Offal, or organ meats, have been part of the human diet for thousands of years and unfortunately have made their way out of most of our diets. Eating offals supports two ancestral ideas of eating: nose-to-tail and like-support-like. As a society, we have steered away from nose-to-tail eating and primarily consume animal muscle meats, which means there is a lot of food waste and we are not maximizing the nutrient status from the animals we eat.
Organ meats are nutritional powerhouses.
They are loaded with bio-available vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and healthy fats in a concentrated form relative to muscle meats, making them extremely good for you. These include:
- Sweetbreads (thymus and pancreas)
Compared to muscle meats, organ meats are more densely packed in nutrients, including B vitamins such as B1, B2, B6, folate, and vitamin B12.
Organ meats are loaded with minerals like:
They provide fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Organ meats also contain high amounts of essential fatty acids, including arachidonic acid and omega-3 fatty acids.
Now you see why we call them nutrient powerhouses!
Eating organs supports your organs (like-supports-like). The organ in the body of a pastured animal has a purpose and a particularly rich nutrient profile; these nutrients can be beneficial to our same organ. For instance, consume the heart for the heart, lung for the lung, the liver supports the liver, adrenals for adrenals, and so on. This is the idea behind supplemental glandular therapy.
If you want to extract maximum nutrition with the least harm, nose-to-tail eating is where it’s at. Besides the nutritional benefits of eating nose-to-tail, using the whole animal minimizes food waste and therefore is also beneficial for the environment. Other nose-to-tail animal bits to incorporate into your diet include animal fats such as suet, tallow, and bones (ie bone broth).
When it comes to organ meat, particularly the liver, it is arguably the king of offal. In fact, it is one of the top nutrient-dense foods you can eat. It is rich in both protein and fat, vitamin A, B vitamins, choline, and minerals such as iron, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and selenium. There are many types of liver, and depending on the animal and source (grass-fed versus conventional), both the taste and nutrient content will vary. Lamb liver is the most nutrient-dense, closely followed by goose and beef, and then pork and chicken, which are lower in nutrient density, but still, jam-packed with beneficial nutrients.
Contrary to popular belief, liver is not full of toxins. Liver is the major organ responsible for detoxification, one of its jobs is to filter toxins out of the blood, process them, and package them for removal.
3 ways to incorporate liver into your meals:
Luckily, liver is fairly easy to come by at most grocery stores, and while liver packs a punch in nutrient status, it is a fairly inexpensive ingredient to purchase.
Traditionally, organ meats were soaked overnight in salted water, milk, or lemon water. This process was called “clearing the blood.” The purpose of “clearing the blood” was to soften the texture and lessen the intensity of the flavor of organ meats making them more palatable. Most of us did not grow up consuming liver or other organ meats often. They have a distinctive flavor and may require a little more care and attention to make them palatable. Here are a few ideas to ease incorporating liver and other organs into your diet:
1) Sneaky Liver
Mix 3-4 ounces of ground liver per 16 ounces of ground meat, and no one will ever know:
- Bolognese Sauce
- Stuffed Bell Peppers
- Bone Broth
There are some brands that sell ground meat with organ meats already mixed in. These can be a great option, plus they save time in the kitchen. Force of Nature Meats and U.S. Wellness Meats are two of these brands.
2) Pluck Organ-based Seasoning
Pluck Organ-based seasoning, is an organ-based seasoning that combines desiccated organs with herbs and spices that adds great flavor to meals. The seasoning blends do not have a ton of organ meat in each dose. They include microdoses of organ meats, which when used frequently can have a cumulative effect on your nutritional status.
Pluck seasoning is great on eggs, avocados, roasted vegetables, and soups.
We carry this seasoning! Next time you are in our office pick up a package of Pluck seasoning to try at home or buy online on their wesite and use code IN2GREAT at checkout for a discount!
3) Recipe for Grass-Fed Beef (or Chicken) Liver Pate
- 1 lb grass-fed beef liver (or pasture-raised chicken livers)
- 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
- 6 tbsp grass-fed cow butter or ghee (reserve 2 Tbsp for covering the top of the pate)
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- Pinch of fresh ground pepper
- 4 oz grass-fed whipping cream
- Soak the liver in clean filtered water with added organic lemon juice to help reduce the “liver-ish flavor. Use just enough water to cover the livers and then add the juice of one whole lemon. Allow the liver to soak in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 hours. Soaking also helps to soften the liver (acid breaks down protein) for a creamier pate texture.
- When you are ready to prepare the liver, remove from the liquid and pat any excess moisture off the liver with a paper towel.
- Sprinkle the liver with salt, thyme, pepper, and arrowroot powder.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, and add butter.
- Cook the liver until lightly browned on both sides, and transfer to a food processor.
- Add onions to the skillet and cook until lightly browned and soft
- Add heavy cream to deglaze the pan (scraping up any caramelized bits with a wooden spoon).
- Transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor. Pulse until you have a nice thick pate. Add extra salt to taste if needed.
- Transfer into small mason jars or ice cream trays. Make sure there are no air bubbles.
- Poor a small amount of melted ghee on top to form a nice solid fat later on top.
- Use or freeze within 1 week