Jun 212019

So these cricket protein bars started showing up in my Facebook feed. Producer EXO Protein presents cricket-based nutrition as an idea whose time has come, and from a resources-in-food-out perspective, it does make a lot of sense.

The cricket used is the house cricket—Acheta domesticus. They’re cleaned, flash-frozen, roasted, and then pulverized into a powder called cricket flour.

Now I don’t have any particular hangup about eating insects. I really don’t see it as all that different from eating shrimp or lobster. However, I know what those taste like, and I know the ways in which they are commonly prepared. I have no comparable experience with crickets.


I got the four-pack sampler—that’s peanut butter and jelly, cocoa nut, blueberry vanilla, and banana bread—to my house for $9.

It seems to me that crickets are a bit down the (otherwise unremarkable) ingredient lists here—there are fruits and nuts ahead of them—but according to the FAQ, there are approximately 40 crickets in each bar.

So, OK. That’s significant.

Aaron and I tried the blueberry vanilla and banana nut flavors last night. Each bar had a crumbly and slightly sticky texture, something like a particularly caky brownie maybe. They smelled more inviting than not.

But they’re certainly not much to look at.

So how do they taste?

Bluntly, we didn’t like them. The texture is appealing enough in the mouth, but the tastes only sort of hint at what the ostensible flavors are. (I couldn’t really say that we “tasted the crickets.”) There’s an unpleasant aftertaste. It’s not an intolerably bad experience, but it’s not one you’d seek to repeat either. Neither of us had a third bite.

Now I am not an experienced protein bar consumer, so I don’t really have any baseline level of expectation for such a product. For all I know, these are delicious in context. Lea eats protein bars from time to time, so I asked her if she would try a small bite and offer her thoughts.

She got close—she held it to her lips—but then said “nope, I can’t eat this.” (No worries, dear. You got closer than I thought you would.)

So I purchased a “normal” protein bar for comparison. (It wasn’t a very close specified flavor analog of either EXO bar that I tried, but I didn’t have a large selection.) Guess what? I didn’t love it, but it was significantly tastier than the EXO bars. I ate it all. So, make of that what you will.

I’m not going to formally rate the EXO bars, because even with the late introduction of a control, I don’t have enough experience with protein bars to have an informed opinion. I could have finished an EXO bar, but I didn’t want to. That’s about the best thing I can say about them.

I do think I want to try the seasoned whole roasted crickets sometime soon. Stay tuned.

 Posted by at 11:40 am
Jun 202019
  • Remember the Datsun 510? That’s what the Datsun Bluebird was called over here. A later generation was sold as the 810, and that car was the direct ancestor of the Nissan Maxima.
  • The squirrel is not actually on meth. I think an offhand comment got legs.
  • Justified is our new show, and we’re doing Scott & Bailey after that.
  • I rode Dad’s Jet Ski with 300 horsepower on Saturday, all the way to its governed top speed of 67 mph. (The acceleration is otherworldly—it takes nearly no time to get there. And oh, 67 mph feels like 300 on a Jet Ski.) However, below 30 mph or so the handling is awful (to include making it much more of a challenge to dock cleanly than, say, a Yamaha WaveRunner). It understeers badly, and the weight distribution is such that left turns and right turns have little in common dynamically. It’s an intriguing toy, but I think you don’t want it to be your only PWC.
  • Want a good bar bet? What would you say the biggest vector for trichinosis in North America is? Believe it or not, it’s bear meat.
  • Be on the lookout for a 15-foot yellow python in Tuscaloosa. Heh. I’d say the chances of this snake being recovered alive are pretty good, simply because folks who would be inclined to kill it won’t want to get that close to it. (‘Course, I guess a shotgun would do the job too.)
  • IndyCar is at Road America on Sunday. This has been a good race since its return to the schedule in 2016, and intermittent showers could heighten the drama. (They won’t run ovals in the rain, but as long as there isn’t a massive and sustained storm, there are rain tires for road and street courses.) Looking forward to it.
 Posted by at 2:28 pm
Jun 172019

This is part of an ongoing series reviewing hot wings in the Huntsville area. Visit #HsvHotWings for a comprehensive linked list.

Clyde’s BBQ is the latest effort from local star restaurateurs Stan Stinson and Tina Ford. It is a couple of blocks north of Browns Ferry on County Line Rd. in Madison, and there will be also be a location at Stovehouse later this year.

Stan and Tina are my friends. I’m a big fan of Earth and Stone, and my family and I were all enamored of our initial visit to Clyde’s, though they told us then that hotter wings were still on deck. These are the first truly hot ones they’ve offered.

Clyde’s offers wings regularly on Friday and Saturday, with occasional availability on other days. They are smoked wings, which you can then have fried if you choose. Sauce is available on the side or tossed. I went with fried and tossed, with the hottest “No Tina! No Tina!” habanero sauce. Eight wings and a side are $9.80.

Clyde’s “No Tina! No Tina!” wings. (Click for a closer look.)

Quality: 10/10. If you know anything about Stan and Tina, this is no surprise. I had an even split between drums and flats, and they were all robustly sized, with minimal extraneous fat. They were cooked perfectly, with no rubbery or dry spots, and served hot.

Flavor: 8/10. With an up-front peppery vibe that moves through a bit of tartness on the way to a sweet and hot finish, I’d almost call these sweet-and-sour. The wings are tasty.

Heat: 8/10. There is a bit of punch from the first bite that told me there was something other than habanero at work here, and indeed, there is some chipotle as well. Nice. Let’s dance. (Of course, the classic habanero accumulation takes over in short order.) The climb is steady and relentless, and I got a good sweat and a couple of tears. Chileheads can fit these into a normal day, but those with more tender palates should choose a different sauce.

Clyde’s wings are excellent, and furthermore, I have solid intel indicating that this may not be the hottest sauce for long. Stay tuned!

 Posted by at 9:12 am
Jun 162019

Just as I moved in more closely for a she’ll-probably-fly-away-but-I’m-gonna-try shot, she decided to pose for me.

On Smith Lake. (Click for larger.)

 Posted by at 4:53 pm
Jun 142019

I’m not talking about my fasting regimen a lot, because I don’t want to be tedious. But I’ve realized an unexpected benefit from it that I want to share—better sleep.

I am on a 16-hour/8-hour program four days a week, during which I eat only between 11 am and 7 pm. But one day a week, I fast completely, taking in no calories at all. So I’ll eat dinner, say, Wednesday night, and won’t eat again until Friday morning. Typically this works out to be a 36-hour fast.

Initially I worried that I’d have trouble falling asleep hungry. Funny thing, though—not only am I not hungry at bedtime on my fast day, I actually fall asleep more easily and sleep more soundly.

(The Fitbit knows.)

In the following charts, the light blue lines indicate restless periods (basically moving around) and the pink lines indicate waking periods (getting up to pee). (I’ve removed the falling asleep and waking up periods at the beginning and end.)

Here is a typical chart from before I started any fasting:

Here is a typical chart for sleep the night of my all-day fast:

That’s a five-hour period of uninterrupted sleep. That is huge for me. And the charts on the nights that I haven’t fasted all day, but stopped eating at 7 pm, are improving, too.

I usually don’t call myself an insomniac because my deficit is typically small and manageable, but it has been over a decade since I slept reliably night after night. If that’s you too, you might look into fasting as part of your approach. It’s probably not as difficult as you think.

 Posted by at 9:47 am
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