As I discussed in a recent post, my diet has been trending toward a higher protein intake than in years past. Rarely do I consume less than 100 grams of protein. Most days I’m considerably higher even eating only two meals. Those meals center around protein first and foremost with vegetables playing more of a supportive role.
After so many years of following a Primal diet, I feel wholly confident in my ability to eat intuitively. I trust my body to guide my food decisions from meal to meal, day to day, and week to week, so I don’t bother with tracking macros (the exact amounts of protein, carbs, and fat I eat each day). However, knowledge is power. You should have a sense of your protein and carb intake at least, even you’re getting even if you ballpark it.
Most folks don’t have a clue what they’re eating, though. Sure, they might read nutrition labels at the supermarket, but how many people know what 100-150 grams of protein look like in terms of actual food? Do you know how much protein is in a single chicken breast? How about a six-ounce steak? Three eggs, handful of nuts, or even vegetables?
Potentially controversial statement alert: burgers are the most perfect food.
Hear me out.
Burgers are delicious. They are portable. As meat goes, ground beef is relatively affordable. It takes less than 10 minutes to cook a burger on the stovetop or grill. Kids and adults like them equally.
Most of all, they are endlessly adaptable. Burgers are the vanilla ice cream of main dishes: great on their own and also a perfect canvas upon which to build your culinary masterpiece.
The problem is, since burgers are ubiquitous in the fast food world, they sometimes garner an unfair reputation for being unhealthy. Not so! Sure, a drive-thru burger isn’t the world’s healthiest food. Nor is it the worst by a long shot. In any case, there are ways to take a basic burger and build a healthier meal.
It’s time burgers ascend to their rightful place in the food hierarchy—at the top, obviously. First, though, let’s give them a little glow up to make sure they are as nourishing as possible.
Organ meats are an untapped resource in most healthy eaters’ diets. Although your grandparents and every antecedent generation likely grew up eating liver and onions, kidney pie, and organ meats stuffed into sausages, the people reading this blog largely did not. Now it is your job to rediscover what they were blessed to grow up eating. It may not be easy, it may take some effort, but it is worthwhile. Luckily, the beauty of organ meats lies in their nutrient-density—you don’t need to eat it every day to get the benefits. In fact, you shouldn’t eat most of them everyday.
In general, the same organ from different animals will confer similar health benefits. A liver will be rich in vitamin A and iron whether it comes from cow, pig, lamb, or chicken. But there are some differences between species, and when those differences are significant I will make a note of it in the article.
Without further ado, let’s learn about all the various organ meats.
Unless you’re regularly including organ meat in your diet already, you probably have a nagging voice in the back of your head telling you that you really should be eating more.
That voice is correct. Organ meats are economical and dollar for dollar, pound for pound, the most nutrient-packed food you can get. Okay, yes, organs aren’t always the most pleasant to eat. Allow me to apologize on behalf of moms everywhere if you were forced to eat overcooked liver and onions as a kid. However, organ dishes can range from totally innocuous to downright delicious when prepared correctly. If you’ve been reluctant to venture into the world of organ meat till now, it’s time to suck it up, buttercup. We’re doing it.
Today we welcome a post by guest author Ashleigh VanHouten, health and nutrition journalist, public speaker, certified health coach, and host of the Muscle Maven Radio podcast. Here, she explains why we’re missing out if we’re only eating boring boneless cuts of meat from the grocery store, and makes the case for eating nose-to-tail, for both our health and for our enjoyment. Her new cookbook, It Takes Guts, is available for preorder and hits the shelves in late October. “It’s good for you and for the planet – and it’s easier and tastier than you think!” – Ashleigh VanHouten Modified excerpt from It Takes Guts, shared with publisher permission. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me, “I just can’t get my head around eating [insert type of organ meat here] because I didn’t grow up eating it,” I could retire now and live out the rest of my days eating animal hearts on a beach somewhere — but I have a secret for you. I didn’t grow up eating organ meat, either; I grew up eating cereal and bread and chicken breast, and while I always gravitated toward animal products, I certainly wasn’t eating liver or sweetbreads. But as someone who has dedicated their career to researching, studying, and experimenting with nutrition, I believe strongly that one bite of something new won’t hurt you, and it just might open up a whole new world of pleasure and health. It’s a fact that organs are generally the most nutrient-dense parts of an animal, so if we can find fun and creative and even subtle ways to enjoy them, we’re winning. And by eating the whole animal, we’re also honoring and respecting the beings who sacrificed for our dinner plates by ensuring none of it is wasted. I wrote my nose-to-tail cookbook It Takes Guts because I am passionate about honoring the animals we’re eating, and enjoying the full bounty of delicious and healthy options available to us. As the saying goes, the way you do anything is the way you do everything, and I believe we should all be approaching our plates, and our lives, with a sense of adventure and enthusiasm. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the reasons why eating organ meats is a good idea: It’s Sustainable It would be wasteful to buy a huge house and use only one or two rooms, right? Adopting a whole-animal approach reduces waste, and buying from local farms and butchers helps decrease the carbon footprint created when meat is brought to you from far-flung places. In the process of breaking down an animal, less than half of it will usually end up as boneless cuts, or the type of meat you normally pick up at a grocery store. Much of the rest is bone, hide, blood, and organs – the latter being the most nutrient-dense part of the animal, which we are essentially giving away to then eat the less nutrient-dense muscle meat! If you’re reading … Continue reading “Why We Should All Be Eating Organ Meats”
Today we’re sharing a post by guest authors Robb Wolf, New York Times Best Selling Author and one of the early advocates of the paleo lifestyle, and Diana Rodgers, RD, Real Food Dietitian and Sustainability Advocate. Robb and Diana co-authored Sacred Cow, an eye-opening book about meat, health, and sustainability, out this month.
The ancestral health community generally accepts the right type of meat as a health food. In fact, eating animals is the number one guiding principle of the Primal lifestyle. Still, some groups advise against meat consumption.
Two of the main arguments that you should give up meat are:
It’s healthier to eat vegan
You reduce your impact on the planet if you’re vegan
If your primary meat source comes predominantly from a drive-thru, then yes, these arguments probably hold true. But there’s a world of difference between mass-produced meat from large agricultural operations, and pasture-raised meat from small-scale farms. The animals’ diet and living conditions have a profound effect on what the meat does for your body and for (or against) the planet.
Here are the main reasons why eating meat the right way can benefit your health, as well as the planet’s carbon load.
Folks, I’m excited to bring you this book excerpt from The Carnivore Code. Author Dr. Paul Saladino is one of the best informed thought leaders and advocates of the carnivore diet. Paul uses his experience in functional and traditional medicine to devise a holistic picture of healing. I think you’ll appreciate his detailed, well-researched, and measured approach to presenting and analyzing evidence. We’ve reviewed study after study that’s correlated red meat consumption with mortality risk, atherosclerosis, heart disease, and more. Paul takes the topic to task in The Carnivore Code, hopefully proving once and for all the true physiological cause of these conditions. You can purchase a copy of The Carnivore Code here. Enjoy the excerpt. Few things conjure more fear in the hearts and minds of the general population than the big, bad cholesterol monster and the associated trepidation that red meat will cause our arteries to become filled with plaque. After all, we’ve been told by cardiac surgeons that when they scoop plaque out of the arteries in our heart or neck, it looks just like animal fat, eggs, or butter. In this excerpt, we’ll debunk the notion that eating animal meat, fat, or organs is bad for our heart and blood vessels and slay this final beast once and for all. We’ll see that these false notions have been based on more misleading epidemiological literature and how interventional and mechanistic studies tell a very different story. Come, brave adventurers, our destiny of discarding unfounded ideologies and reclaiming the vibrant health of our ancestors awaits! The Basics of Lipoproteins and Cholesterol The word “cholesterol” is often used colloquially to refer to all of the lipoproteins in our blood, but technically, cholesterol is a steroid backbone type of molecule that is used to make all sorts of vital compounds in human physiology. Our body makes around 1,200 milligrams of cholesterol every day for many important purposes, including the proper formation of all of our cell membranes. The fat we eat is absorbed from our intestines and packaged as triglycerides with dietary cholesterol into a type of lipoprotein known as chylomicrons, marked with apolipoprotein B48. These particles circulate in the blood stream, dropping off their contents to cells of the body before becoming chylomicron remnants and being taken up by the liver. In medicine, the term “total cholesterol” refers to the sum of all the cholesterol molecules in the blood and is usually measured directly in laboratory tests. In order to know how much of this cholesterol resides in the different lipoproteins, these must be measured individually. Most current lipid testing measures HDL, LDL, VLDL, and triglycerides directly, but older assays measure only some of these and must calculate LDL, which you may see written as LDL-C. For this reason, many previous research studies have looked at total cholesterol levels rather than LDL. Historically, elevated levels of total cholesterol have been assumed to correlate with elevated levels of LDL, and unless triglycerides are extremely elevated, this is generally a reasonable … Continue reading “Will Red Meat Cause Your Heart to Explode?”