Bug Dishes You Can Serve This Thanksgiving

Are you growing tired of the same old Thanksgiving dinner? You know the typical turkey with cranberry sauce, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and pumpkin pie!

Well, me neither. My stomach’s growling and my mouth watering just thinking about the savory meal!

But for those adventurous types out there, do you want to mix things up this turkey day? Why not try a “buggy Thanksgiving!”

It’s called entomophagy, or the art of eating insects, and it can offer a rather nutritional twist to your Thanksgiving dinner.

Here are a few bug dishes you can serve this Thanksgiving:

Main Dish: Deep Fried Scorpion On A Stick

 

Scorpions on stickscorpion noodles

We eat turkeys for Thanksgiving; turkeys love eating scorpions; thus we eat scorpions for Thanksgiving. Why not skip the middle man (or middle turkey), and go straight for the scorpions. If you want to get really technical, scorpions are not bugs. They are, however, equally as delicious!

***WARNING: Consuming scorpions can be dangerous. High heat is supposed to de-nature the proteins that compose the scorpion venom, but still, ingest at your own risk.

Ingredients:

  • 20-30 large scorpions
  • 5 skewers
  • 2-3 cups frying oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cornmeal

Directions:

  1. Freeze scorpions for 30 minutes prior to cooking to euthanize them (warning: some scorpions have been known to re-animate once thawed.)
  2. Remove tips of scorpion stingers to avoid some venom
  3. Thread scorpions on skewers, about 6 per
  4. Beat eggs
  5. Put cornmeal in paper bag
  6. Heat oil in large deep skillet
  7. Coat scorpion skewers in the egg wash
  8. Next, toss the skewers in a paper bag w/ cornmeal and shake gently until coated
  9. Toss coated scorpion skewers in skillet and flip occasionally
  10. Cook 5-7 minutes, completely submerging scorpions, until crispy
  11. Serve hot and crispy

Side Dish: Mealworm & Cornbread Stuffing

 

fried mealwormscornbread stuffing

The quintessential Thanksgiving side dish is of course, stuffing. For a delicious insect option, mix mealworms in with your stuffing. Mealworms have an earthy taste, and will add a unique depth and texture to your holiday favorite.

***Note: If you have an old box of stuffing in your cupboard; I’m talking older than three years, then you may already be set. Their may be insects crawling inside already. Yum!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups dried crumbled corn bread pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup mealworms
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons dried sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the celery and onion until soft.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the mealworms, celery, onions, 3 cups crumbled corn bread, eggs, chicken stock, sage and salt and pepper to taste; mix well.Place into prepared dish and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

Veggie Side Dish: Stir Fry Crickets, Veggies & Peas

 

Fried Cricketsveggie stir fry

 

I’m not that big of a veggie guy, but we do need some color to our plate. Why not crickets, veggies, and peas for our veggie side?

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup crickets
  • 1 cup chopped snap peas
  • 1 cup veggies of your choice
  • 1 cup chopped red cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Chop snap peas and cabbage.
  2. Heat oil in frying pan or small wok.
  3. Begin stir-frying veggies and crickets. After 1 minute or so, add crushed garlic.
  4. Once cooked to desired level of crunchiness, add salt and pepper.

Dessert: Cricket Pecan Pie

 

crispy cricketPecan Pie

The final element of the perfect “buggy” Thanksgiving meal is of course pie… cricket pecan pie! Because crickets are pan roasted, they taste a lot like the toasted pecans used in pecan pie; and have a similar crunch! They really are the perfect buggy substitute.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) toasted crickets
  • 1 (9-inch) unbaked or frozen deep-dish pie crust

Directions:

  1. Mix corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla using a spoon.
  2. Stir in toasted crickets.
  3. Pour filling into pie crust.
  4. Bake on center rack of oven at 350 degrees F, for 60 to 70 minutes
  5. Cool for 2 hours on wire rack before serving. Enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Thanksgiving Family

Whether you’ll be eating a traditional turkey dinner for Thanksgiving, or looking to try something a little more adventurous like cricket pecan pie; may your day be filled with family, friends, good food, and football. Happy Thanksgiving!

Insects Offer Solutions To Fight Hunger And Pollution

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization recently published data and information making a case to consider bugs and insects as a viable source of protein to help aid in world hunger and pollution. Third-world and other less developed countries already integrate insects into their daily diet and the Rome-based FAO believes that developed countries should follow suit.

Does that simply mean you’d be eating crickets on your pancakes in the morning and beetles in your burger in the evening? Well…yes, and no.

How exactly does this all work?

It’s a very complex and global process, so let’s start with the simple nutritional aspect of the issue. Gram-per-gram, edible insects such as grasshoppers and certain species of beetles and ants pack as much protein value as lean ground beef, expect without all the fat grams. It’s nearly pure protein. Other insects carry viable amounts of magnesium, iron, phosphorous and zinc.

Although they are fried, many cultures are accustomed to eating insects whole. Others have devised methods of grinding the insects down into a less-creepy form, and adding it to the meal as a supplemental ingredient. Ironically, one American man has even found a way to grind down crickets into a flower used in an all-organic (literally) protein bar, the Chapul Bar.

Some foods we eat here in the United States already have bug properties added to them, but not for the nutritional value. An internationally known dairy company uses cochineal extract from Peru to color its strawberry yogurt. Pharmaceutical companies have also been known to use bug extract to add color to their pills and medicines.

Little bugs with big consequences.

The FAO argues that as more nations introduce insects into their daily diet, it will have a long-term and global affect on the environment and pollution. People naturally look to meats and poultry as a main source of protein. The problem with that is that it requires the mass-management of cattle and chicken farms to sustain the supply the demand requires. These large growth farms have a few implications. First, they requires extremely large amounts of water. For this reason, the Colorado River nearly runs dry by the time it reaches the Gulf of Mexico because the water is used to supply farms and livestock along the route. Saving the amount of water is takes to maintain those farms would re-liven the integrity of such rivers around the country.

This brings us to our next point. On average, insects need about four pounds of feed to ultimately convert into the equivalent of two pounds of meat. Cattle require over 17 pounds of feed to produce 2 pounds of meat, and one cow offers several hundred pounds of meat. The difference in greenhouse gases emitted between the two scenarios and methods is astronomical. Environmentally speaking, cultivating insects for human consumption is a lot less harmful to the atmosphere than raising livestock to deliver the same result.

It’s certainly an interesting argument.

Fully integrating insects into our daily meal selection sounds a bit primitive, even if there are quantifiable health benefits versus the alternative norm. It will take a lot more than data and raising environmental issues to alter the psyche and tolerance of entire cultures and civilizations regarding the diet they have adopted for decades, even centuries. Ultimately, is it a viable and realistic solution? Probably. Food producers will have to integrate insects into food as an ingredient first, much like Chapul’s cricket bar.

First-world countries are a looong way off from adopting whole, fried insects as snacks and side dishes. Extracts must be the first step. Fried beetles are a ways down the road.

…unless you’re Salma Hayek… or Angelina Jolie.

Are Insects Paleo?

Beijing Snack....Scorpions on a stick
Scorpions on a stick (Photo credit: ming1967)

How do you know if somebody is doing CrossFit?

They will be sure to tell you all about it!

The CrossFit community is a passionate group to say the least. With all seriousness, you can definitely tell if somebody is avid about CrossFit, and has been doing it for awhile… Their muscles will be bulging out of their shirt.

With this growing nationwide Crossfit trend, many CrossFit enthusiasts are practicing the accompanying Paleo diet.

As a bug guy, this Paleo lifestyle struck my curiosity… “Are insects Paleo?”

What Is Paleo?

You’ve heard it called the caveman diet. Others call it the ancestral, primal, real-food, or nutrient-dense diet. Whatever you call it, the Paleo way of eating mimics the eating habits of our ancient ancestors.

Paleo (short for Paleolithic) is about eating the foods that were prevalent during the Paleolithic era. Sorry, jelly-filled powdered donuts where not available back then. Needless to say, eating Paleo is very challenging for most. In terms of weight loss, and changing your body shape; results can be amazing.

Paleo foods include lean meats, seafood, grass-fed beef, veggies, roots, berries, various nuts, and eggs. Pasteurized dairy products, grains, legumes, and refined foods are strictly off limits. So where do insects fit in on the spectrum?

eating scorpions
Eating Scorpions (Photo credit: istolethetv)

Are Insects Paleo?

While the thought of eating bugs is repulsive to some; insects are a healthy, protein packed, meat alternative food option.

So is this healthy meat alternative Paleo? Short answer… Yes.

According to Paleo traditionalists, anything with a face is Paleo; and that includes insects. With this definition, apparently cannibalism is also Paleo.

A Paleo diet is less about avoiding grains, legumes, pasteurized dairy and refined foods; and is more about eating nutrient rich foods that work well with your body. Insects like crickets, scorpions, grubs, and grasshoppers are packed with protein and are actually very healthy when prepared correctly.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, some insects contain twice the protein of raw meat and fish, while others, particularly in their larval stage, are also rich in fat, vitamins and minerals. Now that’s Paleo!

Paleo Flow Chart

CrossFit Flow Chart

 

Insects food stall in Bangkok, Thailand

Entomophagy- The Practice Of Eating Insects

Eating insects might seem like a gross act, better left for ‘Bizarre Foods’ host Andrew Zimmern. The truth is Entomophagy, or the act of eating insects, is a way of life for millions of people worldwide. People in less developed countries rely on insects for protein and other nutrients needed for survival. Scientists have long been touting insects as a protein-packed meat alternative that could help meet the world’s growing food demand.

While the practice of eating insects, may be unsettling for some people’s palates, different species of beetles, ants, bees, grasshoppers and crickets are eaten in 23 countries in the Americas, 29 countries across Asia, and 36 countries in Africa. In Thailand alone, 200 different insect species are consumed and are commonly sold as street snacks throughout the country.

Learn more about different country’s insect cuisine by clicking here.