The Nose-To-Tail Whole30
I am continually impressed with the culinary creations of our Whole30 community. We prove that nutrient-rich whole foods can be transformed into sensational delights to please any pallet.
But perhaps most impressive, the foods we eat promote ideal health and wellness for a broad range of eaters. This fact alone is a testament to the power of the Whole30 and the movement to consume whole, unprocessed food.
As a personal trainer and functional health practitioner, my goal is to optimize my clients’ nutrition. I’ve come to the realization that our flavor-oriented cooking is missing out on key traditional elements that our predecessors prized for their unique flavor profiles and high nutrient content. It’s offal.
No, that’s not a typo…
offal[ aw-fuh l, of-uh l ] –
- the parts of a butchered animal that are considered inedible by human beings; carrion.
- the parts of a butchered animal removed in dressing; viscera.
- refuse; rubbish; garbage.
Please stay with me…
Once prized for their delicate and unique flavors, nose-to-tail ingredients have since lost their appeal on the American plate. But today, we are seeing a resurgence in nose-to-tail eating among holistic health aficionados and food manufacturers alike.
Nose-to-tail options like bone broth, pork rinds, bone marrow, tongue, tendons, fattier cuts of meat, and animal fats like lard and tallow, are among some of the healthiest foods our ancestors regularly prepared and consumed.
The Nose-To-Tail Whole30:
The inclusion of nose-to-tail ingredients is not only beneficial for supporting a healthy psychological and hormonal response to food, but they help to improve gut health, immune function, and serve to minimize inflammation. Meeting the Whole30 Good Food Standards, I am a proponent of using nose-to-tail foods within the Whole30 Meal Template.
Before I go into some practical ways of including my favorite nose-to-tail options, I’ll relay my motivations to you. In my functional health coaching practice, I help people struggling with conditions like autoimmunity, insulin resistance, and hypothyroidism. Having suffered with gut-related autoimmunity, I know that the food we eat is the foundation of supporting therapeutic healing and rebalancing of the body.
I use questionnaires and functional lab tests to discover the H.I.D.D.E.N. (hormonal, immune, digestive, detoxification, energy production, nervous system) stressors that need to be addressed for healing to take place. Although I regularly use supplemental nutrients with my clients to stimulate their body’s inherent healing, I first encourage them to stay focused on real, whole foods. It’s no surprise, nose-to-tail options contain many of the vital nutrients needed to support HIDDEN stressors. Food is thy medicine.
I think we can all agree, food is fuel. It is not a reward for good behavior, a coping mechanism, or a pastime. Food should support our good food standards by promoting holistic wellness. For this reason, I look for nutrient-dense natural foods to balance my my clients’ blood sugal without burdening their digestive capacity.I’m a fan of the Okanawan concept Hara Hachi Bu:
Hara hachi bun me (腹八分目, or hara hachi bu, and sometimes misspelled hari hachi bu) is a Confucian teaching that instructs people to eat until they are 80 percent full. Roughly, in English the Japanese phrase translates to, “Eat until you are eight parts (out of ten) full” or “belly 80 percent full”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hara_hachi_bun_me
From experience, I know that eating less overall quantities of food promotes better digestion (less volume of food means digestive enzymes can do their job better). Good digestion allows better assimilation. Knowing that we are more than what we eat, we are what we absorb, we must respect our food for what it’s worth.
Nose-To-Tail Love and The Whole30 Meal Template
Many of us love the satiating macronutrients in our Whole30 Meal Template. We know that eating quality protein, veggies, fruits, and healthy fats are conducive to high energy levels, a favorable body composition, and increased athletic performance.
Eating nose-to-tail doesn’t require dramatic changes in the structure of our Whole30 plate. Rather, it means that we substitute or supplement our proteins with options like ground beef and liver, osso bucco, or tasty tongue “tacos.”
Still not convinced? Let’s talk about some of the robust nutrient profiles of three of my favorite nose-to-tail options: beef liver, sardines, and bone broth. I’ll tell you how I include these foods into my weekly Whole30 meal planning, and help you create ideas for your own nose-to-tail additions.
My Top 3 Nose-To-Tail Foods
It’s funny: I treat my liver consumption like taking a multivitamin. But when you realize your vitamin is a real food, you wonder why you’re taking supplements in the first place. Being so potent in its health offerings, eating just 4oz of liver 1-2x/week is enough to support vibrant health and eliminate common nutrient deficiencies.
This superfood boasts high amounts of bioavailable Vitamin A and high quantities of B vitamins: B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B12, and folate. Liver packs even more nutrients like selenium, phosphorous, iron, and copper.
Getting into eating beef liver wasn’t easy. After three failed attempts at eating cooked liver, I decided to look for alternatives. I discovered that for those that can’t stand the taste of liver, there was an alternative: raw and frozen.
Here’s how I do it:
I’ll cut off a 1oz piece of liver from a frozen chunk in the freezer. I’ll cut the chunk into small pieces, place it on the back of my tongue, then kick it back with a swig of water. With this method, you don’t taste the liver (if that’s an issue for you).
Before trying the raw liver method, I recommend obtaining 100% grass-fed beef liver from your local butcher. I use Crowdcow to source all of my grass fed beef. Crowdcow offers excellent quality and allows the consumer to choose the local farm where the cows happily munch grass before becoming the tasty, nutritious beef delivered to my door.
But after 3 months of daily liver shots, I started to get used to the smell and slight aftertaste of the smaller, raw and frozen pieces. I was ready to try cooking it once again. Having spoken to my practitioner and Whole30 colleagues, I realized that disguising the taste of liver in other meats was a viable option.
I went to my local butcher and asked then to grind 8oz of fresh liver into 2lbs of ground beef. I then formed burger patties with the liver and ground beef mix and cooked them inside my dutch oven with a bit of beef tallow.
I topped these burgers with low FODMAP paleo seasoning and half an avocado sliced on top. To my surprise, this mixture provided an unreal, satiating flavor that kept me full for 5 hours. I was mentally clear, felt strong, and knew my body was receiving potent nutrition.
Ground Beef + Ground Liver from a Local Butcher –> Final Product with Low FODMAP Paleo Powder
Made from chicken bones, cow bones, and even fish bones, bone broth is one of my favorite mediums for cooking. You’ve probably used bone broth as the base of your favorite soups and stews because it adds immense flavor and various health benefits to your Whole30 meals.
Although you may not have considered bone broth to be a nose-to-tail option, its ingredients are the refuse of the animal. Instead of wasting these nutrients, we are able to boil down cartilage, skin, tendons, ligaments, and bone to create a unique flavor that supports a wide array of health benefits.
Bone broth is a potent source of collagen peptides. It’s worth noting that 30% of the protein in our body is made of collagen. Since collagen is the primer for connective tissue growth in the body, collagen rich foods like bone broth support our bones, skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, hair, and nails.
The 17 amino acids and dozens of vitamins and minerals in bone broth support its superfood status. During the simmering process, the ingredients in bone broth produce gelatin that contain glutamine. The glutamine in the broth supports gut health by stimulating intestinal cell growth and balancing gut bacteria b. For my clients with digestive issues, I’ll have them cook their vegetables in both broth or even swap their morning coffee for a cup of piping hot bone broth. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28498331
Humans are meant to eat nose-to-tail foods like we see in the animal kingdom. But as argued, our modern palate has replaced many of the organ meats of our ancestors with leaner cuts of animal protein. This can be problematic because we need the amino acid glycine (found in bone broth) to balance out the amino acid methionine. If left unbalanced, disease states can arise.
I consume bone broth in a few different ways. Like my clients, I’ll start my day off with a mug full of warm bone broth. I add a pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt, sip, and enjoy! This really takes the place of the habit of drinking coffee. I do this to promote natural energy instead of relying on caffeine to get me going.
My second method is for reheating my meal prepped veggies and meats. I’ll throw my leftovers into a cast iron dutch oven, pour in some bone broth, heat the food slowly until it is warm and has absorbed the bone broth.
In the colder months, I’ll cook my soups, stews, and pot roasts in my favorite Chicken Bone Broth from Kettle and Fire. I’ll let the slow cooker or instant pot do the work to create tender pot roasts, potatoes, carrots, and all the other goodness I can find in season! If you haven’t tried this, you must! It’s unmatched flavor.
Although not bone broth, I’ll use my favorite, unflavored collagen protein from Vital Proteins as a way to get in more collagen. I typically blend a collagen shake with essential amino acids from Thorne Research post workout to get in extra protein for muscle recovery.
Like liver, my childhood phobia of sardines prevented me from trying this delectable fish until my late 20s. It wasn’t until I heard the health benefits of these nutritional powerhouses that I had to give them a try.
I had previously eliminated canned tuna from my diet for fear of heavy metal toxicity. Being lower on the food chain, I knew that sardines would not accumulate as many toxins as their predators since they primarily eat plankton.
Rich in omega-3s and full of protein, whole sardines may be one of the most perfect foods for the Nose-To-Tail Whole30. Fantastic for increasing bioavailable omega-3 (EPA and DHA) intake, I’m astonished by their absorbable quantities of B12, phosphorous, selenium, vitamin D, and protein. Like liver, they’re also loaded with vitamin B3, vitamin B2, copper, and choline.
One of my primary interests in sardines is that you eat the whole animal! Nose-to-tail, much? Eating their soft spines had an unknown side effect on me… Although anecdotal, after a few servings per week for one month, I noticed that my teeth looked whiter and shinier. They looked and felt strong! I researched how this could be, only to realize that their bones are a potent source of calcium.
Like many, I cannot consume even an oz of dairy without digestive woes. Instead of relying on plant sources alone, I know the most bioavailable calcium is eating bone itself. In today’s polluted oceans, we must navigate the fish we consume and choose the species unmolested by industry toxins and intentionally avoid those options lower on the food chain.
I coach my clients to eat around 12 ounces of cold-water, fatty fish per week to reach their omega-3 (DHA and EPA) requirements. These same clients sometimes need to supplement even more fish oil, but we prefer the nose-to-tail approach first.
I’ll tell you, my sardine preparation is unimpressive. I use Wild Planet (in olive oil and lemon) for my preferred sardines. I’ll typically drain the can and eat them in one of two ways:
I like to add my sardines to sauteed kale in avocado oil. I’ll add in 3 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks to the mix, stir frequently, and create a fluffy scramble that I’ll top with Whole30 approved hot sauce and half an avocado.
Easy Salad Protein:
When I’m in the mood for a nice salad and don’t have any extra protein, I’ll pop a container of sardines open and toss them into my salad. Their little bodies disintegrate into the mix but perhaps this is a good thing for those just getting into nose-to-tail eating.
I hope I’ve convinced you of the value in including nose-to-tail options in your Whole30 Meal Template. One of the driving forces for me to include these foods is respect for the earth and respect of the animal.
Omnivores are taking a lot of flack from their vegan counterparts, saying that eating animals is destroying the health of the planet. I disagree. Upon further investigation, we realize that processed foods are to blame for the declining health of our country and environment.
For the sake of brevity, I will conclude by saying that what we eat becomes who we are. If we choose to honor the life of the animal, use every part of their body, then assimilate that into ourselves, we are honoring the process of birth and death. In this natural cycle, we are honoring our own bodies with vital nutrients that allow us to fulfill our purpose as humans.
For the taste, health benefits, and novelty of new and delicious food, I hope that eating nose-to-tail crosses your mind during your continued Whole30 eating.