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I'm bursting with energy as I type this.
Not because I'm excited about writing this post (or because I'm excited about everyone abandoning my blog when they read this…please, please don't leave me) but because…well…I had a raw liver smoothie shot today.
And dang. That's some good, clean, long-lasting energy.
It's also something I'd never in a million years have thought I'd have on my regular menu. But then I became a weird real foodist, obsessed with finding and eating all the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet just to see what I'd been missing in my decades of Standard American Dieting (which got me – and kept me – firmly anchored in Nowhere).
Bone marrow, organ meats, fermented cod liver oil, even crickets – you name it, I'm weirdly excited about trying it.
Part n' parcel to my descent down the real-food rabbit hole was my realization that the foods I REFUSED refused NOSERIOUSLYIREFUSED to eat for many years were only weird to ME. Across the world, for centuries before we had the luxury of picking and choosing any food, any season, from any corner store, almost any time of day (and making up any nutrient deficit with a long list of vitamin pills and shakes and supplements), there were foods with such amazing nutrient content that they were literally considered sacred by cultures across the world.
I'm talking about foods like raw milk, eggs, seafood, and especially organ meats. (This book paints an amazing picture.)
These foods are not weird. In fact, no food is weird. Food is just food. There's food we're familiar with, and there's food we're not familiar with. It's social conditioning, really.
Yes, there are concerns that go beyond social conditioning, and they crop up whenever I talk about one of these “weird foods.” Generally, these concerns are myths or, at the very least, totally overblown. Specifically, when it comes to liver, I hear:
- Doesn't the liver store toxins, so when we eat it, we're eating toxins? (No. nonononono. Read this.)
- Doesn't liver contain toxic levels of vitamin A? (This one's too long for a blog post – I wrote a huge section in my book dispelling this myth.)
- Doesn't raw liver contain pathogens? (In a junky factory-farmed liver, maybe; in a raw liver from grassfed cows, I wouldn't bat an eye. That said, freezing liver for 14 days is said to ensure all pathogens are wiped out.)
Liver IS, however, rich in fat-soluble vitamins, all the B vitamins, folate, amino acids, and minerals. It's one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, ounce-for-ounce. It's a phenomenal fertility food that I make a special effort to eat.
The truth is, many of us are just afraid of liver. It came off the menu just a few decades ago in a time of foods-a-plenty, where you could suddenly buy individual pre-packaged cuts of overly-large factory-farmed chicken boobs at the grocery store, and we're scared of anything different. We're especially scared of the raw stuff.
So we believe lots of myths about it, and we freak out about it, and we stop reading our favorite bloggers' blogs about it (don't leave me. Please don't leave me).
Considering conventional beef, spinach, turkey, and sprouts are responsible for modern e. Coli outbreaks and you can get listeria from canteloupes and salmonella from chia powder and bearded dragons, I simply don't concern myself with potential risks from eating long-frozen, raw liver from a pastured animal who grew up just down the road, raised by my trusted local farmer.
Quality is key. It's the ONLY key. We all take risks in life. I don't consider this one of the big ones. The bigger risk? Putting a Game of Thrones spoiler on Facebook on Monday morning.
Anywhoo. Why did I decide to try raw liver? It wasn't a highly scientific decision. I just like to try weird things. Because there's plenty of lore surrounding it and its amazing effects, including suggestions that it's got some unidentified “anti-fatigue” factor.
So it was that, plus my curiosity, plus Kevin Costner ate it in Dances With Wolves, like it was somethin' real special. So, you know. Science.
I truly can't give a better reason than that. With the nutrient content, it all seemed to make sense – and sometimes, you just get curious and try stuff. Then, that stuff makes you feel like you got a B12 injection followed by a 5-hour energy infusion, with no crash and no single-use plastics.
Then, you secretly slip your husband a raw liver smoothie shot to be sure it wasn't the placebo effect. It's not the placebo effect. Trust me.
Interestingly, raw liver is incredibly rich in B-vitamins (one of which, vitamin B6, is heat-sensitive and likely drastically reduced in cooked liver), amino acids and purines – all of which could account for the “anti-fatigue” factor – aka the BUZZING WITH HAPPY STEADY ENERGY WHAT A GREAT DAY I LOVE EVERYTHING factor.
5-hour energy is just a shot of all the same goodies in liver, really. It's just B-vitamins and amino acids. Which I find funny. We keep making industrial, processed substitutes for the same effects we could get from real food. Tee hee.
Truly, this stuff works. Still, I'm not recommending YOU do this. This isn't a recipe, even though I've categorized it that way. This is just how I do it and why. People have been asking me to publish this post for months, so I'm finally doin' it.
A few details:
- I prefer beef liver, because it's easier to get. I get it from my local farmer (find yours here.) There seems to be a worldwide shortage of chicken livers these days.
- Many people do frozen liver “pills” but I just can't stomach 'em. It makes me feel like I swallowed tiny ice cubes that sit in my stomach, mocking me (I'm cooold. I'm in your stomach. Brrr). This “smoothie shot” is much easier for me to handle.
- I don't do this every day. Just every few days, when I feel I need some extra nutrition, and when I remember. At most, I'd say I get about 8 ounces per week of raw liver. Some weeks, I have none.
Here's what I do.
- I quickly defrost a raw liver in warm water. It gets soft enough to blend within a few minutes.
- I dump the raw liver into the blender and pureé. This step makes the finished product far more palatable and easier to drink.
- I pour the pureéd liver onto a silicone sheet, then re-freeze for at least 2 weeks. (I used to make ice cubes, but this is much easier to smoothie-fy.)
- I use a pizza cutter to create small individual portions (about 1″ by 1″) for smoothie-shot-making.
Making the smoothie shot:
I used to be reaaaal complicated about it, adding everything from coconut milk to defrosted frozen fruit (it gets nice and syrupy when you defrost it) to ginger and egg yolks.
Then, I realized you really can't taste the liver – and you can make the smoothie much smaller and easier to get down – if you just mix some melted frozen strawberries OR even tart cherry juice with a few “pieces” of frozen pureéd liver. So that's what I do now.
I mix 1/4 cup melted frozen strawberries OR tart cherry juice with a few squares of liver. I add enough water to cover the blender blades, if necessary, then pureé. Sip it down. Done.
Voila. Energy for miles.
Would you ever try this? Let me know your thoughts in the comments…
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