The liver is my newly discovered superfood for children.
My earliest memories of eating chicken or pork livers are from my Cantonese grandmother’s cooking. She would slice them thin and pan fry together with greens. Or season them with a bit of salt and add them into soup. We Chinese love organs meats and they were a staple food for me growing up. I remember my preference for organ meats were a hit and miss, depending on the way it was prepared. Sometimes I would avoid that day’s liver if it tasted too gamey. Other times when they were pan fried I like it. And I most definitely never gave liver’s nutrition content a second thought.
In my modern parenting quest to build a nutritional foundation for my own children, I left out organs meats up till recently. Maybe because I have 2 picky eaters and liver’s gamey flavour did not seem ideal. Maybe being caught up in the game of doing everything faster and easier, organ meats were left behind as they require careful cleaning and prep. Whatever the excuses, the inconvenience feels weak in comparison to the fact that the liver is a nutrient-dense food, worthy of its superfood status.
One simple reason why you should try feeding liver to your children
Gram for gram liver contains more nutrients than apples and carrots combined. This means instead of forcing your child to consume huge amounts of carrots and apple a day, you could achieve the same dietary needs (and more) with a smaller portion of liver. Of course, this does not mean we should stop feeding them apples and carrots in place of liver. It simply means we have another food option in our quest to build a balanced, varied diet for our children. (Context people, CONTEXT!)
Refer to the table below (link of original table from Chris Kresser.com) for a nutrients comparison of 100g of apples, carrots, red meats and beef liver. You can see that categorically, beef liver contains a much higher level of almost all vitamins and minerals listed.
The vitamins and minerals in beef liver that stands out over the rest are vitamin A, vitamin C, Zinc, biotin and vitamin B12.
Dispelling the myth that liver is dangerous
According to Weston A Price Foundation, the role of the liver is to neutralize toxins, itself does not store these toxins. As quoted from their article ‘The Liver Files’, “The liver is not a storage organ for toxins but it is a storage organ for many important nutrients (vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron). These nutrients provide the body with some of the tools it needs to get rid of toxins”.
Taking supplements of synthetic Vitamin A versus eating liver
As for concerns that dangerous levels of Vitamin A can cause health problems, the studies were done on administering synthetic doses of Vitamin A to children. “According to the authoritative Merck Manual, acute vitamin A poisoning can occur in children after taking a single dose of synthetic vitamin A in the range of 300,000 IU or a daily dosage of 60,000 IU for a few weeks.” quoted from ‘The Liver files’ from Weston A Price Foundation.
This is equivalent to ingesting 600g of liver a day or 100g of liver daily for a few weeks. Seriously people, who the heck eats 600g of liver a day?!!
Eating liver over taking supplements is always the better option for very young children. Their bodies are dynamic machines that will pick and choose what nutrients it needs from the foods it has been provided. Therefore, our job as parents is to provide our growing children with a varied balanced diet. The liver is one of these superfoods which provides many of these necessary nutrients needed to nourish their changing immunity.
You can read more on liver nutrients from www.chriskesser.com and www.westonaprice.org.
The liver is not a storage organ for toxins but it is a storage organ for many important nutrients (vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron). These nutrients provide the body with some of the tools it needs to get rid of toxins.
Our yummy minced pork and chicken liver balls recipe
Deciding I wanted to introduce organ meats to my children was the easy part. Thinking of how to make it palatable is another thing altogether. I chose chicken liver to start with as it has lower amounts of vitamin A than pork or beef. It also has a milder taste than the other two. I chose pork minced meat as it is fattier than chicken and beef so lesser chance of balls drying out in the cooking process.
The results surpassed any expectations I had. They were moist and did not taste gamey taste. I substituted egg with corn flour as a binding agent for the balls as Corey has a severe egg allergy.
Clearly, my taste tester agreed! So here’s the yummy recipe below. Just don’t finish it all while you are frying them because the temptation is real.
- 200g minced pork
- 80g fresh chopped chicken liver
- 100g diced cabbage
- 100g diced onion
- 2 Tablespoon light soya sauce
- 3 Tablespoons corn flour
- 1 Teaspoon sea salt
- 2 Tablespoon Corey's Healing Broth (or any good quality bone broth)
- a few tablespoons of oil for pan frying
- On a low fire heat up some oil, sweat the onions till translucent and fragrant. Add in diced cabbage and continue to saute, till soft and sweet. Stir occasionally to avoid burning.
- While vegetables are cooking, clean and wash the chicken liver, and chopped finely. Combine the chopped chicken liver, minced pork, light soya sauce, corn flour and sea salt and Corey's Healing Broth (or any good quality bone broth or homemade stock) and set aside. Coating them with a little cornflour helps to reduce sticking together.
- By now, your vegetable should be done. Combine the cooked vegetables with the meat mixture. Shape into little balls.
- Pan-fry with a few tablespoons of oil on a low fire. Turn them over once in a while to get evenly cooked. Once they are a golden brown colour they are done.
- Serve with rice and stir-fried vegetables or a bed of greens. Or just eat them on its own!