Friday, February 26, 2010

28 Day Real Food Challange: Day 25 - Not -So-Awful Offal

Liver is one of the nutrient-dense foods available but it's not one of my favorite things to eat unless it's my late-father cooking them for me. Through his cooking, I've learned how to appreciate liver.

Day 25 is Not-So-Awful Offal from Nourished Kitchen.

I've threatened, I've warned and now the time has come. Today we're going to talk about offal and why it was considered a sacred food among traditional societies and why it deserves an essential place on your menus. No ... don't close the email in disgust just yet. Hear me out.


If you cringe at the thought of liver and onions or steak and kidney pie, you're not alone. I still shudder a touch at the thought of preparing organ meats - though I fully appreciate their nutritive value. My freezer holds a bag filled with odds and ends: elk, beef, bison and chicken livers, a lamb heart and even a kidney or two. And as much as these foods still make me cringe a bit, they're really worth a good solid examination of their nutritive value.

While muscle meat offer plenty of protein, some wholesome fat and a decent profile of micronutrients, it's the organ meats that represent the truly best sources of many vitamins and minerals. Indeed, liver in particular is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available: a 100-gram portion of lamb liver contains more than twice the amount of folate and more than two-and-half times the amount vitamin A as a 100-gram portion of raw spinach. It is a potent food that is brimming with nutrients.

Including a small amount of liver or other organ meat into your diet once or twice a week, can go a long, far way in ensuring that you maximize your intake of vitamins and minerals, particularly folate and vitamin A which are critical to reproductive function and proper fetal development. Indeed, inadequate maternal folate and vitamin A intake are linked to birth defects.

Traditionally, our ancestors practiced nose-to-tail eating; that is, no part of the animal was left unused or wasted. Bones, as we learned yesterday, became mineral- and collagen-rich broth, muscle meat was consumed, but organ meats were treasured; afterall, they're vital foods.

Preparing Organ Meats. Organ meats can always use a good soaking overnight to improve their flavor. When I prepare them in our kitchen, I soak them in milk or buttermilk in the fridge for up to one day to improve their flavor.

If eating a plate full of liver and onions is unappealing, consider blending up to 1/4 pound liver to 1 lb of ground meat in strongly flavored dishes like bolognese sauce or a well-seasoned meatloaf. Or try chicken livers first, which are small and mildly flavored compared to beef, lamb or pork liver.

When you eat liver or other organ meats, take great care to make sure they're from grass-finished or pasture-raised animals.

Today's assignment is to acquire a source of pasture-raised or grass-finished liver (or other organ meat) and prepare it at home. In time, you'll learn to love these nourishing, nutrient-dense foods.

Day #25 Check List:
Prepare some liver at home. If this is your first time preparing organ meat at home, try a mildly flavored recipe or a recipe that may disguise the flavor slightly until you become better accustomed to this wholesome, nutrient-dense food.
Further Reading:
This is some good reading. Check up on the benefits of broths, stocks and soups.
Unless I could find a really good source of grass-finished liver, I might not eat them in a long, long time.. Liver Pate, anyone?

Love and light,



10 comments:

  1. Hi sweetie, these are really informative. And you did quite a lot of writing lately! I'm sure these are all your favourite tasks especially in R & D. Great job! Wishing you all the best ^_^ & have a wonderful day!
    Cheers always,
    Kristy

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  2. I do eat sauteed pork liver and kidney cooked by my mom :) and I liver spread, and chicken liver / pate...my attempt at liver was not as tasty as hers. But I was told this is also high in uric acid and cholesterol?

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  3. We used to eat a lot of livers and other organs when we were young. They were from our own reared animals but these days with all the chemicals, antibiotics etc in animal feed, I try to avoid them unless I can find a good source. I still like them though, depending on how they are cooked.

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  4. I always like liver, but the other offal it depends on preparation. I think I've only had sweetbreads that I actually liked once or twice. Perhaps I should look into making them myself :)

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  5. Love the updates! Another great one :)

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  6. oh have been reading a lot about nose to tail eating recently can't wait to see your pate yum

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  7. I actually love calves liver filets with onions and balsamic vinegar, chicken liver pate, and grilled chicken heart, we use it a lot in Brazil. Great post Divina.

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  8. great post...I don't know if I could actually cook/eat these things, but I enjoy reading about it!

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  9. @ Mom-Friday - Hi Michelle, they are high in cholesterol but in small amounts they are good. We are told not to eat high cholesterol foods by by doctors but some people do eat them excessively. Our body needs cholesterol. It becomes a problem when these cholesterol becomes oxidized inside the body. Which means, we need to eat our vegetables too. So, liver is really a high-nutrient dense foods and they do have vitamins and minerals that are not found in other foods. Some people do react to the purines in liver so they have to avoid it too. I personally don't like liver at all except in liver pates. And the source is still unknown so it's more likely I won't eat them here. :)

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  10. Thanks for the info, maybe eating a little bit won't hurt, and i'd be more cautious of the source next time :)

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Your comments, suggestions, feedback are all welcome.