Ready to Eat Insects?

Are you ready to eat insects? We used to sift the mealworms out of flour. Now, I guess we should release them into a frying pan as an alternate source of protein. Whether we do, or don’t, embrace this trend will come down to whether we’re ready to eat insects.

grasshopper

I’m not sure why this idea seems foreign. We eat all sorts of things that are gross when you sit and think about them – hearts, livers, intestines, brains. We consume a tasty rind on cheese without a second thought even though it may have live mites in it. We drink wine enhanced by the fungus Botrytis cinerea and serve it with salami dry-cured using penicillium. And yet when my sister noticed that the reason for the high protein content of the protein bar she was eating was crickets, she put it down…in the trash can.

Humans are weird creatures. We’ll eat food full of harmful chemicals we can’t pronounce but avoid natural foods that are healthy because we can’t get our mind around eating bugs. Makes you wonder if our minds work right.

Perhaps the best introduction of a new protein is in something sweet like a brownie or cookie. Or how about a gummy? Biblical Protein sells strawberry gummies made of locusts.

Insect protein doesn’t have to stand on its own. It can be combined with traditional protein sources like beef or chicken. If grasshoppers truly have a nutty, mushroom flavor, they probably won’t stand out in many dishes as anything other than additional depth of flavor.

One concern for those of us with food allergies and sensitivities will be whether our system can tolerate these new proteins. In one study, 94% of participants that reported having prior allergies, also reported symptoms indicative of an allergic reaction after consuming grasshoppers and water bugs seemed to be the most likely insect of those studied to cause an allergic reaction.

I don’t know whether food sensitivity also increases the chance of an adverse reaction to adding insect protein to your diet. There will continue to be studies and anecdotal reports to follow as our knowledge base increases.

Even if you’re not ready to consider alternate sources of protein right now, I believe there will be an increasing number of products containing them available. It will be interesting to see whether how these products compare in taste, texture, and price to plant-based alternatives as well as to traditional protein sources.

If you’re adventurous, adding a little ground fly larvae to the kid’s cookies could be fun! And early introduction may be the best way for the population to get ready to eat insects.

I can’t really imagine moving to insect protein in 2023, but now is a great time to begin reviewing habits and determining the changes we are willing to embrace. And insect protein is something to keep an eye on, especially for us label readers.

Am I ready to eat insects? Not today, but I’m not ruling it out in the future.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Cranberry Salsa? Why not?

Instead of cranberry relish, why not cranberry salsa? Every Thanksgiving, my grandmother made cranberry/orange relish. You know, the recipe from the back of the bag of cranberries? It looked beautiful in her tall, cut-glass compote and added the perfect amount of tartness to enhance the savory turkey and cornbread dressing.

My family doesn’t like gravy, so cranberry relish is what we continue to use to add that little somethin-somethin to our Thanksgiving plates. I serve it in a compote similar to my grandmother’s. But this year, I’m making a change.

cranberry salsa

I found a recipe for cranberry salsa when I was filing last week. I don’t remember printing it out, but there it was on my desk. When my sister and I started planning the Thanksgiving menu, I picked it up and read it. It’s served with tortilla chips so why not use it as an appetizer?

I like to have something for everyone to snack on in case I run long getting food on the table. Cranberry salsa seems like a perfect choice because the leftovers can be served with our meal in place of cranberry/orange relish.

Can the family weather a change in tradition without being grumpy? I’m pretty sure they can as long as the salsa tastes good. With that in mind, I made some this weekend to see.

Here’s what I combined:

2 jalapeño peppers

1 twelve-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, washed

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup minced green onions

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice              

1 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice

Remove stem and seeds from jalapeño peppers and finely chop. Set aside. Place cranberries in a food processor or food chopper and pulse until finely chopped. You want small pieces, not a smooth purée.

Place chopped cranberries in a medium bowl. Add sugar and stir together. Add jalapeno peppers, green onion, cilantro, orange juice and lime juice. Stir until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Serve with tortilla chips.*

I served the salsa with scoop-shaped tortilla chips. Half of the guests are gluten-free so having an appetizer that paired well with corn chips worked great. We had plenty for dipping and serving with a meal, plus a little left for later. As far as doing double-duty as an appetizer and meal accoutrement, we will have plenty.

The taste profile of this salsa relies primarily on the sour, bitter flavor of the cranberries tempered by sugar. In this sense, it’s not that different from my grandmother’s relish. It also contains some similar orange notes although those are less prominent. The addition of green onion, jalapeno, and cilantro will not detract from my turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, green beans, or black-eyed peas. From the taste profile perspective, I can’t see a problem substituting salsa for relish.

I love it when a dish can do double-duty! And I really don’t see any downside of using this salsa in place of cranberry/orange relish.

So, the decision is made! This year, our cranberries will be presented in the form of salsa! I mean, really, why not?

Happy Thanksgiving!

*The recipe I found online for this was written by Kat Jeter & Melinda Caldwell.

What You See is What You Get

What you see is what you get could be rephrased as what you don’t see, you can’t enjoy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched one of my kids or grandkids struggle to find a toy that’s right in front of them. It’s always funny because I can see it so clearly while they overlook the toy with a blank stare. If they continue to overlook it, they don’t get to play with it.

In a similar way, I sometimes find myself seeing every single problem around me and failing to see what’s going well. It’s right under my nose, but I look past it to the next problem. I know I’m not the only one. I have seen friends, family, and clients do the same thing.

And why wouldn’t we? For some of us, life has provided inescapable circumstances that made it necessary to guard against a next inevitable outburst, attack, cruelty, or manipulation. We learned to be astute detectives of negative energy. We can feel the slightest shift in tone, mood, tension, set of a jaw, or raise of an eyebrow.

When we have repeatedly been blamed for someone else’s mood or behavior, we learn to personalize the negativity. Again, why wouldn’t we?

We meet each day with a foundational slant toward self-protection. Self-protection can be a part of self-care. But it’s only healthy when balanced by an ability to recognize and absorb the positive, to solve problems rather than just avoid them, and to have the capacity to step back and gain perspective.

This can be difficult when a day bombards us with things that are noisy, annoying, frustrating, unfair, difficult, and stressful. It’s easy to get sucked into a vortex of disagreeable, anger-making people and events, especially when we are tired, overworked, underappreciated, sick, or suffering from trauma or loss. Once we’ve been sucked in, it becomes even more difficult to see anything beyond what’s wrong in every relationship or situation.

And it can be hard to argue with our position because our complaints may be on point. Customer service should be more knowledgeable and helpful. Bosses should treat all employees fairly. Police shouldn’t profile. Minorities shouldn’t experience discrimination. White people should get the same consequences as POC. Rich people should be held accountable for unethical or illegal behavior. Policies should protect the vulnerable.

For anyone whose vortex pulls toward self-limiting thoughts, those may also feel true. Statistically, it may be less likely for you to get your dream job because of your race or your age. You may be less likely to get into the college of your choice if your parents cannot donate to its Foundation.

It isn’t unusual for someone to get caught in a cycle of negativity. And given the current failures of so many systems and institutions, it can be more difficult to extract ourselves.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to help change that.

Start by recognizing that what you see is what you get. When you focus on negative. You’ll only get negative. The good may be right there, but you will not get the benefit of it because you are focused elsewhere.

Collectively, we know this. How many movies have you seen where a character overlooks someone offering love, kindness, loyalty, and dependability in favor of someone who does not?

Find a token that reminds you to notice each small kindness or lucky break in your days. A bracelet, ring, watch, desk ornament, screen saver, bookmark, plant – anything will work. It just needs to be something that will pull your attention regularly.

If it helps you, keep a tally. You can do this as a text thread to yourself. Create a new contact on your phone just for this. Each time someone smiles at you, holds the door, tells you they appreciate something you did, apologizes, compliments you, helps you lift something, add it to your tally. Add up the score each day or each week. Sit with that number and allow yourself to see how it makes you feel.

Practice opposites. This is fun for rebellious people like me. We like flipping things anyway. Here’s how that may look. When you have a thought like: I won’t get that job because…(negative, negative, negative), flip it around to an opposite idea: I will get that job because I’m willing to work harder than anyone else (Even if you can’t bring yourself to say you’re the most experienced, talented, or best candidate, you have the ability to exert effort and claim that as a reason to hire you.) Trust me, I’ve hired a lot of people. I’ll take the employee who works hard over the most talented any day!!!

Question yourself. No one has to know you’re doing this. Just do it as an exercise. When your self-talk says: My boss always wants me to fail, question that thought. Begin by stating this as a belief rather than fact: I believe my boss wants me to fail. Follow that with this question: Do I know for a fact my belief is true?

Unless your boss has told you or someone else in the organization, they want you to fail and unless you have seen that in writing or heard a recording, you don’t know it for a fact. You have that perception, but it could be wrong. Stick with that possibility for a minute and ask this question: If I am wrong and they don’t want me to fail, what would I do differently?

Turn the answer into action. Do whatever it is you would do differently in response to the above question as an experiment. Commit to it for a period of time (at least a month) and notice the results.

Let yourself be surprised. Since you’re doing an experiment for yourself, you will not lose face if you’re wrong so let yourself be surprised by whatever happens. If things get worse, you just learned you need to get out of a situation that’s never going to let you fill your potential. If things get better, whoo-hoo you win! There’s really no downside to this.

Trust yourself. I know you may read this and say I am trusting myself. That’s how I know things are bad. True on one level. But that’s only one level. When you fully trust yourself, you’ll be able to set that aside and know you can be okay even when things are bad.

And the more you learn to trust those parts of yourself that may not have had the safety to develop, the more you will recognize you can be more than okay. You can achieve, inspire, be your best self…thrive.

The good is there. You just have to see it. What you see is what you get.

Our Thanksgiving Recipes Are Safe From AI for Now!

Looks like our Thanksgiving recipes are safe from AI for now! There’s a running joke in my family about not angering the bots because they will come for you…or your job. Artificial intelligence has now entered the recipe creation game. So maybe it’s not really a joke?

It’s certainly tempting to include AI to generate inventive ideas, ingredient lists and measurements, cooking instructions, and photos! That would save us a ton of time. At Cooking2Thrive, we test, test, and retest our original recipes. We taste them hot. We taste them cold. We tweak and sometimes start over from scratch. No matter how efficient we make the process, it is time consuming!

From years of experience, we know that 1/8 tsp of this or that can make a difference. And we measure until we get consistently delicious results. But we also know that cooking is both art and science. Sometimes your senses let you know that today you need less moisture in a batter because it doesn’t look or feel right even though you carefully measured. How can this be?

My previous job involved press checks of four-color process printing. For years, the control boards on sheetfed presses have had the ability to record readings so that you can use them on a reprint to get consistent color. But ask any good pressman whether he relies on a recording to match a previous run and he’ll tell you, no.

Why? As one pressman told me – you go make the temperature, humidity, paper surface, and mechanics of the press exactly the same and I’ll use a recording for consistent color. Otherwise, those levels are meaningless. I have to adjust for conditions that exist today. His job is part art and part science as well.

And the same principles apply to cooking. Cooks and chefs must adjust to the conditions that exist in the moment. If we don’t, the result won’t be as good. Some people may find that frustrating. They may be more tempted to include AI in their cooking in the future.

Currently, artificial intelligence can gather data from millions of sources, add personal preference, and create something innovative, but it cannot simulate the perception that lets a cook or chef know that something’s not quite right. That’s the art of the job. It’s intuitive and incorporates all the senses.

Artificial intelligence may learn to incorporate something that mimics the art of cooking at some point because it’s always learning. And I can see using some AI functions as tools at some point. But I’m not sure how AI will ever inject the love that we know makes food taste better. Is artificially generated love the same as real love?

Whoa, let’s pull that question back or we’ll be into many more areas than cooking. With Thanksgiving upon us, many are pulling out family recipes. Others are looking for a new idea to impress the in-laws. All of us are recognizing the time we must carve out to create the meal.

While it may be tempting to rely on AI to save us time, don’t expect equivalent results this year. Traditional recipes are the safe bet for now so stick with those. And don’t forget to add the love!