A low oxalate diet can be difficult, so I want to share a few things that have made it easier for me over the years. Here a few things that will help you set yourself up for success.
Keep Tasty Staples in Your Pantry
The first thing that really helped me to make the diet a little bit easier was to keep my pantry and refrigerator stocked with things I could use to spice up my meals, or make the mediocre ones taste a little better. So I'll always have a good quality olive oil and fresh garlic in the house and condiments that last for a while, like spicy brown mustard.
You can also experiment with different kinds of salt, because a lot of them will have different flavors — there's ones from all over the world!
Just be careful not to go overboard on the salt if you're a kidney stone former because that can increase the calcium in your urine and increase your risk for stone formation. But adding a little bit of salt here and there can really spice up your meals and, if you use different ones, then it can change the flavor of the meals as well.
If you're in a pinch and you need a marinade for something like a chicken or pork chops, you can always just throw these four ingredients (olive oil, garlic, salt, mustard) into a blender with a little bit of white vinegar and you have an easy marinade ready to go!
Tamari, Coconut Aminos, Salsa, Hot Sauce and More
Other things I keep on hand are tamari and coconut aminos. Tamari is a gluten-free version of soy sauce that’s usually a little bit higher quality than most soy sauces out there. Coconut aminos are made from the sap of coconut trees and somehow have a similar flavor to soy sauce. Both of these are great for quick stir fries.
Tamari is made from soy, so you may think it's high oxalate, but soy sauces are usually just an extract of soy so there's not as many oxalates as there would be if you were eating the whole soybean. Things like tamari and soy sauce are used in such small quantities that oxalates really aren't too much of a thing to worry about.
Another thing I always have is salsa, especially a nice tomatillo salsa like the one from Frontera. I always have one in my fridge and a couple in my pantry, and I use it for things like burrito bowls or breakfast bowls. You can even use it for leftovers if you need to bring back to life a meal that you had last night or the night before.
I always have some kind of hot sauce as well. There's a bunch of different kinds you can try and they all have unique flavors. Hot sauce is another thing that's used in such small quantities that oxalates really aren't too much of a worry here. Two delicious, easy-to-find brands are Tapatío and Sriracha.
Invest in Some Handy Kitchen Tools
Having some handy kitchen tools around can definitely make the transition to a low oxalate diet easier as well. Reducing the amount of time or effort you're putting into the kitchen is really critical for anyone who's cooking for a family or for people who are like me and just want to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible.
I make my mixed veggie hashbrowns with the help of an electric vegetable grater, and I keep them in the freezer to pull out whenever I want one for breakfast. You can fill up a cookie sheet with the shredded veggies, bake them in the oven (usually with parchment paper lining the cookie sheet to make cleanup easier), and then I cut them into squares and store them in the freezer stacked on top of each other with pre-cut sheets of wax paper that I bought also for $2-3.
Another thing that has come in handy for me is an olive oil sprayer. Most vegetables are delicious if they're oven-roasted with a little bit of olive oil and some salt. Getting a nice even spray from a good bottle will prevent your veggies from being soggy in some parts and then dry in other places, and you'll get a nice even roast with the vegetables. It will also save you some cleanup in the kitchen if you were tossing veggies in a bowl first like I was before putting them onto an oven tray. Good olive oil can be a little expensive too, so with this method you can also save a little bit of money since none of the oil will be wasted and left at the bottom of the mixing bowl.
Something else I added to my kitchen is a vegetable chopper that I use with most of my meals, especially whenever I'm using onions or peppers or trying to chop garlic or anything. Although slicing veggies can be meditative at times, moving things along is usually my preference.
Make Yourself a Low Oxalate Menu
I also found it easier for myself if I keep an updated make things easier for myself is to keep a menu of the things that I usually eat. It's probably at the top of the list of first world problems, but deciding what to eat and remembering the things you like to eat can be at best a little annoying and worst, pretty overwhelming — so keep a menu of the things you' like to eat and update it as often as you want with the slow changes that we talked about that you're making along the way.
Don’t be afraid to get creative here! Make your menu nice and fancy by typing it up in a shnazzy font or create a name for your at-home kitchen or “restaurant”. If you're in the kitchen cooking all the time, especially for a family, it may feel like you're running a restaurant anyway, so you might as well give it a fun name and have a nice menu. If you make it nice enough, maybe your kids and guests will even start leaving you some tips!
My menu has my mixed veggie hashbrowns on there with some poached eggs, along with yogurt with fruit salad for breakfast. If you’re in a rush, just throw the fruit and the yogurt into a blender for a smoothie. I eat a lot of salads for lunch, so I keep all of the ingredients that I would use if I was going to make a salad in a nice little list. Sushi is also another good lunch option — it’s usually made with white rice, which is typically low oxalate, and then some fish, maybe a little bit of avocado and a little bit of veggies.
I also keep Thai Kitchen red curry paste, which has been tested and is low oxalate, in the fridge for curry noodle soup — all you need is coconut milk, chicken stock, zucchini noodles, and maybe some bok choy or other low oxalate vegetables.
How to Include Some High Oxalate Foods
Since variety is a very important thing, when you're on a low oxalate diet, I thought I would include a little bit about how to maybe include some higher oxalate foods in the diet as well.
One way to do this is to use oils from higher oxalate foods like sesame seeds, macadamia nuts and walnuts. The oils from these foods are low in oxalate, because when you extract the oil from the seed or the nut, it leaves most of the oxalate behind. You can use things like almond extract and chocolate extracts when you're baking to get those flavors back.
You can also infuse oils with whole, high-oxalate spices like cloves and cumin seeds, or even with low oxalate things for some extra flavor. When you put things into the oils, it will extract some of the flavor, but none of the oxalate, because the oxalates are only soluble in water, not in oil.
Don’t forget to consider portion size as well. I mentioned before that things like oregano and black pepper are often considered high oxalate, and they will be if you use them in excess — but in the amounts that they're usually used, there isn't really an appreciable amount of oxalate in those serving sizes.