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I'm here to tell you exactly how to get your kid to eat organ meats.
(Organ meats from properly-raised, pastured animals who ate biologically appropriate diets, of course.)
But first, the burning question:
Why would anyone want to eat organ meats in the first place – beef liver, heart, and kidney, to be specific?
- They're basically nature's multivitamins. (And almost anyone who eats them regularly can attest to their health benefits. You just feel better.)
- They're astronomically higher in nutrients critical for healthy development compared to standard fare like ground beef and chicken breast, which basically have protein, some B vitamins, and a few minerals.
- They've got unique and varied mixes of amino acids (which comprise dietary proteins as we generally think of them) that provide building blocks to our bodily tissues. We need varied levels of different amino acids in our diet.
Check out a few ounce-for-ounce nutrient comparisons of organ meats with 85% lean ground beef (keep in mind that the average burger is 3-5 oz; a little organ meat goes a long way):
- 1 oz beef liver has 178% of the daily value for vitamin A, a widely misunderstood nutrient that is critical for the function of the immune system. Ground beef has 0% of the DV for vitamin A.
- 1 oz beef liver has 18% of the DV for folate. 1 oz spinach has 14%. Ground beef has 1%.
- 1 oz beef liver has 329% of the DV for B12. Beef heart has 50%. Ground beef has 13%.
- 1 oz beef liver has 119mg choline. Beef heart has 64mg. Beef kidney has a whopping 144mg. Ground beef has a paltry 25mg. Choline is vital for brain development (and can substitute for folate for those with MTHFR).
- Beef heart has five times more CoQ10 than regular beef, and eight times more than chicken. Check out this entry on CoQ10 (includes source material), as well as an entry I wrote here.
- 1 oz beef kidney has a whopping 67% of the DV for selenium, compared to 9% in ground beef.
On top of their amazing nutritional value, eating organ meats also means we show some real gratitude for the animals that become our dinner by eating nose-to-tail.
(A prominent myth about organ meats is that liver is a “toxic” organ – read all about why that's myth here.)
So how do you get your kids to eat organ meats?
Here's the rundown.
1. Start them young.
Many of us adults are simply lost causes, and the best we can do is gag 'em down while focusing on the health benefits. Even if the flavor isn't all that different, we've probably got some serious emotional baggage around them. But kids don't have that baggage, so the earlier you start them, the better.
2. Be cool.
I found that lots of “mmmm, yummy in my tummy!” – type fanfare totally gave my toddler the impression that I was trying to sneak something by her. If she picked up on that, big kids will definitely pick up on it. Just serve it up like it's any other meal.
Remember that sometimes kids need a few “exposures” to something new before they really go for it.
And when they don't want it, be cool about that too. Nobody wants to try something a second time when their first experience was nothing but coercion and pushiness.
3. Make it tasty – or better yet, let someone else make it tasty.
I've made organ meatballs in the past, but finding the time and the motivation is tough. My absolute favorite options – true lifesavers and a HUGE hit in my private parenthood group – are the fully cooked liverwurst, braunschweiger, and head cheese (not actually cheese) from US Wellness Meats.
- Head cheese is the mildest and contains a blend of beef, beef liver, beef tongue, and spices.
- Braunschweiger is next and contains a blend of beef, beef liver and spices.
- Liverwurst is the strongest in flavor (but still isn't too bad) and contains a blend of beef, beef liver, beef heart and beef kidney.
I truly truly TRULY can't sing the praises of these products enough. The fact that they're fully cooked, pre-made, and can be re-frozen is HUGE for busy parents who aren't the best at preparing these sometimes confusing meats.
They're basically a fine-grind, precooked meat loaf, packaged in a convenient cylinder. And they're affordable on a per-serving basis: one cylinder can stretch at least 10 servings for a toddler.
Here's how we use them:
- We defrost a cylinder (usually liverwurst, sometimes braunschweiger) just to the point where we can cut it in half.
- We keep one half in the fridge to use within a week, and we refreeze the other half.
- To prepare, we slice off pieces (much like the ones pictured) and fry them lightly in butter to add flavor.
- We watch our kiddo devour them (and we do our best to devour them, too)!
Because US Wellness Meats is such an amazing company, they've extended an AMAZING offer to my community: Take 15% off up to 2 orders (over 7lbs, under 40lbs) with code realfoodliz! This offer is good through the end of 2017, so try these products at a discount. Also, this offer extends to ALL products, not just my favorite organ meats.
Thanks for reading!
Want more information on healthy babies & parents? Get updates on my upcoming program Baby Making & Beyond by signing up here.
Sources not linked:
Nutritiondata.Self.Com for nutrient comparisons
Coenzymes Q9 and Q10: contents in foods and dietary intake,” Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 14 (2001) 409-417
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