It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, to conceive of how quickly food, water, and other ambrosia necessary to life is drying up–and how, all the while, the modest ant is gorging himself on our rubbish and making a general nuisance of himself.
Solution: why not make a snack out of him? While Dr. Swift’s case for cannibalism was ironic, entomophagy (eating insects) is being touted as a serious solution to ecological and nutritional problems. And now you’ve jumped on the bandwagon. But, of course, you wonder–what bugs can I even eat, and are they available in powders, with no hairy legs? Let’s talk.
How to Choose Edible Insects – Buying Guide
Ehrlich’s both respected and reviled for talking about it: overpopulation. We’re in the process of crowding ourselves off Mother Earth and eating up every last thing in the process. But you’re a gastronome; even if you are going to eat bug, you want only the best tasting, the most nutritional, and the least shudder-inducing sort, right? Let’s talk about how to choose.
Compact Goodness: Choose Based on Nutritional Value
Notwithstanding the fact that about 2 billion people worldwide have bug for dinner, we get kind of squeamish over here in the States. If you’re going to put anything that has more than four legs into your mouth, it better have some serious health benefits, right? We understand. So let’s look at some important nutrients and what bugs give them to us.
One thing to take note of: insects are the widest-ranging, hardiest little creatures on the planet. Because there’s such a huge variety of species, there will be fluctuation among values, but we’ve provided numbers from the lower end of the scale, just to give you an idea.
Sculpt Yourself a Grecian Body: Lean Protein
It’s a common joke: a bug flies into your mouth; you accidentally swallow. Trying to make light of the situation, you smack your lips and say, “Mm, protein.” Well, you aren’t lying.
For body builders, crickets are the most widely available source of muscle, ground up into neat little packets of protein powder. As is, they’ll pack at least 25 grams of protein per 100 grams; generous estimates spike that number up into the 60s.
But most bugs’ll give you almost as much protein as a nice, juicy steak. Lean beef (100 g of it) will provide you with an average of 30 grams of the stuff; the same amount of mealworms will give you 20, ants around 14.
An extra note: since we eat bugs whole–guts, skeleton, and all–we’re also getting a lot of vitamins and minerals that a hunk of beef can’t provide. And that brings us to our next topic.
Build up Your Bones; Get Your Blood Coursing Strong: Calcium, Iron, and Other Minerals
The crunchier the critter, the more calcium, right? Seems logical, but it’s actually dirt-crawling invertebrates that have significant amounts of this skeleton-building mineral. Soldier fly larvae and earthworms are packed–you get about the same amount of calcium as you do from cow’s milk. Crickets, depending in their diet, can contain half that amount.
What most bugs will, give you though, is iron. Crickets and grasshoppers provide around 10 mg per 100 g–generous estimates double this number. Ants will give you around 6. The same amount of beef, by the way, will only give you around 3 or 4. Ladies–you, in particular, should look out for these chirpers. While adult men only need around 8 mg of iron a day, women–who lose a lot of iron-rich blood every month–require around 18.
Most edible insects have also got you covered when it comes to zinc (palm weevil larvae have got about 27 mg of the stuff, making it king), potassium (crickets contain almost the same amount as a banana), and magnesium (a good source is your humble housefly). Your body’s immune system needs zinc; potassium regulates blood pressure; your brain wants magnesium, or it gets depressed.
Regenerate Your Body: the Rare Vitamin B-12 and Other Essential Micro-Nutrients
Vitamin B12 is tireless in your body; it produces red blood cells and ensures your brain functions smoothly. If you don’t get enough, you could become anemic. But we don’t produce it ourselves–many animals don’t, actually–but guess how we can get it? Crickets reign supreme here; they pack 6µg per 100 grams. That’s almost 3 times the recommended minimum intake here in the U.S.
And these are just a few of the micro-nutrients insects offer. Riboflavin (Vitamin B2; it helps your body grow) is also present in most insects–ranging from a tenth of a milligram to 10 mg every 100 g (crickets contain an outstanding two, which is already double the RDA). Houseflies pack a whole bunch of energy-producing niacin (Vitamin B3), and almost all bugs (including crickets) are brimming with essential amino acids.
If you’re big on health, you can also consider insect powders, which will add lacking nutrients in.
Neutral, a Little Sweetness, or a Little Spice? Let’s Talk Taste
Bugs are the shrimp of the land. In fact, insects and crustaceans are close cousins–and just as the taste of a lobster will depend on how it’s served, you’re more likely to encounter soy-sauce flavored locusts than anything plain. But insects have all got certain notes to them, so let’s talk about some popular cuisine.
Rather Tasteless, Actually: Goes Well with Anything
First off, crickets and grasshoppers taste like peanuts or popcorn–that is, they don’t really taste like anything at all. That’s probably why crickets make such good pasta and flour; you can turn out some sweet, nutty chocolate cakes, or a creamy, earthy Carbonara.
If you’re getting any flavored snacks–the most popular being cheese- or chocolate-drizzled, the tastes won’t clash. Mealworms and larvae are also quite mild.
Rather Savory and Meaty: for the Daring
General rule of thumb: the bigger the bug is, the more meat it’s got on it, and the more you’re going to get that typical “Hmm, tastes kind of like chicken” reaction. Grilled scorpions are just like jerky; tarantulas have got this crabby meatiness to them. These are fine to eat on their own, but your kids will probably notice if you grind them into the muffins.
Worms are also beefy and fatty. If you know what you’re doing, you can probably grind out some good meatballs for your cricket-flour spaghetti. But when they’ve been left out too long, they tend to melt together or turn into strips of leather. When buying online, take a look at the reviews so you aren’t turned off from eating bugs forever.
Kind of Fruity: Pungent Thai Chili, Anyone?
Fruity’s probably the last word you’d associate with insects. But ants have a citrusy zest to them–especially the aptly named lemon ants. Red ants, too, have a sourness reminiscent of tamarind, which Gordon Ramsay will attest to (and if this celebrity chef loves his ant chutney, you really don’t have any excuse to turn up your nose anymore). If you’re looking to make a sweet-and-sour dish, or anything zesty, you can sneak a few in, and it’ll only enhance the flavor.
Giant water bugs have got a shrimpy flavor to them–but, if you’re looking for something more powerful, the males secrete this essence that has both the bite of star anise and the sweetness of tropical fruit. That’s why they’re harvested in Thailand to make this pungent chili paste: nam prik mang da.
How Would You Like It Served?
Americans like their meat unrecognizable, wrapped up in pretty little plastic packages. Would you still be so keen about your T-bone steak if it came with the eyeballs and nose attached? But bugs, too, can be ground into powder or shape-shifted into other forms of food. Or, yes, if you’re looking for shock value, you can find them whole too.
Dip Your Toes into the Water: Hidden in Other Foods
See the pasta? Looks pretty good, right? Guess what the main ingredient is.
So you want to eat bug, but the idea of seeing a bunch of legs, and then putting the owner of those legs in your mouth gives you the jitters. Well, entomophagy beginners, now you can steel yourself for it with insect-based foods. They look so normal, if no one told you, you’d never have guessed you were eating bug.
And since insects already come packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals, when you mix them with other ingredients, you get a complete nutrient profile: amino acids, B12, calcium, iron, the works.
Makes a Pretty Good Nutty Cake: Flour and Powder
Think about it: you could bake yourself a devil’s food cake that’s actually healthy. (Or has protein in it, at least.) Though not as malleable as your plant-based flours, insect-based flours have got a nutty, earthy taste to them that goes well with fruits and spices. Might not be such a bad idea if you’re looking to make healthy dessert for the kids.
If you’re looking to dine on bug for purely nutritional reasons, there’s always insect-based powders. Mix these into drinks and smoothies, and they’ll curb your hunger. You could even start a new fad: The Cricket Diet.
Want to Prank Your Friends? Eat Them Whole
Finally, the most Instagram- and YouTube-friendly way to eat insects: whole. This is the stuff of party favors, Halloween pranks, games of Truth or Dare.
Just remember that bugs, in general, are pretty tasteless (think of eating shrimp with no garlic, no butter, no salt, no nothing). If you’re looking to be a true bon vivant, know that it’s the seasonings and the preparation method–not the critter itself–that’s going to spin out the flavor of the dish. On matters of taste, consult always the customers reviews.
Top 10 Best Edible Insects to Buy Online
Hopefully, we’ve piqued your appetite. Below, you’ll find some of our favorite edible creepy crawlies. Some, you can’t even tell are insects–and others are all too recognizable.
10. Crick-ettes Sampler Gift Pack (3-Pack)
They Come Intact! Your Next Conversation Starter
About the flavor–and don’t hold your breath–there’s almost none. The Salt N’ Vinegar had a bit of savoriness to it, but as a whole, this 3-pack tastes like unsalted potato chips. But they weren’t disgusting, which was a pretty big relief.
The packaging’s what won us over. When the crickets come, they’re pretty much still intact, so you seriously feel like you’re eating bug. There’s only a few critters per box–bad for nutritional value, but great if you’re trying to ease into entomophagy.
9. Larvets Sampler Gift Pack (3-Pack)
The Mexican Spice Has Got Some Heat–and Looks Suitably Buggy
These are crunchy, which makes them infinitely less disgusting. There’s been mixed reviews about the taste; some found them bland, but others were getting the smokiness of bacon or the bite of Mexican spice.
The boxes, again, mean they come pretty much intact, so use them as a stocking stuffer or gag gift. Nutrition-wise, there’s only one gram of protein per box–but barely any fat as well, which is more than you can say for a bag of potato chips.
8. Hotlix Scorpion Suckers (4 Flavors)
The Candy’s Sweet, At Least: Get It for the Shock Value
The visual centerpiece is, of course, the scorpion, but taste-wise, it’s the suckers that overpower. The candy’s thick–flavored with blueberry, apple, banana, and strawberry–and quite tasty. It’s sticky, but it won’t melt during your hot Louisiana summers. If you’re looking to do some funky interior decorating, you could stick these in a Mason jar or something.
The scorpion itself, though, is rather tasteless; it’s been compared to fingernails or dirt. (Honestly, most people just use these as pranks.) Also, just in case you’re looking to collect a menagerie of insects, Hotlix also offers lollipops filled with ants, worms, and crickets.
7. Cricket Bites 3-Pack of Assorted Flavors
Tastes Like Sunflower Seeds, but With More Vitamins and Minerals
So it probably wasn’t the best idea to package these in bags–the crickets get crushed, and the legs sink to the bottom of the heap. The ones that manage to stay intact, when you eat them, the legs tend to get stuck on your tongue and between your teeth.
Taste-wise, they’ve got quite a few fans. They’ve been compared to corn nuts and, overwhelmingly, sunflower seeds. The chirpies themselves are dehydrated–no moistness, but they might be a little dry. Use them as a crouton substitute in your salad, a crunchy topping on your pizza, a hidden texture in your guacomole. You’ll be getting 11% of your DV of protein and 90% of Vitamin B12–which actually boosts mood and helps you deal with stress–as well as some trace minerals in the process.
6. Exo Cricket Flour Protein Bars (12-Count)
Packs A Lot of Chocolaty Energy: Who Knew Crickets Could Be So Sweet?
The heady sugariness of dates, the intoxication of chocolate liquor–does that sound appetizing enough? You can barely taste the crickets; they might contribute a bit to the crunch, but a lot of that is just nut as well.
The sweetness does comes with a price; one of these bars packs 280 calories and 18 g of fat (4 g of which is saturated). But they’ve got a lot of good stuff, too: 10 g of protein (20% of your DV), 6 g of fiber (21%), 3mg of iron (15%) and 60% of your DV of Vitamin B12. All that protein and fiber’s going to fill you up and keep you full–so if you’ve got a stomach that’s constantly grumbling, throw a few in your hiking pack, gym bag, or kayak, and you’ll feel as bright and chirpy as a cricket all day.
5. Hotlix Chocolate Dipped Insects
You’d Think You Were Eating KitKats–Until You Peel off the Chocolate
Close your eyes, pop one in your mouth, and you’d think you were eating KitKats. Granted, this stuff’s not covered in gourmet chocolate; it’s more the bodyless stuff you get in huge packs for 5 bucks on Halloween–all palm oil, sugar, dairy, no cocoa. Not a treat for health nuts.
But the general consensus is this: they taste good. Dehydrated crickets add a nice crunch. The worms, unfortunately, are a little chewy. (But remember what we said about calcium?) And the chocolate keeps the creepy crawlies intact, so you’ve got your shock factor. That’s probably why parents love stuffing these into Easter eggs as a prank.
4. Pappardelle’s Cricket Pasta
It’s Seriously Just Like Pasta–Just with Some Extra Protein
It’s like you’re not even eating bug. Well, to be honest, this pasta’s only about 15% cricket–which is good if you’re trying to ease into entomophagy, huffing and puffing the whole way. Even so, a two ounce serving will give you 9 grams of protein (almost 20% of your DV), 10% of your DV of iron, and 2% of your DV of calcium. Plus, you get your carbs and fiber from the pasta. These all work to build muscle, keep your blood flowing, and pump up energy.
So, athletes, if your usual diet is leaving you exhausted at the end of the day, boil yourself a pot for a quick charge between workouts. It tastes just like normal pasta–and feels the same in your mouth, to boot. Just don’t mess up the sauce.
3. Chapul Cricket Protein Powder (1 Pound)
Tastes Like Chocolate Malt, But It’s Healthy
This is, first and foremost, a blend–it contains chia, flax, and rice–so you’ve got a well-rounded nutrition profile. Protein, of course (40% of your DV every 36 g); then you’ve got fiber (21%), iron (28%), and Vitamin B12 (the whole 100% of your DV). These nutrients give you a boost and beat off pangs of hunger, so it’s good stuff if you’re trying to lose weight.
The chocolate tastes heavenly with coconut or almond milk; you end up with chocolate malt, apparently. Doesn’t taste bad in water either–it’s just the tiniest bit grainy. This can also be snuck into sugar cookies to lessen the guilt factor. The powder does contain some stevia, a plant-derived, zero-calorie sweetener–purists hate this; sweet tooths love it.
2. Don Bugito Planet-Friendly Edible Insect Snacks (3-Pack)
Tastes Good and Looks like Bug, If You’re into That
These taste good. No lie. The Coconut Brittle is sweet and, if you closed your eyes, you’d think there were peanuts in it. The Spicy Bugitos have flavor and heat to them. The Chili Lime is crunchy and zesty. Really, the number one complaint was that each bag only gives you a handful of critters.
But even that handful of meal worms–yes, that’s what’s actually in the Coconut Brittle–will give you about 5 grams of protein (10% of your DV), 1 gram of fiber (6% of your DV), and trace minerals (1% of your DV of calcium, and 2% of iron.) It fills you up, builds up muscle–and did we mention you get just 7 grams of fat? And for those who want the full bug-eating experience–yes, you can see the worms.
1. Lithic 100% Pure Cricket Flour
Blends Seamlessly into Any Recipe and Oh, So Healthy
It says flour on it, but crickets are gluten-free and don’t contain any yeast, so don’t bake with only this. Instead, sneak it in to smoothies, bread, or yogurt. Lithic recommends substituting a fourth of your flour with this. Comes with a digital cookbook packed with tips too because, yes, you’re unsure.
The texture’s fine, easy to blend. And nutrition! Twenty-five grams of the stuff gives you the typical protein and iron–plus 60% of your DV of riboflavin (B2), and 380% of Vitamin B12. The B Vitamins are both needed to maintain your nervous system and pop out red blood cells. Getting enough of the stuff will ensure that a) your mind’s clear and b) you stay energized. And it’s got your lovely nutty crickety aroma–not heavy at all. Call it umami, if you will.
Ever heard of the blue steak and green fries experiment? In the 1970s, a few unsuspecting ladies and gents were led into a room and served French fries and steak, which they downed with gusto. But then researchers revealed that the lighting in the room was colored–and that under normal light, the steak was bright blue, the fries a lovely green. (All harmless food coloring, of course.) A few subjects fell ill.
How we react to food we eat is largely a matter of perception. We know that, as nutritional as they are, edible insects seem gross–and that’s why we’ve included harmless pastas and flours. Or maybe, you’ve been on board with the idea all along. In that case, grab a handful of Bugitos, and bon appétit.
Many of us lead busy lives and don’t have time to prepare breakfast in the morning. Enter instant breakfast. They come in either liquid or powdered forms, and in a range of dietary variations to suit your needs. Some drinks double as meal replacements, others as simply snacks to jumpstart your morning. Welcome to the world of instant breakfast drinks, the fastest way to start your day. How to Choose an Instant Breakfast Drink – Buying Guide As we mentioned above, instant breakfast drinks differ in their nutritional value and can be a complementary replacement meal for your diet goals. Let’s break down the methodology behind choosing an instant breakfast drink. How Many and What Kind of Nutrients Depends on Your Diet Goals We often consider breakfast drinks to be chocolatey, fatty beverages like Nesquik that fill your tummy up and only that. That’s simply not the case. There are high protein, nutrient rich, and, yes, very sweet options to choose from. Let’s examine them. High Protein fo
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