If you are looking for a high protein and gluten-free food, consider cricket flour, or cricket protein powder. Insect-based food products are increasingly in the news, with speeches made at a recent TED talk, and NPR reporting on this trend last spring. In 2013, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization stated that insect fortified foods are an excellent source of protein and essential amino acids, including tryptophan and lysine. And Consumer Reports stated that cricket flour products were enthusiastically received at the National Products Expo last year. Over 75% of the world’s population includes some type of insects in their diet. Now this trend is coming to North America and Europe.
What is Cricket Flour?
Cricket flour starts with domestically raised crickets from farms that are dried or roasted and then ground up into a protein powder. Over twenty-five companies are already producing cricket flour. Most companies choose Acheta domesticus crickets, because they have an extremely high protein content, and mild taste. Other companies choose to outsource their crickets from local insect farmers. The crickets are then frozen and shipped to the flour producer. The crickets are harvested at between 6-8 weeks old and then are dried in the sun, roasted in the oven or dehydrated to remove all moisture. Once dried, they are ground coarsely and then sifted to remove the legs and wings. Then the powder is run through a second milling machine that grinds it down to a fine powder. This powder is then tested for consistency and packaged.
Crickets are much more environmentally friendly than traditional sources of protein such as cattle, sheep and pigs. To get the same amount of protein, crickets up to 6 times less food and water than cattle. Cattle require up to 2500 gallons of water to produce one pound of dry protein. To get one pound of dry protein from crickets only requires one gallon of water. This alone could have a tremendous impact on the environment, especially in drought stricken regions, like California.
Many people seem to think that this flour has a naturally nutty taste that is mild and can easily be mixed with other ingredients. Some crickets are fed a special diet of apples, mint or other ingredients that can affect their taste, or make it more adaptable to certain products. Cricket flour is not a substitute for wheat flour, rather it is an entirely new ingredient that can be used in protein bars, drinks or smoothies, and baked products that adds a significant protein boost, as the following nutritional information indicates.
Cricket Powder Nutritional Information
Two tablespoons of cricket protein powder equals one serving and contains the following:
- 50 calories
- 7 grams protein
- 2 grams fat
And helps meet your daily requirements of the following:
- 4% iron
- 2% calcium
- 17% vitamin B12
- 25% of vitamin B2.
For comparison’s sake, one egg is about 100 calories and only has 6 grams of protein. Beef also contains less protein per serving than cricket flour, and has more fat. 100 calories worth of beef contains about 11 grams of protein, while 100 calories of cricket flour has 14 grams of protein.
Cricket flour is starting to appear in a wide variety of products. Most people who try these products say they taste surprisingly good and that they would never know they included insect material. Cricket flour can be mixed with numerous ingredients that have a much stronger taste, such as peanut butter, dates, chocolate, berries, ginger, or coconut. Some examples of popular cricket-based foods include Exo Protein Bars, high protein chips, cricket powder milkshakes, Bitty brand cookies, instant oatmeal, and baked cricket snacks. New items are being developed all the time, as word gets out about how nutritious cricket flour is.
Incorporate Cricket Protein Powder in Your Daily Diet
- Use cricket flour in place of wheat or gluten-free flour by replacing 1/3 of the amount of flour needed with cricket flour. This will not alter the outcome of your recipe but will add a huge boost of protein. This substitution should work for most baked goods, but experiment with the ratios to suit your taste.
- Add two tablespoons of cricket flour to smoothies. Try blending together one banana, one cup almond milk, a few berries, and two tablespoons of cricket protein powder for breakfast.
- Sprinkle cricket flour on salads or mix it into mashed potatoes or other vegetables. Also try mixing it into a cheese or tomato sauce before pouring over gluten-free pasta.
Given its unique properties, cricket flour can be an important nutritional component of your diet, especially in these situations.
- Athletic Training. If you are a body-builder or are preparing for a race or other athletic event, cricket powder can support your increased activity level, and help you gain muscle mass. Cricket powder is an excellent addition if you are on a low-carbohydrate diet. If you are training, you may need more than 100 grams of protein per day. This can be extremely difficult to get from a traditional diet of meat and potatoes without consuming way too many calories. Cricket powder can help you meet the high protein requirements your body needs when training.
- Weight Loss. Cricket flour can also be instrumental in helping you meet your weight goals by assisting you burn stubborn body fat. Reduce the carbohydrates in your diet, by replacing them with protein rich cricket flour products. Some protein bars have up to 36 grams of carbohydrates, along with added sugar. Since cricket flour has only .8 grams of carbohydrates per serving, you can get the needed protein to help you lose weight with far less carbs.
- Gluten-Free. Cricket flour is another good gluten-free option for those with Celiac disease or an allergy to wheat and gluten products. As always, make sure to read the label. Some cricket protein powder products contain wheat flour (such as baked goods, and some bars.)
Consider adding some nutritious cricket flour to your diet this year. As with any new food, start with small portions to make sure your body has time to adjust to this new source of protein. Most people tolerate cricket flour very well, though, so stock up on some cricket-based protein bars for your next adventure!