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Ahhh liver… it seems to be the obsession in the holistic nutrition world. And for good reason! The problem is that liver can be difficult to incorporate in the diet. This recipe – created by our very own Director Dianne Koehler – will turn anyone into a beLIVER! Let’s discuss why eating liver is beneficial for a balanced diet, and some ways to incorporate it into your meals.
Why we love it
Liver is truly nature’s superfood. Although we usually think of exotic berries or deep leafy greens as superfoods, organ meats – such as liver – are extremely rich in nutrients.
To get the benefits of organ meats, a food like liver can be eaten as an accessory, not as a main protein. You don’t need to eat high quantities to get the health benefits from its powerhouse of essential nutrients. For example, just 1 oz of grass-fed beef liver, about the size of the base of your thumb, has:
- 150% of your daily value for vitamin A
- 400% of vitamin B12
- 200% of copper
- 50% of riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- 10% of iron (3 times more than red meat!)
Liver is particularly rich in B vitamins, which are essential for liver detoxification. A common misconception is that eating liver is toxic because it filters toxins. However, the liver only cleans toxins, but does not store them. The liver does not accumulate any more toxins than the rest of the animal. To minimize any toxin load when eating animal products, make sure to purchase from organic, grass-fed or pasture-raised animals.
As Nutrition Therapists, we often recommend consuming liver for those who are:
- Iron-deficient and struggle with anemia
- Looking for methylation support
- In the process of getting pregnant, pregnant or nursing
- Needing detoxification and liver support
How do I incorporate liver into my diet?
If eating liver straight-up is too much for you or your family to handle, here are a few ideas to “sneak” liver into the diet:
- Burger patties and meatballs. To 1 lb of high-quality ground meat, add 2 to 8oz of liver. Make sure the liver is chopped very small. You can experiment with the amount of liver that tastes best to you, but may want to start on the lower end. Once you add the chopped liver to your meat mixture, continue with your burger/meatball recipe as desired!
- Smoothies. Yes, I said it. Slice raw liver into small cubes (about 1 tsp each) and freeze the cubes on a baking tray. When they are frozen, transfer the cubes to a freezer-safe container. Drop a cube into each smoothie when you blend your other ingredients. You won’t be able to taste it!
- Broths and soups. Gently simmer 1 to 2 oz of grass-fed beef liver over medium heat in olive oil, organic butter, or chicken stock for 3 to 5 minutes. Make sure it is still brown on the outside and red in the middle. Remove the liver from the pot, blend it with any liquid left at the bottom, and add it to your bone broth or soup.
Chicken liver has the mildest taste, so if you are just starting to eat liver and are hesitant, it is a good option. As someone who has only started dipping her toes in the world of organ meats, Dianne’s Liver with Fig recipe made with beef liver is truly delicious – give it a try!
Dianne’s Liver with Figs
1 lb pastured beef or bison liver, sliced or cubed
¼ cup lemon juice or milk (for soaking)*
1 slice good quality bacon**, roughly chopped
4 tbsp stable cooking fat – ghee, tallow, butter, or lard
1 large onion, chopped or finely sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and sliced, or roughly chopped
A handful of dried figs (10-15), stems removed, cut in small pieces
½ juicy orange or 1 large lime (orange imparts a sweet taste, lime a more tart taste)
½ tsp Celtic sea salt (or to taste)
Sprinkle of fresh ground black pepper
Dash of balsamic vinegar
- The key to good liver is to soak the raw, sliced liver in freshly squeezed lemon juice or milk for 2-3 hours prior to cooking. Use enough to coat well, about ¼ cup. Let marinate in a covered dish in the fridge.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Cook bacon until tender (not crispy). Add 2 tbsp of cooking fat, then add onion and sauté until soft and translucent.
- Add garlic, tomato paste, red peppers, and figs to the pan – sauté until peppers are soft (not mushy), about 5-6 minutes.
- Meanwhile, drain the lemon juice or milk off the liver and give it a quick rinse.
- Push vegetables to the outside of the pan leaving an empty hole in the center. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of cooking fat to melt, then add the liver. Cook until just browned on the outside and a little pink on the inside, maybe 3-4 minutes (it goes pretty fast – don’t overcook or it will become tough!).
- In the pan, incorporate the cooked liver with vegetable mixture. Squeeze orange/lime juice over the mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add a dash of balsamic vinegar.
- Adjust seasoning to taste if needed. Stir another brief minute to incorporate flavors. Serve immediately.
*Ideally, soak the liver in lemon juice for 2-3 hours. However, 30min would also be a sufficient amount of time.
**Make sure to source for high-quality pastured meats: US Wellness Meats (look for their liverwurst and braunschweiger, too); Natural Grocers carries Thousand Hills and Force of Nature brands.
Recipe by Director Dianne Koehler
Want to learn how to create and prepare recipes like this?
Join our Natural Food Chef Program! Picture yourself in your kitchen surrounded by nothing but organic vegetables, whole grains, top-quality meats, eggs and a range of the more unusual things like pâté, kimchi, kefir and bone broth. If you resonate with the idea of creating delicious meals that are not only healthy but downright regenerative, then join us for our 15-week Natural Chef program! Reach out to our Admissions team with any questions about the NFC program: email@example.com
Did you make this recipe?
We would love to hear your feedback, see your creations and share your recipe photo with the NTI community! Tag your photos on Instagram and/or Facebook with #ntieats and #ntischool
About the Author: Daina Rasutis is a graduate of NTI’s Nutrition Therapist Master Program. Her background in Environmental Engineering has allowed her to combine the best of science with a love for nutrition, sustainability & delicious food. Follow Daina’s nutrition practice, cooking creations and lifestyle tips on her website: www.tabletocrave.com
Image use permission given by Table to Crave
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