Since I work with menstruating and/or lactating mamas, I always ask them if they are open to add liver to their diet. Unfortunately, the answer is usually a face of disgust!
But listen, organ meats are extremely healthy, and much more nutrient-dense than muscle meat.
When I was a toddler, I remember my mother cooking me sheep’s brain. Brain is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and is excellent for nourishing: the brain! The earlier you introduce these types of food into your child’s diet, the more likely she will be to enjoy it later in life.
When I lived in Raleigh, NC, there was a butcher shop close to my house where I could buy chicken livers in the freezer section for just $2 per pound. Organ meats are very inexpensive because not many people cook with them. Although featured in many traditional cuisines, these meats haven’t stayed a part of the typical diet in the US. Most people haven’t even tried them before!
Learning how to cook meats like liver, brain, and kidneys, will benefit your diet while staying easy on your budget.
What are the nutritional benefits of organ meats?
Organ meats are referred to as “super foods.” They are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as:
B vitamins (specifically B12 and folate)
Minerals (iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc)
Fat-soluble vitamins (A*, D, E, and K)
*Of all the organ meats, liver is the best source of vitamin A. This vitamin supports eye health, and is linked to a reduced risk of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and Alzheimer’s.
Of course, if you don’t enjoy eating it, don’t eat it. Just because it’s healthy you don’t need to force yourself to eat this kind of foods. But if you’ve never tried organ meats, be adventurous and try something new! Just be sure you choose high quality organ meats.
How do I choose quality organs?
Although the liver works as a filter in the body by removing toxins from the blood, it actually doesn’t contain more toxins than other part of an animal. Like any meat, you want to consume organs that come from animals that are raised well.
I recommend to only incorporate organs from these sources into your healthy meals:
Grass-fed animals (like bison, beef, and lamb)
Pasture-raised fowl (like chicken or ducks)
Locally raised meats (talk to a local farmer directly about how they raise their animals)
How to prepare organ meats
Organ meats are considered a delicacy in many cultures. One of my personal favorite specialties comes from Turkey and is called kokoretsi. This recipe uses several organ meats from lamb or goat, and is cooked on a skewer. People love it as a street food.
In France, the most famous delicacy is of course foie gras, made from ducks purposefully overfed to make their liver more fatty and rich-tasting. Unlike kokoretsi, foie gras is a more expensive treat. A cheaper version of foie gras is paté, which is made from a different combination of animal parts. I have found some liver patés in US stores, but unfortunately they also contain loads of additives and even sugar.
Try out your French cooking abilities, and bake your own liver paté at home! Try my paté recipe. It is absolutely delicious, and you’ll feel ethically better for not using force-fed animals. Enjoy!