Kidney-Friendly Pad Thai: Tofu and CKD?

Pad Thai is a popular and flavourful stir-fried noodle dish from Thailand. It is a staple of Thai cuisine and is enjoyed both within the country and worldwide. Pad Thai is known for its balance of flavours, combining sweet, sour, salty, and sometimes spicy tastes. It’s a versatile dish that can be customized to suit individual preferences and dietary restrictions. While it is a classic street food in Thailand, it has gained immense popularity internationally and is a favourite in many Thai restaurants worldwide! Using tofu is a staple ingredient in Pad Thai. And you may be wondering can you eat tofu with CKD?

Types of Pad Thai

Pad Thai can be made with various protein sources, including tofu, chicken, and shrimp. Here’s a general comparison of the nutritional information of these proteins in terms of potassium, protein, and phosphorus content.

Nutritional Information per Serving:

1. Tofu (1/2 cup):

  • Potassium: ~ 180-200 mg
  • Protein: ~ 10-12 grams
  • Phosphorus: ~ 90-100 mg

For some more tips about tofu and CKD check out this post.

2. Chicken (3 ounces or 75 grams):

  • Potassium: ~ 240-270 mg
  • Protein: ~ 21-25 grams
  • Phosphorus: ~ 150-170 mg

3. Shrimp (3 ounces or 75 grams):

  • Potassium: ~ 240-270 mg
  • Protein: ~ 18-21 grams
  • Phosphorus: ~ 150-170 mg

It’s important to note that the phosphorus and potassium content can vary based on factors such as cooking methods and additional ingredients used in the Pad Thai recipe. Individuals with kidney issues or specific dietary restrictions should pay attention to their overall nutrient intake and consult with a dietitian for personalized guidance on managing their diet. For more plant-based diet and tofu recipes check out this post.

Kidney-Friendly Pad Thai Toppings

Adding your toppings to Pad Thai is what makes this dish so delicious. Here are some top choices.

  1. Bell Peppers: Bell peppers are a good source of vitamins and add colour and crunch to Pad Thai. They are lower in potassium and phosphorus compared to some other vegetables.
  2. Zucchini: Zucchini noodles or thinly sliced zucchini can be used to add texture and a mild flavour to your Pad Thai. They are relatively low in potassium and phosphorus.
  3. Cabbage: Shredded cabbage can provide a nice crunch and bulk to the dish. It’s a low-potassium and low-phosphorus option.
  4. Bean Sprouts: Bean sprouts are commonly used in Pad Thai and are low in potassium and phosphorus. They provide a fresh and crunchy element to the dish.
  5. Carrots: Carrots can be sliced into thin strips to add colour and a hint of sweetness. They are relatively low in potassium and phosphorus.
  6. Spinach: While spinach does contain some potassium and phosphorus, it can still be used in moderation in Pad Thai for added nutrition. Cooking spinach can reduce its potassium content.
  7. Cilantro: Fresh herbs like cilantro can be used as a garnish for added flavour and freshness. They are low in potassium and phosphorus.

Flavouring Pad Thai

Flavoring and saucing Pad Thai can be done creatively while keeping sodium levels in check. Here are some flavoring and sauce options, including low-sodium alternatives:

  • Tamarind Sauce: Tamarind sauce is a key ingredient in traditional Pad Thai. You can make your own tamarind sauce using tamarind paste, water, and a sweetener like a low-sodium sweetener or a small amount of sugar. Adjust the sweetness to your taste.
  • Low-Sodium Soy Sauce or Tamari: Instead of regular soy sauce, opt for low-sodium soy sauce or tamari to reduce the sodium content of your Pad Thai. These options still provide a salty umami flavor.
  • Fish Sauce Substitute: Many traditional Pad Thai recipes call for fish sauce, which can be high in sodium. You can substitute it with a lower-sodium fish sauce or a vegan alternative like mushroom-based soy sauce or a blend of soy sauce, lime juice, and a touch of brown sugar.
  • Vinegar: Rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar can be used to add a mild acidity to your Pad Thai. It can replace some of the tanginess if you’re reducing sodium from other sources.
  • Garlic and Ginger: Fresh garlic and ginger are excellent flavour enhancers. Sautéing them with your choice of protein and vegetables can add depth to the dish.
  • Sesame Oil: A small amount of toasted sesame oil can add a nutty flavor to Pad Thai. Use it sparingly because it’s rich in flavour and can be high in calories.

Pad Thai

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes


  • 4 oz Rice noodles, dry
  • 2 cups Sweet and sour sauce See recipe below
  • 2 Limes, divided
  • 3 TBSP Olive oil
  • 8 oz Tofu, firm, sliced into 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup Carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup Snap peas
  • 2 Scallions, chopped, divided
  • 3 cup Cabbage, chopped or coleslaw mix
  • 1 Egg

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 1/2 cup Rice vinegar
  • 2 TBSP Tomato paste, low sodium
  • 16 oz Pineapple tidbits
  • 1 Bell pepper, green, chopped


  • Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine the sauce and the juice of 1 lime. Set aside
  • Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a medium-size skillet. Add the tofu and stir-fry until the tofu starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  • Add the remaining ½  tablespoon of olive oil, the garlic, carrots, and snap peas to the skillet and stir-fry for about 30 seconds, until the vegetables are tender. Add the cooked noodles and 1 scallion, and stir-fry for a few seconds more.
  • Add the sauce to the skillet and stir to combine. Add the coleslaw mix and tofu. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes, until the noodles and vegetables are coated with the sauce. Transfer the noodle mix to a plate.
  • In the same skillet, scramble the egg until cooked. Then add the noodle mix back into the skillet and mix well. Transfer to a serving dish.
  • Garnish with the remaining scallion and serve with lime wedges.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • In a medium-size pot over medium-high heat, combine the honey, vinegar, tomato paste, soy sauce, and pineapple. Bring to a boil.
  • Stir in the bell pepper. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the pepper is tender and the sauce is thick.


This recipe was adapted from The Complete Renal Diet Cookbook.
Per serving: Calories: 408; Protein: 11g; Total fat: 14g; Saturated fat: 2g; Total carbohydrates: 63g; Fiber: 3.5g; Cholesterol: 46mg; Phosphorus: 56mg; Potassium: 231mg; Sodium: 176mg; Sugar: 31g
Per serving (¼ cup sauce): Calories: 83; Protein: 1g; Total fat: 0g; Saturated fat: 0g; Total carbohydrates: 21g; Fiber: 0.5g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Phosphorus: 9mg; Potassium: 112mg; Sodium: 61mg; Sugar: 18g

This article was written by Natasha Arabian, Nutrition Student Volunteer. This article was reviewed by Emily Campbell, RD CDE MScFN.

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: