The first time someone presented LIVER to me... to... actually eat... I almost lost it.
Mentally.. then.. physically.
Now, was it how it was presented? Or prepared.. I may never know.
But, I'm guessing both factors were missing.
When it comes to consuming organ meats, it's probably first helpful to know why it's worth dabbling in this once popular (and necessary) cuisine.
Then, learning how to prepare it, once you're convinced.
Consuming organ meats has become taboo in the Westernized world. We've become accustomed to only seeing animal flesh on our plates.
Not too long ago, liver and other organs were common and customary on American plates. As they have been for... all of human history.
People never wasted food. And intuitively knew the healing potential of different foods.
In fact, in some cultures, the lean meat was not even consumed, but given to the dogs!
Only until recently we can actually legitimize these ancient customs.
It's interesting because... when we typically think of a food that's good for us, with a lot of vitamins and other nutrients... we think of veggies and maybe some other foods we don't typically like to consume.
Liver contains large amounts of highly bioavailable nutrients.
Meaning, nutrients that are easily absorbed and utilized by your body.
These nutrients are not found in the animal flesh most of us are use to eating. Or, not found in as high of quantities. Some studies show 10-100X higher in nutrients than traditional cuts of meat.
Although you should always eat your fruits n' veggies (they're high in other phytonutrients, polyphenols, flavonoids, etc that animals products are low in/don't contain), liver contains high amounts of powerful vitamins and minerals.
After all, the liver IS a storage organ for all fat-soluble vitamins, as well as other necessary compounds.
Full spectrum B-Vitamins
In particular, folate(B9) and methylcobalamin (B12). Can't be found in higher quantities in other food sources.
B-Vitamins have a wide variety of necessary functions in the body. Particularly in cell/energy metabolism and red blood cell functioning.
Real, bioavailabe Vitamin A (Retinol). The carotenoids that come from plants require processing and converting by your body, which is not nearly as efficient, nor converted in quantities that are typically sufficient for humans. The Vitamin A found in liver (or other animal sources, like cod liver oil) is necessary for many bodily functions, especially for developing a healthy, robust immune system.
Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant and scavenges free radicals to reduce oxidative stress, allowing your cells and tissues to function optimally, and heal. It is also important in facilitating cellular turnover and differentiation.
Important for cellular energy and cardiovascular health
Sulfur containing proteins
Needed in detoxification pathways.
Needed for far more physiological benefits than we commonly hear about. Brain and immune system function, as well as necessary for the production of collagen. It helps balance zinc levels, which is equally important in numerous biological functions.
Necessary for proper hormone function, and has even been shown to be helpful with depressive symptoms and other mood dysfunctions.
A small serving of liver can provide you with adequate amounts of choline for the day to improve cognitive performance. Choline has also been shown to be effective in helping with anxiety and other mood disorders.
Chromium, Magnesium, Zinc
The research is endless on the necessary
Yes, you can get Vitamin K from plants... but not in it's bioactive form (MK-4/K2). Most people get virtually zero K2 in their diet, which is concerning as K2 is essential in maintaining proper calcium balance. Consuming enough calcium is typically not an issue for a lot of people eating enough real, whole foods-- K2 is necessary component in shuttling calcium into osseous (bone) structures, so the calcium doesn't get lodged in other structures (like your arterial walls... aka calcification).
Necessary components to build DNA & RNA
Yes, your liver cleanses your body from toxins... but does not STORE toxins. So from a 'safety perspective', don't sweat.
What you do need to focus on, as with any animal product, QUALITY is an essential factor.
Conventionally raised animals (feedlot, confined animals raised on cheap, genetically modified feed) produce toxic animal products. Which is especially true with organ meats. Toxins will sequester in fatty tissues, and conventionally raised animals have been shown to develop fatty liver disease. As well as accumulate other drugs/hormones they're given.
Only buy from 100% grass-fed, grass-finished sources.
Your local coop will definitely have good options.
Whole Foods and some of the other chain stores will have liver as well.
Chicken tends to be the most... palatable.
Cold water fish
But it's good to switch up your sources to get different nutrients/nutrient amounts.
How much do you need?
Wondering how much and how often should you eat liver? Most experts recommend eating liver or other organ meats about one to three times weekly. You don’t necessarily need to eat large amounts to get the benefits of liver either. Even small servings of liver, about one to four ounces, eaten several times per week supply significant nutrients. A good goal is to aim for about 100–200 grams of liver per week.
-Dr. Josh Axe
YES. You can still get high quality organ meats, without having to cook and eat/chew them. That's the beauty of just taking a pill. Swallow em' down and still reap the benefits.
Ideally, go for a brand that uses all pasture-raised products, and minimally process the raw materials in order to maintain all the desired nutrients.
Liver n' Onions
CLASSIC dish. More like, old wives tale.
Liver can be easily prepared by warming up a pan at a med-low heat, adding plenty of grass-fed butter or ghee, and lightly sautéing for a few minutes on each side. They should be cooked to about a medium. There will be a little pink in the middle. If you cook them all the way through, they'll turn into a gritty texture and taste a little funky. Well.. funkier.
Mixing the liver with your favorite veggie dish will do. Onions, peppers, cauliflower, mushrooms, etc. Make sure you have plenty of seasonings, and you're good to go!
Well, that's the simple way to go.
From the Weston A. Price Foundation:
SOME FAVORITE WAYS TO PREPARE LIVER
Here are some suggestions from members of the Native Nutrition discussion group.
Marinate slices of liver in the fridge overnight in lemon juice or water with vinegar, plus lots of garlic and bay laurel leaf. After marinating, pat dry and fry in olive oil and/or lard and/or butter until well done (really brown on the outside and slightly rose inside). (Kidneys work well with this recipe also.) The key is marinating to take away any unpleasant taste. Florabela
The liver needs to come from a fairly young animal and be free of hormones and organically raised. Cover the liver with flour on both sides and bake with a little butter or ghee for several minutes at very low heat, otherwise it will be hard. Add a handful of sliced onion, a little vinegar and water. Increase the heat to 350 degrees for a few minutes then cook for about 20 minutes at a low heat. You can add fresh mushrooms and at the end a bit of salt. It’s usually served with noodles or rice. However any vegetable dish would work. Pia
My favorite cooked liver recipe is to slice the liver thin (no more than 1/4th inch) then dredge it in a mixture of almond flour, salt and lots of pepper. (Almond flour is just a replacement for those who don’t eat grains.). Fry on both sides in ghee or lard. I usually cook up the whole liver at one time then either heat up the leftovers during the week, or snack on it cold. It’s a great substitute for a power bar or other on-the-go meal. Sally R
Marinate the sliced liver in red wine vinegar and a couple teaspoons of honey for about 1 hour. Slice up 1-2 onions and fry in lots of tallow and butter for about 1/2 hour until onions are small and brown. Remove the onions and toss in the liver with a bit of the wine/honey mix. Fry quickly, turning frequently, and serve hot with onions and wine sauce and a side of kim chi. Paul B
The key to delicious liver is lots of garlic. Use lard to sauté it, and add some olive oil when it’s closer to done. Don’t overcook it. First saute 1 onion and at least 5 cloves of garlic with plenty of herbs and spices, whatever you like. Slice the liver up nice and thin, cook for about 5 minutes and flip around once a minute. Cook some bacon at the same time and cut into small pieces to serve on top of the liver along with the onions and garlic. Chris M
This is my mom’s delicious Jewish chopped liver recipe that “doesn’t taste like liver much at all!” Slice onion and sauté in fat until golden. Throw into a food processor. Saute 3/4 pound of chicken livers in same pan until pink inside. Let cool and put into same food processor with onions. Add 2 hardboiled eggs to food processor. Process onion, liver and eggs to a consistency you like but not too fine. Keep some lumpiness. Add salt and pepper to taste. Daphne
Cut liver into small pieces and roll it in beaten egg then in nut flour (finely ground crispy nuts). Fry in hot coconut oil and salt and pepper to taste. It’s out of this world! Cheryl K
An old but excellent recipe: Bake 1 pound beef or chicken livers and then chop up. Chop up 2 hard boiled eggs. Mix chopped eggs and liver with 1 medium cooked chopped onion (sautéed is fine). Mash and mix together with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate before eating. Robin L
Cut liver into strips, about 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide, and marinate in lemon juice. Pat dry. Chop up some onions and cook them in bacon fat and remove. Cook liver in the fat until almost solidly pink because once it turns brown, the liver flavor is stronger. This is delicious with a big serving of kale and butter and a pile of fermented carrots. Lisa
Sauté onions in a little butter or coconut oil, then toss in the liver (cut into big hunks) and cook for several minutes. Process onions and liver in a food processor and process until it’s all just minced. Then combine it with a hamburger dish (casserole, spaghetti sauce, etc.). Lynn E
Liver is delicious with a gravy or sauce. Marinate liver in lemon juice or vinegar for several hours and pat dry. Cook quickly in hot lard and set aside in a warm oven. You can make a gravy by stirring some unbleached white flour in the remaining fat and adding beef stock. Whisk until smooth and boil down a bit. You can make a clear buttery sauce by adding some wine or brandy to the fat and adding beef or chicken stock. Boil down, skimming as necessary, until it thickens a bit and then whisk in several tablespoons softened butter. Season with salt and pepper. Finally, you can make a tart sauce by sautéing capers and chopped shallots in the hot fat. (Be sure to rinse the capers well and pat dry before doing this.) Deglaze with a little white wine and add beef stock. Boil down until sauce thickens. Sally Fallon