When AKU patients attend the National AKU Centre (NAC) they are advised to follow a controlled protein diet, as nitisinone affects their blood tyrosine levels. AKU dietitian, Shirley Judd helps patients change and manage their diet effectively. This week’s blog discusses the development of our first ever controlled protein recipe booklet and demonstrates one of the recipes adapted for the booklet.

Patients who attend the NAC have access to off-license nitisinone that prevents the over production of HGA. Nitisinone use increases blood tyrosine levels, which can cause potential side effects. This makes it really important for our patients to work closely with AKU dietitian, Shirley, to monitor their protein intake and maintain a healthy diet. Shirley has emphasised the importance of describing this as a controlled protein diet rather than a low protein diet, as it is different for each individual depending on their body weight and previous protein intake.

The majority of our patients who attend the NAC for the first time have never had to think about their protein intake before. To support patients with these dietary adjustments, our Patient Support Manager, Lesley, is currently working with AKU dietitian, Shirley, to develop a controlled protein recipe booklet. The booklet will provide a wide range of recipes, adapted to fit the protein requirements for AKU patients taking nitisinone. The booklet is primarily designed for patients who attend the NAC, however we do hope to adapt this to suit other patients in the future.

This week I tried out one of these adapted recipes to support the development process of our booklet:

Vegetable and Chickpea Tagine

Ingredients for 4 servings

1 tbsp oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ ground ginger
½ chilli powder
450g mixed vegetable cut into bite-sized pieces (I used courgette, broccoli, carrot, celery and onion)
100ml veg stock
400g tin chickpeas drained and rinsed
50g dried apricots
400g chopped tomatoes
1 tsp harissa paste
black pepper
2 tbsp fresh coriander for garnish


  1.  Heat the oil in a stick pan
  2.  Add garlic, cumin, ginger and chilli powder and fry for 2 minutes until spices are fragrant
  3.  Add the vegetables and fry for 2-3 minutes

4. Pour over the stock and add the chickpeas, apricots and tomatoes

5. Bring to boil and simmer for 10-12 minutes until vegetables are tender

6. Stir in the harissa paste and season with black pepper

7. Serve over couscous and sprinkle with fresh coriander


I would definitely recommend this vegetable and chickpea tagine – the flavours were delicious and it is something you can easily adapt to include your favourite vegetables.

Why not try making your own from our controlled-recipe list? We would love to get your feedback on what worked well, how easy it was and whether you would make it again. Your feedback will help us to decide the favourites to include in our booklet and give you a chance to treat your friends/ family to a delicious meal! Just email lesley@akusociety.org who will be very happy to send a list of recipes over to you.

We are excited to confirm that we are in receipt of an educational grant to produce the booklet and are currently working with a design agency who will help us to create the finalised booklet.

Got a favourite recipe? Want to adapt it to low-protein? Why not share it with us and we can ask Shirley to adapt it for you.