Cooking and Baking with Cricket Powder from Loblaw’s

Loblaw’s in Canada recently introduced cricket powder to the food it carries. The website description is this (also see President’s Choice website).

Made with crickets farmed right here in Canada, this 100% cricket powder is a nutritious, versatile food that is high in protein and an excellent source of vitamin B12. Finely ground with a mild taste, it can be added to smoothies, sauces, chili, curries and baking batters.

CAUTION: PEOPLE WHO ARE ALLERGIC TO CRUSTACEANS AND SHELLFISH MAY HAVE AN ALLERGIC REACTION TO CRICKETS.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has a fair article on the product.

 

Benefits summary

  • Lots of protein (13g for every 19g or 68% – think 2/3 protein by weight).
  • Don’t need to each so much of cricket powder to get the same amount as meat that is generally about mid-20% protein pending method of preparation (beef 26%, pork 27%, chicken – think 1/4 by weight).
  • Less bad stuff like trans-fats with your protein compared to meat.
  • Lots of Vitamin B12 that’s very good for your body.
  • Far better for the environment than livestock protein sources (produces less greenhouse gases, and requires less feed, water and land – see some stats from Fortune magazine article).

 

Drawbacks summary

  • Reaction some people get to the thought of eating insects, but you can get over that.
  • May be similar to shellfish in terms of allergy reaction for some.
  • Powder texture but it’s very fine, with weight not to disperse easily into the air. No crunching or grinding when eating as if it were dirt or sand.
  • Mild peanut butter, or just generally nutty, taste.
  • $12.38 per 100g price. Compared to what I otherwise get for food makes me feel like I need to handle it the way some handle crack, not wanting to waste or lose any of it, whether from sprinkling, or seeing some stuck to side of bowls or containers with food into which I put in cricket powder! Being Asian, I call it “Asian crack” as a joke ,without being inappropriate by the rules of stand-up comedy not to pick on demographics treated as lower than yours in society (e.g. men don’t pick on women, whites don’t pick on ethnic minorities, able bodied don’t pick on challenged people).

So far, I have thought up and tried a variety of practical ways to integrate cricket powder into my diet, which I will share below. I’ve been happy with all the results. However, I will have to do some comparison to how much protein I get from other sources to decide whether I will keep on buying the stuff. It’ll come down to price, for me, in other words, because everything else seems good so far!

 

General advice

With the cricket powder being expensive, you’ll want to get the most out of it. This means not wasting it like spilling, and not wasting it like efficiency. Examples of the latter include dissolving cricket powder in soup base which you’re not going to drink all or most of it, or cooking it like cooking some veggies causes them to lose nutritional value. So keep those things in mind when using it if you were concerned about getting value for your money.

You get 2.5X the protein for the same weight as meat so you don’t need that much. Unless you were looking to replace or use in place of meat protein sources, think of this as a nice supplement. It was suggested a tablespoon, or even teaspoon, would do. Do it several times a day and you’ve got yourself a decent amount, rather than cramming it all into one meal where it might then have a taste impact.

You can keep the cricket powder in the pack and scoop out with spoons, or you can put it in an empty spice bottle and sprinkle it out. I would advise both if you have enough for both options, as each has its conveniences.

 

Some suggested meals

I’m not keen on recipes so I’ll just described how I used the cricket powder. You can make something similar that is your version of the same thing, your way, and add the cricket powder. If you want some recipes, this Chatelaine article has some, along with the sample video below.

 

Peanut butter sandwiches

Since the cricket powder tastes a tad like mild peanut butter, or a nutty taste, generally, where it would be least intrusive is on peanut butter. You can use peanut butter to make lots of foods, of course, but by far the quickest and easiest thing to do is sprinkle a teaspoon of cricket powder (maybe 3g?) on to your peanut butter sandwich. Make this a habit of one each day and there’s a small batch of protein right there. A package from Loblaw’s will be good for 38 of these sandwiches if my 3g estimate were accurate! If you were worried about the taste being noticeable, or want variety, do peanut butter and jam on some days, and peanut butter and honey (there’s a kind you can spread like butter) on other days. Honey is better than jam for nutritional and health impact. Go for just the honey some days, even!

 

Pasta salad

After you boil the pasta and drain the water, sprinkle a tablespoon or so around the top and mix. I prefer to add a tablespoon of olive oil first too keep the pasta from sticking. The oil helps the powder stick to the pasta better, too, as if to coat it as you mix the pasta around rather than powder still stuck on the pasta, and falling off as you eat or by lunch tomorrow. The pasta will look a little “dirty” with the cricket powder upon first mixing, but good mixing can help it look a bit more like whole wheat rather than general pasta, if you were using the latter. If you use whole wheat pasta, it will be less discernible. By the time you add everything else into your pasta salad, it will be hardly noticeable.

 

Quinoa salad

Add after you get your quinoa into wherever you’ll be eating it, and before the rest of the salad. Do NOT use olive oil with quinoa as that will turn it into something between Play-doh and toothpaste with quinoa texture. Bleh!

 

Pasta with tomato sauce

Sprinkle the cricket powder on like spice you’d add to your tomato pasta sauce on pasta, then mix. Sprinkling from a spice bottle will help with even distribution, even though you’ll still mix it. Unfortunately, put clumps of something into sauces and it’s hard to separate it out well far from the original spot. Do not use with cream sauces that are light in colour unless you don’t mind the change in colour because the cricket powder will change cream sauce colour quite a bit.

 

Baking with cricket powder

I don’t bake but here are some great suggestions for baking with cricket powder from Chatelaine magazine.

 

Chocolate milk and other milk

With milk of any kind, you will probably drink all of it and not leave a lot stuck to the side, milk or cricket powder added. The strong flavouring in chocolate milk, as well as its brown colour and slightly powdery taste would lend itself perfectly to cricket powder consumption. I suspect you can probably add a tablespoon to a glass and not even notice. I will have to get some to try next time I get groceries but the chocolate milk should be able to handle a nice little load of cricket powder for some protein kick. You can probably increase your protein intake by 150-200% for a 250 mL serving of chocolate milk, pending the brand you buy and how much cricket powder you add (nutrition value for chocolate milk).

For regular or other milk that is white, the cricket powder will make your milk look a tad like chocolate milk, pending how much or little you add. The taste of the cricket powder will be a bit more prominent than the sweetened chocolate milk, especially if you were consuming the unsweetened version of any milk, like soy milk. You’ll have to do trial and error tests for what will and won’t work for you.

 

Coke or Pepsi?

Well, the stuff is brown just like the cricket powder. You can drink every last drop of it not to waste any powder. The fizz and sweetness will certainly mask any inkling of a taste or texture, though I’m not sure if the carbonic acid will do anything to strip the cricket powder of its taste. Generally, though, unless I were taking big quantities of the stuff, like if I stopped eating meat and needed to replace the protein from meat, I would only resort to putting cricket powder in Coke or Pepsi as a way of a little of sugar helps the medicine go down! Sorry, Mary Pop-puns. 😉

 

Sprinkle it like spice

The cricket powder is super fine like a spice. Given it’s about 2/3 protein by weight, and that 3 grams isn’t that much in volume, sprinkle it like a spice on some food. Food with strong flavouring will help mask its presence, but not really necessary. You won’t, or will hardly, know it’s there. Sprinkling it like spice will get you a couple of grams of protein. It’s not a huge amount, equivalent to 70 mL or 2.5 ounces of soy milk, or 8 grams of meat, without all the other stuff in those foods, but if you were needing the protein, every bit helps. It’d be more if you were to add it to more than one meal a day, or more than one food (or course) per meal. Like pennies in a change jar, it adds up!

 

Hopefully, this has given you a good gist of what you can do with cricket powder if you want to add it to your diet. Please post comments or questions if you have any. I’d love to hear from you and will try to answer some questions where I can, though I’m no expert on the matter. I just have some experience and ideas. Enjoy!

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