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The Offal Truth: Organ Meats aren’t Awful!

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Okay, be honest.  How many of you just thought “eeewwwwww” or “oh, HELL no”?  Its okay to feel that way – I did, too!!  Growing up, the only organ meats to ever cross my lips were in the gravy my mother made at Thanksgiving from the giblets from the turkey.  And I didn't know there were organs in the gravy!  It was probably best that way.  Kinda like how my kids didn't know there was liver in the chili I made the other night.  Sometimes we keep those little gems to ourselves.  AmIright?  

Anyway, back to organ meats.  

Yeah, the idea of consuming organ meats may seem kinda gross.  Probably because it isn't too common in modern America.  I am willing to bet that if you ask your neighbor when the last time they had beef heart was, they will probably look at you funny.  That is okay though, everyone needs a weird neighbor.  

Organ meats weren't always unpopular.

 In fact, traditional cultures consumed the organs first, before muscle tissue, because they knew the organs had all of the goodies.  Wild animals, when they make a kill often eat the liver first because it gives them the most bang for their buck nutritionally speaking.  And, well, since there is only one liver, the predator better eat it first before other animals come join the dinner party.  One of my dear friends is very fond of hunting and when they are successful, that evening they enjoy the heart and liver for dinner.  

So, why are organ meats so amazing?  

Organ meats are nutritional powerhouses – loaded with vitamins (B vitamins (folate), D, E, A, and K2), minerals (iron, copper, zinc, chromium), amino acids and quality protein.  Those are just the big guns.  Just take liver for example.  It contains more nutrients, gram for gram, than any other food.  It is so nutrient dense that you do not need to eat it every day.  Maybe once or twice a month.  Of course, if you LOVE liver, go ahead and eat your heart out.

Understand where your food comes from!

I often hear, “I don't want to eat liver!  It is a storage facility for TOXINS!!”  Actually, it is not.  Liver IS a storage facility for the vital nutrients that are needed to neutralize toxins and escort them out of your body.  Toxins are more likely to be found in fatty tissues and the nervous system.  

When organ meats come from a healthy pastured grass-fed animal, they are incredibly nutritious.  Organ meats from conventionally raised animals don't offer the same benefit.  Frankly, their diets, drugs, and where they are living (CAFOs) most likely create unhealthy organs.  Don't eat those.  If you are going out of your way to incorporate vibrant organ meats into your diet, please understand where your meat is coming from.  Do your homework!!

Organ meats for dinner!

Okay, you're sold.  You want organ meats in your diet like yesterday.  But you are nervous.  You don't know where to start.  You are afraid your family will flush it down the toilet.  I hear you.  And trust me, it is easier than you think.

My favorite way to get organ meats into our bodies is to hide it.  Yup.  I hide it in meat dishes.  My hubs knows it is there, but my kids don't.  All you have to do is take those livers (I like chicken livers), throw them into your food processor and blend away.  Once you have liquified livers, place them into ice cube trays and freeze them.  Later this week when you are making a meat sauce for your spaghetti or taco meat for Taco Tuesday, or chili – whatever! – throw one of those liver cubes in with the meat while you are browning it.  The liver will blend right in.  Typically dishes with lots of seasonings like chili, or taco meat, or meat sauces, hide the flavor of the liver well.  It is a great place to start if you are unsure about whether or not you will like the flavor of organ meats.  

Want an even EASIER method?  Why not just take a desiccated liver supplement from grass fed cows!?

I would love to find a chicken liver pate recipe that I love.  That is my next liver adventure.  To start, I think I will try this recipe from Nourished Kitchen.  It sounds amazing.

Feeling adventurous?

Once you have liver under your belt are you interested in find out what other organ meats can do for you?  Personally, I would love to try beef heart – or elk heart if my hubby is ever able to get a tag for one!  From what I hear, beef heart tastes just like a steak.  I can't wait to try that!  

Other organs that are tasty eats include kidneys, blood (blood sausage), oysters (testicles), sweetbreads (pancreas) and beef tongue.

So, who's excited about organ meats??  If you already enjoy them, what are some of your favorite recipes?  If this is the first time you have ever considered consuming organ meats, where are you going to start??  Please share with us! 

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  1. Great post! We eat alot of organ meats even the kids like some. I try to cook at least once a week.
    Best for beef liver is to cut it into strips (not too thin), and in a plastic bag mix the seasoning – flour, salt and black pepper. Put the strips of liver in the bag and roll around so they all get well covered. Then just fry in a little bit of oil.
    Delicious! !!
    Chicken giblets and hearts i always cook in the pressure cooker first for about 45min. Then either fry in half butter half oil and some paprika or make a thick red sauve from onions and canned tomatoes!!! Yam yam!!!

  2. I love beef heart.. Trim well cut in cubes and marinate in achiote and red wine vinegar salt and pepper. Put them on kabobs and grill so tasty! Also a great marinade for elk meat.. This was the way my best friends dad made us heart and he was from Peru..

  3. I grew up eating offal, so it’s not really very scary to me. I actually enjoy meats like liver. And now that I’m raising my own chickens, I’m going to end up using “yucky” things like the feet for chicken broth, once I start raising meat birds and not just layers. Yum!

    I won’t refute the nutritional value of offal, as I have grown to trust my body when I find myself craving liver (my hemoglobin will have undoubtedly taken a plunge if that happens), but the one thing never mentioned in real food blogs, that was a contributing factor to why the “umbles” (Guess where “humble pie” came from? The ‘umbles were the poor man’s share of an animal, and “pie” just happened to be the baking dish of the time. I can’t help my inner history geek.) were historically eaten first due to a lack of refrigeration technology. You can’t really preserve organ meats without processing them somehow, so those would have been the first to spoil.

  4. I grew up on a farm and we ate all the organs. I love finding new ways of preparing it so that it is delicious. My kids aren’t so much the problem as my husband :). Tongue is probably my favourite, it’s so easy to cook and versatile. I wouldn’t say heart tastes just like steak, or at least, certainly not the texture, but I made a Sweet Beef Heart Curry that is amazing. Where I live, in Slovakia, many people still have a pig and when they butcher they use all the parts. I’m hoping to capture the process next time my inlaws butcher and share the recipes with everyone.

  5. I am learning to use and like offal. It was never a part of my growing up diet but I’m convinced of its value so I’m training my mind to get over it’s bad self! lol
    Two points: 1) tongue is a delicacy but it is a muscle meat, rather than and organ or gland, and has a similar nutrient profile. 2) liver can affect sleep. It is a powerful anti-fatigue food. I was talking to my chiro who, like myself, is on a paleo autoimmune protocol and he said he found liver to be the culprit. He said he had to titer back his liver consumption to just a couple bites of liver sausage at a time. It affects me the same. It could be connected to adrenal insufficiency, which I deal with still and my chiro has to be careful of too. It likely has a connection to the size of the animal. I’ve been eating bison (love!) and moose (not so much) liver. One seller of bison recommended remembering the size of the animal being eaten and portioning offal dishes accordingly.

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