The latest superfood trend offers a product with twice as much protein as beef, more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk, and all nine essential amino acids. What is it? The lowly cricket – and it's worth giving a try.
Eating crickets is hardly a new idea. The Aztecs were grinding them into flour to make bread some 500 years ago, and Southeast Asian nations have been steaming, roasting, and currying up crickets for centuries. Today, they remain a common ingredient in Thai cuisine, and people in many areas of the world snack on these bugs.
Now, a handful of new companies are bringing them to Europe and North America, primarily in the form of cricket flour. The best form of cricket, for beginners, is found in energy bars, snack bars, and even cookies.
One of the first companies to incorporate cricket flour is Chapul (the Aztec word for cricket), which launched its line of three energy bars a few years back, but now they're really catching on. We suggest trying the Thai Bar, a hearty mix of coconut, ginger, and lime flavors. Along with cricket flour, it contains cashews, almond butter, organic dates, and organic raw honey for a salty-sweet treat that also packs in 8 grams of protein and 8 grams of healthy fats per 190-calorie bar. The peanut butter–and-chocolate-flavored Chaco Bar is protein-rich and tasty too, while the lower-calorie, lower-protein Aztec Bar, which pairs real cocoa with espresso beans and cayenne pepper, makes for an awesome, lighter snack.
Another, newer company, Exo, is the brainchild of two young guys who began crafting cricket-based energy bars in their house at Brown University. These bars are denser, heartier, and more filling than Chapul bars, each of the three Exo flavors – Peanut Butter & Jelly, Cacao Nut, and Cashew Ginger – packs in 40 crickets per bar equaling 10 grams of protein. Made with whole nuts, nut butters, and ground flaxseeds, they're also higher in calories than Chapul, at 270 to 300 per bar. Exo bars are also gluten-, dairy-, and soy-free.
You can also buy cricket baking flour to use at home. Bitty Foods slow-roasts and mills crickets into a fine flour that it sells in 20-ounce bags online. Use it to make protein-packed pancakes, muffins, waffles, or whatever you want. Bitty also whips up and sells cricket-packed chocolate-chip and chocolate-cardamom cookies.