Summer wouldn't be the same without chirping crickets, but would you scoop one off your lawn for a sustainable snack?
According to the Natural Gourmet Institute, crickets are increasingly creeping up in food products like protein bars and cookies, after they've been farmed, roasted, and ground into a gluten-free flour.
Bugging out? You shouldn't be. These cousins of the grasshopper are commonly enjoyed as a high-protein snack in Southeast Asia, and over 80 percent of the world eats close to 1,600 species of insects, NGI reports. Plus, noshing on crickets is good for the planet: They take only six weeks to mature, as opposed to two years for cattle, and produce 80 times less methane, NGI adds.
"The bug trend is starting to gain some popularity," Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics spokeswoman Marjorie Nolan Cohn, RD, says, noting that there's still only a "really small percentage" of people engaging in it in the U.S. and Europe. "All bugs are fairly high in protein and/or fat, and bugs in general are low in carbs. Crickets are high in protein and relatively lower in fat and lower in carbs, which is why the nutritional breakdown of crickets does fit into the Paleo lifestyle. For [Paleo diet fans], I suspect the sustainability and the philosophy of eating bugs is just as attractive as the nutrition—maybe even more so."
Jennifer Iserloh, aka the "Skinny Chef," says cricket flour is high in vitamins and minerals like B12, iron, and zinc, and tastes "very much like buckwheat flour with a hint of grassiness." It's also easy to incorporate into any meal from a smoothie to a main course to desserts, she adds. Intrigued? Try Iserloh's Grasshopper Truffles recipe, created exclusively for YJ readers. Eating crickets may feel a little creepy at first, but Iserloh promises that the flour makes for a yummy treat. "My neighbors even liked it (they are painfully honest)!" she says.
Grasshopper Truffles Recipe
½ cup ground almonds
¼ cup almond butter
2 tablespoons cricket flour
¼ teaspoon mint extract (optional)
3 ounces dark chocolate
Place the almonds, almond butter, and cricket flour in a medium bowl and mix until well combined. Roll into 16 ½-inch balls and transfer to a plate. Place in the freezer while you melt the chocolate. Place a sheet of wax paper on a plate and set aside.Place the chocolate and extract if using in a saucepan over very low heat. Melt the chocolate for about 1 minute, stirring constantly until soft and melted. Dip in the nut balls and transfer to the plate covered with waxed paper. Transfer to the fridge and chill 10 minutes until the chocolate covering is firm. Serve immediately.
Nutritional Stats Per Serving (1 truffle): 63 calories, 2 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 5 mg cholesterol, 1 g sugars, 1 g fiber, 12 mg sodium.