Kidney-Friendly Tiramisu

Bowl of whipped cream and whisk
Photo: Thinkstock/littleny

Many dietitians would agree that one of the most challenging diets to follow is the renal diet. Patients requiring dialysis often experience low energy and taste changes. These individuals are told to limit phosphorus, potassium, calcium and sodium. The beginning of the diet requires limited protein — however, as things progress to end-stage renal disease, dietitians do all they can to help clients eat enough protein.

Patients often hear “don’t eat this and don’t eat that.” The most common question asked in return is, “Then what can I eat?” Like many dietetic interns I frequently have difficulty answering this question.

Recently, I embarked on a challenge to create 12 renal-friendly recipes that not only met nutritional guidelines but also looked and tasted great. Designed for patients undergoing dialysis, each recipe focused on three primary areas: minerals, protein and taste. The recipes had to be simple and quick to prepare, and most replaced salt with fresh grown herbs I had planted for patients to take home. This project taught me to ask myself: What would I do in a less-than-ideal situation? While it’s easy to turn to a textbook to find answers, it’s important to develop solutions that fit patients’ individual preferences and lifestyles. What is the best way to do this? Get to know those you are working with and put yourself in their shoes.

One of the recipes that worked best for my dialysis patients is this simple tiramisu containing 5 grams of protein, 111 milligrams of phosphorus, 105 milligrams of calcium and 129 milligrams of sodium. While renal-friendly, this is a tasty treat anyone can enjoy! Kidney-Friendly Tiramisu -

Kidney-Friendly Tiramisu

Serves 8


  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar
  • 1 10-ounce package shortbread cookies
  • 8 ounces whipped topping
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder


  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat heavy cream on medium speed until stiff peaks form.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine instant coffee with water and stir until dissolved. Add cream cheese and sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Fold in the whipped cream.
  4. In an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish, layer ½ of the shortbread cookies and spread ½ of the cream cheese-whipped cream mixture on top. Repeat this step with the remaining cookies and topping.

To garnish, mix whipped topping with vanilla protein powder and place a dollop on each serving. Enjoy!

Kelli Steffensmeier on Linkedin
Kelli Steffensmeier
Kelli Steffensmeier completed her undergraduate program at Iowa State University before being matched to Missouri State University’s Dietetic Internship Program. Her interests include diabetes education, metabolic support and renal. Connect with her on LinkedIn.