Eat– for Good Health

Here’s why I’m “almost” a vegetarian– consuming protein makes the kidneys work too hard.  I learned this from a routine blood test.  In the chemistry section the normal range for  BUN or Blood Urea Nitrogen is between 9 and 23.  Mine was 24, and I need to adjust pure protein (meat, eggs) downward.  For dinner I made Quinoa with Vegetables and Herbs.  Absolutely delicious seasoned with Mrs. Dash Chipotle.

Quinoa with Vegetables and Herbs
Photo is courtesy of Jonny Valiant

Serves 4

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme or oregano (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. Mrs Dash Chipotle seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives


Active time: 35 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes

Rinse quinoa in a strainer. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring quinoa, 2 cups water, and 1/4 tsp. salt to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until quinoa absorbs the water, 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion; cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Raise heat to medium-high and add garlic, zucchini, carrots, thyme or oregano (if using), and red pepper flakes. Sauté, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender and golden around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with 1/4 tsp. each salt and black pepper. In a large bowl, mix together quinoa, vegetables, and fresh chives and serve.

Per serving: 255 calories, 10 grams fat, 7 grams protein, 36 grams carbohydrates.

4 thoughts on “Eat– for Good Health

  1. After learning that my BUNs (ha, ha) are up there, I’m doing something about it. I’m not giving up chicken, turkey, beef, pork, and eggs entirely. But most days I will cook vegetarian. I’m excited about this new venture to lower my BUNs (Blood Urea Nitrogen). Kidneys function better on a mostly vegetarian diet.

  2. Mary Alice Tallmadge

    Kathleen, a 24 for BUN is okay as long as the blood creatinine level is normal. Both the BUN and creatinine chemistry shows how well your kidneys are working. A high creatinine level may mean your kidneys are not working properly. I agree with you that high protein diets overwork kidneys.

  3. Reba Studebaker

    It’s best to get protein from vegetable sources. They’re incomplete by themselves, but joined with the right combination, our bodies get all essential amino acids. The thing is, caloric intake is higher– brown rice with lentils has more calories than the same amount of protein in chicken.

  4. Hi Mary Alice, thank you for explaining the creatinine chemistry. Mine was in the normal range. I had a chicken salad prior to my (non-fasting) blood test. Reba, your point is well taken. I’d like to make lentils and brown rice, but one serving is 450 calories. Guess I could cut back quantity.

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