If you have been a patient of mine, you probably are familiar with our chats about the importance of quality and variety when it comes to your food, especially in regards to animal proteins. If we haven’t had a chance to have this talk, be prepared… as we will soon enough! I am becoming ever more passionate about exploring different traditional foods – and more specifically, organ meats.
As a society of indulgence and caloric excess, but we have never been so nutrient deficient and restricted! Recent studies have shown that up to 60% of the average American’s caloric intake is from ULTRA processed food. This is the largest quantity of fake food devoid of nutrients our society has ever consumed, and it is due to access, convenience, and the addictive nature of these foods. We are also subject to taglines like “fat free” which do more harm than good. Without the actual building blocks to support our hormones and organ systems, the risk of disease is not a matter of if, but when. With proper education and access to these other options we will be able to flourish in the kitchen and use a wide variety of food items to better nourish our families. It is never too late to change your diet and improve your health. For example we now know we can alter the microbiome of the gut within just a few days dramatically impacting the state of our immune health, hormonal regulation, and much more! That is the miracle of food – it is the real medicine and will produce the most dramatic results.
As intimidating as bringing liver or chicken hearts into the kitchen may sound, many Traditional cultures prized organ meats for their ability to build reserves of strength and vitality. Organ meats are rich in vitamin A and D (which are difficult to obtain in whole food form), as well as fatty acids, and the whole gamut of macro and trace minerals. They are some of the most nutrient dense foods you could have in addition to herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Various cultures around the world regularly incorporate this rich food source into their diet – especially to optimize fertility. Mothers are also fed various organ products to support a healthy pregnancy, and the first thing some native African tribes feed their babies is liver! Another interesting fact: wild animals eat the organs of their kill first, and in the absence of access to organ meats big cats in particular cannot reproduce in captivity. These organs are nutrient dense game changers!
Take liver for example, its high quantity of vitamin C, B vitamins, and iron are the perfect nutrient combination for supporting healthy red blood cell formation to avoid the risk of iron deficiency or anemia – there is no other food or supplement quite like it!
I highly recommend looking into the resources provided below to learn more about how to prepare, cook, and best utilize these perplexing products in the kitchen! I will provide the recipe for chicken heart stew below that I personally really enjoy, but my journey isn’t quite over! I plan to try chicken foot stew and fish eggs next. The more I learn, the more I feel this is crucial for improving our health while also supporting regenerative farming practices, reducing waste, and building community while learning ancestral practices and spending time together cooking.
If this all seems too daunting, I would encourage eating different cuts of meat for nutrient variety. If you are used to having chicken breast for most meals, I challenge you to switch it out for chicken thighs! Don’t worry about the increase of certain macronutrients like fat and focus on all the wonderful micronutrients you will be ingesting.
**Next up in this kitchen adventure series- fermented foods and herbs…
Good luck and enjoy!
- Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
- Weston Price Foundation
Local animal products:
- Pineview farms
- Dad’s Organic Market
- Bodyfuel organics
- Box H farms
- Coolsprings ranch
Chicken Heart and Sweet Potato Stew
- 2 pounds grass-fed bison stew meat
- 1 pound grass-fed beef heart
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 3 cups celery, diced
- 10 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 medium sized sweet potatoes or yams (you could also use approx. 2-3 cups of cubed butternut squash)
- 2 quarts beef stock
- 2 tsp. dried thyme
- 8 bay leaves
- 1 tsp. dried rosemary leaves
- 1/8 – 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3-4 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
- 1 tsp-ish each sea salt and course ground pepper
- coconut oil
- I use my big dutch oven for this, but a large soup pot will work fine.
- Cut all of your meat (heart included) into bite sized pieces and set aside. I like to place my meat in a colander to let it drain out any extra juice that is lingering.
- Chop your onions, celery, and sweet potatoes (or yams, squash, etc.) into bite sized chunks and set aside (keep your sweet potatoes separate from the other veggies).
- Mince your garlic and add to the onions and celery.
- Mince your parsley and set aside.
- Heat a couple tablespoons of coconut oil over medium heat and add some of your meat. You want to make sure not to overcrowd the pan, because you want to get a good browning on the meat. This really helps develop the flavor of the stew.
- Turn the meat several times, so that it can brown all the way around. Tongs are handy for this.
- Remove the meat from the pan and place on a separate dish. Repeat until you have all of your meat browned. You may need to keep adding a little coconut oil for each batch.
- Once all of the meat is browned and removed from the pan, add your onions, celery, and garlic and cook until the onions are slightly caramelized.
- Add the meat back in, as well as your chopped sweet potatoes, yams, or whatever starch you are using.
- Deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar and then add the salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks. Stir.
- Pour your beef stock over the mixture and bring to a simmer.
- Lower heat to low and cover. Let simmer for 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are done. Stir in your parsley and remove from the heat. Done!
- This stew freezes and re-heats nicely, so I like to make double and sometimes triple batches and stock up the freezer!