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Does Cricket Flour Bug You?

Photo Credit: N@ncyN@nce/Flickr
Photo Credit: N@ncyN@nce/Flickr

Until a week or two ago, I had never heard of cricket flour. Yes. Flour made out of dehydrated, ground up crickets. But then somebody brought some cricket-flour cookies into work and they were passed around the lunch table.

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Hey Mikey! I liked them!

They were actually pretty good. Chocolatey. Like… a cookie. Because the crickets had been pulverized into dust, they didn’t FEEL like crickets. (ie., I could not distinguish any little antennae or cricket-legs as I ate my cookie) There was no discernible cricket or insect like flavor. They just tasted like.. cookies. I had no idea I had stumbled onto a hot new food craze. WHO KNEW?

A company here in the Bay Area produces both these cookies and the flour they’re made of. At first I was thinking, WHYYYYY? but then today I read this article about how my newfound love, almond milk, is sending us deeper into drought-land by the minute, and how we might all end up eating dried insects if this keeps up. Or how maybe we should, anyhow.

According to Bitty’s website,

Cricket flour is a tasty source of sustainable nutrition, packed with protein, healthy fats and micronutrients. We start with sustainably raised crickets, which are slow roasted to bring out their nutty, toasted flavor. Then we mill them into a fine flour that becomes the basis of our delicious, high-protein baked goods and baking mixes.

All our products are free of grains and processed sugar, and are made with coconut oil rather than dairy products. Best of all, they taste terrific. When you’re starting with an ingredient as good as cricket flour, why would you add any of the “bad” stuff?

Crickets are also one of the most sustainable forms of protein on the planet. Last May, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization published an incredible report concluding that edible insects may be the key to stabilizing the global food supply.

According to the UN, if edible insects become a part of the mainstream global diet, we can reduce greenhouse gases by 18%, and lower the average cost of food globally by 33%. Check out Bitty founder Megan Miller’s TED Talk to learn more about the benefits of cricket flour.

So what do you think? Would you eat cricket flour products to save the planet?

I’m not quite ready to pop a chili-flavored insect in my mouth, feet and all, but I just… might… be able to start with flour.

New Comfort Food: Pesto Roasted Cauliflower

One of the great things about leading WW meetings is that I have to pay attention to all these elements of the program that are really, really helpful. This morning I said something along the lines of finding new foods or new ways of enjoying old foods, to keep things “fresh.”

I’m still sort of on the sick side. I’ve got pretty low energy and a sore throat. Yesterday I was surprised at how much I felt like eating. I wanted real comfort food, like mashed potatoes and pudding. Baby food.  I realized that if I keep going too long like this, without exercising, soon I’m going to be in trouble.

So on the way home from the meeting I stopped at the Farmers Market. I spotted a cauliflower. I didn’t really think about it much. But I brought it home, chopped it up and put it in the over (425) for half an hour. When the buzzer went off, it was crispy and browned, crunchy and yet soft on the inside. I mixed it with a little jarred pesto and put it in a big bowl. OH WOW. It was like… the best comfort food ever. I was so happy. And it happened spontaneously. This was one of the few things we discussed in today’s meeting and it felt so good to just implement it in a way that satisfied my need for comfort and yet is still really healthy.

Now, a nap. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

GrownUps’ Chicken Pot Pie

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WOW have I had a culinary experience tonight. First, let me back up and say that a month or so ago, I was contacted by the authors of a new cookbook, Almost Meatless, to see if I’d like to cook, photo and blog about a recipe from the book for an “Almost Meatless Blogger Potluck.” This sounded like great fun to me, and I really liked the premise of the book (using meat as more of a condiment than a heavy main ingredient) They assigned me (after I’d chosen a few from their table of contents) to “Chicken Biscuit Pot Pie.” This sounded yummy. I LOVE chicken pot pie, and have forever. But it’s generally not been either WW- or-diabetes friendly (mostly due to the pie crust) so I’d been resigned to not eating much of it in my future. I jumped at the chance to get a healthier version.

Well. Let me say. This cooking experience was memorable!

FIRST let me say that for a working mom, this recipe is neither cheap, nor easy nor quick. It is NOT something to whip up on a week night when one does not have all manner of ingredients in one’s pantry.

I left work at 5:15 pm. Went to store. Ended up having to buy almost $70 of ingredients because I didn’t HAVE a lot of this stuff. Whole wheat pastry flour. Wheat bran. Bottle of white wine. Leeks. Parsnips.  Etc. Here are my groceries.

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Got home at 6:15pm. Commenced cooking. Luckily, I had already bought several munchies which was a GOOD THING. The kids were not home. This was also a VERY GOOD THING. I had some friends coming over and they ended up being my very patient food-testing guinea pigs. Ditto, good thing.

I decided to follow the recipe as faithfully as possible, which I often don’t. But I wanted to be faithful to the original so I could give an honest assessment of both the process and the product.

It took me exactly TWO HOURS to make, start to finish. I had my mother chopping along as assistant. Without her, it could’ve been two and a half. Let me just say that was almost a deal breaker right there.

This could make a lovely, for-company, WEEKEND meal but no no no no no way could one sanely manage this on a school/work night. It was actually quite entertaining and laughable, and had there been offspring in the house, someone would have ordered pizza hours ago.

Anyway. I found the process not difficult, but VERY long. Very very long. It was an exercise in slow food. I kept thinking, this better be worth it.

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At 8:15, the timer went off (so did the smoke alarm, because it had bubbled over the top into the oven floor, causing a lot of smoke). I took pictures. I thought it was strikingly beautiful. We ladled it into bowls. There were 5 grownups in attendance. The comments were:

  • Needs more salt.
  • Delicious.
  • I would order this in a fancy gourmet comfort-food restaurant.
  • Complex.
  • It was okay, but it took so long.
  • The top was like a bran muffin.
  • The flavors and texture remind me of Thanksgiving and stuffing!
  • I couldn’t tell that the parsnips were not potatoes. This is probably a healthy substitution.
  • The broth is fantastic.
  • I would totally eat this. I AM eating this! Yum!

SO. I think the reviews (including my own) were generally VERY enthusiastic, but overall, this was all overshadowed by the insane amount of time and work that went into producing this dish.

When I make Chicken Pot Pie for my family, it’s five minutes of prep and five ingredients: a rotisserie chicken, Pillsbury pie crust, a bag of frozen vegies and two cans of Healthy Choice cream of chicken soup. Voila. My family loves it. (I actually got this recipe from the WW site, I think) I KNOW my kids would not be wild about the Grownup Version. But I would definitely make it for company. I would definitely make a leisurely afternoon of preparing it.

But this cookbook was not advertised to be quick, easy OR cheap. Just healthier, and delicious, which it delivered on in both areas.

Have a few hours to kill and a desire for some yummy healthy food? Recipe below the break!! Continue reading “GrownUps’ Chicken Pot Pie”

Food That Works

Today was overall a good food day, after my bad start with the scary numbers (I haven’t re-tested). But I did have a bit of an internal tantrum when I went grocery shopping later in the morning. I almost cried when I saw a magazine cover with a luscious photo of macaroni and cheese (“the comfort food issue”). I found myself gazing longingly at the bread. I ended up buying a loaf of artisan olive bread to go with the soup I was going to make for company.

I made Brazilian black bean soup for friends who came for lunch. It disappeared INSTANTLY and we all agreed it was the best black bean soup EVER.  I topped it with nonfat sour cream and it was just so good. I did have a slice of the olive bread with some olive/walnut tapenade I got at the farmers market yesterday. I have no idea if this was a terrible thing to do, or not so bad.

For dinner, I made this sundried tomato/goat cheese/basil chicken from Kalyn’s Kitchen. I was a bit nervous about trying something new, and a little worried about Picky Eating daughter, but everyone in my family LOVED it. I also stir fried some asparagus with lemon/artichoke pesto. It was gooooood.

So everything tasted delicious today. My only “slip” was the olive bread. I felt grateful to find things that I could really enjoy eating.

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