By Cat Wilson
First off, what is a nightshade? A nightshade is a fruit or vegetable that contains the alkaloid solanine, which is produced naturally as an insecticide while the plant is growing. Most of the alkaloid is contained in the stem and leaves of the plant, but the edible portion will contain a lesser amount.
The first three items in the list of nightshades are botanically fruits, not vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, tomatillos, chilies and paprika.
All the above also contain a bit of nicotine, so it’s no surprise the tobacco plant is also a nightshade. Green bell peppers seem to contain the most solanine of the foods listed.
Nightshades are all nutrient-dense foods, contributing many health benefits through their vitamin, mineral, fiber and antioxidant content and are a staple in diets throughout the world.
However, if you experience inflammatory bowel disease, fibromyalgia, arthritis, joint pain or other autoimmune diseases you may find that nightshades increase the inflammation; they do not cause inflammation, but may increase inflammation already there.
About the only method used to see if you are sensitive to nightshades is to eliminate them entirely from your diet for a month. During that month it is important to journal how you feel at the start of the month, such as sleeping pattern, congestion, headaches, digestive discomfort, joint pain, head fog and bowel issues.
After a month reintroduce one food item and continue journaling any negative changes. After a couple of weeks, introduce another item. If you see any symptom returning, back down to having that food only once per week to see if that abates the symptoms.
It is truly cause and effect here and everyone is different. Some people find they are in better health eliminating all nightshades and others find they can tolerate them in occasional doses. While you’re at it, corn and wheat are two non-nightshades that you may try eliminating to see if they affect you negatively.
Zucchini Casserole (non-vegan)
6 cups zucchini, sliced (3 average sized)
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 cup sour cream
1 10.5 ounce can cream of mushroom soup
1 box dry stuffing mix, herb or sage flavor
½ cup butter, melted
Boil zucchini and onions in salted water for 3-5 minutes. Drain well.
In a medium mixing bowl, mix carrots, sour cream and condensed soup. Add cooked zucchini/onion and mix well.
Mix stuffing mix and melted butter.
Place vegetable mixture in 9 x 13 dish and stir in about ½ of the stuffing/butter mix, then place the rest of the stuffing/butter mix over the top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes
Cat Wilson lives in South Bend and transitioned from a vegetarian diet to eating a plant-based diet over two years ago. She may be contacted at [email protected].