Organ meats are often over-looked and science shows that they pack a big nutritional punch. Here are some of the benefits + a recipe for nutrient-packed meatballs!
Hiiiii hi! How are ya? I hope you’re having a wonderful day. It’s gorgeous here today, so I’m going to head out for a midday hike, and am looking forward to family dinner tonight.
For today’s post, I’m going to chat about something that’s been getting more hype lately, but is an ancient nutrient-dense food source: organ meats. TBH, they’re not the most popular superfood option in our country, especially if you’ve heard stories of our parents gagging while eating liver and onions growing up. (Remember when we were younger and TV shows made Brussels sprouts seem like they’re evil? And they’re actually delicious… there’s something to it.)
I’m writing this post knowing that some of my friends out there choose to not consume any animal products, and I love and respect that. If this post isn’t a subject that you enjoy, please meet me back here to tomorrow to talk about walking routines 😉
(Maisey loves some chicken liver)
Benefits of organ meats + nutrient-packed meatball recipe
Organ meats have been used for centuries in various cultures and countries. Some cultures consider various parts of an animal to bring good luck or good fortune, and many have strong beliefs rooted in using EVERY part of the animal you choose to consume. For myself, I consider the sources of where we choose to buy our meat, how the animal was raised, and how I can make the most of it without being wasteful. (This is why I love making bone broth!)
I’ve been all over the spectrum as far as my meat consumption goes, from not eating any meat for years, to only eating chicken and fish, to pescatarian, to almost raw vegan. I didn’t start eating steak again until I was pregnant with P. Suddenly, my body was craving steak and I had to have it. When I told the Pilot, you should have seen his eyes light up lol. He drove straight to Whole Foods, bought a grass-fed steak, and I ate the entire thing.
Since then, I’ve had steak maybe once or twice a month, and red meat maybe once a week or so. It’s not a huge part of my diet, but I absolutely feel better and have more energy when I get enough protein and I consume meat. Different things work for different bodies, and after lots of experimentation over the years, it’s what works best for me.
As I continue my education and research around health and vitality, organ meats have been a continuing theme. I feel like I’ve heard more and more experts talk about them lately. While I never hesitate to feed the dogs certified organic organ meats from the butcher – they go CRAZY for them!- I’ve finally become more comfortable giving them a whirl for myself, considering all of the benefits and nutrients they provide. I reached out the Mia and asked her if she’d help me with a little nutrition cheat sheet for organ meats, and here’s what she had to say:
What are the benefits of including organ meats, especially grassfed beef liver, in the diet?
– Organ meats contain all bio-available vitamins and minerals without taking a supplement. Vitamin A, D, E, K, choline, Coenzyme Q10 (COQ10), Amino Acids
– Important for healthy joints and collagen production, plus you’ll have glowing skin thanks to the Vitamin A
– Supports a healthy immune system. Vitamin D is critical for supporting our immune system and beef liver is loaded with it.
– Contain vitamin B12, which supplies the body with energy. Skip the synthetic B vitamins and focus on whole food sources instead.
– Great natural source of folate for moms, pre- post partum and babies in utero. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate and requires conversion by the body to be bioavailable. Folate is critical for mamas and baby’s brain development while in utero.
– Organ meats, especially liver, contain all you need to properly nourish your baby’s development! 3-4 ounces 1-2x a week is all you need while pregnant.
– Liver is also an excellent source of copper, iron, selenium, and zinc
– As far as calories go, the fattier portions (like tongue) will be higher in calories than lean meat
What types of organ meats should I consume?
– You can see what’s available at your butcher, but try starting out with grass-fed beef liver. If you don’t want to eat it by itself, an easy way to consume it is by mixing it with ground beef. You’ll never know it’s there, but you’ll get the bonus nutrients. You can also try taking a supplement instead! Mia recommends Ancestral Supplements.
You might be wondering, “If the liver’s job is to filter out toxins, isn’t it packed with toxins.” Nope. The liver does an amazing job and pushes the toxins OUT; it doesn’t hold onto them.
You can also try experimenting with beef heart, tongue, kidneys, sweetbreads, and stomach. Growing up, my aunt would make tacos with cow tongue, and every year for New Years, we eat menudo with tripe. When I was a kid, madre told me if I stuck out my tongue, my aunt would make it into tacos. I knew she was joking, but stopped sticking out my tongue very quickly hahah.
Where to buy organ meats?
– I check the butcher at Whole Foods and see what they have on hand. They almost always have grass-fed liver, and it’s also extremely inexpensive. I think a local butcher is the best bet, because you can see what’s available and check it out for yourself.
– You can also ask butchers at any local farmers market
– Online options! There are a ton of options online. I haven’t tried any personally, but have heard good things about Tru.
Here’s a recipe for meatballs using beef liver – promise you can’t taste it or tell a difference.
Beef Liver Nutrient Packed Meatball recipe
Grass fed ground beef (85/15 or 90/10)
Grass fed liver
Sweet vidalia onion
Your favorite bacon or turkey bacon
You’ll use the food processor to chop up the liver, and then mix all of the ingredients as you would any other meatball.
Check out the full recipe here:
Benefits of organ meats + nutrient-packed meatball recipe
A nutrient-packed meatball recipe using beef liver. Using a food processor, you can’t even tell it’s there and can enjoy the bonus nutrients.
- Author: Gina Harney // The Fitnessista
1.5 lb. grass fed ground beef (85/15 or 90/10)
10 oz. grass fed liver
1 sweet vidalia onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup
⅓ package of your favorite bacon, chopped into 1” pieces
1 egg + 2 egg yolks pasture raised
2 tbsps fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsps fresh chives or 1 tbsp dried chives
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp + 2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp paleo ketchup
1 tbsp coconut flour
Preheat oven to 425.
Using a food processor, process the liver, pulsing until it is roughly chopped. (If you want to skip this step, ask your butcher to grind it for you!). In a large bowl, add the ground beef and the processed liver. Set aside.
In a shallow frying pan, fry the bacon and onion together until the bacon is cooked and the onions are translucent. Remove from the heat and let cool before proceeding to the next step.
In the same food processor that you chopped the liver in, add the bacon/onion mixture, parsley, chives, garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Pulse gently until combined. Add this mixture to the bowl of ground beef & liver.
Stir in the egg + egg yolk until smooth. Add the ketchup. Add the coconut flour (or gluten free flour blend if desired. Note, if using gluten free flour blend, you may need more since coconut flour is more absorbent and thus you need less).
Form into balls using a small cookie scoop, about the size of a golf ball. Place on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil and parchment paper for easy clean up. Meatballs will not expand when baking, so you can place them close to each other.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until no longer pink inside, about 155 degrees. This will depend on how large you choose to make the meatballs.
So organ meats: yay or nay? Any recipes you love?
Are there any foods or food combos you enjoy that are a little on the unique side?
If you’ve been looking for a great source to buy meat online – not organ meats, just regular meat options – check out Butcher Box. I started using this recently and absolutely love it! You can use my link to get $30 off and free ground beef for liiiiiife.