Cuisine – Getting your vitamin hit

According to the Ministry of Health, there are 28 vitamins and minerals essential to our good health and we should include them in our daily diet. By having a widely diverse diet, we can obtain all the nutrients we need. The best foods to get all of these goodies from is one full of wholefoods – fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, seafood, nuts and seeds, eggs, wholegrains and dairy.

It is very easy to get stuck in a food rut and just cook and eat the same thing day-in and day-out. Eating seasonally and trying something different or new is a great way to broaden our diet and boost our nutrient intake. This can be tricky for those with special dietary requirements, as often there are food restrictions that add extra limitations, but it is important to find good options to get the nutrients we need.

Sometimes good options might be something that we’ve tried before and hated, but now we should maybe try again. Like Brussels sprouts, which are full of vitamin K, which is important for proper blood clotting.

Another food that seems to divide people are chicken livers. I really like them, but I know of many that won’t go near them. Liver can often have connotations of a plateful of something horribly grey and rubbery that is tasteless and unpalatable. But it really doesn’t have to be that way.

Chicken livers are an excellent source of iron and vitamin A. We need iron to transport oxygen around our bodies and it is also an important part of many enzymes and muscle protein. We know that vitamin A is required for healthy eyes, but it also helps maintain healthy skin and is a strong antioxidant.

Chicken livers are a great low-budget meat option and they are very versatile. Most of us know of their use in pâté, but there really is more to a chicken liver than mincing it to a paste. The recipe below is a favourite in our house at the moment.

Chicken livers with onion and port

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard<
350g chicken livers
3 tablespoons port
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons water
Salt and pepper<
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion begins to soften. Stir in the mustard and then add the chicken livers. Cook the livers for two to three minutes on each side. Add the port, soy sauce and water to the pan. Gently simmer, occasionally turning the livers in the liquid, until the liquid reduces and is almost gone – this takes about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with creamy mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables.

Chop up a rasher of bacon, slice three to four button mushrooms and cook with the onions and garlic before following the rest of the recipe.