Lemme tell ya folks, these nightshade-free cabbage rolls hit the spot. I've been tomato-free for four years but I don't even miss them now that I have this faux-mato sauce substitute perfected.
Although not a concern for most people, the glycoalkaloids in nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, paprika, goji berries, and aswaghanda) can be problematic in people with autoimmune disease and especially those of the rheumatological variety, such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
According to scientists, "Glycoalkaloids, the natural components of potato, clearly are toxic to both humans and animals" (Korpan et. al., 2004).
These toxic steroidal alkaloids, which primarily consist of alpha-solanine and alpha-chaconine, are thought to protect the crop against pests and diseases induced by fungi and insects (Korpan et al., 2004).
Glycoalkaloids, also known as alkamines, are found in several fruits and vegetables (including beets, apples, cherries, and bell peppers) but are most concentrated in foods of the nightshade family (Korpan et al., 2004).
Their toxicity is defined by their concentration but also by their stereochemical orientation and the number of carbohydrate moieties attached to their aglycone group (Rayburn et. al., 1994).
Glycoalkaloids are teratogenic (cause birth defects), embryotoxic and genotoxic (cause DNA damage) and have been responsible for sporadic cases of human poisoning and livestock deaths (Smith et al., 1996; Nigg et al., 1995).
Glycoalkaloids also exhibit potent permeabilizing properties on mitochondrial membranes, causing "leaky mitochondria," which disrupts energy production and hence every energy-dependent physiological process (Friedman et al., 2003). They likewise increase risk of brain, breast, lung, and thyroid cancer (Friedman et al., 2003).
Moreover, glycoalkaloids exhibit strong lytic properties, inhibit enterocyte viability (kill intestinal cells) and suppress acetylcholinesterase, causing acetylcholine to persist in the neuronal synapse, which may interfere with nerve and muscle function (Krakowski et al., 1997).
At low doses, glycoalkaloids cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, but at larger doses can produce fever, tachycardia, hypotension, neurological disorders, and rapid respiration (Rayburn et al., 1994).
As always, I recommend a four to eight week elimination provocation diet, where you remove all nightshades for a trial period and then sequentially reintroduce them one at a time every three days to assess tolerance. In the meantime, substitute tomatoes for other umami-flavored vegetables such as beets, which have a host of benefits, including supporting healthy methylation (read more here).
Tomato-free or not, your family will love these Italian-spiced cabbage rolls. They are stuffed with cauliflower, grass-fed ground beef, and almond ricotta cheese and topped with nightshade-free nomato sauce.
Friedman et al. (2003). Effect of feeding solanidine, solasodine and tomatidine to non-pregnant and pregnant mice. Food Chemistry and Toxicology, 41, 61-71. Korpan et al. (2004). Potato glycoalkaloids: true safety or false sense of security? Trends i Biotechnology, 22(3), 147-151.
Krakowski et al. (1997). Natural inhibitors of cholinesterase's: implications for adverse drug reactions. Canada Journal of Anaesthesia, 44, 525-534.
Rayburn et al. (1994). Role of carbohydrate side chains of potato glycoalkaloids in developmental toxicity. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 42, 1511-1515.
Smith et al. (1996). Potato glycoalkaloids: Some unanswered questions. Trends in Food Science and Technology, 7, 126-131.
Nigg et al. (1995). Evaluation of food for potential toxicants. American Society of Plant Physiology, 15, 192-201.
3 celery stalks, diced
3 large carrots, diced
1 large beet, cooked and diced (or use 3/4 can of beets)
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon thyme
3/4 cup bone broth or chicken stock
1 teaspoon of garlic powder or 3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon organic extra virgin olive oil
1) Saute chopped celery and carrots in olive oil over medium heat for several minutes.
2) Add chopped, cooked beets along with bone broth along with all the Italian herbs and spices.
3) Simmer on low, uncovered for twenty minutes.
4) Puree in a food processor.
5) Add sea salt to taste.
4 cups Nomato Sauce
1 pound grass-fed ground beef
1 head organic cauliflower, steamed and riced
1/2 cup organic bone broth or chicken stock
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried garlic or crushed fresh garlic
1 container Kite Hill ricotta almond cheese*
8-12 green cabbage leaves, parboiled for a few minutes to soften