Liver from pastured animals is full of nutrients and even considered a superfood, but it can be difficult to swallow for those who aren't used to eating it. So, here is my simple, go-to method for getting more of it into my diet on a regular basis! Are you brave enough to try it?
Liver and onions. Liver pate. Sound familiar? Most likely, liver was a dish prepared by your parents or grandparents on a regular basis. Liver Tuesdays anyone? Liver was inexpensive and readily available at the grocery store or from the local butcher. Fast forward to today and liver is rarely seen gracing our dinner plates. Fear no more! The real food movement means we're getting back to our roots and bringing traditional dishes back into the kitchen. Mostly, because we realize (once again) the value of this humble protein. As a traditional foodie myself, even I have to admit that I rarely prepare liver as our main course. I know the tremendous nutritional impact liver has yet I've never found a recipe that leaves me wanting more. The quest continues but in the meantime I needed a way to get liver into my system in a way that was easy and stress free.
I've also learned a lot about liver and traditional cooking methods from the cookbook, “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon. Check it out here!
Liver is one of the most nutrient dense foods we could possibly eat. It has a ton of vitamins and minerals in the perfect ratios that our bodies need to easily assimilate (the magic of getting your nutrients from real foods!). Liver contains iron, vitamin A and all of the B vitamins such as B12 and folate. Liver also contains trace minerals such as copper, zinc and selenium, essential fatty acids EPA, DHA and AA, as well as CoQ10. It's a perfect multivitamin in the form of real food! This is a great article about the many benefits of eating liver.
Eating liver and any of the other organ meats (heart, kidneys, etc.) means that you are utilizing every piece of the animal. Cows are made up of much more than just T-Bones and ground beef. The “non-standard” pieces of the animal are the most nutrient dense. It's time to get over the fear of organ meats for the sake of our health.
Doesn't the liver organ contain toxins?
The liver of any animal filters toxins. The liver is not a storage facility for toxins. Toxins are flushed through the liver and to the kidneys to be excreted out of the body. If there are more toxins that can be processed, toxins will generally store in the fatty tissue of the animal. For this reason, it's important to source animals from farmers who produce grass-fed animals. Grass-fed animals have a lower toxic load which means every part of the animal from the fat to the liver, is healthier for us than traditional feed-lot animals.
Where can I find liver?
You may be surprised to know that you can find liver at almost any grocery store. I've even seen liver available at Wal-Mart. However, it is important to first attempt to source liver from a grass-fed, sustainably raised animal. I purchase our beef from a local farmer who sells grass-fed, happy cows. I always let him know that we'd like to have the liver and other organs available along with the meat. Farmers are usually happy to sell them (or even give them) to you since most customers don't want the organs. Find a local farmer's market and talk to the farmers there. Cow, pig, chicken and sheep all have amazingly nutritious livers. If you must buy liver from a grocery store do you best to find the cleanest one available. My local Sprouts store sells calf livers. They are not specifically labeled as grass-fed but since it's from a young cow it's typically a healthier option. Chicken livers can often be found in stores and have a wonderful mild taste. Talk to the butcher and ask them about the livers they have available.
How do I add liver to my diet?
There are a million and one recipes online for liver! Believe it or not, people still like to eat liver as a main course. Liver and onions are a popular dish. If you are able to find good quality liver, give a recipe a try so you can get an idea about how it tastes and what it's like to cook it. And definitely introduce your kids to liver and other organ meats. Don't make a big deal about it. Cook it, serve it and enjoy. Make it a normal thing for your family and your kids will grow up thinking everyone eats organ means! Win!
However, if you've still got a mental block about eating liver there are other simple ways to get it in your diet. I'll be sharing tutorials on these in future posts. For today I'll focus on #4, which I feel is the simplest and quickest method.
- Dessicated liver capsules. This is dehydrated liver that has been ground and encapsulated. Easy to take but can get expensive unless you make them yourself. Always be sure that the liver is from grass-fed animals.
- Mix liver into your ground meat dishes. I do this often and find that no one even notices a change in taste or texture of the dish. If I'm making taco meat, I'll just add in the liver while cooking. I like to blend the liver, freeze in a thin layer and cut into chunks. I'll use these frozen chunks in the dish. Since they were blended. they just melt into the dish. You can also use a meat grinder and mix in the liver with your other ground meat.
- Blended liver tonic. This is not for the faint of heart. You're basically drinking a shot of liquefied liver mixed with lemon juice and water. I do this when I'm feeling like I need a big boost of energy.
- Frozen liver pills. This is my go-to method for getting more liver into my diet. It couldn't be simpler and if you can take a pill you can take a frozen liver pill. Let me show you how I make and take the frozen liver pills.
How to make liver pills
Thaw your liver and lay it on a silicone sheet or parchment paper. Place it in the freezer to harden. Don't try to cut thawed liver into tiny pieces. It's as slippery as it looks, promise! Once frozen, remove the liver from the sheet and place on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the liver into strips and then into tiny squares. The smaller the squares the easier it is to swallow. Place the liver pills into a freezer safe container and store in the freezer.
How to get dem pills in yo belly
The liver pills are easy enough to swallow. You'll take them frozen straight out of the freezer. I usually take a handful a day, unless I've had liver or other organ meats in my diet that day. I take them in the morning since I notice they give me an energy boost. Since these pills are raw liver (hasn't been cooked), you'll get to take full advantage of the nutrients as some are lost in the cooking process. However, it's recommended that the liver be frozen for at least 2 weeks to kill any bacteria.
I hope you see that getting liver into your diet is not hard and doesn't always have to be a plateful of liver and onions. Let me know if you give this a try!