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Below are the 19 most recent journal entries recorded in Nightshade Free's LiveJournal:

Sunday, April 14th, 2013
9:03 pm
G+ group
This group seems to have faded, as much of LJ has.
There is a new group over on G+ on the same topic, should anyone be interested.
Thursday, September 29th, 2011
3:15 pm
Dealing with restaurants -- how much do you ask questions?
The most recent poster wrote "I feel so strange unable to go out to eat, grilling people about what is really in the food." That's actually a really good thing to bring up, IMO, so I wanted to make it into its own post.

How much do you ask questions, or make special requests, in restaurants?

Personally, my default rule is "if you have to ask, it isn't safe." I have to have some specific reason to make an exception to that, although usually I also don't want to bother with fussing or being fussed over if I can help it.

A few of my exceptions:

1. If I think the restaurant is good enough that they know what a nightshade is. That is, the kind of place where you can just tell the waiter that you are allergic to tomatoes and potatoes, and not only expect that will help your situation instead of hindering it, but that the chef will have the waiter go back out and ask "eggplants and peppers too, right?" I do not go out to eat at that kind of place basically ever, because price aside, that kind of place won't have anything on the menu that is obviously safe, and the annoyance of having to go back and forth with the waiter will (for me) outweigh the benefit of the food being good.

2. The place is run by hippies or the like and they obviously know every single thing that goes into their food. Again, this doesn't mean I want to ask, just that I trust them to know the answers.

3. It is a simple request that I think would be hard to screw up, e.g. when ordering a pizza online and able to write a special request, writing "NO SAUCE. I am allergic to tomatoes -- just leave the sauce off."

If I do decide to ask questions or make special requests, I try to make it as short and straightforward as I possibly can, to avoid confusion or panic. I try very hard not to disclose that I have an allergy (except in specific, tested cases like ordering pizza, where I know a phrasing that works 95% of the time), because I am relying on restaurants to behave predictably in order for me to feel safe, and a restaurant that knows a customer has an allergy will behave unpredictably.

This is where well-meaning friends who try to "help" can ruin everything by interfering, and force me to switch my order to something I don't really want (because it is the only thing left on the menu I think the restaurant won't screw up when they are freaked out about a confusing allergy). :P

I can go on, but I've posted about this kind of thing before, and want to put something else in another post.

How do you all handle restaurant food?
Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
3:06 am
Hello from another Newbie!
I found this group after doing some research about Nightshades, and joined LJ to be able to chat with you all.

Unlike a lot of you (it would seem) I am not allergic to Nightshades, but intolerate of them. I have severe Fibromyalgia, and am also hoping that once I get them all out of my system my pain will go down some.

In addition to Nightshades, I cannot have Soy, mustard, onion, wheat, milk, eggs, watermelon, basil, oregano, mushrooms, oats, spelt, millet, polysorbate 80, yellow #5, blue #2, green pea, broccoli, cabbage, caffeine, coffee, sesame...I might be forgetting something, but that is most of it. LOL

Needless to say, finding things to eat has gotten..well...interesting. And frustrating. I am making most things from scratch and reworking recipes that were already made to accomidate most allergies. Thus my user name: Rediscover Food, because that is what I am having to do. I have to rediscover Mayo, and pasta sauce, and ketchup, and bread...ect. To discover again what these foods taste like, because they are new and unique, and unlike the mayo, pasta sauce, ketchup ect that I grew up eating.

To that end I started a blog to keep track of all the reworked recipes I discover. I hope it is OK to post it here. I look forward to getting to know you all. I feel so strange ubable to go out to eat, grilling people about what is really in the food. Hubby does not understand, and it gets loney. I miss being able to eat anything- to some extent. In reality, it was always bad for me, and caused me pain, so in that sense, I do not miss those foods at all.


Current Mood: tired
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
9:48 pm
Kashi TLC cheese crackers off the menu
After reading the cheez-it label (paprika) I found Kashi (and spices).
I called to ask what spices, they tell me they don't recommend their cheese
TLC crackers to me, the horseradish may contain cayenne.
Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
11:04 pm
on Roundup-Ready soybeans
I wound up doing a lot of research on this issue, and made kind of an enormous post about it.

TL;DR version for people who are not interested in molecular biology: there's very little petunia-derived protein ever produced, and it's present in minuscule, transient amounts. It doesn't satisfy FDA criteria for an allergen, and it's vanishingly unlikely anyone would have a problem. Drink your soy milk freely!
Wednesday, January 5th, 2011
3:33 pm
NSF Alert... GMO Soy!
Genetically modified soy, contains Petunia, which is a nightshade. :P  I buy only Organic Tofu that is labeled non-GMO, but still.
Also, just about any crop can be made to contain petunia, corn, or soy. Its all in how they modify the original seed. Yikes!

UPDATE: Here's what I found... its the Round-up Ready Soya (page updated Jan 9, 2010).  However, I do agree that the concern may not be there, now that I have more information.

A comparison of the DNA yields for the isolation procedures was made by agarose gel electrophoresis (0.7% agarose in 1X TAE buffer) which is illustrated in Figure 1. The genomic DNA was tested for genetically modified sequences, i.e., GMO analysis, using PCR. Samples were analyzed for the soy lectin gene and Cauliflower Mosaic Virus 35S promoter/ Petunia transcription sequence marker found in genetically modified soybean (Roundup Ready Soya). Analysis of the reactions was done electrophoretically (1X TAE with 3% agarose) and is illustrated in Figure 2.


However, I was never concerned with non-GMO soy products. This only concerns the GMO variety. Even Dr. Oz believes that Soy is best in its more natural format. I, OTOH, would gladly drink my soy milk, eat tofu, Soy products, as long as they are non-GMO, but for other reasons. I just don't like GMO foods when I have a choice.

Current Mood: irritated
2:30 pm
Vegan NSF Agnolotti Piemontese
This recipe is in 3 parts - the main recipe, the sauce, and the homemade pasta.  However, you could instead, just buy Tinkyada's jumbo shells and stuff that instead. It just won't be Agnolotti, which is a rectangular shaped, stuffed pasta, similiar to the Ravioli. If making your own pasta, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and do the Pasta Dough recipe first.

Piemontese is what we would call Piedmont, one of the administrative regions of Italy, similiar to our States or Provinces. It also refers to the region of Italy, where this dish is common. Piedmont is surrounded by Alps on three sides.

Traditionally, Calf brains, Sausage and Braised Beef is used in this dish. And, it is lightly seasoned with Nutmeg, and served in a soup thats usually meat based, or topped with Butter and Sage. I decided that for you, I'd give you my Red Sauce recipe so that those of you who wanted a Tomato Sauce that was Nightshade Free, you would have it.

This Vegan version, again uses Portobello mushrooms. However, for the Sausage, you can use substitute a Vegan Sausage you like. It just won't be 'free of' what I say this recipe is free of, as most Vegan meats uses Soy. I'm using Fresh Mushrooms, chopped finely, and mixed with Spicier Sausage ingredients, to give it a nice flavour. The Sausage recipes I have found online, tend to be on the bland side, when recreated with Tofu. This version uses mushrooms instead, and is spicy.

The Agnolotti Piemontese recipe...Collapse )

Current Mood: artistic
Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
12:09 pm
Good News and Bad News...
DEAR LJ EDIT: I HAVE DELETED THE Comment with a link to a crap site but could NOT click Spam because I didn't view the thread first. It allowed me to delete the comment (by following the "delete the comment" link from within my email) but without the proper form from another page, but when I clicked on view thread, it then gave me the option to mark as spam. :P  http://funcvanena.livejournal.com is the spammer who posts "love" crap with crap links. Feel free to email me and I'll give you what she actually posted. Thanks!

ps. I'm deleting the above by the 15th and reverting this post back to the original post. Thanks!

The Post for this community:

I just found out today that, almost any company that makes shredded cheese, contains Potato starch, which means that their non-shredded cheese line could come into contact with Potato starch.  Every non-organic brand of shredded cheese, contains potato starch.

However, Organic Valley cheese does NOT contain Potato Starch. :D However, anyone allergic to seeds, are out of luck as annatto is a seed.

The other news:  The FDA wording of what Caramel is and can contain.  From http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm ( 21 FDA Sec. 73.85)
Sec. 73.85 Caramel.

(a)Identity. (1) The color additive caramel is the dark-brown liquid or solid material resulting from the carefully controlled heat treatment of the following food-grade carbohydrates:

  1. Dextrose.
  2. Invert sugar.
  3. Lactose.
  4. Malt sirup.
  5. Molasses.
  6. Starch hydrolysates and fractions thereof. [NB. This can be from wheat, Potato, Rice or Corn for the common sources.]
  7. Sucrose.

Current Mood: Crazilly Busy!
Monday, December 20th, 2010
12:53 am
Hierarchies of risk
In response to a recent comment to an old post, I joked about putting something on my "statistical risk assessment list", and I wonder if other people have something in a similar order.

These are items on ingredients lists that make me worry that it might contain allergens in quantities high enough for me to notice. Does your hierarchy look like this? Do you even have one? In descending order, probably forgetting lots of things:

_____ broth
modified food starch
natural flavors

If it says "natural flavors", I will eat it if that is way down the list. "Spices" I will mess with only if I have some prior experience with the food and am reasonable sure what it is. I don't tangle with "modified food starch" anymore, and after getting sick from "mushroom broth", I won't mess with anything-broth anymore unless I'm really confident everything is listed (e.g. the local fresh pasta store is less reliable than canned broth, in terms of competently listing ingredients).

It's actually kind of awful that I'm happy to find "artificial flavors" on things. I'm not sure what I'd do with "unnatural flavors".
Thursday, August 12th, 2010
7:24 pm
Reasons for avoiding nightshades? -- follow-up question to previous post
I suspect there are more reasons why people avoid nightshades than just allergies and arthritis. I don't know what they are. Are there other categories we should take into account? All I really know about are actual allergic reactions (e.g. hives, shock, asthma -- things either itchy or frightening).
7:10 pm
Specific allergens, and disinformation
Did you know that some of the most common allergens from nightshades are, in fact, fully identified? There is an official international list of allergens -- here's what it has for the order Solanales. At the time of posting, that list includes two bell pepper allergens, three from tomatoes, and four from potatoes. You can click on their names and get more information, including subtypes of those allergens, and the complete amino acid sequence for every one of them. Unless I missed something, they are all proteins, which so far as I know is the norm for food allergies. (I have occasionally contemplated some sort of weird art project involving those sequences.)

My motive for posting this is to counter disinformation -- here's an example where a supposed "master chef" asserts that the allergens are alkaloids, and also that blueberries are nightshades (I know they are heaths without having to look it up, although maybe that's the sort of thing I should pretend not to know).

So, the deal is this: The arthritis researchers who say nightshades are bad (link is to an example, not an authoritative source) usually blame alkaloids. "Alkaloid" is a loosey-goosey sort of term referring to various mostly naturally occurring chemicals, and I do not fully grasp what they all have in common -- if you can explain it more clearly than wikipedia, go for it. In any case, proteins are not usually classified as alkaloids.

To summarize my understanding of the issue:
alkaloids -- arthritis (and various fad diets)
proteins -- allergies

This is not a pointless distinction -- an epipen will not help with arthritis, painkillers won't make hives go away, and anaphylactic shock needs to be dealt with ASAP. Caffeine can be mildly helpful in acute allergic reactions, but it's also one of the alkaloids that sometimes get blamed for causing arthritis. The things you might have cross-reactivity to if you have allergies (other nightshades, some fruit, latex) are not the same things arthritis sufferers are told to avoid (I don't know what all those are). Efforts to create tomatoes and other nightshades with the allergen proteins altered increasingly look like they might eventually succeed -- these hypoallergenic, transgenic tomatoes will not be any safer for arthritis sufferers. Knowing what your actual problem is has implications for both prevention as well as how you deal with it when something goes wrong.
Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
4:08 pm
Annoying discovery: goji berries
Over the past few months I had gotten really sick, as if I had eaten something I shouldn't, but couldn't figure out why. At least one dumb thing I ate was goji berries in a fruit smoothie.

Because they are sweet, and the main 4 categories of nightshades in the US are not, I didn't think to check.

As more and more fruits and vegetables make their way into US supermarkets, we need to be careful of new things, even if they don't seem like nightshades. Another one I have seen lately is pepino melons, which usually show up next to the star fruit.
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009
4:19 pm
Stupid places to find allergens
So, although I haven't managed to find the relevant federal labeling regulations, my understanding is that "modified food starch" will turn out to come from potatoes about 1/4 of the time.[1] I discovered this after getting sick from some tortilla shells and wondering about the modified food starch. I don't know exactly what my allergens are -- most allergies are to proteins, but if a corn allergy gets triggered by corn syrup, it makes sense that a potato allergy can be triggered by starch. Maybe traces of protein stick around, or maybe I'm allergic to other components.

Anyway, I thought I'd make a list of stupid places I have found modified food starch:

- tortilla shells
- most pre-grated cheese
- certain types of donuts (further research is required on whether there's anything predictable to this)
- jelly beans

Has anyone else had experiences with this?

[1] Potato starch may get turned into dextrin and maltodextrin. I have no idea if these ever contain allergens.
Friday, April 24th, 2009
12:53 am
These might have nightshade.

Strawberry Milkshake Oreos

To day I got a box of these as they where on sale and I have not had Oreos in years. The box would last me more then a week as snake food at work. I ate 3 of them, they where good, a few moments latter I started feeling sick. That I just ate Nightshade kind of sick. Sore scrachy throat Skin around my cheeks and face getting all hot and bright read , feeling like I just got the flue in a matter of a few moments. I then looked at the list of stuff that is in them, there looks to be nothing in that list that could do this to me. So why the heck did I get that type of sick on four of these cookies?
End of this story is I now have a box of these and every one around me at work now gets cookies as I do not like feeling like that no matter how good they are.

Thursday, October 9th, 2008
1:38 pm
"Spices" -- What does it mean? (US labeling regulations)
Spices: These are defined in 21 C.F.R. 101.22 (a) (2):

"The term spice means any aromatic vegetable substance in the whole, broken, or ground form, except for those substances which have been traditionally regarded as foods, such as onions, garlic and celery; whose significant function in food is seasoning rather than nutritional; that is true to name; and from which no portion of any volatile oil or other flavoring principle has been removed. Spices include the spices listed in Sec. 182.10 and part 184 of this chapter...."

As I interpret this, together 21 C.F.R. § 182.10 and 21 C.F.R. § 184 comprise the official list of what may be labeled as "spices". The first is the list of things normal people would recognize as spices, and contains a few nightshades; the second has some truly bizarre stuff in it, but no nightshades. The items relevant to us are these:

Capsicum - - - - - - - Capsicum frutescens L. or Capsicum annuum L.
Cayenne pepper - - - Capsicum frutescens L. or Capsicum annuum L.
Paprika - - - - - - - - - Capsicum annuum L.

('L.' just means that it was named by Linnaeus.)

So, the moral here is that peppers are a problem, but in the US "spices" never means tomatoes, potatoes, or eggplants.

I've never heard of anyone allergic to some peppers but not others -- have any of you? Are pepper species something we should be carefully breaking out?

Next up: "Natural flavorings", which is much harder to go through exhaustively.
Tuesday, August 5th, 2008
9:04 pm
What it is like having nightshade allergies
This is more or less directly lifted from something I posted friends-locked in my journal last year. Since the topic of asking questions of restaurant staff came up in an earlier post, I thought it might be useful, or at least entertaining, to share. Sorry it's not the best writing -- I didn't originally write it with a public post in mind. On the plus side, it might amuse you. :)

This post isn't about details of food or restaurants, but mostly about how other people deal with someone who has allergies. I am going to try to describe what it is like going out to eat with people, from my perspective.

Before I go on and say some things that might sound harsh, I want to point out right away that people really do mean well. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the amount of attention people pay to my allergies. There are bad sides of that, like the fact that having attention drawn to me in public is just mortifying to me, and sometimes I'm more sensitive to how loud someone is being than they are. The positive side, though, is the extent people who don't know me well or haven't seen me in a long time are happy to calculate my allergies into social activities -- even stuff they bring to potlucks where there will be twenty people there. I am just awe-struck by how thoughtful people can be. I'm usually at a loss for words, beyond gamely and sincerely thanking them for their zeal at trying to not kill me! Even if the results are sometimes problematic socially, the desire to not kill me is not an impulse I want to discourage. Really, it's an admirable goal, and my friends are all awesome for aspiring to keep me alive!

But, in implementation, problems arise. Without further ado, I give you this thrilling (and entirely true) tale:

ratatosk Buys a Sandwich

  1. I am with a group of people in a sandwich / coffeeshop. We are there to get lunch. I look at a menu, see some possibilities, and decide to take advantage of someone who has past experience with the food and who I know I can communicate with ("A."). I ask A. what's in the goat cheese spread. What I was hoping for was something like "it's white, or just has some herbs in it -- it's not spicy", which is the most reliable predictor of safety I could hope to get in that particular coffeeshop. My track record for asking questions about specific, hard-to-describe ingredients (e.g. "are there flecks of red in it?") and getting a correct answer is absolutely abysmal, but usually people don't believe me when I tell them this.

  2. A. doesn't come up with any verbal description of the spread right away -- that's fine, we aren't all food critics -- and asks for clarification. She seems sane and calm enough for my purposes, so I ask more specific things, but the moment she realizes I'm digging for allergens, all is lost, because she's not going to try to answer and risk getting it wrong. Furthermore, she's unclear on the concept that I trust her description more than that of the restaurant staff.

  3. Repeat this with with my question about the aolio spread. I specifically ask B. about that because I know she has gone to a lot of different restaurants, and had the best chance of anyone there of predicting what might be in it.

  4. Now I'm not much closer to deciding what to order, but I'm also trying to figure out how to order while fending off worried people who I don't want to hurt the feelings of (because they really, really do mean well).

  5. I just go ahead and order what, based on my experiences, I consider the least risky of the sandwiches (in this case, turkey). I'm willing to trust the staff to understand the concept of "no tomato", but this is still something I know isn't a sure bet. I could have listed any number of things that could go wrong that I wasn't mentioning: they could give me the wrong bread (they did), which could have been a kind that had potato flour in it (I can spot that reasonably well, fortunately, but only for sliced bread), the spread could have something in it that no one would expect, there could be an undocumented ingredient that they thought was a nice touch that distinguished them from other restaurants, the turkey could have some sort of pepper on it (it did, maybe, but I'll get back to that), they could cut the thing with a knife that was contaminated, and finally they could just give me the wrong sandwich. I list these because they are all things I have had happen to me. The list of what people don't think of as possible causes for these errors is just as long -- staff might not hear me order properly and act like they did, might not understand what I said because it was too complicated (for different reasons depending on their native language, and sometimes in ways no one would ever predict) yet act like they did, they might not communicate the order to the cook correctly, the recipe might have changed since they last knew the correct answer to my question (including a single ingredient that is a mixture getting changed, either on purpose or by accident), a printed list of ingredients might be wrong or incomplete (either from a pre-packaged commercial source or an internal pre-made source), they might misread, misunderstand, or otherwise fail to correctly spot an allergen in the printed list (perhaps because it is hidden in "spices"), or they might just lie. (I could probably keep adding things to those lists for a while if I cared.) So I know I am making a gut evaluation of risk where I can't actually head off every failure mode, but unless people really grasp this they are horrified at my risk-taking.

  6. Notice that with allergies to a single, well-understood thing, people are used to the idea of someone always clearly explaining everything to the restaurant staff and everyone living happily ever after. But if I had listed all those things I would have looked and felt like a freak job who should not be eating there (at least not without a tasting-tongue dog or something), it would have been mean and implied that I did not trust them, it would not in my experience have made my sandwich any safer, and it very well might make it worse (if only because in my nervousness I might forget to ask for the sandwich without the tomato). There is a practical reason not to draw restaurant staff's attention to my allergies unless absolutely necessary, which is that people don't always react calmly or intelligently. They hear "allergy", they get nervous, and they bring to bear all their assumptions about common allergens, much of which is wrong or worse in my case. I suspect but cannot prove that people are more likely to shut down and make errors if they are anxious or distracted. People have trouble accepting that I have an allergy that cannot be explained to them quickly or to an extent adequate to let them reliably identify what foods I can and cannot eat. Normally "nightshade allergy" is just too complicated and counterintuitive for that. The exception is for chefs at really fancy restaurants, but the threshold for getting that sort of chef is always way higher than people I'm with think it is.

  7. It is at this point that people will totally flip out and try to order for me by telling the restaurant all the things they can remember that I have ever told them, which invariably is not going to include everything that I know from experience might go wrong. The best-case scenario here is usually for me to cut them off, confidently and authoritatively assert a total lie that everyone in the room accepts, and order what I was going to order anyway as best as I am able without screwing it up. Worst case scenario, I ditch my original plan and, to make everyone leave me alone, order a pastry (which wrecks my blood sugar and is not lunch).

  8. In any case at this point because people -- who really do mean well and care about me a lot -- have intervened, now everyone thinks whatever food I end up with is much safer because some magic words were uttered (or, if they weren't uttered correctly, that it is much less safe). So they are even more horrified (if they don't feel slightly betrayed) when I still poke at the sandwich carefully once I get it. They thought all of that was over! The fact that two things were wrong with the sandwich also horrifies them, because "that sort of thing never happens" to them. If I'm being honest, there is nothing I can say to this that isn't making stuff up, because I'm not them. Usually I make a few things up and use words like "expectation bias", and then shut up and feel guilty.

  9. I determine that the unidentified orange flecks on the edges of the turkey don't provoke a reaction when touched to my lip or tongue, nor can I taste anything suspicious about them. They might be paprika or some other allergen, but they might just be an unusual color that resulted naturally form that turkey-roasting process. I decide that even if it is something bad, it's not present in the sandwich beyond the level of "annoying contaminant", and I go ahead and eat it. I attempt to explain that allergic reactions are usually a threshold thing, where problems arise when you get a lot all at once or little doses in too continuous a pattern, and that it is actually safe for me to eat the sandwich if I don't feel sick already. This makes people more nervous, not less, so I try to make them feel better by observing that the caffeine from my iced tea will actually counteract some amount of allergic reaction. Again, they are just more nervous. I feel guilty for making them nervous.

  10. Whatever went wrong this time, or that they glean from my behavior might have gone wrong and I didn't tell them about, gets added to the list of things for them to worry about the next time.

Now, repeat this scenario, over and over and over, for over a decade.
Wednesday, July 9th, 2008
3:27 pm
Since I discovered my intolerance for tomatoes a few years back I've tried to come up with substitutes in some of the more common uses of them. This is a list of things I've come up with. If other people have similar ideas, especially if they involve nightshades OTHER than tomatoes (since that seems like it would be useful to other people - my only problem is with tomatoes) I think that would be great.

on burgers or hot dogs - honey mustard
on french fries - tartar sauce or honey mustard

Pizza sauce:
pesto sauce (fortunately many of the pizza places where I live have pesto as an option, though I usually have to still specify NO RED SAUCE or they just do both). I actually didn't eat pizza at all for nearly 5 years before I figured this option out.

Tomato Paste:
muhammara - this is a combination of walnuts, roasted red peppers, and pomegranite molasses that has worked well in a couple of different recipes we've made that called for tomato paste. Not sure how widely it would work. Not a good option for people who can't tolerate any nightshades, obviously.

mangoes. Ok, so I haven't actually tried this yet, but I have seen a salsa made with mangoes and no tomatoes. It sure sounds good!

That's all I'm coming up with off the top of my head, though I'm sure there are more. In a lot of things they end up being not a key ingredient and can just be omitted with no substitute.

Current Mood: hungry
Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008
7:59 am
Tomatoes in Tom Kar?
How common is it for there to be tomatoes in Thai tom kar soup? There were some in d_h's last night, and enough juice in the broth to have a negative effect, and I want to know whether it's just this restaurant or tom kar in general.
Sunday, June 22nd, 2008
5:29 pm
What are nightshades?
I have taken several stabs at writing this over the years. It seems like a good first post. I urge people to contribute their own knowledge to this!

At least in the US, and probably in Europe, "nightshades" means "tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplants." I'll break these down and go over (roughly) what they do and don't include. One reason for this listing is simply species diversity in our own food crops (to make things even harder, there are plenty of nightshades grown as food crops in other parts of the world that don't fit in one of these four categories). A second reason is that sometimes we use words unhelpfully. "Pepper", for instance, is not always in the name of everything we would agree is a "pepper" (e.g. pimientos), but on the other hand is in the name of some things that aren't nightshades (e.g. regular black pepper).

I will also give an extremely brief description of what to watch out for, since nightshades are frequently used as flavorings or ingredients, so just knowing what tomato looks like, for instance, won't help you much. This is true for lots of other common allergies (milk, eggs, wheat, nuts), too. I expect most posts in this group will be devoted to fleshing out this information.

Examples: tomatoes, tomatillos

Watch out for: sauces, soup broths, things made with soup broths, powdered flavorings on snack foods, red things, marinated things, things cut with the same knife, foods with lots of ingredients

Examples: white, new, and blue potatoes

Does not include: sweet potatoes, yucca, jicama, parsnips, anything in the genus Batata (several hundred varieties of south american root vegetables), true yams (the 6-foot long member of the lily family, not the orange things you eat for thanksgiving), radishes, squash, turnips, rutabagas

Watch out for: soups & stews, snack foods, potato flour in breads & breadings (this is a major problem), food marketed as "gluten free", modified food starch

Examples: bell peppers, chilis, pimientos, paprika (paprika is a particular kind of dried bell pepper powder, not a separate plant)

Does not include (this gets ugly rapidly): Black pepper, white pepper, at least some things labeled "green pepper", at least some things labeled "red pepper" (most crushed red pepper is a chili pepper, but it is a mystery to me whether the red pepper sold in whole "peppercorns" is ever, sometimes, or always the kind from Piper nigrum), "pink peppercorns" from plants of the genus Schinus, and really a bunch of other things with "pepper" in their names

Watch out for: anything spicy, anything red, anything with flecks of red, marinated things, sausages

Watch out for: baba ganoush, specialty hummus, food marketed to vegetarians, fried things in Chinese restaurants that you think are turnip but aren't

Note: There are at least two species of cultivated "eggplants". Our familiar variety of Solanum melongena is big and purple, and some varieties of this purple kind are sometimes known as aubergines. A second species also called "eggplant", Solanum gilo, is a Brazilian eggplant, also called scarlet eggplant, gilo, or jiló. Brazilian eggplants look a lot like the Thai variety of our familiar species.

Selected other miscellaneous nightshades
General note: There are a lot of these that Americans will probably never see in person. I am adding this section to show a) the world is big, b) there is lot to know beyond what I have written here, and c) this advice breaks down and is not so useful if you travel to South America or Asia.

    I have never seen any of these for sale anywhere:
  • Melon pear, AKA pepino, pepino melon, or tree melon. Primarily from Peru and Chile. Some name confusion: papayas, which are not nightshades, are also called tree melons, but fortunately they look very different. On the other hand, "pepino" is the common name for at least two species of nightshade; I have no idea if the others are edible by non-allergic humans. Sort of round and light green.
  • Naranjillo or lulo. Primarily from Ecuador and Colombia. Looks like a tomato.
  • Other misc tomato-like species not available commercially: wild tomatillos, currant tomatoes, tree tomatoes, strawberry tomatoes
  • Other misc potato-like species not available commercially: wild potato, Colorado wild potato
  • A ridiculous naming problem: The "garden huckleberry" is a nightshade, but the regular kinds that you are personally likely to grow in your garden are all species from two different genera of heath, not nightshade. All of these things get used in preserves, jams, and pies, but the nightshade kind is unlikely to turn up here in the US.

You can learn more from the Plants for a Future database and the Wikipedia page on the genus Solanum. These are fun and I encourage everyone to read them, but don't go in thinking they will definitely help you not die or kill anyone.

Miscellaneous things that aren't at all like nightshades but that people often get confused about (very incomplete list)

These are not nightshades!!!
Onions, shallots, leeks, garlic (lilies, all), horseradish, wasabi, ginger
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