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September 24, 2020 4 min read
By Jessica Danger

Nutrition writer, podcast host, and self-proclaimed health nerd Ashleigh VanHouten believes that food (and life) is all about perspective: having an open mind and an adventurous spirit can take you to wonderful places you’d never experience otherwise. 

For her, that adventurous spirit led her to offal.

Offal, pronounced (unfortunately) as “awful”, refers to an animal’s organs and entrails. Offal is extremely nutrient dense, with high concentrations ofcollagen(our favorite!) given the nature of the organ. Our primal ancestors used to prefer offal, for both the nutrients and all of theother health factors, reaching for the liver and heart before any other part of the animal. These nutrient-rich organs are still popular in many international cuisines, but have become rare in most Western diets. VanHouten hopes to change that.

So she wrote a whole book about it: It Takes Guts.

It Takes Guts: A Meat-Eater’s Guide to Eating Offal is an entertaining and user-friendly guide to enjoying some of the more adventurous parts of the animal, as well as understanding the value of whole-animal cooking. With 75 delicious and easy recipes that help you adopt a whole-animal approach to your eating, from nose-to-tail.

VanHouten writes, “There are many great reasons to adopt a truly whole-animal, nose-to-tail approach to eating. It Takes Guts is more than a cookbook: it’s about education and understanding that the way we eat is important. Our choices matter, and we should seek to know why a particular food is beneficial for us, the ecosystem, and the animals, and how our food choices fit into the larger food industry and community in which we are a part.”

What's in the book?

  • An entertaining introduction into the “offal” world of organ meats, and why it’s more delicious (and less scary) than you may think
  • A breakdown of the healthiest and tastiest organ meats, from heart, liver, and kidney to tongue, bone marrow, and blood!
  • An interview with a butcher on how to source the best organ meats, including what to look for and ask about
  • 75 delicious, fun, and easy recipes that you don’t have to be a chef to prepare
  • Plenty of background and personal anecdotes about specific recipes: where they come from, why they’re special, and why you should add them to your meal plan!
  • A number of contributed recipes from respected chefs, recipe developers, and fellow health nerds, including the Ben Greenfield family, Beth Lipton, and Tania Teschke

An Exclusive Recipe: 

Saucy, Spicy Lamb Hearts

Yield: 4 servings

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Lamb hearts are, predictably, a little bigger than chicken hearts but smaller than beef hearts, so they’re kind of a happy medium: they have a rich lamby flavor but are still quick and easy to cook like smaller hearts are. This recipe shows off the ease and versatility of this cut of meat. You don’t have to roast it for hours or hide it in something elaborate: just pan-fry it with some butter and spices, and you have a delicious protein source to throw on top of a salad or starchy side dish.


2 lamb hearts, cleaned 

¼ cup blanched almond flour

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons coarsely ground sea salt

¼ cup (½ stick) grass-fed unsalted butter

½ small onion, diced

1/3 cup chicken or beef bone broth 

For serving:

5 cups arugula

1 lemon wedge

Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Pat the hearts dry and cut them into 1-inch cubes.
  2. Mix together the flour, salt, paprika, and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl. Dredge the heart pieces in the flour mixture.
  3. Heat the butter in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. When it’s hot, place the heart pieces in the pan and pan-fry them for 4 minutes per side, until cooked through (you can cut a piece to ensure that’s firm and cooked on the inside); turn the pieces over carefully with tongs so you don’t break off the crust.
  5. Add the diced onion to the pan and allow to soften for about 4 minutes, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the broth and turn the heart pieces until they’re coated. Let the sauce reduce for 3 to 4 minutes, until it has a gravy like consistency. 
  6. Plate on a bed of arugula and top with a squeeze of lemon juice and some salt and pepper, if desired.

Note: These saucy lamb hearts will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

You can get a copy ofIt Takes Guts by Ashleigh VanHouten anywhere that books are sold, includingAmazon. If you try your hand at the lamb’s heart recipe (we know we are!) let us see it! Tag us onInstagram. And if you’re not quite ready for lamb’s heart, go grab another tub ofBUBS Naturals Collagen.