Why Liver May Be The Healthiest Food On The Planet
I have always liked the taste of liver. I remember from my childhood, when my Nana or Mom would take me to a diner, I would always order the liver and onions. Imagine being a waiter and having the six year old at your table order the liver and onions? Ha! I am grateful I ate liver as a child, it broadened my pallet and made consuming it later in life for its health benefits that much easier.
So why did I start eating liver again as an adult in the first place? I was suffering from allergy symptoms, bad. I tried every recommendation under the sun, read endless articles, and listened to podcasts on my commutes to and from work. My functional medicine doctor suggested I stop eating dairy. I had already stopped consuming gluten and was following a "primal" way of eating. I loved my raw cheeses and full fat yogurts. I had a hard time going dairy free but now that I am, I can't imagine all the obstacles I would still be facing and barriers I would not be able to break through still consuming dairy. In the primal/paleo community you will hear a lot about consuming organ meat, also called offal. I learned that offal is probably one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Being a nutrient seeker, I knew I needed to add this into my diet. I also learned that many people who suffer from allergies have a Vitamin A deficiency, and liver contains one of the most concentrated sources of Vitamin A of any foods.
Eating muscle meat is a great source of protein, but for a bigger punch of nutrients and minerals, the organs are where its at! Organ meats contain high levels of B vitamins specifically B1, B2, B6, Folate, and B12 (also a prenatal superfood). Along with B vitamins, organ meats are also known to have some of the highest concentrations of naturally occurring Vitamin D and Vitamin A. Lets not forget about the other important fat-soluble vitamins D, E, and K. As for minerals, organ meats are packed with calcium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, and zinc. Lastly, organ meats contain high amounts of essential fatty acids, including arachidonic acid and omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA.
I want to stress the importance of *high quality* when you are looking to purchase organ meats. You want to look for terms like "organic" - "organic grass fed" - "organic grass fed and finished" -"pasture raised". I can get into exactly what these terms mean in a future blog post but for now know that if you purchase conventional organ meats, it will also contain the toxins, antibiotics, and hormones that were injected into that animal. I have to say though, if you have no access to high quality organ meats, something is better than nothing in this scenario. If you body is craving organ meats, it is usually a sign you have a nutritional deficiency and should try to consume organ meat in any way possible.
I first started consuming organ meats in the form of liverwurst from US Wellness Meats. This liverwurst is delicious, mild, and it contains beef liver, heart, and kidney. I still do consume this, just not as frequently. At the beginning of my healing journey, I would eat about 2oz of this every single day, with my eggs at breakfast. Now, I eat roughly 2 to 3 - 2oz servings per week and try to create meals with organ meats every other week. While I was working to heal my body I believe consuming organ meats daily had a huge impact on my vitamin and mineral deficiencies, allowing my allergy symptoms to clear and never return.
Recently, I found local pasture raised lamb products in the meat department at my local Whole Foods (Bedford, NH). Whenever I see that a meat is local I always go for that product, it is usually a higher step as well (Whole Foods uses a 5-Step program to rate their meat, Step 5+ being the highest quality). My Whole Foods had lamb liver, heart, and kidneys for sale as well as all other cuts of lamb proteins. If your local grocer does not have fresh organ meat, some grocers sell it frozen.
If you cannot stomach the taste of organ meats you can try first hiding it into meals. I usually suggest start with a 1:4 ratio, if you use 1 pound of muscle meat use 1/4 pound of organ meat. Work your way up to 1:2. I have provided a recipe below for lamb meatballs that is absolutely delicious. I served these meatballs with asparagus, pasta sauce, and gluten free rotini pasta made out of red lentils. Other meal ideas that you could hide organ meats in include meatloaf, meat sauce, burgers, curries, stews, etc. The company The Honest Bison has a delicious ground bison heart and liver product that would be excellent in these meals! I have also heard of others making frozen "liver pills" by cutting pieces of liver into very small pieces and freezing them so that they do not taste any liver when they consume. If that is still not for you, there is something called desiccated liver. Typically made into a pill form, this is concentrated dried liver that you can take just like your multi vitamin.
Sage Offal Meatballs
Servings: roughly 5
1 pound pasture raised ground lamb
1/2 pound pasture raised lamb liver
1 cup almond flour or meal
2 Tbsp fresh sage, minced
7 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp celtic sea salt
1 Tsp black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. If liver is not pre-ground, cut into cubes and send through the food processor (blender will work as well). Or if you have a meat grinder, fabulous, grind that liver!
3. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together thoroughly.
4. Form into meatballs.
5. Spread raw meatballs out evenly on a greased baking sheet.
6. Bake for approximately 15 minutes.
7. Add to favorite dish and enjoy!
Next time you see liver pâté on the menu, give it a try! Let me know about the dishes you hide organ meats in to feed your family in the comments below. And if you are suffering from chronic alllergy symptons, maybe upping your consumtion of organ meats is the remedy you have been needing all along! Thanks for reading. Stay Healthy, AF