While energy bars have come a long way since the early days when they were tooth-breaking slabs of sugar, there hadn’t been much in the way of out-of-the-box innovations in recent years beyond the upswing in using whole foods and Amazonian fruits du jour. Well, feast your eyes on the next big trend in nutrition geared towards the active crowd: meat and insect protein.
With heightened interest in gluten-free and Paleo eating, industrious food manufactures have set forth a bar and snack food revolution by infusing their products with ground-up crickets and beasts of the pasture like beef and bison for protein that goes way beyond whey and soy.
Actually, it’s not as far-fetched of an idea as you would think. Native peoples of North America once cherished their pemmican—a mixture of dried game meat, melted fat and native berries—to fuel their daily chores. Many cultures around the globe have been eating insects like crickets and grasshoppers for eons. A trip to a Thailand night market will surely show that many of them still do. The United Nations recently set off a media frenzy when they trumpeted bugs as a viable protein source for the ever-increasing human population that’s draining the planet’s resources. And not long ago the idea of eating raw fish was appetite-killing to most Americans, and now all-you-can-eat sushi joints are all over the place. So adventurous eaters listen up, these physique-friendly products will leave you chirping loudly.
Here’s a company taking jerky to a new level. Available in three flavors – spicy pepper, apple orange peel and slow smoked – the primary ingredients in these forward-thinking tender bars are buffalo and dried cranberries for a perfect hit of both savory and sweet. Each bar consists of 7 grams of muscle-friendly protein and only 70 calories. Absentees include added sugars, gluten, nitrates or MSG. Sourced from the Lakota Sioux Nation of South Dakota, sales support the Native American economy and the return of bison to their native range. Also, try their road-trip worthy bison bites and sticks. Game on!
For more info, go to Tankabar.com
If you came across a salad on a menu of an upscale bistro featuring strips of seared grass-fed beef, toasted walnuts, sweet-tart cherries and a habanero-laced dressing you’d likely be more than happy to pay big-bucks for such an ambrosial sounding dish. Well, the folks at Epic have found a way to smash these ingredients into a chewy bar with the perfect smoky-sweet-spicy mix. Each protein-packed bar stars drug-free grass-fed beef, which studies show has a superior nutritional profile to industrial feedlot cattle, including higher levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Cavemen of yesteryear would also approve of their beastly bison (bison, uncured bacon, cranberries), lamb (organic lamb, currants, mint) and turkey (turkey, almonds, cranberries) bar offerings.
For more, go to epicbar.com
No need to wield a spear to embrace your omnivorous side. These Paleo-worthy bars are sure to unleash your inner Arrr! Containing a perfect balance of fat, protein and carbs for sustained energy at the office or when lost the woods, each bar is made with an unlikely mixture of dehydrated pasture-raised Montana beef, almonds, sweet potato and flax that shouldn’t work but does. The bars are available in four palate-awakening flavors: cranberry rosemary, roasted peanut, chipotle barbecue and Thai-inspired mango curry. Time for a primal scream, indeed.
For info, to go omnibars.com
Who would have thought you’d find a bar with an ingredient list that contains acheta domestica, more widely known as the common house cricket? Even more unlikely is that it would taste awesome. Launched in 2012, Chapul uses food-grade insects that are baked and then ground into a fine powder that is a source of complete protein and various minerals. The trick, of course, is getting over the ick factor, which should not be a factor considering that any buggy flavor is entirely obscured by other inspiring ingredients such as roasted coffee beans, almond butter, ginger and cocoa powder that will get your taste buds chirping.
For more info go to chapul.com
Short for exoskeleton, this whimsically named company is focused on delivering high-nutrition bars packed with nuts, dried fruit, omega-plush flax and – you guessed it – crickets. Actually, slow-roasted and then ground crickets to be exact. In contrast to the massive amount of water and feed (and, thus, land) needed to raise conventional livestock, rearing crickets for consumption requires very little resources with almost no greenhouse gas production making protein-rich cricket flour crazy sustainable. Available in two smart gluten- and dairy-free flavors – peanut butter and jelly, and cocao nut – suddenly eating bugs never tasted so good.
Go to exoprotein.com for more info.
Thinking beyond the bar market, San Francisco–based Bitty Foods is baking up batches of grain-free cookies in a tasty attempt to make the introduction to entomophagy (the practice of eating insects) as gentle as possible. Available in three flavors – chocolate chip, orange ginger and chocolate cardamom – each guilt-free scrumptious cookie is made with a unique blend of cricket flour and cassava flour, which is gleaned from the South American cassava root vegetable. Fancy making your own bug infused pancakes or muffins? Order a bag of their cricket flour to put a chirp in your step come breakfast or desert time.
Go to bittyfoods.com