liver

Liver Pills (or, How To Eat Liver If You Think It’s Gross)

Liver.

For more than a year, I’ve had a liver sitting in my freezer. I got it as part of my meat share, from a grass-fed cow raised on a local farm. It’s just been sitting there, a big lump wrapped in butcher paper, getting in the way of the food I actually want to eat. I finally shoved it down into the darkest, deepest corner of the freezer to get it out of the way, and tried to forget about it.

But, I never really did forget about it, because I knew that it was good for me. Like..super, duper, one-of-the-best-foods-a-person-could-eat good for me. Liver is one of the best sources of iron, as well as Vitamin A and all the B vitamins (B-12 in particular), and a mysterious “anti-fatigue” element that dramatically increases energy and stamina. Surely, I had to find a way to get this stuff into my body.

But every time I thought about it, I just shuddered and then quickly shoved the thought into the same deep, dark corner in which the liver was languishing in my freezer. I just couldn’t face it.

Well, folks, I finally faced it. Two weeks ago, knowing that my health is still on the mend from adrenal fatigue and that I needed extra support with winter coming on, I decided I should take advantage of the wonder-food I had hidden in my freezer. I recalled an article I read once about someone turning their liver into easy-to-palate frozen liver pills – things you could just pop in your mouth and swallow down with juice. So I thought, “I can do that,” and set out to transform my lump of scary organ into something I could imagine putting in my body.

I took the package out of the freezer and left it to thaw. And then – with great trepidation – I unwrapped and faced the thing. It looked like this.

liver

It was squishy, and smelled funny. It wasn’t like meat, which is what I expected. It was definitely screaming “I’m an organ!” There was no kidding myself about that. Then there were the strange holes and passageways in it – like it was some sort of macabre labyrinth. It freaked me out, man.

I tried not to think about it too much, used all my powers of imagination, and told myself that this wan’t any different than cutting up meat. If I could cut up meat, I told myself, there was no reason I couldn’t do this too. So I shoved my squeamishness aside, grabbed my knife, and started cutting it into chunks.

Once I got started, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Pretending it was meat helped. I tried to ignore the weird non-meat-ish way blood was seeping out of the thing in a way no chuck roast ever did. I just kept cutting, and put the chunks into my food processor.

liver

Oh, my poor food processor. Up until this point in it’s life it had only seen things like dates and pie crust dough. It had never been faced with a challenge like this. This was no banana bread batter, that was for sure.

I turned the processor on, pulsing it at first because I wasn’t sure how it would handle this strange new ingredient. I will not lie to you, folks: IT WAS GROSS. This was by far the grossest thing I had ever done with food before. As it ground up, it turned into this gelatinous, pink goo. I kid you not, as I was doing it, into my mind came that childhood song – unbidden – “Great green gobs of greasy, grimy, gopher guts….” Only my gopher guts were pink. I was singing that song for the rest of the day, randomly humming it under my breath. I couldn’t help it.

So, this was what it looked like when it was all grossly pureed.

liver

Mmm! Liver goo!

Then came the part that nearly broke me: I had to pour this stuff out of my poor, traumatized food processor and onto a cookie sheet.

First I lined it well with foil. Then I poured it out. It came glopping out in a disgusting manner that sent my children screaming through the house. And, I admit, this is the point in which my own gagging started. I started to think to myself, “Oh, how will I EVER be able to get this in me! This is the most revolting thing ever!” But I’d already gotten myself in it this far, so I soldiered onwards, scraping every last bit of it out of the canister and then quickly rinsing everything off and sticking it directly in the dishwasher when I was done! (This was the worst part of the whole process. Everything else was uphill from there.)

liver

I spread it all out evenly onto the pan.

liver

And then froze it. I stuck this in my freezer…and left it there for at least a week. I couldn’t bring myself to face the stuff. So I just left it there. Eventually, though, I knew I’d have to deal with it, so I finally took it out to finish up the job.

The goal was to cut it up into pill-sized pieces. When it was just first out of the freezer, it was too hard to cut, so I let it sit out for a bit. But then apparently I let it sit out too long, and had to put it back in the freezer because it was gooey and gross. So back in it went. This stuff thaws quickly, so only like 3 minutes ended up being necessary to let it sit before it was soft enough for cutting.

As long as this stayed frozen, this wasn’t too bad. But it was sort of…gummy…on the bottom. So that required a lot of cutting action. Use a sharp knife! I first would cut off a manageable piece, and then put the rest of it back in the freezer so it wouldn’t thaw too much.  Then I cut that piece into strips.

liver

Then I took a manageable portion of the strips, and cut them into cubes.

liver

And then I’d immediately put them in a freezer bag and stick them in the freezer, because they’d start to thaw too much.

I did about half the slab of frozen liver goo before stopping, because I was so grossed out I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to actually swallow the things. I couldn’t even think about meat for dinner that night it had such an effect on me!

But several days later, after I was recovered from the experience, I thought I’d check out my frozen little cubes. What I found wasn’t offensive at all. In fact, it was downright innocuous. Dried out, hard, frozen squares. No smell. Nothing distinguishable about them at all, really.

liver

Some of them had kind of frozen together, but I just whacked the bag on the table a couple times and it loosened up.

I got out a glass of apple cider (because NO WAY was this a water sort of thing to do), took two of them, held my breath, and stuck them in my mouth. I quickly chased them down with the juice.

And…nothing. Nothing at all. No taste. No smell. No strange after-burp flavors. Nothing. I mean, I take supplement pills that taste worse than these things! These taste like nothing. I suppose if I let them sit and thaw in my mouth I’d taste them, but if I just quickly swallow them then it’s perfectly painless!

So now I take two or three every morning and every night. It’s no big deal at all. I can’t seem to convince my children of this, unfortunately, who can’t get over the admittedly completely revolting process of making the things.

liver

Why Should We Bother With Liver?

Seriously. If it’s so gross to handle, why do we bother with it at all? Simple: it’s a super-food.

When I was in the 7th grade, I tore through the Clan of the Cave Bear books by Jean Auel. (Yeah, I was a precocious reader.) One of the things that I remember standing out to me starkly in those books is that after every hunt, the hunters would remove the liver of the animal – right there where the animal was killed – and eat the liver. Raw. Hot and steaming right from the animal. It was, like, an honor or something. And the idea of it totally creeped me out.

Why did they do this? Well, Auel based these scenes on the fact that this is indeed what Native Americans did after a kill, because they believed that liver made a person strong and gave them energy. They didn’t have all the research ability we do today, but they were on to something.

Liver is the densest food, nutrition-wise, available. It has more nutrients gram-for-gram than any other food on the planet! In particular, liver is high in Vitamin A, Phosphorus, Folic Acid, Vitamin B-12, Biotin, and minerals such as copper and iron. This excerpt from a post by Grass-Fed Girl sums it all up:

“8 reasons to eat more liver

  1. Vitamin A: Just 3.5 oz of liver provides nearly 200% of the daily value of Vitamin A, which is important for healthy skin as well as proper thyroid and immune function. It is vital for growth, development and healthy eyesight. It is important to get animal food sources of vitamin A because the most people cannot convert Beta-carotene to usable vitamin A. It is also important to note that fat is required for the body to synthesize Vitamin A.
  2.  Liver supplies DHA important for brain and nervous system health.
  3. Riboflavin: Just under 1/2 cup of liver provides 100% of the daily value of Riboflavin (B-2), which is important for high energy production and healthy mucous membranes.
  4. Folate- 3.5 oz of liver has nearly 147% of folate, which is important for a healthy pregnancy, proper fetal development and proper reproductive function. Folate is also crucial in preventing anemia, gingivitis, digestive system disorders.
  5. B-12 (cobalamin) 3.5 oz provides 200% of this anemia-preventing vitamin that is synergistic  with folate. It also helps prevent Alzheimer’s type symptoms common in the elderly. This vitamin is only found in animal foods.
  6. B-3 (Niacin) Liver is rich in Niacin which is made from tryptophan and important for preventing dementia, dermatitis, and has been shown to be helpful for arthritis. Niacin also keeps the mucosal lining of the intestinal tract healthy preventing diarrhea.
  7. B-5 (Pantothenic Acid) is vital for processing fats and carbohydrates as well as lowering triglycerides. It is important for proper adrenal function and is considered an anti-stress vitamin. About a 1/2 cup of liver gives 71% of the RDA of B-5.
  8. Minerals: Liver is also rich in vital minerals such as Seleniumwhich is a powerful antioxidant. Rich in Iron, liver is important for proper lung function and is commonly deficient among Americans. Copper, which is important for healthy blood, strong bones, and wound healing.Phosphorussupports healthy teeth/ bones and increases calcium absorption. Commonly low in the elderly, Zinc is crucial for a good sense of smell and male sexual health.”
    (Credit: Grass-Fed Girl)

On top of all those things, liver has an as-of-yet unidentified “anti-fatigue” factor. No one knows exactly what or why this is yet, but lab tests on animals have verified that this is true. There is something about liver that gives people an incredible amount of extra energy and stamina. This must be what the Native Americans knew to be true, and why it was so prized among their hunters and warriors.

I don’t know about you, but I could sure use extra energy and stamina, especially in the winter!

So, all these things are what convinced me to try the liver. My body NEEDS the extra support right now, and I’m hopeful that this mysterious anti-fatigue factor will help with the fatigue from my stressed adrenals.

Some Important Points

This seems to be an excellent way to get the benefits of liver into your body in a relatively painless way. Yes, the process of making them is super gross. But if you push through that part, the end result is really completely fine. Really!

But not just any liver will do! You’re eating this raw – which is a great way to retain all the nutrients in the liver. However, this also means that you should source it well. A liver from a conventionally farmed, grain-fed cow will not do you much good. ONLY do this with a liver from a cow that has been properly raised, and been grass-fed and grass-finished. That is the only way you’ll get the full benefit of the liver. If possible, find a local farmer who you know and trust so you’re absolutely sure about the source.

Also you might ask yourself, “Why do I have to puree the thing? Can’t I just cut it into pill-sized pieces and then freeze it?” Certainly, this would skip the part of the process that is by far the most revolting. There was something unspeakably unholy about that liver puree. But…imagine a hunk of unchewed meat sitting in your stomach. Do you think your body will be able to process that very well? The frozen puree thawed incredibly quickly. Once swallowed, I imagine my body heat thaws it completly by the time it hits the stomach. Would a frozen solid hunk of liver thaw that quickly? I don’t think so. For this reason, I think it’s best to puree it first.

So, if you’re wanting the benefits of liver, but can’t stand the idea of cooking and eating it, perhaps frozen liver pills is your answer. Yes, it’s kinda gross pureeing liver chunks. It will test your mettle. But once the gross part is over you have harmless little dried out, frozen pills to swallow painlessly.

Getting all the benefits of liver without having to actually taste the stuff? Yes, please!

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