:
The hard thing about making a low sodium ham and beans, is that the “comfort” flavor of ham and beans is, well, salt. It is a salty dish. It’s meant to be a salty dish. Beans without salt are paste. There is no way around a little salt being needed with beans. So there we have it – a salty dish that needs low sodium
At KidneyGrub when we make a dish, we start with no salt. Then we add 1/4 tsp until we feel like it is reasonable. We had to add some salt to this dish, but in the end, we feel like we had some major wins in making this “more” kidney friendly.
Simple, Basic Recipe (because everyone has their own variation!):
First things first: Everyone has their own take on what ham and beans should taste like. Some like a bit of sweet tone, almost akin to baked beans. Other people like a pure savory ham and bean taste. And then there’s those like me, who like a little lot of heat! This recipe is very basic. You can add whatever you like to it to make it more to your taste!
(Side note: If your ham and beans recipe is the best, you can enjoy it my serving yourself a small portion (~1/2 cup) over rice. The rice will absorb so much of the flavors but not add much potassium, phos, or sodium.)
Our recipe is a great basic recipe with the all important sprinkling of hammy saltiness. We cooked the rice and beans together in the pressure cooker hoping to achieve the creamy texture that comes with a good ham and beans. We didn’t put the ham in the beans when we cooked them, but rather opted to sprinkle small diced ham over the top of the dished beans.
Our Hacks to Cut Sodium and Potassium:
We cut salt by using HEAT (jalapeno), a touch of vinegar, and by sprinkling the ham on top instead of cooking into the mixture. This guaranteed we could use less ham, but still have some in every bite. This is still a bit saltier then we typically like in a dish, which is why we call it the “more” kidney friendly dish. It is better then a typical dish, with a more than 30% reduction in potassium and a significant improvement in sodium. We based our nutrient analysis off a full cup of ham and beans, which is a pretty significant serving. So while this is a little bit salty by our standards, it is probably as low as you can go without really sacrificing flavor big time for a beans dish. AND we love to promote legumes whenever possible because we love more plant foods for the renal diet.
- ½ c low sodium ham
- 1 cup baby lima beans, raw
- 1 cup white or brown rice, raw
- 1.5 cups onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- 32 oz low sodium chicken broth
- 2 jalapeno peppers (opt)
- Add beans and rice in the pressure cooker with 2 cups water and the low sodium chicken broth. Cook per pressure cooker instructions (we did 45 minutes for our dry, unsoaked beans - 20 minutes at pressure and then natural release.
- While the beans are cooking, chop and sauté onion and garlic. In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar, honey, paprika, salt, pepper, and jalapenos. Once rice and beans and finished, add the onion, garlic, seasoning blend, and ham. Mix until fully combined. Serve.