Liver: A True Superfood

The change of the seasons has got me feeling all flare-y on the autoimmune tip. ANNOYING. Combine that with a big hormonal shift (I stopped breastfeeding a couple months ago), and we’ve got a recipe for some body weirdness. 

I’ve had to circle back around to certain practices that (I begrudgingly admit) had fallen by the wayside. 

Patience: I know this isn’t my forever, and I’m cool with waiting it out in peace. While binge watching Friday Night Lights on Netflix.

Surrender: It is what it is, and I release my resistance to it. The more I try to refuse to acknowledge it, the worse I feel (for real). There’s always a bigger plan than the one I’ve got going on in my crazy brain. I’m ready to open my eyes and ears to lessons within that plan. 

Gratitude: I truly am embarrassed to report that somewhere over the past few months, I stopped writing in my daily gratitude journal. It was such an anchoring practice for me, that I'm not really sure where (or why) I broke the habit. I helps me focus my attention on all the areas in my life that are NOT going wrong. Because while I may feel subpar, there is a (ridiculously long) list of all the reasons I’m stoked on life. So I'm back to crafting that list each day...even when I don’t want to. Especially when I don’t want to.

Rest: Favoring rest over exercise, rest over making plans, rest over all else isn’t easy. It makes me feel anxious and sometimes guilty. This is when I have to circle back to the Patience piece. FNL FTW!

Snuggle buddies!

Snuggle buddies!

 

On top of adequate rest, I've been trying to support myself through this transition with bangin' nutrition.  I eat pretty well the majority of the time. Right now, I am trying my damnedest to stack my plate with superfoods. 

What a "superfood" is not: a buzzword used to describe packaged non-food.

What a "superfood" is: a (real) food loaded up with so many nutrients it could make your head spin.

 

Enter liver. YES, LIVER. Liver is the superest of all the superfoods. It’s like a really cheap and far more effective multivitamin.

I’m sure you think it’s weird. I know I sure did before I became a real foodist (and therefore reframed the way I thought about food and nutrition). But just because we’re not culturally or socially accustomed to eating it, doesn’t make it weird. It just makes it different. 

We’re socially accustomed to eating Cheetos, after all. And those things are SUPER weird. (Sorry Cheetos lovers, but rancid oils, MSG, artificial flavors and Yellow 6 is weird. It just is.)

Back to liver. People have been eating it for years and years and years. But it is for sure an acquired taste. (Unless you’ve already acquired the taste of sucking pennies. If that's you, then carry on...)

I know how important it is to eat it, but since I just started eating meat 2 short years ago, eating liver seems pretty hardcore. 

But I’m hardcore, right?!

Raw liver shot

Raw liver shot

I’ve been dabbling with raw liver shots and frozen liver tablets and liver pills for the past year and change. This past weekend I stepped up my game. I cooked it for the first time. And everybody ate it. And nobody died. SUCCESS. 

I will be making liver consumption a more consistent practice, especially right now with the current body ache and fatigue I have going on. Join me on the adventure! Read below to find out why I consider liver such a superfood - and ways to prepare it that won’t make you want to die.

 

Reasons Why Liver is a Superfood

 

Contains all the B vitamins, especially high in B12

You know how 5 hour energy drinks give you that big jolt of energy? It’s due to the B vitamins and amino acids in the drink. GUESS WHAT. You can get that very same ish in liver. #realfood #realtalk

 

High in TRUE Vitamin A

Vitamin A that we get from plant foods (carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes) is actually beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a Vitamin A precursor, meaning that before our bodies can use it, it must first be converted to true Vitamin A (retinol). Unfortunately, our bodies aren’t very efficient at this conversion, therefore it’s important to obtain true Vitamin A through animal sources.

 

High in other fat soluble vitamins D and K2

These are extremely hard to come by in the Standard American Diet. They are also extremely necessary for optimal health. And it's aaaaaalways better to get these things through real food (or the sun), rather than supplementation. 

 

Great source of Bioavailable iron

 

Contains trace elements like copper and zinc

 

Other things to note...

 

1. Liver is not filled with toxins (as long as it's from a proper source - see #2).

Common question: Liver is responsible for detoxification, so aren’t you just eating a bunch of toxins when you consume liver?

No.

Think of the liver as more of a processing plant than a storage receptacle. It basically disables and then gets rid of toxins. But it CAN store nutrients (see above). 


2. Sourcing of liver is important.

I will say that it’s extraordinarily important to eat WELL SOURCED liver - that is liver from pasture raised animals that were fed PROPER diets. No CAFO livers here. When animals are exposed to environmental toxins and poor diet, they can become sick, and that absolutely impacts their livers. Seek out chicken or cow livers from a local farmer.

 

3. Certain people should REALLY consider adding liver to their food regime.

Due to its nutrient profile, the following people make great candidates for liver consumption. Aim to eat liver 1-2 times per week (or take the pills - DIY frozen or store-bought - daily).

  • Autoimmune disease
  • Thyroid problems
  • Adrenal fatigue/HPA axis dysfunction
  • Other fatigue and energy issues
  • Those looking to conceive 
  • Prenatal 
  • Pregnancy
  • Postpartum
  • Breastfeeding (notice a trend here?)
  • Anyone looking to ramp up their nutrition
  • Anyone, ever.

 

Okay, so now How Do we put this into practice?

 

I’ll come clean and say that I’ve only experimented with chicken livers so far. I’ve heard they are the most palatable. I'll share the ways that I’ve got liver in - try the one that resonates with you!

 

Store-bought liver pills (I also like this brand)

This is the easiest, but most expensive, way to get liver in. It's a good place to start for some, but I definitely don't notice the energy boost I get when I consume liver the other ways below.

Raw Liver Shots

This sounds gross, but it's over SO quick. Downside: it's a bit of a project to prepare the liver - and the shot - each day. 

DIY frozen liver "pills"

DIY frozen liver "pills"

DIY Frozen Liver pills

Still a project to prepare the liver, but then you have tons of little frozen liver nuggets that will last a long time. You can take a couple with each meal - just swallow the nugget down like you would a pill! No muss, no fuss, no taste.

Liver pate

I made this, but couldn’t eat it. I’m not there yet…but someday. I know people do really enjoy pate, so figured I would share this recipe.

Bangin’ Liver Recipe

This is the recipe I made this weekend (there's a fun video tutorial here). All 3 of us - myself, husband and toddler - ate this on corn chips. And then I added the rest of it to a chili (combined with grass fed beef and lots of veggies and spices). 

I have heard from other families that liver goes over pretty well when used in ground meat recipes: 25% liver, 75% ground meat (beef, bison, pork, chicken, turkey, whatevs). Chop and cook the liver first, then combine with the other raw meat. This tactic works well in chilis, flavorful stews, and meatballs. You can even test it out in my Shepherd’s Pie recipe. Let me know if you try it out!!

Do you have a favorite liver recipe? Lemme hear it!!