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Did you know there are two crucial nutrients we tend to be deficient in, that can contribute to everything from hypothyroidism, to fatigue, hair loss, and even poor immune function? Those nutrients are iron and Vitamin A.

One of these you’ll most likely be very familiar with (all my anemic ladies with cold hands and feet represent), and the other you may have never thought twice about a day in your life. After all, don’t we get enough Vitamin A through beta-carotene rich foods? The answer may surprise you, and I’ll explain why in just a moment.

Luckily, today’s liver recipe is a nutrient powerhouse dish packed with both of these superstars… and although the “beef liver” part of the title may scare you at first, I promise these are so good you won’t even remember what you’re eating!

WHY ARE IRON + VITAMIN A IMPORTANT FOR THYROID HEALTH?

Anyone who’s been anemic can tell you how miserable it feels to be low in iron. The fatigue, the pale complexion, not to mention always feeling like the coldest person in the room. The reason iron deficiency causes these symptoms is because iron has a direct relationship to your thyroid’s ability to release the right hormones. These sensations we experience (like cold hands and feet) are often a direct result of iron deficiency hindering and slowing our thyroid function!

In fact, iron deficiency anemia directly impairs thyroid metabolism in animals and humans, and can even negatively affect growth and development of children due to this interplay.

In terms of Vitamin A, this super-vitamin is required for the activation of thyroid hormone receptors, and insufficient intake may depress thyroid function. Animal studies have shown that Vitamin A deficiency interferes with the pituitary-thyroid axis and can cause abnormalities with TSH and metabolism.

In one human study, separate groups of obese and non-obese women supplemented with 25,000 IU of Vitamin A per day. After four months, both groups showed an increase of circulating thyroid hormone and a decrease in TSH, indicating improved thyroid function. You can read more about why these nutrients matter for your thyroid in my full post here!

FOOD VS. SUPPLEMENTS: WHERE BEEF LIVER COMES IN

Click here to read my in-depth blog post about these two nutrients, where I talk about how they work together for better absorption and bioactivation, and explain why getting them from food is usually a much better idea than supplementation.

In this post I explain why iron deficiency is more about an ability to absorb this nutrient in the gut (rather than a lack of iron in food or supplements), as many people end up taking iron pills for years on end and never see a true or permanent difference in their iron levels. This is usually due to gut dysbiosis (an overgrowth of bacteria, yeasts or parasites), as both good and bad bacteria actually fight for iron in the gut, and pathogenic yeasts like Candida can even sequester and ‘steal’ this nutrient from us – their hosts!

I also break down something I alluded to earlier: why beta-carotene from plant foods isn’t our best option, as retinol (the true form of Vitamin A) is only found in animal foods. Many of us have genetic mutations or micronutrient deficiencies that interfere with the conversion of beta-carotene to retinol on a cellular level, so it’s often far less than a 1:1 process!

The good news is, beef liver gives you an immense helping of both heme iron and the retinol form of Vitamin A, in a complete package with a ton of other micronutrients like B vitamins and Zinc, which actually help with the underlying gut permeability and dysbiosis that contributes to absorption issues!

While you can absolutely take beef liver capsules, buying beef liver from a local farmer or butcher isfar more cost effective – Nick and I got our most recent purchase of grass-fed beef liver at the farmer’s market for $5/lb. The only problem is, of course, you need to hide the flavor.

Nick and I figured out that we could make rice, liver, and ground beef meatballs where everything is mixed together and well-seasoned to “hide” the liver taste. After a hundred different iterations and lots of trial and error, this is our final version of that recipe that gets us to eat liver twice a month, every month. It never fails, and might I add that these meatballs taste amazing in a homemade red sauce with some gluten free pasta! 

Give this recipe a try and see how you feel. We’re always amazed at how much more energized and clear we feel when we keep this meal in consistent rotation. Food matters, nutrient deficiencies matter, and you can make a huge improvement in your thyroid’s function and optimization by adding more nutrient-rich meals like this to your diet.

​​​​​​Nick’s Beef Liver Meatballs

PREP TIME
30 min
COOK TIME
25 min
TOTAL TIME
55 min
SERVES
6

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs beef liver, cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 2 lbs ground beef OR top sirloin cut steak cut into 1 inch chunks seasoned heavily with salt and pepper
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 cups of cooked white rice, cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/2 tbsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3-5 tbsp seasoning of choice (we used a peruvian chile lime seasoning from Savory Spice but you can use any medium heat chile blend)
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil

Directions

  1. Marinate the beef liver chunks in a glass mixing bowl using enough red wine vinegar to cover the chunks. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. While the beef liver is marinating, caramelize your onions. To do this, toss 1/2 tbsp of olive oil into a pan on medium heat. Wait until the pan heats up and then toss in your diced onion. Give it a quick initial stir with a wooden spoon so that all the onion is coated in oil, then add some balsamic vinegar. Stir again to spread everything out evenly, and then leave it alone on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes until you see things begin to caramelize. Repeat this stirring about 3 times, in 5 minute intervals; you don’t want to move them around too much! Once they’re fully caramelized, set aside and let cool.
  3. Drain the vinegar from your beef liver and pat fully dry. Toss the beef liver into a food processor and pulse until a pate-like consistency is achieve. Transfer blended liver to a large mixing bowl.
  4. If you’re using ground beef, skip this step. If you’re using sirloin steak, cut up the steak into chunks. Season heavily with salt and pepper, then add into your food processor. Pulse until it looks like ground beef. Transfer into the mixing bowl with the ground liver.
  5. Add two cups of cooked then cooled white rice into the sirloin and liver mixture.
  6. Add the baking soda, caramelized onions, sourgum flour, tapioca starch, brown sugar, eggs, and seasoning into the bowl. Mix very thoroughly until everything thickens, but note it will still be wetter/thinner than traditional meatballs.
  7. Cover this mixture and let chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
  8. Preheat your oven to 375F. Remove mixture from fridge and form into meatballs. These will essentially be more like patties since the mixture is wet.
  9. Pan fry your meatballs in a touch of oil until golden brown on both sides.
  10. Once all meatballs are done browning, transfer them to a baking sheet and place in the oven at 375F for 15 minutes.

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