News and Tribune

Clark County

March 28, 2013

It’s in the blood: Aaron McCargo, a cooking show host, gives recipes for dialysis patients

JEFFERSONVILLE — Spiced honey-glazed pork chops, taco chicken pizza and blackened salmon with tarragon blue cheese all made it to the menu when a Food Network Chef visited Jeffersonville on Wednesday.

But the extravagant fare cooked up by Aaron McCargo Jr., host of “Big Daddy’s House,” had a very specialized audience — dialysis patients. McCargo visited Fresenius Medical Care and showed patients how they could eat flavorful food in spite of their dietary restrictions.

“I would be lying to say that any chef could take this as a simple challenge, especially when you’re talking about eliminating so many go-to ingredients,” McCargo said. “These are very serious matters when it comes to these people. You can’t just deal with what they can’t have — it’s also all about portion control.”

McCargo worked with Fresenius’ national office to develop recipes that were simple, affordable and enjoyable for patients and their families. Leaving out ingredients like peanuts, beans, tomatoes and oranges while considering phosphorus and potassium content was difficult, he said, but a challenge he was happy to take on.

But McCargo said another problem was sodium, which is used as a flavoring agent in all kinds of foods. To keep the food flavorful, he said substituting with other flavors helps patients forget about salt altogether.

“There are so many things you can reach out for as a chef, but when you have these restrictions, you go back to the basics with spices and herbs,” McCargo said.

Julie Mulcahy, a dietitian at Fresenius, said making the diet changes necessary as a patient with renal disease is daunting, but McCargo’s specialized recipes help them make adjustment while enjoying what they’re eating.

“He’s promoting the use of spices and herbs to bring in bold flavors to discourage our dependence on salt,” Mulcahy said. “Another thing he’s doing instead of eliminating food categories is limiting them and using cheese and nuts as garnishes.”

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