What Happens When You Eat Bugs for 31 Days, Days 19-24

By Laura D’Asaro and Meghan Proulx

This is the fifth story in a series. Catch up on the firstsecond, third, and fourth stories.

Day 19

Breakfast: Peanut Butter Honey Mealworm Sandwich

(Or “the protein explosion,” as I refer to it.)

If you like protein and chunky peanut butter, then you should try out what I had for breakfast today.

I lightly blended a few handfuls of mealworms and a jar of peanut butter together, and aside from a little extra crunch, the mealworms were almost undetectable!

This is my new go-to spread, and not just because I now have a whole jar of super high protein peanut butter.

 Peanut butter spread not pictured above, I made it after.

Peanut butter spread not pictured above, I made it after.

Lunch: Cricket Lemon Kale salad

by chirps chips

After almost three weeks of eating bugs, I'm settling into some favorite dishes, and crickets-as-salad-topper is one of them.

Forget your precious sunflower seeds. Walnuts are over! And pecans are dead. Start stocking up on crickets!

Day 20

Breakfast: Worm salt and Ant Scrambled Eggs 

Chirps Chips

I introduced worm salt in the last blog and since then, I've started experimenting with it more in cooking! Worm salt has a fantastic smoky flavor that adds a unique kick to anything savory, a flavor that I've struggled to find as a vegetarian, so this morning I made fluffy scrambled eggs sprinkled with worm salt and ants.

Honestly, the ants were a bit much. When working with ants you have to ask yourself, "Would I put lemon on this?" and if the answer is no, then it’s probably not the right ingredient. I learned this the hard way.

Lunch: Mealworm Chow Mein Street Food 

I spent today at a jazz festival and I got very close to adding mealworms as a condiment option at someone else's food truck.

I picked up some chow mein from a food truck and then took it over to the condiment section to add some extra sauce and, of course, mealworms.

Chirps Chips

I immediately got some startled looks and questions (noticing a trend?) from other curious customers about what they were serving. I realized that next to the various shakers full of spices and croutons, the bag of mealworms looked like just another condiment.

"Is that GOOD?" someone asked. "Amazing!" I said. "You gotta try,"

He poured some on his food and I considered just leaving my bag there and watching people pour worms onto their food, but given my limited supply of bugs, I grabbed it once he had turned and left.

It was then that I realized just how easy it is to get people to do things when they see other people doing it. Bystander effect, amirite?

Dinner: Mealworm burrito bowl 

chirps chips

For dinner, I went out to a Mexican restaurant with friends, and for the first time, a waiter stopped and asked me what I was doing when I poured mealworms on top. "Why?" he wanted to know, but his English was limited and all I could think to say in Spanish was, "Porque son deliciosos" or "because they are delicious." A huge smile lit up his face and he shook his head in excitement. "In Mexico, we don't eat the worm bugs, but I ate the jumping bugs as kid." "Chapulines?" I asked. And indeed he told me about how they would buy grasshopper snacks and that his cousins would even catch them and fry them up.

Drink: Worm Salt Margarita

chirps chips

And things continued to get better today.

I was delighted to see that the next drink he brought out, a margarita, was brimmed with worm salt! It had a slightly different flavor than mine, but the same distinctive pinkish color and smokiness.

Just think, you might be eating bugs on your favorite food and drinks and not even know it.

Dessert- Ant cupcakes (Entomarket for ants)

That night I went to a potluck, to which I obviously brought store bought cupcakes decorated with ants. I put them by the dessert section and just watched people interact with them. "Wait. Karen! Look. Are those cupcakes SUPPOSED to have ants on them?"

chirps chips

And thus I realized yet again the importance of signage around insects.

If you didn’t know any better, insect food can look more like an unfortunate infestation. The good news is I had lots of cupcakes left over for myself!

Day 21 (Monday July 4th)

It’s the Fourth of July! I was worried that my plans for today would make eating bugs difficult. But, worry I need not!

What are the best bugs to eat on the 4th of July? A few recommendations:

Drink: Watermelon worm salt rimmed cocktail

chirps chips

Ingredients:

  • 1 watermelon
  • 4 cups vodka
  • 1 keg spigot
  • 1/8 cup worm salt

Directions

 (https://andrewzimmern.com/2014/03/11/make-watermelon-keg/)

  1. Cut off ½ inch from the bottom end of the watermelon so that it sits on a flat surface. Make sure that the surface that the watermelon will sit on isn’t cut too deep, just enough for it to sit evenly. 2. Cut about 2 inches from the top end, cutting through the rind completely in order to get at the flesh.

  2. Using a large spoon, scoop out the watermelon flesh from the top of the watermelon and transfer it to a bowl, making sure to leave about 3 inches of flesh at the bottom of the watermelon for the spigot to nestle into.

  3. Determine where to place the spigot on the surface of the watermelon, then press it firmly into the rind to make an indentation. Using a pointed paring knife, create a small opening, making sure to cut inside the line of the circular indentation.

  4. Press the spigot gently into the hole. Scrape away the flesh on the inside of the watermelon to reveal the end of the spigot.

  5. In a blender, combine 4 to 6 cups of watermelon flesh with 4 to 6 cups of water or alcohol. Fill the watermelon with the vodka and serve over ice.

  6. Pour worm salt into small plate

  7. Wet rim of glass

  8. Turn glass upside down in worm salt to create salt rim

  9. Add watermelon drink and enjoy!

Lunch: Mealworm Burger (Thanks to Entomo for mealworms)

chirps chips

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces

  • 1/2 onion, cut into wedges

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled

  • 1 egg

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

  • 1 tablespoon cumin

  • 1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce or hot sauce

  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs

  • 1/2 cups dried mealworms from Entomo Farms

Directions

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/85452/homemade-black-bean-veggie-burgers/

  1. If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and lightly oil a baking sheet.

  2. In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until it forms a thick paste.

  3. In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, mealworms, and garlic. Then stir into mashed beans.

  4. In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce.

  5. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.

  6. If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.

These were great! Ikea is actually using mealworms to make insect meatballs in Copenhagen, and it makes sense why. Mealworms are the most viable meat replacement I've found so far. They add a nuttiness and realness to veggie burgers that you just can't get with vegetables alone.

The rest of my meals for the day were basically just potluck foods that I poured bugs onto.  

I did, however, find my “Uncle Sam and Ant America" cheesecake to be delightful; crickets were a great addition to chips and dip.

 "Uncle Sam and Ant America" Cheesecake

"Uncle Sam and Ant America" Cheesecake

The theme of these past 24 days has been - when you are eating bugs, people are curious, and the potluck was no exception. Generally, someone will give one of the bug foods a try and answer with the inevitable, "Hey! That's actually pretty good!"

It’s all about how you perceive food.

If you give edible bugs to a 4-year-old, they just eat the bugs and love them because they have yet to have a fear of bugs instilled in them. We are not born with an innate fear or disgust of bugs; it’s entirely learned. Watching adults (re)discover the fun of eating bugs never gets old to me.

Day 22

Lunch: Red Pepper and Cricket Tomato Soup

Recipe from Entomo Farms

http://entomofarms.com/featured_item/red-pepper-tomato-cricket-soup/

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tablespoons butter 1 cup onion chopped

  • 1 cup roasted red peppers diced

  • 1 28oz can crushed organic tomatoes

  • 1/3 cup fresh basil chopped

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock

  • 2 Tbsp (20 g) cricket flour

  • 2 Tbsp dried crickets (I got mine from Entomo) 1/2 cup 10-12% cream (optional)

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in medium saucepan.  On medium heat, sauté the onion until soft, approx. 5 minutes.  Add red pepper, tomatoes, basil, sugar and salt.
  2. In a large bowl whisk stock and cricket powder together.  Slowly stir into the soup pot with tomatoes etc. Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and cool slightly to puree in food processor or use a hand blender to purée in the pot.
  4. Return to low heat and stir in the cream, do not boil.  Adjust spicing to taste, top with a crouton or two and you are done!
  5. Ready to serve…….with some fresh baguette perhaps? Yum!

Dinner: Bug-rrito (Thanks to Entomo for crickets)

An easy way to add protein to a burrito is to fold crickets into it. Here is one of my favorite burrito recipes with crickets added https://gimmedelicious.com/2016/03/08/quick-veggie-and-rice-burritos/

Ingredients

  • 1/2 onion sliced

  • 1/2 bell pepper sliced (any color)

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

  • 2 large flour tortillas

  • 1 ripe avocado sliced

  • 1/2 cup pinto or black beans

  • 1/4 low-fat cup sour-cream

  • 2 tablespoons Mexican salsa

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 cup cooked rice

  • 1/2 cup dried crickets

Instructions

  1. Begin by cooking down the rice. You can use any type of rice you have ready on hand.

  2. While the rice is cooking, place a pan on medium-high heat.

  3. Add the olive oil, onions, crickets, and bell peppers. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the onions are clear and the veggies begin to brown on the edges. Turn off heat and set pan aside.

  4. Lay a flour tortilla on a flat surface. Top with half of the fajita veggies, 1/2 sliced avocado, 1/4 cup beans, 2 tablespoons sour-cream, 1 tablespoon salsa, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

  5. Fold in the sides of the tortilla over the filling and roll up to completely enclose. Wrap in foil and cut in half. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Day 23

Lunch: Lemon Locust Salad

When I was looking for recipes for a locust salad, I kept coming across these newspaper headlines of people finding locusts in their salads at restaurants. Really? This is headline worthy? Clearly we just need more locust salad recipes! So here is mine.

eat bugs

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chopped locusts
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar dressing
  • 1/2 cup chopped green and red peppers
  • 1/4 cup sliced cucumber
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 fresh squeezed lemon
  • 1/3 cup caramelized yam
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 1 cup lettuce or spinach of your choice

Directions:

  1. Cut yam into strips and cook with 1 tbsp oil in pan for 5-20 minutes or until lightly brown

  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss together, saving a few whole locusts and feta for the top!

Fun facts about locusts:

  1. Locusts are one of the bugs that have gotten a new name in the food world, and quite a nice one at that, "Sky Prawns." Now we just need to re-name the rest.

  2. They are Kosher! The Torah talks specifically about eating locusts, as when the locusts would descend and eat the crops.

  3. Locusts only only appear every 13 or 17 years (depending on the species), and often come in swarms. Because of this, areas that get locusts usually have some tradition around eating them, even here in the United States.

Dessert: Waterbug ice cream 

Water bug ice cream is BOMB. Seriously. Make this for your friends and have them guess what kind of crazy flavor it is. Pineapple? Melon? Guava? I think it’s safe to assume most people won’t guess bug.

If anyone out there has an ice cream shop, I'm telling you - this should be the flavor of the month. Every month.

Hit me up and we'll make it happen.

There are many ways to do this, from just getting a pint of vanilla ice cream and mixing in a couple of drops of giant water bug extract to making it the old fashioned way. How ever you do it, just remember that water bug extract is intense! Only use a couple drops per pint of ice cream.

Day 24

Today is my last day of semi-normal eating before I eat ONLY bugs for an entire week. I was a bit nervous so I sought comfort in leftovers today.

Wish me luck.

Overall:

I have lost another pound, bringing the total up to 3 lbs at this point and I still notice myself feeling fuller for longer.

There are some other things I've noticed. I got sick this week, but it was the fastest cold I've ever had. I was sick for about 2 days and then was fine. The reason I bring this up is that there has been some research that shows eating insects boosts the immune system in rats and helps with gut biome. I can't say anything conclusive except for: “Wouldn't that be cool!” and “Get out of here Vitamin C... Bring on the crickets!”

My main conclusion is that bugs are food. I didn't turn green, didn’t have digestive issues, or even feel that different, which makes SENSE. We are meant to eat bugs and I have found that eating them regularly in no way negatively affected me. Quite the opposite, actually!

Also, If I ever choose to to do something like this again, I think I will incorporate body building into my program

Starting tomorrow, however, I'll be eating only bugs for a week. We'll see how THAT turns out.