As the days are growing shorter and sunshine seems a thing of the past, it is important to be aware of our level of vitamin D. Whilst this is known as “the sunshine” vitamin, because we are able to synthesise it through our skin, we are also able to maintain good levels of Vitamin D through diet. The Inuit Eskimos throughout history were exposed to very little sun – even in their summers they would be mostly covered up against the cold temperatures. But their diet, rich in animal foods, kept them free from any nutrient deficiencies, and extremely healthy. Of course with our Western diet we are often deficient in many vitamins and minerals, and with conditions such as intestinal permeability (leaky gut) becoming more common, this often means that nutrients are not absorbed properly, even when consuming a “healthy” diet. This may mean that taking a supplement might be helpful during the winter months, but adding real foods, particularly animal-sourced protein and fat with their valuable nutrients, should always be first and foremost in our quest for better health.
Whilst caribou and seal may not be top of your shopping list, there are plenty of other foods to include regularly that will help keep your vitamin D level normal. Meat, fish, offal, egg yolks and full fat dairy are excellent providers, with liver coming in very high on the list.
But not everyone seems to like the taste or texture of liver. I know I didn’t when I was younger, even though my Mum (in her wisdom) served it to us on a regular basis. However, all offal is packed full of nutrients and liver is certainly no exception. I include it regularly in my diet now, and really enjoy this incredibly nutrient rich food.
Liver can be a somewhat psychologically difficult food to add into your diet if you have never been brought up with it, but is well worth persevering with as it is packed full of nutrition. It contains plenty of protein and healthy fat along with Vitamins A, C, D, B12, B6, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc and Copper. All these nutrients are highly bio-available in the human body, and whilst the vitamin A content is high, eating liver a couple of times a week is perfectly fine. Poultry liver also contains a high amount of vitamin K2, in the form of MK-4 , which is essential for the synthesis of vitamin D. Fish liver and fish itself, such as salmon, contain high levels of vitamin D. Varying your sources means that you will receive a wide variety of excellent, highly bio-available nutrition.
So, whilst recognising that liver is a really nutrient dense food source, what do you do if you don’t like it much?
Make pâté !
This delicious pâté recipe is so easy to make, the bacon is optional (but might disguise the liver flavour somewhat), and of course you can experiment with adding in whatever else your heart desires (garlic, onion, herbs, sun-dried tomatoes etc).
Liver & Bacon Pâté
400g chicken/pork/ox/lamb livers
4 rashers bacon
½ teaspoon salt
1tsp cracked black pepper
7 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature).
- Heat 1 tbsp of the butter in a frying pan, fry the liver & bacon, until liver is just cooked through (should be pink in the centre).
- Turn off the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Process just until the livers are finely chopped, then, with the blade still running, start adding the remaining butter 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Once the butter is blended in, continue to process until the pâté is completely smooth.
- Scoop the pâté into small ramekins or bowls. Cover with plastic wrap pressed down onto the pâté (to protect it from air).
- Refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or overnight so the pâté firms up.
The pâté will stay fresh up to 1 week and freezes well so extra portions can be placed in the freezer for future use.
This recipe can also be adapted to make fish and fish liver pâté, which will also provide a good level of vitamin D.
Keep the sun in your life through good food!