A Health Lesson in Entomophagy, aka Eating Bugs

NYC is only a 3.5 hour train ride from Boston but I can’t believe how different our two cities really are. From the amazing restaurants with healthy options to the wacky fitness and food trends. Today’s guest blog is something you would never find me blogging about… eating bugs! I didn’t believe it myself. I also asked Becky to share her favorite healthy NYC restaurants for those (like me) who are not ready to give Jiminy a taste.

Hey guys! I’m Becky, a marketing/food studies student at NYU with a few thoughts on the future of food and fitness. You can check out my food styling/photography work and see what I’m eating at my website, http://blairfoodproject.com/.

Step aside, powdered whey/soy/pea protein! The newest healthy food trend has arrived, and it might surprise (and maybe terrify) you, but trust me—crickets are the new quinoa. Think about it—all over Asia, Africa and even Australia, bugs are enjoyed as a nutritious and sustainable source of low-carb, low-fat protein. Blame the negative stigma surrounding bugs on American media (I’m looking at you, Fear Factor), because there’s really nothing to be afraid of. Most bugs serve as a complete protein, containing all of the essential amino acids.

And get this—100 grams of top sirloin beef has about 29 grams of protein and 21 grams of fat, while the same amount of grasshopper contains 20 grams of protein with only six grams of fat. The nutrition aspect is only part of the appeal, because insects are by far the most sustainable living protein source out there. Farming insects emits ten times less greenhouse gas than farming livestock does! Crickets are a great example of the sustainability of eating insects, because they require six times less feed than cattle to produce the same amount of protein. They also produce 80 times less methane than cattle! Here’s a fun fact for you wannabe cavewomen—insects are a paleo protein source in the most literal sense—our Paleolithic ancestors really were munching on crickets and beetles!

Exo cricket bars

Don’t get me wrong—just because I’m down with entomophagy (eating bugs) doesn’t mean I’m about to munch on a mouthful of mealworms or throw a caterpillar in my bag for a snack between classes. As entomophagy becomes more widely accepted, I suspect we’ll see a rise in healthy, protein-packed packaged food producers that use insects. My current favorite of these is Exo, a protein bar company based out of New York City that uses fruit, nuts and cricket flour (dehydrated and ground crickets) to create sustainable, nutritious and seriously good bars (think Larabars with added protein and nutrients). They come in PB&J, Cashew Ginger and Cacao Nut, all developed by a 3 Michelin Star chef. As if the health benefits and the environmental sustainability aren’t appealing enough, the taste and texture will have you chirping with joy (… bad joke?).

If you’re like Sarah (who says she could never eat crickets) and still aren’t sold, I can definitely recommend some amazing and bug-free food spots in NYC.

Foods collage

My favorite go-to affordable breakfast in the West Village is at Oatmeals, a cozy café that serves up—you guessed it—all kinds of oatmeal (see top left picture). Think Pinkberry but for oats (seriously, why didn’t I think of this?!). With a seemingly infinite range of healthy topping options (from fresh fruit to chia seeds, hemp hearts and greek yogurt), you won’t even feel guilty when you indulge in a bowl of salted caramel apple oats every once in a while.

For lunch and dinner, my all-time favorite meal in the city is at Westville (top right), where the list of perfectly prepared market vegetables takes up almost an entire page of the menu.

After dinner, you can find me at Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Company in Union Square, where the froyo-like soft serve is made of just fruit, water and a touch of organic cane sugar (bottom right pic). I also can’t get enough of the gluten-free and vegan baked goods at Babycakes on the Lower East Side, which somehow taste even better than the gluten-filled alternative (bottom left).

Hope you fit foodies are inspired to try a crazy new product, or at least discovered some new NYC eateries to check out. Best of luck!
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