No More Nightshades!

nightshade vegetables
Nightshade family illustration by olgasabo

This article was originally published in 2005.

Recipes to satisfy your cravings for the foods you once loved.

Some researchers believe that consumption of nightshades – a family of plants that includes white potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant – contributes to arthritis symptoms in certain sensitive people. If you’ve stricken these plants from your diet because your joints get achy when you ingest them, chances are you’ve been missing the standard “comfort foods” you once enjoyed, like mashed potatoes, tomato sauce and French fries. You may get wistful just thinking about all those tomato-rich Italian and Mexican dishes you used to down.

Letting go of beloved foods can be a challenge but help is on the way! These recipes bring back the good, old days of dining. Cozy comfort and tons of taste–without the nightshades! No gluten or dairy either.

“Marinara” Sauce


Tomato-sauce lovers on a no-nightshade regimen will be thrilled to add this recipe to their diet.

Roasted Garlic “Mashed Potatoes”


Steaming the cauliflower helps give this dish a thicker consistency. For a lovely soup, omit the garlic and thin with some gluten-free, dairy-free chicken broth. Serve hot.

Tofu Parmesan


If you’re missing eggplant, this is your recipe. This dish is delicious, just like the real thing.

1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained
Wheat-free, gluten-free tamari
½ cup olive oil
12 ounces Cremini or Baby Bella mushrooms
1 clove garlic, chopped
Salt and fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1½ cups cooked beans of choice
2 recipes (6 cups) “Marinara” Sauce
1 cup gluten-free cornmeal
1½ cups shredded dairy-free mozzarella, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Cut tofu into ⅓-inch slices. Place on plate and sprinkle with tamari. After 10 minutes turn over and sprinkle with more tamari.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in skillet. Add garlic and mushrooms to pan. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Cook over high heat until juice from mushrooms evaporates. Stir in parsley.

4. In bowl, mix mushrooms, beans and “Marinara” Sauce together and set aside.

5. Heat remaining oil in skillet. Put cornmeal on a plate. Press both sides of tofu slices into cornmeal. Fry tofu in oil until golden on both sides. Drain on a paper towel.

6. To assemble, spread part of sauce on bottom of 8×6-inch baking dish. Layer half the fried tofu on top of sauce. Spoon more sauce over tofu and sprinkle on half the cheese. Layer remaining tofu on dairy-free cheese and cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with rest of cheese.

7. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese melts and begins to brown.

Sweet Potato Oven Fries


For variety, lightly oil diced sweet potatoes, season with cumin and kosher salt, and roast in a hot oven.

4 medium sweet potatoes
2 cups salted cold water
4 tablespoons melted butter or coconut butter or oil of choice
½ teaspoon coarse salt, optional

1. Preheat over to 450 degrees F.

2. Peel potatoes. Slice them lengthwise or use a French fry cutter.

3. In large bowl, soak potato slices in salted cold water for an hour. Drain and pat dry with a paper towel.

4. Arrange potatoes on a cookie sheet and drizzle with melted butter or oil of choice.

5. Bake for 30 minutes or until brown. Turn and bake another 15 minutes or until crisp and tender when tested with fork.

6. Sprinkle with salt or serve plain.

Notorious Nightshades

Anecdotal evidence suggests that that these plants can contribute to arthritis symptoms in sensitive consumers.

White potatoes (not sweet pototoes)
Peppers (not black pepper)
Certain spices (cayenne, chili, red pepper, paprika)

For more about nightshades, check these out resources:

Arthritis Nightshades Research Foundation
3906 NW 31st PlaceGainesville, FL 32606

This organization, founded by horticulturist Norman F. Childers, Ph.D., publishes The Arthritis Nightshades Newsletter.

Arthritis-Free Cooking
by Joan Vogel and Pat Claudio
A cookbook published by Norman F. Childers Publications and available through and Barnes and Noble.

This company produces tomato-free sauces and meals that are also organic.

Recipes adapted by Rebecca Reilly from Arthritis-Free Cooking (Norman F. Childers Publications).