Eat your veggies. An action of tough love that all parents demand of their children. While the kids do not enjoy these green treats, parents all around agree that the nutrition found within is essential for health and development. What is somewhat overlooked is although vegetables may contain a wide variety of nutrients, they are often not absorbable by the body and can all be obtained through less painful sources.
Let’s look at the vegetable we view at the ultimate pinnacle of health–spinach. Spinach is rich in iron, folate, vitamin K, vitamin A, and magnesium. It is often referred to as a “superfood” due to the wide variety of nutrition it has to offer. This all sounds good on paper but if you are skimping on your red meat and getting your iron from your leafy veggies, I have bad news for you. In a study on absorb ability of the iron content in spinach they noticed a very minuscule amount of the iron content in spinach is bioavailable(i.e. absorbable). Furthermore, the amount that was absorbed was attributed to sand that was not washed completely off of the spinach rather than the spinach itself. Therefore, by relying only on spinach we are missing out on a mineral that is essential to the creation on red blood cells (which are very important if you are not aware).
But hey, iron is not all that spinach has to offer. We need it for the other vitamins and minerals right? This is where I resort to what is often referred to as “natures multivitamin”: liver, or more specifically calf’s liver. If you take a side by side comparison of 100 grams of spinach versus 100 grams of calf’s liver you will realize the difference. Let’s start by looking at folate, which is an essential B vitamin for red blood cell development and metabolism. Spinach is touted for it’s great supply of folate, however it only supplies 49 percent of our daily recommended value in 100 grams while calf’s liver supplies 66 percent. In terms of iron, spinach provides 15 percent compared to liver’s 23 percent– all of which is very absorbable. In terms of vitamin A liver blows spinach out of the water with a whopping 1129 percent! Spinach only provides 188 percent in a 100 gram serving. Furthermore, liver supplies a complete spread of B vitamins, copper, zinc, and just about every other vitamin and mineral you need as well as providing a great, lowest source of protein.
However, you may be thinking, this doesn’t solve my problem, liver is just as unappetizing as vegetables! Maybe you are simply not cooking it right. Liver can become very tough and rubbery when overcooked and can take on a strange consistency when cooked in too thick of portions. Here’s what I have found to be the best way to cook it. Start with a cast iron skillet and put a generous amount of olive oil in it to prevent the liver from sticking. Season the liver with lemon pepper and salt and fry it for about a minute on each side. You may like to try breaking it with flour, cornmeal, or bread crumbs to find what suites your tastes best. After frying it you may want to try on or a few of the following sauces to find what you enjoy the best: lime juice, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, or even ketchup. Some combinations work better than others but just experiment til you find what’s best! The key is to cook the liver through but not overcooked it to a point where it becomes tough to chew and takes on a bad aftertaste.
Calf’s liver has always been my go to but you can attain similar results from beef liver if that is all that is available. The difference is simply the age of the cow that the liver is attained from. There is an incorrect notion that normal beef liver is riddled with toxins since the livers main function as an organ is to detoxify the body however this is innacurate and due to an incomplete understanding on how the organ functions. It does not simply filter out toxins but rather provides chemicals to help the body metabolize these unwanted substances in the body and therefore does not retain any compounds within it. Therefore you can enjoy liver of any kind without the fear of toxins!
I hope you are somewhat convinced of the nutrition you can obtain from non veggie sources such as liver. While you still may need to find other sources of fiber to satisfy your needs without munching on vegetables all day long, you may find yourself saving money and being healthier by looking to liver to satisfy your nutritional needs. Don’t let societies stigma of liver deter you, it is a tasty meal when prepare correctly. It may not suite everyone but you will never know if you never try it!