If my postman knew quite how many parcels involving foods made from insects he brings to my house he might refuse to deliver. Latest up is Nutribug’s new insect pasta which plopped through the door from Thailand just the other day. Yep, you read that right, it’s pasta made from bugs.
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Nutribug is one of over 100 insect food companies that have set up around the world in the last few years.
Their premise is simple. Eating insects is the future.
But, as most people can’t cope with scenes like the snacktastic display above that I found in a market in Beijing and so, they’re breaking us all in gently by using cricket flour in things like bread, crackers and, in Nutribug’s first offering – cricket flour pasta.
Why Is Eating Insects a Good Thing
It’s been said that eating insects is the future.
They are cheaper to produce than meat and comparable in terms of protein, but lower in fat – a ratio that is generally beneficial to health.
Insects also include a surprising number of nutrients including iron, calcium, B12 and omega-3 fats.
A recent trial at Colorado State University also found they have some specific health benefits. Volunteers eating muffins containing cricket flour saw improvements in their levels of gut bacteria and reduced inflammation in the gut. ‘Crickets contain a fibre called chitin not found in many other foods. We can’t digest this and we think it reaches the colon where it feeds beneficial bacteria,’ explains study author Professor Tiffany Weir. Not only is this good for the gut it’s also suspected that it might help improve weight control.
And, considering both lowered levels of inflammation and a healthy level of gut bacteria have both been linked to improved health and mood, who knows what else might benefit from adding a few bugs to your daily diet.
Is Nutribug Insect Pasta Healthy?
‘We’re having this for tea this week,’ I said to The Boyfriend gleefully waving the packet with its pretty bug drawings. ‘You can have it for tea this week, I’m having penne,’ he said not entering into the spirit of things at all. Spoilsport.
If only I could have tricked him, but, the Nutribug tubes are brown (although new pictures seem to show it being whiter than I remember) and our house is a white pasta zone.
Despite the colour though, it’s not a super wholemeal wheat concoction – in fact, it doesn’t contain wheat at all.
Instead, it’s a mix of brown rice, cassava flour and insecty excitement.
This makes it gluten-free, wheat-free, egg-free, dairy-free and soy-free – and while it’s not carb-free, the extra protein from the insect flour does mean it has twice the protein as normal rice pasta – about 6.3g per 50g (dry weight) serving.
While I’m not sure it’s been measured, that theoretically means it has a lower GI than normal gluten-free pasta – which means it turns to sugar slower in the body. This is a good thing.
Caloriewise, Nutribug is pretty much similar to the wheat-based stuff at 190 per 50g of dry weight pasta.
The verdict, therefore, yes, Nutribug Insect Pasta can be classed as healthy.
It is a bit pricier than your normal penne though – a 250g bag cost £3.50.
What Does Nutribug Pasta Taste Like?
Preparing insect pasta is just the same as regular pasta. Pop it in a large pan with a bit of salt and boil it. However, it does take slightly less time – about eight minutes to get it al dente.
I mixed mine with a veggie sauce and tucked in.
Honestly, you wouldn’t have noticed the difference.
It takes exactly like normal pasta – perhaps a bit sweeter but I think that’s the rice rather than any magic involving the crickets. Even The Boyfriend had a tube and proclaimed it – not bad. Sadly the price does put me off making it my main pasta of choice, but I still liked it.
I’m not the only person whose keen either – a week or so ago I read a news story about a woman in France also making insect flour who was couldn’t keep up with the demand for orders.
Where to Buy Nutribug
See more at nutribug.com.
If you’re wanting to learn more about the idea of eating insects, there are a few books out there that give you the science – and if you’re super brave, you’ll also find some recipes and suggestions of insects, other than crickets to eat.
Have a look at these…
On Eating Insects by Nordic Food Lab looks at why we should eat insects – but also how including notes on what they taste like, recipes explaining how to use them and some very beautiful photography. Click here to see more.
Insects: An Edible Field Guide explores what to eat and how to eat it – again, it has recipes. It’s divided into region that you might find the bug in. Who knew that you could make a midge burger while travelling in Scotland?Click to see more about it here.