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Introducing and Importance of Offal Meats

Offal is the organ meat including liver, kidney, heart and brains. They are a highly nutritious part of an animal. Understanding their importance, how to introduce them is an important part of early nutrition, in addition to nose-tail eating which helps to reduce food wastage along with overall respect for our food sources. 

It can seem daunting if you have not been raised with offal as part of your diet. Like many aspects of nutrition, I still recommend keeping the focus on the core food first and foremost - this is hard enough at times. Babies and toddler need high amounts of iron for their brain development. A baby in their first year of life needs 10-11mg of iron a day and a toddler aged one-two years needs 9-10mg. A grown adult male requires 8mg - how is that for perspective. 

The iron content of offal meats is significantly higher than any other source - liver has 9mg/100grams. In addition they are also an important source of vitamin B12 and vitamin D (which has limited food sources), along with zinc and selimun. 

I recommend introducing offal meat early on to a baby. In my week-by-week guide I suggest around week six. Though it can be sooner, this is just so solids are established a little and some key allergens introduced too. My trick with offal meats is the neturalise the smell a little using some lemon juice! You can even do this overnight. I also find it helpful to include the offal along with other meat. For babies you can include offal in with a puree! You can check out this example puree here. I also have others in The Nourished Baby, Baby and Toddler Cookbook and Feed the Tribe
I would also encourage giving both babies and toddlers the opportunity to see what it looks like, feels and tastes in it's whole form - you may be very surprised at just what early exposure can do!

These are photos of Ray (18 months) having chicken livers just fried in a pan. 
You can also do a mixture of both as in giving the offal within a mixture and some separate pieces to help identify what they are. Even if they do not get eaten this still contributes to repeated exposure. My steak and kidney pie (Feed the Tribe) is a huge hit with the boys - we made this on the weekend! When I made this to photograph for the book (I do all my own photography!) I gave Ray just the filling as he was just over one at the time and pulled out a piece of kidney for him to still see what it was (and it got promptly eaten!). I use the nudge bowls to do this. You can also check out my beef and liver parcels here

Hope this helps gives some pointers and inspiration to include these highly nutritious food sources. Remember confidence in the kitchen comes with time and practice so be kind to yourself too - feeding kids is a huge part and workload of parenting!

x Dr Julie

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