How to Eat More Organ Meats

174159645While organ meats have gotten a little more attention in the Paleo community recently, many people still don’t quite appreciate how vital it is to include these nutritional powerhouses in their regular diet. Plus, knowing we should be eating offal and actually eating these foods are two very different things. Though some people do love the taste of foods like liver, most people (myself included) don’t like the taste of organ meats and need to be persuaded to eat them.

In an effort to help you take the plunge into eating the whole animal, here are my thoughts on the top three organ meats to start out with and why.

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Beef Tongue

Because tongue is still technically muscle meat, the nutritional profile is similar to that of other beef muscle meats. It’s a good source of iron, zinc, choline, vitamin B12, other B vitamins, and trace minerals. (1) Tongue is a fatty cut of meat, with about 70% of its calories coming from fat, making it one of the most tender cuts of beef you can find.

Surprisingly, one of tongue’s biggest claims to fame is the taste. It’s also one of the easiest organ meats to cook. Once people get over the fact that it’s a tongue, they often find they like it better than other, more ‘normal’ meats! If you’re venturing into the world of organ meats for the first time, tongue is a great starting point. It will probably take a couple tries to get completely over the ‘ick’ factor (after all, it looks like a tongue), but the ease of cooking and the agreeable taste should make that process easier. Further, it should prepare you mentally for other organ meats, which can be a little harder to tackle!

Here are some tongue recipes to try:

Heart 

Once you’re comfortable eating tongue, heart can be a good next step. As with tongue, many people are pleasantly surprised when they taste heart, because despite its somewhat threatening outward appearance, its taste and texture have been compared to that of steak or brisket.

Like other red meat, heart is a good source of iron, zinc, selenium, and B vitamins, but where heart really shines is its CoQ10 content. CoQ10 is vital for energy production and prevention of oxidative stress, and people with chronic health conditions are often deficient. There are also some genetic factors that can impede the biosynthesis of CoQ10, making it more important for those people to have a source of pre-formed CoQ10 in their diet.

Heart is the best food source of CoQ10, with pork heart and beef heart topping the list at approximately 127 mcg/g and 113 mcg/g, respectively. (2) By comparison, sardines supply only about 64 mcg/g, beef liver contains 39 mcg, beef muscle meat contains 31 mcg, and pork muscle meat has anywhere from 24 to 41 mcg.

Unlike tongue, heart is extremely lean, so you want to be sure to cook it properly. One option is to grind it up and add it to ground beef. Here are some other ways to eat heart:

Liver

You didn’t think I’d write an article on organ meats without including liver, did you? While tongue and heart are both excellent choices and great introductions to organ meat consumption, liver is by far the most important organ meat you should be eating. It’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence, and contains many nutrients that are difficult to get elsewhere.

Liver is an important source of retinol, which is pre-formed vitamin A. Just three ounces of beef liver contains 26,973 IU of vitamin A, while pork liver and chicken liver contain 15,306 IU and 11,335 IU, respectively. (3) If you aren’t supplementing with cod liver oil, you’ll probably want to eat liver a couple times a week to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin A, especially if you have skin problems.

Folate, choline, and vitamin B12 are three more nutrients that are found abundantly in liver, and they can be especially important in the context of a Paleo diet. Two Paleo staples – muscle meat and eggs – contain a high proportion of the amino acid methionine, and higher intakes of methionine increase homocysteine production. This increases the need for vitamins B6, B12, folate, betaine, and choline, which recycle homocysteine. (4, 5)

Although all meats contain some amount of vitamin B12, liver (especially beef liver) blows everything else out of the water, with almost three times as much B12 as kidney, seven times as much as heart, and about 17 times as much as tongue or ground beef. (6) Choline is concentrated mainly in egg yolks and liver, so if you aren’t eating egg yolks it’s important to get some liver into your diet. And as Chris Masterjohn points out, it can be difficult to get enough folate on a Paleo diet without including liver, because other than liver, beans are actually one of the best sources of folate. This is especially true if you eat lots of muscle meat and not enough folate-rich greens.

One of the main nutritional differences among the livers of different animals is copper content. Beef liver contains 14.3mg of copper per 100g, while chicken and pork livers contain less than 1mg. (7) Thus, beef liver is a great choice if you tend towards copper deficiency, but as I mentioned in this podcast, copper excess can also be a problem. Luckily the choline, zinc, and B vitamins in liver significantly reduce the risk of copper toxicity, but if you need to limit copper in your diet, you can always opt for chicken or pork liver instead.

Unfortunately, the taste of liver can take some getting used to. But even if you’re one of the unlucky people (like myself) who don’t particularly enjoy the taste, it’s possible to develop a tolerance for it, especially if you find a good recipe. You can always start out by grinding it up and adding it to ground meat, but if you’re ready for something a bit more adventurous, you can try these recipes:

Once you’ve started eating liver regularly, maybe you’ll be interested in trying other unorthodox cuts of meat and less popular parts of the animal. Mark Sisson has written before about eating heads, feet, tails, and everything in between. Perhaps you’ll give tripe a try, or attempt a kidney recipe. Maybe you’ll even get the guts to try some of the more adventurous animal parts, such as “sweetbreads” (pancreas), blood, or maybe even “oysters” (testicles). In fact, Chowstalker even has a whole list of offal recipes to get creative with. No excuses… and no fear!

Do you have any tips for people who are intimidated by organ meats? Which are your favorites, and how do you prepare them? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Maxine Barish-Wreden says

    I have 2 great ways of cooking chicken liver (or you could use beef liver):
    1. I use chicken liver in making meat loaf; I usually use 1 lb of chicken liver + 2 lbs of ground beef. Even my teenage son ate it – the ground beef plus other ingredients covers up the taste of the liver.
    1. I cook bacon or sausage, then saute onions, mushrooms, and tart apples, then mix all of this with cooked chicken livers – the flavors mixed together are great – my husband loves this!

  2. Lavinia says

    fortunately for me I was born and raised in Eastern Europe. eating organ meets it is such a natural way that I don’t hink I have tips on how to start eating them. It’s an aquired taste but maybe the simple fact that they are so healthy and tasty it should help you get over the ick factor.
    chicken liver pate was and still is a common dish in my family , weston price recipe is used now for feeding my baby.
    recipe for beef heart: slice it, boil it, skim the foam and boil another 15 min, let it cool and peel the white coat, boil it some more if u think it’s not tender enough , then you can put the slices in the oven for a couple of minutes with favourite dry herbs , salt and pepper sprinkled on top. just use it as is in sandwiches. works great with horseradish.

    • Aurelie says

      Yes I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a European country with a strong traditional food culture. My mum cooked lambs brains for us as children because”it makes children more intelligent” :-) also I had liver pate sandwish for a snack coming home from school. we used to fight over the liver whenever my mum cooked rabbit Stew! One of the best dish I have every had was beef tongue Luculus (liver pate layered with tongue) chicken liver salad is a delicacy and I find it hard to believe that people don’t like it! I mean even just chicken liver pate on toast with onion jam, how can you resist?! :-)

    • Roland says

      I take beef heart & cut & cook it like i would a steak yummy & it;s so much more tender this way,I;m all for it being rare ,so good

  3. sue lelliott says

    i like liver, but I would like to know if there are downsides to it. I can´t buy organic liver and since the liver deals with toxins, is there any chance of it having a negative impact too.

    • Nick says

      I would like to know this too. I would think organs (especially liver) would contain much more of the toxins that the animals are exposed to compared to the muscles. So my logic would be buying organic organ meats would be important but would like to know your opinion.

    • Josh says

      Christ wrote in this post: http://chriskresser.com/natures-most-potent-superfood

      “A popular objection to eating liver is the belief that the liver is a storage organ for toxins in the body. While it is true that one of the liver’s role is to neutralize toxins (such as drugs, chemical agents and poisons), it does not store these toxins. Toxins the body cannot eliminate are likely to accumulate in the body’s fatty tissues and nervous systems. On the other hand, the liver is a is a storage organ for many important nutrients (vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron). These nutrients provide the body with some of the tools it needs to get rid of toxins.”

    • Dana says

      Liver breaks down toxins. It’s an organ too, and if it just held the toxins, eventually it would get poisoned and die. Whatever might have been left over when the animal died, your own liver will handle just fine.

      Different traditional cultures have different values about which organs are best to eat, but I have yet to hear of a traditional culture that wouldn’t touch liver. In fact it usually holds a special and sacred place within the community’s cuisine.

    • Laura says

      If you can order online, you can get excellent liver from US Wellness Meats. We’ve eaten their liver for years.

    • Taco Raptor says

      I have not tried liver before, but in my opinion, I would only eat liver if it is organic and even then consider occasionally doing a liver cleanse. People have gotten serious health problems from certain types of drugs used on livestock that are stored in the liver. Make sure you know how the animal was raised and what drugs and added hormones could have (preferably not) been used on it.

  4. says

    I can understand why people shy away from organ meats, especially if they haven’t grown up eating them and then suddenly want to try an incorporate them into their diet. I grew up eating organ meats, my mum used to send us to school with sheep’s brain sandwiches or beef tongue and we would eat liver at least once or twice a week. I didn’t LOVE the taste of organ meats growing up but I slowly adjusted to them and now I aim to incorporate them at least once a week into my diet.

    I find lamb liver to be much milder tasting than beef, so I usually have that or chicken liver. I usually just cook it up simply in some butter, season with S&P and a bit of red pepper flakes and squeeze some lemon juice on top. You can always grind up the liver and mix it into mince meat and use it that way.

    • Sharon says

      I just bought lamb heart for the first time and really enjoyed it. I found it much tastier than beef heart as I fried it (after boiling it) in coconut oil and spices.

    • Armin says

      I totally agree on the lamb liver. After trying pork, beef and goose liver, I found that lamb is by far the best tasting.
      Also, I add lemon juice as suggested by Chris Masterjohn.

  5. Roslyn Ross says

    Do not go near them unless they are 100% organic. The organs are most likely to be most contaminated by any non-natural ingredients used in the life of the animal.

    • sherri says

      so sad. I would wonder about it, tho’ and look for a second or third opinion from someone with different training. like an accupuncuturist or naturopath….

  6. says

    While I’m not very fond of the taste of plain liver, I love liverwurst! I only buy high-quality, grass-fed liverwurst, of course. I like it so much, I have to ration my servings. I only allow myself 1/2 pound per week. It’s maybe 40% liver/60% beef, so that works out to about 1 generous serving of liver each week.

    My next favorite organ is heart. I just crock pot them, divide the cooked hearts into individual servings, and freeze them. Then I have ready-to-eat meat. I love the flavor! I pretty much clean out our farmer’s market of grass-fed hearts (pig/beef) whenever I go there. Fortunately, in my area the price per pound for hearts is only about 1/2 of muscle meats.

    I also crock pot beef tongue. For some reason, I’m not as fond of that organ (texture issues, I think). So, I just finely chop up the cooked tongue, divide that up into 1/2 cup servings or so, and freeze it. Then, I just defrost it to mix into stir-fries, stews, or other meals that already have some beef muscle meat included. Then I rarely notice the difference.

    • Evelyn says

      Debra,

      Where do you purchase properly sourced liverwurst? I’m looking for a source other than US Wellness. Thanks!

    • Suzanne says

      I’m the same!! I grew up eating liverwurst – all my friends made fun of me – and I love it. But I can’t *stand* the texture of plain old liver. Ick!

      I grind liver up in the food processor and mix it with ground beef. Then I make a beef bourignon style stew thing – the tomato sauce, onion, garlic, red wine, etc. mutes the flavor, it just gives a lovely depth to the stew. Every time I eat it, the people sitting with me ask me what delicious smelling thing I’m eating!

  7. CCM says

    Thanks for another excellent post, Chris.

    My daughter, who is mostly recovered from rheumatoid arthritis, eats raw beef liver. We freeze it, chop up a lobe, and she swallows it with raw milk. When she was in early stages of healing – and having a herxheimer reaction (which occurred every 2 weeks or so) we would have her eat one lobe of beef liver every 2-3 days, staying below 4 oz. per week.

    I am not able to get the rest of my family on board with eating organ meats. Perhaps if they get sick some day, my children will remember the power of raw milk and liver in healing their sister. However, I do get them to eat shellfish – lobster, mussels, crab, clams – and I read on cheeseslave that the important nutrients can be gained eating an animal head-to-tail, and since mussels and clams are contained in the shell, the nutrient profile should be as comprehensive as eating land animal organ meats. Is this true? I hope so since I don’t have to fight to get my kids to eat these foods.

    • Dana says

      I was reading about seafood over at Whole9, and they said that not only do you not have to worry about bivalves being fed inappropriate feed (since they’re filter feeders), but they are the most nutrient-dense seafood you can eat. I do know you don’t do anything to remove internal organs before you cook them, though so yeah–you’re getting the whole animal.

  8. says

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for this article. I have a few recipes for chicken livers, as pate and whole. Please see below. Also, as soon as I can, I’ll be sharing recipes for blood and kidneys (traditional Spanish recipes!). ;)

    Enjoy:
    http://thesaffrongirl.com/chicken-livers-with-apples-strawberry-coulis-tapas/
    http://thesaffrongirl.com/chicken-liver-with-sage/
    http://thesaffrongirl.com/homemade-pate-gluten-dairy-free/
    http://thesaffrongirl.com/dairy-free-chicken-liver-pate/

  9. ValerieH says

    Tongue is a very delicious food. Of all the organ meats, this is the one my kids are most open to. I cook it in water in a slow cooker for about 8 hours with the usual pot roast seasonings (onion, garlic, bay leaf, black peppercorns and salt). I save the broth for soup. Tongue is very cheap from my farmer. However, at the ethnic grocery store where they do their own butchery, it is quite expensive. The immigrant customers know the value of this cut and it is priced accordingly.

    I have tried to serve heart a few different ways. It tastes like a cross between steak and liver. The easiest way to serve beef heart to my family is hidden in beef stew. My recipe is here: http://formlesssubstance.blogspot.com/2011/02/have-heart-for-valentines-day.html. The trick is to cut it into very small pieces and mix it 50/50 with stew meat.

    It is really important to serve liver to your kids early. I grew up eating it. My mother treated it as just another meal. I even order it in restaurants. I wish I had been more intentional when my kids were babies. My kids are less enthusiastic, but I have to believe that watching me enjoy it should help. I always make the rest of the meal very special. I get out the pastured bacon and grass fed, raw ice cream for dessert. It’s not my husband’s favorite but he eats it without comment. One good way to serve liver is in Dirty Rice. Chicken livers are one of the main ingredients.

    I was hoping to see other organ meats covered in this article. I have never tried kidneys, for example. I tried a pigs feet recipe from a Paleo cookbook and I loved them. My farmer says their slaughterhouse won’t give them the pigs feet and other organs. I think the slaughterhouse is selling them and making a profit. I can get anything from the local ethic grocery. I assume the ethnic grocery uses factory meat, which makes them less attractive to me. I’m really disappointed I can’t get these cuts from my farmer. I do buy their organ meats for my dog. I came up with a crazy recipe. Maybe it’s too much work for a dog but it makes me happy. The pigs feet package has 8 feet which have been quartered.
    Dog Jello
    8 pigs feet.
    1 pork liver
    3 pork hearts

    Cook pigs feet overnight in water in slow cooker.
    In the morning, put liver and hearts in small amount of water. Simmer on stove for an hour.
    Strain and separate the pigs feet from the bones. Keep the broth in a large mixing bowl. Put the separated pigs feet in food processor in batches. Watch out for tiny bones, it’s hard to find them all. Once pureed, pour into broth.
    When heart and liver are cooked, put them in food processor in batches and add that to bowl of broth.
    Ladle into containers and put into the fridge. The broth from the pigs feet will gel the whole thing.

    My German Shepherd gets about 1.5 cups of this as a meal. She gets another meal of raw chicken.

    I also cook the pigs feet bones again with other pork bones. I told my mother this and she wanted to know why the dog gets the first broth. LOL

  10. Mark says

    Organ meat sausages like liverwurst, braunschweiger, and head cheese can be good options. I order from US Wellness, but am also looking for a local source.

  11. Ryan carter says

    Nice article.
    I’ve always loved eating offal , can’t remembering eating when I was in teenage years as I think my mum overcooked it (like rubber) love hearts, liver, lambs kidneys especially.
    Never thought tongue was counted as offal. It’s sooooo nice , like to slice cm thick & quickly pan fry and get fat little crisp .

    You didn’t mention how important the quality of offal to be used?
    Isit much more important to get grassfed animals oppose to factory produced?

  12. Becca says

    Soak the liver in milk first. I did that and fried it up and told my hubby and son that it was steak that might have been a tad overcooked and they gobbled it down. Granted, someone who knows liver would have known the difference but they didn’t.

  13. Sharon says

    I have been eating liver and organs regularly (about once a week) but when my uric acid level went very high, I was advised to give them up for awhile. I’m going to go back to liver about once a month because I do miss it and I know it’s good for me. Seems a shame to cut out powerful foods.

    I’m wondering if anything else was raising the uric acid and if purines really have anything to do with it.

  14. says

    How about eating frozen raw liver chopped up into pills and take an ounce or two daily? are there any issues with that method?

  15. says

    If finding good sources of liver or the taste is a challenge, are capsules an option, or are there reasons not to go that route (especially if you are on a paleo autoimmune diet)? I know Nutricology makes one formulated by Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, MD. Seems like it could be helpful for B12 issues too, but I know it’s not as ideal perhaps as eating it directly.

    • Herb says

      I’ve been a long time patient of Dr Gonzalez and he has told me that the liver capsules I take 6 times a day are an excellent way to get the nutrients of organically sourced liver. He also recommended in the early days of my treatment that I take an ounce or so of frozen liver a day – a much more palatable choice than regular liver.

  16. Kathy Gornik says

    Thanks for the great article on organ meats. I was raised eating them, and used to make hamburgers that were 1/2 heart and 1/2 ground beef when my kids were small. I served them liver for breakfast regularly!
    I hope you will also recommend brains. They are filled with nutritional value and there is evidence that eating brains can alleviate symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. I’d appreciate your checking into this and letting us all know.

  17. Shem says

    He is a tip for perfect fried liver, assuming you eat yogurt:

    1. First cut the liver into thin strips.
    2. Soak for several hours beforehand in natural yogurt in the fridge. (I use goats yogurt).
    3. Fry up with olive oil, bacon and onions.
    4. I’ve tried this on several ‘liver haters’ and they all like my liver! The yogurt takes out the bitter taste.

  18. lucy says

    I freeze my liver then grind it, mixed in with beef and chicken. This is my base for meatballs or curry or chilli… No nasty liver taste. All the health benefits. Job done. :)

  19. Kim says

    I am one of those people who will never get over the “ick” factor nor am I interested. I am picky about a lot of things that I eat and I just work around it.

  20. Greg says

    My kids and I manage to eat about a pound of organ meats EACH every week without problems, but we have a secret: We have our butcher grind the offal into 40% beef trim and add a bunch of spices so it tastes a lot like regular hamburger. This way we get to eat liver, heart, kidney and speen with no drama.

  21. says

    What, no mention of paté? I’m not a big fan of liver as such, but I love paté. Homemade chicken liver paté is quite wonderful and very easy to make. It takes no effort to eat a little paté every day.

    I’m fortunate that there is an Alsatian butcher near where I live and he makes absolutely wonderful boudin noire (blood pudding).

  22. Lara says

    Gosh I wish I could do this, I just cannot, not on my own. I did sorta grow up eating liver, as my mother did cook chicken liver and made other liver dishes, as well as bone broths, but I just can’t seem to think in terms of organs and my mouth — together.

    I recall setting aside an article by Chris Masterjohn re: making beef liver palatable. Perhaps I’ll go find that.

  23. says

    One thing that’s helped me is just reading posts like this all the time! It gets me more used to the idea of eating organs. Tongue really is delicious – I just cook it for a couple hours in my pressure cooker in plain water, peel it, slice it up, add lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and eat! I think it’s the easiest meat to cook, other than fish. I was a little creeped out and had a hard time getting it down the first time I tried it (even though it tasted good), but now I’m used to it. Just takes practice!

    I’m also beginning to like liver; I was actually craving it the other day. I think that’s one of my proudest achievements :)

  24. Ryan carter says

    Do you class sweetbreads as offal?

    As they are amazing !!! Lamb or veal I’ve tried.
    But calfs sweetbreads in UK are expensive as hell! Even calfs liver pretty expensive !

  25. gf says

    My problem is that I cannot find grass-fed, organic, or free-range liver or organ meats; only the standard, grain fed. Thus, I have avoided them. I assume it is better to NOT eat liver than to eat standard, grain fed liver????

  26. Maribel says

    In Mexico city we eat steamed beef tongue tacos with green tomatillo sauce, raw onions and cilantro. Delicious!!!

  27. says

    Thanks for including my sweetbread recipe. Every time I try a new organ meat, I feel proud. I was such a picky eater as a child, and actually never organ meats until I got rheumatoid arthritis and chose food as my medicine. Now, I eat organ meat every week, and my local farmer loves throwing in cuts I’ve never tried. (That’s how I got the sweetbreads). But for any of you who haven’t had them before, they’re really quite delicious, as are the other cuts Chris mentioned. Here’s to widening our palates and improving our health!

  28. emily says

    I make meatballs with liver and grind bacon in with the lean meat and liver. I am REALLY picky and even I can eat it. I serve it with a red or white sauce.

  29. says

    I eat organ meats regularly, even more than “regular” meat. I tried everything, but of course there are some cuts I prefer.
    Liver is the best, I eat it every week at least once, this week it is 3 times already.
    Kidneys are another favorite, especially rabbit, chicken and veal (beef and pork kidneys have a strong taste).
    Heart is another cut I never miss to have once per week: I prepare goulash, spezzatino or civet: long and slow cooking recipes.
    Less often, sweetbreads, tripes and brains. I had lungs once, the taste is great but the consistency is not something I dream of. Spleen is in the freezer, after months I finally found a butcher who agreed to sell it to me: I think I can try some liver recipes, I have not yet decided.

    For those who have problems eating organs, I say: rest reassured it is just physiological. Try to prepare a “meatloffal”, you won’t be disappointed.

  30. Jenn H. says

    In Norway, you can buy lung mash, which if you mix it up with some diced potatoes tastes just like corned beef hash. You can also buy “blood pudding” which is sliced, fried, and eaten with corn syrup poured on top. (One could made one’s own blood pudding as well, because food-grade blood is sold in buckets. Insert Roger Corman joke here. ;) ) Head cheese luncheon meats can be found and liverwurst is sold in a dizzying array of spice combinations. That said, it’s impossible to find a whole chicken sold with its giblets, and until recently, I couldn’t find chicken livers anywhere…just beef liver.

    We could write quite a nice research papers about offal food traditions in various cultures, couldn’t we? It’d make for some interesting reading. :)

  31. says

    This is very informative! I like to eat pork liver and heart but never tried tongue. My Asian relatives can cook these organs so delicious. I learned to eat these organs from them. I never thought it’s also part of a healthy diet. :-)

  32. Wendy Wayt says

    Just got back from Spain, the country where I learned to eat all sorts of things that make most Americans wrinkle their noses in disgust. In Portugal I had stewed beef cheeks. Sometimes in the States you pay big bucks for a little gourmet plate of beef cheeks. It’s a cheap cut of meat and we got a whole platter of meat to share for about $15. In Spain, we shared a plate of some kind of gland from the cow’s throat. Delicious. Another time, the kidneys of some animal. In Spain they make everything taste good.

  33. VanillaLu says

    Chris, when health stakes are too high to innocently make the “wrong” choice, can you suggest whether Beef vs. Chicken liver makes more sense? Stakes high = on last try for a successful pregnancy, like many of your women readers. Told copper intake should be minimal, so Beef lLiver & Beef Liver capsules may jeopardize chances, correct? HOWEVER, is organic Chicken Liver safe, given 1. not pasture-raised, and no chicken is fed 100% pastured.. 2. Organic Chicken is fed SOY/CORN, & isn’t there a debate about whether the organic label excludes GMO grains? 3. Are Organs from grain-fed animals grain free? 4. Organic choices still = confined, fattened, animals (choices at Whole Foods, for ex.) 5. Isn’t the jury still out on toxins in organ meats that survive cooking –are we just speculating or are there studies?
    Please help us “pick our poison” –just not too much poison :) The benefits need to outweigh the negatives when the stakes are high and timely. Thanks in advance for your opinion!

    • S. H. says

      Best wishes in your efforts to conceive. I am new to the Paleo thing, but I have to say that the idea of worrying about what my food eats sounds like a bit too much stress for me! Maybe pop some chickens out in your yard and feed them what you want them to eat, then live off the eggs? Add a goat for milk? Throw some pigs in a pen? We had all of these when I was a kid and it wasn’t so hard, especially if you have some neighbors to trade foods with. And the manure grows a lovely garden full of organic veggies. Two acres and a micro-house would do the job. Otherwise, you are right, your animal food’s food is not something you can control.

  34. Bruce says

    We make liverwurst by boiling equal amounts of heart, liver and pork shoulder till done. Then meat grinder it with a cooked onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper (others flavors if desired) It can be packed in pint jars and eaten as is or frozen. We also can that mixture. We find the local butcher who slaughters on the farms and ask for the organ meats. It is often free or $1 per pound. That way it can be grass fed and locally grown.

  35. says

    another great way to get organ meats into the diet if you’re squeamish about eating them directly (which i think changes once you actually dive in and DO IT) is to “sneak” them into other things.

    liver in ground beef for hamburgers, chili, and of course with plenty of grass fed butter in pate (if you’re more on the WAPF spectrum of Paleo, like I am :)

    Three Stone Hearth in Berkeley does this quite well for anyone who’s local. and i’ll be doing a whole series on this for my cooking channel on YouTube.

    i know you’re in berkeley chris so you know all about TSH. eventually i’d love to meet you!
    that goes for all the local bloggers i follow (michelle, danielle, etc) the paleo community is always looping back to each other, and since i haven’t been able to make any of the conferences i haven’t had the chance to met any of you yet.

    but i have a feeling you’d all really like me :) cheers!

  36. Donna says

    My Doctor is Bulgarian. She was telling me how they would slaughter the roosters before winter (20 or more) and cook and preserve them. The best treat was “Pope’s beans soup” – soup made from the “oysters” of the roosters. I was told they are internal and the size of a small plum. Sorry I do not have the recipe.

  37. ~JackieVB says

    I chop liver into bite-size morsels and freeze it (I use good quality liver that came from grass-fed cows)
    I have one ‘liver bite’ every morning with a teaspoon of coconut oil, it really helps it go down, then follow it with a water chaser.
    I’ve been wanting to add more organ meats but couldn’t bring myself to try offal, looks like I can probably stomach the tongue though :)

  38. kelly says

    Just be mindful with eating raw frozen liver. I was freezing organic chicken livers and eating them raw (along with my son) and we both contracted campylobacter and had bloody diarrhea. Perhaps if we had stuck to beef or lamb liver this wouldn’t have happened….?

    I always cook my liver now. Unfortunately, the only way i can reluctantly eat organ meats is blended with tomatoes (as in chili) or with cream and butter (as in pate) and I’m not tolerating either nightshades or dairy right now. I will keep trying and hopefully i can override my senses. I think back to my mom cooking meals and the fact that even cooking a whole chicken grossed her out too much, she had to buy all the chicken parts separately.

  39. Jennifer L. says

    I tried making beef liver once a few months ago and it was so awful to me that I had to give it away on Freecycle. The person I gave it to said that it was wonderful and she ate it all up. I can sneak a little bit into burgers if I mince it finely, but I am looking forward to some new recipes to try. My toddler eats it just fine. Really, the key is introducing it early!

  40. says

    As a grass-based livestock farmer who sells direct via farmers markets, for years I was consistently left with the organ meats and learned to prepare them in a multitude of ways. Thanks to better nutritional education about the benefits of eating organ meats, they’re now the first to go. Don’t forget the less conventional stuff like heads (brains, cheeks, eyes), marrow from long bones, caul, lungs, intestines, feet & combs–all of which I’ve been fed and learned to prepare from my ethnic customers. All good!

  41. Judy says

    I had a very elderly cat who lived much longer than expected because of her fondness for organic raw beef liver. That is all she wanted to eat towards the end – she seemed to know how to maximize the nutrients she was receiving.

  42. John W says

    I recently moved to Singapore and turns out you can get beef lung here….anyone know of the nutritional profile of that?

  43. Cissa says

    While I’ve saved several of the recipes- it boggles my mind that people are so apologetic about tongue, heart, and liver!

    OK, I did grow up eating them- mostly because my mother was very frugal, and these were cheap proteins. However, there were several of my mother’s dishes that I hated from day 1, soi it’s not all conditioning.

    I adored- and still adore- tongue. Cooked gently, it’s like a ready-made pate, almost. I grew up with beef occasionally, but have also enjoyed pork and lamb. It needs to be braised low and slow. it is also excellent smoked, again low and slow.

    I wish I could find a good source of chicken hearts- a favorite dish of mine when growing up was chicken hearts in gravy. Other heart is good, too! Last year I did a beef heart stew as a sort of culinary joke for Valentine’s Day, and my husband and i really enjoyed it.

    And liver??? OMG, we both ADORE liver! Pate! Liver and onions!!! Liverwurst! SO good, and easy to make (OK, the liverwurst is more fussy if one makes it) and delicious. The trick is to NOT overcook it; it needs to be tender, and that means being at least pink in the middle. When it’s overcooked, that’s when it gets objectionable and tough.

    I admit I am not a fan of kidneys- though I make them sometimes because my husband loves them. I am also loathe to try sweetbreads and brains.

    But liver, tongue and heart? WONDERFUL!

  44. AnnieLaurie Burke says

    If you can get beef liver from grass-fed, relatively young cows, it generally doesn’t have a strong “liver” taste. Try it cooked Asian pepper-steak style: slice it in thin strips, sautee with onions, sliced sweet and/or hot peppers, and sliced mushrooms. Add a little dash of organic real soy sauce (the actually fermented, non-caramel-colored kind), and maybe a sprinkle of sesame seeds. It tastes more like sliced beef than liver. It’s my favorite liver dish.

  45. honeytreebee says

    These are great first steps but don’t forget about tripe, kidneys, sweet breads, while not organs things like tendons, trotters, and tails. Good eats and great benifits.

  46. Luce says

    Just popping in to say that the impact of culture in gastronomy is funny :)

    Where I live, the most traditional dish is tripe (cow) stew with white beans and carrots.
    On the 8th December, the traditional dish is pork blood sauteed with garlic and parsley (mmmmm…delicious), pork meat fried in lard and pork intestines with a seasoned flour filling…

    Another typical dish is boiled meats: bacon, cow belly, pig’s ear, nose and foot, various “chorizo” type sausages and chicken with potatoes, cabbage, leeks and carrots!

    Beef tongue is only edible (as far as I’m concerned) if it’s fried. Take the tongue out and in the same pan, fry garlic and thinly sliced onions and add a splash of vinegar – delicious!

  47. William Bond says

    I am one of those people that can’t get organ meats past my nose. But the biggest reason I don’t want to eat it is my health. I have had gouty arthritis since I was 18 years old, I am now 47. I have been repeatedly told to avoid all organ meats because of the high purine factor.

    I think I would be willing to try it if it was cooked in a way that I didn’t know what it was and if I had more information about it and how it would affect my gout flair-ups. Any ideas please would help out.

    Thank you

  48. Debbie says

    I love chopped liver. But I don’t cook. I have been unable to find prepared chopped liver from a grass-fed source anywhere in New York City. Is what I’m buying from the deli better than nothing or worse?

  49. AnnieLaurie Burke says

    I lucked out last week when I visited the Food Co-op to get seeds — they had fresh, tender, liver from grass-fed beef. I did my favorite “pepper steak” recipe with it: slice the liver in strips. Slice a small red onion, a jalepeno, half a sweet pepper and several mushrooms. Crush a clove or 2 of garlic and let the garlic sit for several minutes. Sautee the onion, pepper, and mushrooms in a little coconut oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the garlic and cook until blended. Add the liver and cook until almost done. Stir in 1/2 tsp of 5-spice powder, 1 tbs broth, and 1 tbs organic fermented soy sauce or fish sauce. Cook until liver is just done and still tender. To serve, sprinkle with sesame seeds or slivered almonds.

  50. Mia says

    I wonder if organic liver sausage would be a good idea?
    I just ate rabbit liver and the taste got me nauseated, but I never had a problem with all types of sausages that include brain, liver, blood, gelatin etc.

  51. mhikl says

    I would like to eat the fat (cholesterol I believe) around the heart. Is this ok to do. I do eat chicken hearts that have fat/cholesterol around them.
    How about very lightly cooked, heart and fat and possibly even raw. I do like raw liver but, to be on the safe side, I soak my raw meats in water solution with some drops of home made Lugol’s Iodine (nix the rubbing alcohol found in the commercial stuff).
    Namaste and care,
    mhikl

  52. Mandy says

    Hi, My mum makes crumbed sheep’s brains and they are yum in my opinion. Also Steak and Kidney pie is really good if your not like me and love to eat diced kidney in onion gravy. I also eat liverwurst that’s a good one to try if you want to get started on liver. I haven’t really tried heart before I did not even know that you could eat it I usually feed it to my animals, however I am game to try it now that I know it is probably really good for me.

  53. Ann says

    I grew up eating liver. I couldn’t stand it then, and I won’t eat it now. My mother tried disguising it in a multitude of ways, but there was no getting past the taste, the smell, or the texture — kind of like thick mud.
    I have tried goose liver pate, and I couldn’t stand that either!
    Liverwurst, I like, but I do think it has very little liver in it.

  54. says

    Hi, I am concerned about gout as my 2 year old ‘offal central’ daughter has what could be gout in her TMJ. I have looked at your previous article on gout, and you don’t seem to think it is really very likely, but since she has been eating liver a couple of times a week as well as tongue, hearts, kidney and meat, as well as a great many eggs (at least four per day) and not a lot of vegetables (certainly no salad or fruit) the fact that one of her temporo-mandibular joints is preventing her from opening her mouth properly is now worrying her, and me. Don’t want to see a doctor (they are unlikely to take it seriously, and blood tests for urate are less accurate than are saliva tests, but the salurate kit is not readily available) I thought I’d come here.
    Any advice Chris, or anyone else? Obviously we have now stopped the offal, and red meat and switched to small amounts of organic chicken and loads of veg, and more carbs like carrots and sweet potato so that she is not so deep into ketosis, and she’s on cherries and blueberries too, and ascorbic acid, but any other suggestions would be very welcome!
    Thanks for you excellent work.
    Afifah

  55. AnnF says

    Hi Afifah,

    Are you sure she has Gout and TMJ? I just did a quick Google search, and I can’t find any articles where they are related. If you can get to doctors who would take you seriously, maybe have blood work done to rule out toxins and heavy metals.

    A few kind of catch-all treatments are All Natural Apple Cider Vinegar — the one that has the “mother” in it. Just put a tablespoonful some in some hot water with honey, and have her drink it 2x a day. It’s not so bad once the first one or two sips are taken. Apple Cider Vinegar Pills can also be used. They are O.K., but not as good.
    Bee products, such as Royal Jelly and Bee Pollen are also used to cure many ailments.
    Try 500-1000mcg of B12 taken under the tongue. In my opinion, B12 is responsible for so much, that EVERYONE should take it every day, just in case.

    Keep Googling TMJ+Gout, or Gout+Frozen Jaw — look up any combination you can think of. Many times, it’s not the official Web Sites, like the one for the Mayo Clinic, but other articles, blogs, and forums that people who have actually lived with the disease have written which are the most help.

    Good Luck!

    • says

      Thanks for that AnnF, I will get onto the cider vinegar idea tomorrow. I am not sure why an acidic compound (vinegar) will dissolve another acid (urate). Any idea? Presumably an alkalising agent could dissolve the uric acid crystals, if indeed there are any. Although there is no redness or swelling I just suddenly clicked that with the amount of purines that she has been getting through for at least the past year could be the cause of this jaw situation. It is far from proven, but I feel it’s better to reduce the purines now, before any real harm is done.
      Cheers ~ Afifah

      • AnnF says

        I know that the vinegar does turn alkaline in the body, that’s why it’s used to help chronic heartburn and acid reflux. I saw a site today that said to use baking soda 4x a day for gout, but it seemed more like an ad from the baking soda industry. If adding alkalinity to the body helps, it does make sense, though. The only thing is that the sodium in baking soda can’t be too good for the kidneys.
        I’ve also heard good things about fasts. They release toxins, and kind of “reset” the body. I’m sure that there are bad stories too, but it’s worth looking into.
        Your daughter is at a good age to try different remedies. I remember turning 25, and things like exercise, losing weight, and getting over illness became harder, and forget about 30!

        • says

          Gout is way more complicated than just eating stuff that supposedly alkalizes the blood.

          High levels of uric acid aren’t a reliable indicator of propensity for gout, some people get it with low levels, others with high levels never have a problem.

          More things to consider is kidney clearance functioning, sleep apnea/hypoxia, fructose, alcohol, adiposity, activity, etc etc. In the end all of these things contribute – however it’s nearly always some kind of catalyst which turns into cascade of events which end up in joint crystals.

          I’ve put together a big fat chunk of resources on the matter for anyone wanting to research further:

          –> http://highsteaks.com/forum/health-nutrition-and-science/uric-acid-gout-and-kidney-stones-111.0.html

          • AnnF says

            Ash,
            A big drug company was touting a drug for gout that reduced uric acid levels (the people in the commercial were carrying around big flasks filled with blue liquid), whether it helped people or not, I don’t know. I always figure the big catch-alls, like apple cider vinegar, etc., are the best to start with.
            She also has to consider the TMJ, which may or may not be related.
            I didn’t look at your info, but have you heard of any relation?

    • PJ (RightNOW) says

      There are 2-3 Amino acids that are critical to the Urea cycle in the body, and I think a couple minerals those rely on. I’m not 100% sure I remember it all off the top of my head so I’m being general, so you can just google for the info. If gout is an issue, you definitely want to make sure your body has all the raw ingredients it needs for handling uric acid properly.

  56. AnnF says

    Afifah,

    I’ve just been checking out B12 and Gout and B12 and TMJ. Many, many people say that B12 supplements helped and oftentimes cured their TMJ.
    Gout is more mixed. Some people say that it helped or cured their Gout, but there are articles saying that it may raise uric acid levels.
    I would personally take the sublingual METHYlcobalamin supplement (not CYANOcobalamin), and keep track of how bad the gout is.
    It seems that Folic Acid is another supplement that should be taken as well.

  57. Ridwan says

    Would love to obtain thyroid glands and make my own meds (as synthetic meds do the opposite of what they are supposed to) but where in the UK can they be obtained from?

  58. Amy Jubie Shepard says

    If DAO enzyme supplements for histamine intolerance, are made from pork kidneys…would eating pork kidneys be beneficial for increase DAO production, and if so, in what quantities?

  59. says

    Thanks for this Chris! We’re already big fans of offal here in Australia and where we are on the Sunshine Coast we’re lucky to have many local farmers producing beautiful grass-fed biodynamic meat which is great. We have beef tongue in the slow cooker right now! Always have beef heart and liver in the freezer too. I’ve been eating more beef liver to naturally boost my B vitamin levels, and looking forward to seeing the latest results soon. This is a great article to share with our paleo meetup group members and Clint’s clients, so thanks heaps! Aime :)

    • mhikl says

      Aimee & Clint: Excellent points.
      I came back to organ meats because of Nora Gedgaudas’s and Chris Kresser’s recommendations to limit or not overuse protein-about the only thing gov’t food guidelines get right. About the right amount seems to be 170g/6oz (equivalent to 7 medium size eggs a day) which I split up over two meals, unless I work out and a third small meal might be in order. I figured that with this small amount of protein I had better not waste it so Liver, heart, tongue, Pink Salmon and egg yolks have become my super protein-foods. I do so want to try brain but that is a gruesome beast to tackle, yet.

      This food thing is ongoing learning I am finding over my life time. I believe I am now in the tinkering final end game having travelled from (but not necessarily dropping all features of) Adelle Davis to Atkins high protein to Diamond food combining, D’Adamo Blood typing, Taubes’ assurances, Paleo low-protein hi-fat, Gedgaudas’ & other’s science.

      One of the other most important lessons I have learned is to listen to one’s body. From childhood I knew I did not like milk, oranges, strawberries and bread. They smelled bad and milk would only be taken if adulterated with chocolate and bread if it was buttered but never the other two unless really hungry as they hurt my ‘tummy’. Strangely, I loved lemons and limes which I have come to learn that, though acidic, somehow become alkaline in the stomach.

      We all must make the leap from earth’s gravity and join the stars. Only then can we shed the bugaboos that infuriate our dreams. I no longer crave chocolate, ice cream and nuts, and their indulgence is rare to hit the crave stage which has been a fifty year journey.

      This is my final lesson that has earned me my wings. Dining is not my entertainment. I find no joy in comfort foods and ritual celebrations. And that lesson earns me my halo. :)

      Namaste and care,
      from our northern Sunshine Coast (soon to be home) to yours,
      mhikl

  60. Angela Cimo says

    Beef Liver, I am able to purchase already ground beef liver I sauté onions and pepper in a cast iron skillet with some fat – beef tallow or coconut oil and then add ground beef liver with cumin powder, garlic powder and sea salt, the cumin helps with the smell and the vegetables blend nicely.

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