Gearing up for cooking a grand Thanksgiving feast this year? Truly Nolen suggests trying some new additions to your turkey dinner traditions. While different cultures have enjoyed consuming insects for centuries, most of the US is just now getting accustomed to the idea of adding fried, dried and chocolate covered bugs to our menus.
Spurring interest in insects as sustainable food sources
Initiated by a 2013 United Nations Food and Agriculture report, Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security, a growing interest in eating more insects is simmering in current food trends. As a potential solution to feeding an “estimated nine billion people globally, by the year 2050,” insects offer a surprising amount of nutritional value. As a sustainable food source, scientists are still working out how the sustainability issue works, considering farmers still need to use water and land resources to grow the same crops to feed insects as they do livestock and chickens.
Insects provide nutritional solutions to predicted global food shortage
In addition to eating bugs as a protein source, many insects provide nine essential amino acids and offer good sources for “B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and omega-3 fatty acid, alpha linoleic acid.” Also, because diners eat entire insects, even when eating muffins, breads and other baked goods made from ground insect flour, they benefit from the nutrient-rich exoskeletons, as well as, the protein from muscles.
Over 1,900 insect species are consumed by two billion people in different cultures around the world
Known as “entomophagy,” the practice of eating insects, edible insects include beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, termites, mealworms, ants and some bees, as well as many others. In Mexico, crickets, or “chapulines,” are enjoyed roasted with garlic and lime juice or served with guacamole. Mealworm tacos are considered a tasty treat south of the border as well. Crickets, commonly ground to make a nutritional flour are served fried as a bar snack in Thailand. Fried, sun-dried or steamed in banana leaves, termites have been consumed for eons in South America and Africa. With over 1,900 insect species consumed by two billion people in different cultures around the world, some insects are said to resemble nuts in flavor and that crickets taste somewhat like shrimp when fried and like sunflower seeds when roasted.
Insect farm sources make excellent time-saving choices for beginning bug chefs
In lieu of harvesting your own insects, you might want to save prep time by ordering insects from a reputable insect farm. Choose from a variety of pre-roasted, dried or fried beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms, waxworms, ants and other insects. For dessert, chocolate covered insects add flavor and nutritional value to cake and pie toppings, or can be served as is. For those who just can’t get their appetites around the idea of eating bugs, insect flours, powders and seasoning salts add a nutty, richer dimension when substituted for traditional ingredients.
Insect farmers offer a wide variety of insects online
These sites offer a wide range of insect products for your Thanksgiving dinner:
With these taste notes and insect sources in mind, Truly Nolen suggests some sweet and savory twists on traditional favorites for your Thanksgiving dinner festivities. We can’t think of better conversation starters.
- Pumpkin spice crickets make crunchy seasonal cocktail snacks.
- Lightly battered and pan-fried dragonflies served with a remoulade sauce add an exotic touch to your feast.
- Add crunch and flavor to your spinach artichoke dip with roasted beetles.
- Grasshopper kebabs are an attention-getting starter.
- Bee larvae, grasshoppers, crickets and other insects can take the place of bacon bits in salads.
- Gelatin salads make perfect dishes for extra flair and flavor, by adding waxworms.
- Side dishes
- Adding grasshoppers to your cornbread stuffing gives a traditional dish more flavor and nutrients.
- Crunchy crickets on top of your sweet potato casserole take the place of nuts.
- Cranberry sauce gets a tangy twist with citrus seasoned mealworms.
- Add crunchy insects to your green bean casserole for more flavor.
- Creative chefs can do a lot with roasted and chocolate covered insects.
- In pecan pies, on top of pumpkin pies, and as the crusts for these and other baked holiday favorites, your guests will also enjoy edible insects in cookies and brownies.
If a developing trend in eating insects piques your interest this Thanksgiving, your options for entertaining your friends and family with insect-infused recipes abound. Truly Nolen wishes you and yours a happy, healthy Thanksgiving. Should eating insects be in your plans this holiday season, bon appétit! For all other insect and household pest concerns, contact us to schedule a free pest inspection, or schedule one online. Happy Thanksgiving!
We leave you with some food for thought . . .
Girl Meets Bug’s Grasshopper Kebab Recipe
If you feel like you’re coming to grips with the whole eating insects thing . . . then show off your skills with grasshopper kebabs. Crunchy, tasty, and really revolting looking, this will start filtering out the truly dedicated bug bakers.
- 12 large grasshoppers or similar edible insect
- 1 large red bell pepper cut into chunks
- 1 white onion cut into wedges
For the marinade:
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1tsp honey
- ½ tsp fresh ginger (grated)
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp mixed garden herbs of your choice (eg rosemary, mint or thyme for a fresh summer feeling or oregano and basil for a more Mediterranean flavor)
- ¼ tsp salt
- Pinch ground pepper
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a glass bowl or baking dish. Add the insects, cover and leave in the fridge overnight. When ready to cook, remove the insects and gently pat them dry. Skewer the ingredients alternating between pepper, onion and insects so skewers are nicely arranged. Finally, drizzle some olive oil over the kebabs and cook a few inches above a fire for just under 10 minutes, or alternatively, under the grill turning regularly until all the ingredients are a golden brown and crispy.