Since I got gluten-ed about a week ago, I’ve been dealing with the same abdominal pain and nausea I had before I went gluten free. (Actually, I went paleo first and then by using it as an elimination diet figured out it was the gluten that was my main problem. But I still eat paleo/primal just because I truly believe I get the best nutrition this way and I feel amazing…no coffee needed in the mornings!) It’s been an unpleasant experience to feel like I took 10 steps back but I feel lucky to have all the tools I’ve learned about since going paleo. So to speed up recovery, I’ve been in full gut healing mode. I take l-glutamine, gelatin, get good sleep, take relaxing walks, and focus on being a complete nutrient scavenger.
When I thought of how I could get the most bang for my buck nutritionally, liver immediately came to mind. When compared to even healthy foods such as fruits and veggies, liver totally kicks butt. I think this article by Chris Kresser sums it up amazingly well and I especially love the table towards the end of the article. I’ve also included the USDA’s nutritional data on pork/calf/chicken liver below just so you could immediately see why it’s so impressive: Vitamin A, Vitamin B(s), iron, folate…not shown on this table is that you also get Vitamin E and K, omega 3s, tons of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. Holy Canoli! As a bonus, I bought a pound of chicken liver for under $2. I seriously can’t think of too many things that are so good for you and so very economical at the same time.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz) for Pork Liver,Calf liver and chicken liver are comparable.|
|Energy||561 kJ (134 kcal)|
|Vitamin A equiv.||6500 μg (813%)|
|Riboflavin (vit. B2)||3 mg (250%)|
|Niacin (vit. B3)||15 mg (100%)|
|Vitamin B6||0.7 mg (54%)|
|Folate (vit. B9)||212 μg (53%)|
|Vitamin B12||26 μg (1083%)|
|Vitamin C||23 mg (28%)|
|Iron||23 mg (177%)|
|Sodium||87 mg (6%)|
|Percentages are roughly approximated
using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Side bar: I know Vitamin A toxicity is a concern with liver for some folks. It’s important to keep in mind that Vitamin A toxicity tends to occur when it’s eaten alone without adequate levels of Vitamin D and K to act as cofactors. According to the literature, if you’re making sure to eat grass-fed butter/ghee (and dairy, if you can tolerate it), getting outside, and eating plenty of vegetables, you are less likely to have a problem. I’ve heard fermented cod liver oil is the best to get all of these beneficial vitamins in one sitting…I just haven’t gotten it because it’s a little too outside our price range right now so I piece together all of the components individually. But as always, do your homework for yourself and decide how much liver you are comfortable eating.
The two problems people seem to have with liver is the taste and the texture . The good thing is that it’s incredibly versatile so today I’d like to share my super quick base recipe that can then be modified in many different ways. I think it’s amazing in this basic form so definitely try it but don’t worry if you can’t stomach it…there are plenty of things to do to spice it up.
- 1 pound chicken livers, preferably pastured but do the best you can on quality (can substitute any other liver as well but if they are big, cut it up into chicken liver size so that it cooks throughout without getting tough)
- 1 tablespoon butter or bacon fat
- 1/2 onion
- salt (DO NOT salt until after they come off the heat or you will be a left with a chew toy for your dog)
1. Saute your onion in the butter over medium heat until the onion is opaque but not browned.
2. Place the livers on the skillet as flat as possible and then cover with lid.
3. Cook covered for 3 minutes.
4. After 3 minutes, flip them over and cover again.
5. Cook covered for another 3 minutes.
6. If at the end of the 6 minutes you still see a little blood, keep flipping and cooking at 1 minute intervals until they are no longer leaking pink. It’s very important to not over cook them because they will be rubbery as all heck.
7. If, at any point, the onions start sticking and getting too browned, you can de-glaze the pan with a few tablespoons of water or bone broth.
7. Once done to your liking, take them off the heat and place them in a shallow dish. Salt (and pepper, if you prefer) to taste.
1. Add red wine or balsamic vinegar to the pan after the onions become opaque and cook it in that.
2. If you want a pate, make the base recipe and then stick everything in a food processor. Keep adding tablespoons of melted butter or ghee until you get a smooth, creamy texture to your liking. You can also add in grass-fed heavy cream, if you’re able to digest that well.
3. Cook the base recipe and grind up the liver coarsely in your food processor. Then saute up 2 pounds ground up meat and then at the very end add in the liver and mix everything together. This is my trick for getting liver in recipes without Mr. Dig having to deal wit the liver texture he doesn’t enjoy. I usually further disguise the taste by making this all part of a recipe with strong flavors. One of my favorites is to make it part of a taco mix (smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, etc.) and serve it with all sorts of veggies and salsa. My other favorite is to add it to a ground-meat marinara sauce and serve with spaghetti squash, zucchinis, and mushrooms. (I’ll try to get these recipes up soon.)
4. If you really can’t stand the taste, I’d cook up the base recipe and then cut them up into tiny pieces and freeze them. Then I would just take them like a supplement.
A Final Thought:
My last bit of advice is to keep trying it. My parents used to cook liver all the time when we were kids and I actually really love the taste…I think it was just pure exposure that made that happen.