If you’ve been reading some of the paleo blogs out there and/or heard about the benefits of eating a nutrient-dense diet, you’ve probably also understood that eating organ meats on a regular basis is important. Brain, kidney, liver, heart, and other organs are nutritional powerhouses compared to muscle meat, and we don’t have to go that many years back to understand the organ meats have been a valued and important part of the human diet. This is especially true for hunter-gatherers and isolated traditional populations, where organs and the fattest parts of the animals were highly treasured. However, modern humans have become picky, and today most of us typically buy the leanest meat we can find. Of all animal source food, liver scores very high in terms of nutrient density, and it’s also a great first choice for people who want to include more organ meats into their diet.
Why should you include liver and other organ meats in your diet?
- Since most people tend to buy muscle meat, organ meats are very cheap
This is especially relevant for those of us who are eating an ancestral-type diet, low in grains, vegetable oils, and other cheap sources of calories and high in eggs, meat, vegetables, and other fairly expensive foods (on a calorie by calorie basis).
- From an ecological and sustainable perspective, eating the entire animal is the way to go
- Organ meats are extremely nutrient-dense
Liver is especially rich in vitamin A, folate, choline, and vitamin B12, and it’s also a great source of high-quality protein and omega-3 essential fatty acids (especially true for pasture-fed animals). Nutrient density is one of the most important things to consider when determining what to eat, as the most nutrient-dense food is «real» whole food with a high satiety index.
- When buying organ meats, look for grass-fed, organic, and/or wild produce. Preferably raised without hormones, antibiotics, and commercial feed.
- As liver is very high in vitamin A, it shouldn’t be consumed too often. A couple of times a week is a good general guideline.
- Some people don’t like the taste of liver, but trust me, if you prepare it the right way and give it some time then you get used to the taste pretty quickly.
As I typically eat liver 2-3 times a week, I’ve had a lot of time to experiment with different cooking methods. I’ve tried marinating the meat in lemon juice, olive oil, and spices, but I’ve actually found that I prefer the unmarinated version. However, if you want to conceal the taste as much as possible, then using some type of marinade could be the way to go.
This is my simple, straight-forward process for preparing liver…
1. Get a hold of high-quality liver from pasture-fed animals
2. Store in freezer
3. Thaw the liver before cooking
4. Put the liver on a cutting board
5. Cut into small pieces
6. Prepare vegetables
I like to use bell peppers and garlic, but you can use pretty much anything. Liver and onions is a very popular dish. I’ve found that you should “always” include some vegetables when cooking liver, as it improves the taste and decreases the risk of “burning” the meat.