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JEFF TIEDEMAN: Veggie delights

I'm pretty thankful for not having any food allergies. That would be scary. And it's hard for me to imagine what it would be like not to be able to munch on some of my favorites.

Jeff Tiedeman
Jeff Tiedeman

I'm pretty thankful for not having any food allergies. That would be scary. And it's hard for me to imagine what it would be like not to be able to munch on some of my favorites.

For example, some people can't eat peanut butter because they are allergic to tree nuts. And still others have to abstain from consuming shellfish such as shrimp for the same reason.

Both are among my most-liked foods but if push came to shove, I could live without either of them, but it would be a challenge. (It's hard to imagine a world without peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and shrimp cocktail.)

But there are some foods it would just pain me if I had to give up. And a few of them -- tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers (among the most popular vegetables in the United States) --just happen to belong to the nightshade or Solanaceae family, which also includes tomatillos, paprika, cayenne and pimentos.

These nightshades contain alkaloids that are suspected of causing arthritic-type symptoms in people already prone to the ailment.

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Several times over the past week, I've snacked on slices of fresh heirloom tomatoes from the garden for lunch, as well as dipping tortillas chips in fresh salsa that contained hot Hungarian wax peppers, and smothering cooked pasta with a marinara sauce made up of purplish eggplant sauteed with onion and garlic in olive oil. And that's not to mention the cherry tomatoes that have been included in Therese's salads on an almost nightly basis.

Far from being bad for you, nightshade vegetables offer a number of health benefits. For example:

n Eggplant is low in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol and high in dietary fiber, folate, potassium, manganese, vitamins C, K and B-6, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus and copper.

n Tomatoes are low in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol and high in dietary fiber, vitamins A, C, K, E and B-6, potassium, manganese, thiamin, niacin, folate, magnesium, phosphorus and copper.

n Peppers are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium and high in dietary fiber, vitamins A, C, E, K and B6, potassium, manganese, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate and magnesium.

n Potatoes are low in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol and high in vitamins C and B-6, iron, potassium, copper, manganese and dietary fiber.

In addition, most nightshade veggies contain important phytonutrients, many which have antioxidant activity.

I'm glad that these nightshade vegetables don't give me the creeps.

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Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at jtiedeman@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: FOOD
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