My Nightshade Odyssey​


Elimination diets are all the rage, but being nightshade free is not as well-known as gluten or dairy. So, I finished with Week One of nightshade-free eating and it rots in a hellish sea of blandness with no Hot sauce!

What are the nightshades family of plants? They include tomatoes, peppers of every variety, hot and sweet (but not black pepper), eggplant and white potatoes. And tobacco.


Not a long list, but a hard one.

So, I have tried a few other times to go on this nightshade elimination trip and each time I get tripped up! As a vegetarian (and seafood eater) tomatoes and peppers and hot sauce and spices (like chili powder, paparika) are a big part of my diet which are now off-limits.

There is no way to write about this particular deprivation I am putting myself through without getting personal. And it is a personal journey, as all attempts at food deprivation must be. I’m not good at depriving myself, and generally don’t believe in it for precisely the reasons that I’m struggling with now.​

Over 20 years ago I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which is an autoimmune dusease wherein the body attacks its own myelin sheath, (the protective coating around the nerves of the spinal cord.) Because these attacks of MS can lead to scarring and damage to the nerves and spine and brain, it often leads to a myriad of physical and mental problems. Luckily, in my case, it has not. I have practiced a variety of disciplines to reduce the likelihood of relapses (as MS attacks are called).

Because my blog is about food, yoga and wisdom (Ha!) I will say that I have eaten primarily a plant-based diet for over 30 years, but I do eat fish and wheat and, gulp, even some sugar. I’m thankful I don’t need to be gluten free, vegan or paleo or any other dietary restriction like that.

And every day I am grateful for my yoga practice. Every morning Yoga is on my gratitude list.​

My current problem is horribly painful (and disfiguring) inflammation in my fingers, one on each hand. Not related to MS, but I’ve discovered that folks with one autoimmune disease are more likely to have another. Illnesses are not dispersed according to rules of fairness, right?

This may or may not be osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis or something else.

It seems from my research that many (but not all) arthritis sufferers notice an improvement in their pain and inflammation when they eliminate all nightshades for a period of 3 or 6 weeks, depending on your source.

So what’s a girl to do? Well, of course I, who specializes in conquering sugar cravings by using only whole healthy and natural real alternatives to sugar have suddenly found myself succumbing to some serious sugary longings! Huh?

Luckily I know that binges occur when I feel deprived. And I feel deprived.

I am like one of those cooking show contestants presented with a challenge: no tomatoes with my pasta, salad or fish? No peppers, paprika or hot sauce in my appetizers? I gotcha!​

This week a made a walnut pâté with toasted nuts and garbanzo beans and lots of garlic. And I made sweet potato falafels (from 101 cookbooks website) and then I discovered this: Shallot Fig Spread by Terry Walters, the wonderful orginal author and creator of CLEAN FOOD, (and her newest cookbook, CLEAN START) and certainly one of my favorite vegan chefs and inspirations. Thank you,Terry,for leading the way in the Clean food path.

Do buy her cookbooks, but this recipe was genrously supplied on her website:

Shallot Fig Spread


(adapted from Terry Walters)

1 Cup dried Black Mission (Terry uses Turkish) figs, stems removed and cut in half

2 Cups water

7 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 T extra Virgin olive oil

1 T grated fresh ginger root

Zest of one orange

Juice of 1-2 oranges depending on their Juiciness! ( I used one super juicy mineola orange; original calls for 2)

2 T maple syrup

Place the halved figs in a saucepan with the water and bring to a boil; then, simmer until the liquid is reduced to about 1/2 a cup, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside without draining.

Saute the shallots in the olive oil until very soft, (about 15 minutes) . Add the ginger, orange zest, and juice and stir continuously for about 5 minutes longer. Add the figs, their liquid and the maple syrup. Stir to combine and then remove from the heat.

he mixture is cool enough to touch, transfer to a food processor (or bowl with a handheld blender) and process until blended but not pureed.

Cover and refigerate until serving. Makes 2 Cups.


I had a friend over for lunch and made socca (on my website)  with the fig spread, some chopped fresh chard and goat cheese and then broiled. A soft, gluten-free vegan delicious flatbread!

and then I made the same idea with a rice flour tortilla​.