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For me, one of the hardest things to give up when going AIP was nightshades. If you follow my blog, you know my ancestry is part Italian and part Portuguese and this girl loves her salsa. Technically, I think I should have been born a Latina. I mean, my favorite ethnic food hands down for most of my life has been Mexican. And I mean legit Mexican. We don't need none of that Tex Mex stuff over here. I want corn tortillas with steak and peppers and onions topped with cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime. But I digress...
If you flashback to last summer on my Instagram, then you will see that I ate salsa for breakfast, salsa for snack, salsa for lunch, salsa for dinner... Well, you get the idea. And it's no surprise that my psoriasis went full flare... So what's the big deal with nightshades, anyways?
If you've never heard the term, nightshades are a group of plants from the same family called Solanaceae. They include tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers (sweet and hot), white potatoes, eggplant, tobacco, and goji berries. (The list of edible nightshades is pretty extensive, so if you want the full run down, make sure to check out What are Nightshades? from The Paleo Mom or The Paleo Approach for the full list.)
Why are nightshades out for those of us on AIP? The main issue is that these foods contain glycoalkaloids, which can be highly irritating for those with a sensitivity. They can not only cause leaky gut, but they are also known as adjuvants, which can cause even bigger problems for those of us with autoimmune disorders. Adjuvants can stimulate and exacerbate an immune response in the body. The glycoalkaloids tend to amp up a response to proteins coming from the gut, and this tends to transform into an autoimmune response. (For more in depth info, read The WHYS behind the Autoimmune Protocol: Nightshades)
So what's a Italian girl who loves tomatoes and peppers supposed to do when faced with several autoimmune and autoimmune-related conditions? Of course I had to give up the nightshades. But that doesn't mean I can't get creative in the kitchen and reinvent the wheel. Or in this case, one of my favorite soups growing up.
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 50 minutes | Serves: 4-6
1 lb fresh beets, tops removed and scrubbed
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
8 oz carrots, peeled and chopped
14 oz pumpkin puree
4 cups chicken broth
6 tbsp lemon juice
6 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dried savory
1-2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
Place the beets in a small saucepan and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low boil, and allow to cook for 20-25 minutes or until beets are fork tender and water is ruby red. Drain beet pot juice and reserve for smoothies, drinking, etc. Set beets aside. In a large soup pot or dutch oven, melt coconut oil and sautee onions, celery, and carrots over medium low heat until edges turn translucent. Add beets, pumpkin, and broth to the pot. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until all veggies are soft, about 10-15 minutes. Use an immersion blender and blend the soup until a smooth puree. Add in the lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp of each at a time, stirring carefully and testing as you go. You will want the acidic taste of the lemon and vinegar to cut through the sweetness of the root veggies. Add the savory and sea salt. Taste and add sea salt or lemon juice/apple cider vinegar slowly at a time until the tomato flavor tastes fully developed. Garnish with parsley.
*Optional: Creamy Tomatoless Soup
Add one 14 oz can coconut milk to the pot at the end and allow to warm through. Serve.
After sauteing veggies, add everything to the crockpot except for lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Cook on low for 4 hours. Blend with an immersion blender. Add lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to taste before serving.