Insect-only Eatery Aims to Make Bugs Palatable

Marnie Hunter wrote . . . . . . . . .

Bugs have a lot of potential — as a food source.

The average diner may be skeptical, but that’s the position of food scientist Leah Bessa and her partners.

Their South Africa-based company, Gourmet Grubb, produces ice cream made from an insect-based dairy alternative they’ve named EntoMilk. It’s made from Hermetia illucens, the black soldier fly.

And since June, they’ve been operating a pop-up food concept in Cape Town called The Insect Experience, where dishes featuring insects are plated with the same care and precision as any gourmet delicacy.

“We sort of wanted to try and create a viable protein alternative that is sustainable and ethical and could really create quite a positive change going into the future,” Bessa said.

There are more than 1,900 known edible insect species consumed around the world, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Edible insects are incredibly healthy, according to Bessa. They’re high in protein, for one — a quality protein that has the right amino acid profile for human consumption. They’re also high in iron and zinc, high in fiber, and they have a healthy fat profile.

In other words, edible insects have high potential as a sustainable source of food.

“Insects are very underutilized or not really very well understood, so we really wanted to try and highlight their potential. And also their taste, as well, because you know people don’t really know much about them, what they taste like, how they can be used,” Bessa said.

Chef Mario Barnard is behind dishes such as mopane polenta fries — polenta fries made with flour created with mopane worms, then sprinkled with mopane chili salt.

“We try to make it as visually pleasing for everybody to just introduce it. It helps with your mental block,” Barnard told CGTN.

While an unusual ingredient in some parts of the world, eating insects is nothing new.

Approximately 2 billion people globally consume insects, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. They’re primarily consumed in parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America and have always been included in human diets.

But broader interest in entomophagy — the consumption of insects by humans — is growing as the global demand for food strains resources.

And chefs are incorporating them into creative dishes.

So far, mostly locals have popped into the GoodFood food hall in Cape Town’s hip Woodstock suburb to sample the creations at The Insect Experience, touted as South Africa’s first restaurant to focus exclusively on insects.

The pop-up was originally slated to close by the end of August, but Bessa and her partners now hope to keep it open through the middle of 2020, possibly springing up every few months in new locations.

Most of the insects used at The Insect Experience come from South African farms, Bessa said. The only exception are the mopane worms, a southern African delicacy that are sourced from neighboring Zimbabwe.

Source: CNN

Sichuan Chicken with Kung Pao Sauce


2 skinless boneless chicken breasts, about 12 ounces
1 egg white
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons salted soybeans
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine or medium-dry sherry
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2/3 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons peanut oil or sunflower oil
2-3 dried chilies, broken into small pieces
4 ounces roasted cashew nuts
fresh cilantro, to garnish


  1. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces.
  2. Lightly whisk the egg white in a dish, whisk in the cornstarch and salt, then add the chicken and stir until coated.
  3. In a separate bowl, mash the beans with a spoon. Stir in the hoisin sauce, brown sugar, rice wine or sherry, vinegar, garlic and stock.
  4. Heat a wok, add the oil and then fry the chicken, turning constantly, for about 2 minutes until tender. Drain over a bowl in order to collect excess oil.
  5. Heat the reserved oil and fry the chili for 1 minute.
  6. Return the chicken to the wok and pour in the bean sauce mixture. Bring to a boil and stir in the cashew nuts. Spoon into a heated serving dish and garnish with cilantro before serving.

Makes 3 servings.

Source: Asian Cooking

In Pictures: Dishes of Chinese Restaurants in London, U.K.

Boiled sea-bass with sizzling chili oil

Steamed scallops

Spicy beef noodles

Lamb skewers


Momo Dumplings

Char-siu Bao

Researchers Take Key Step Toward Cancer Treatments that Leave Healthy Cells Unharmed

Researchers have opened up a possible avenue for new cancer therapies that don’t have the side effects that oftentimes accompany many current cancer treatments by identifying a protein modification that specifically supports proliferation and survival of tumor cells.

Depending on the kind of cancer and the type of treatment, a patient might suffer from many side effects, including anemia, loss of appetite, bleeding, bruising, constipation, delirium, diarrhea, fatigue, hair loss, nausea, sexual issues or bladder problems.

Scientists at Oregon State University, the University of Central Florida and New York University made the protein-modification discovery while studying neurofibromatosis type 2. The condition, commonly known as NF2, is characterized by the development of tumors of the nervous system called schwannomas.

“The hallmark of tumor cell behavior is their uncontrolled growth,” said Maca Franco, professor of biochemistry and biophysics in OSU’s College of Science. “Tumors cells need to constantly produce energy and building blocks to replicate.”

Researchers led by Franco and Oregon State undergraduate student Jeanine Pestoni found that schwannoma cells produce an oxidant and nitrating agent, peroxynitrite, which modifies an amino acid, tyrosine, in proteins.

When tyrosine becomes nitrated in specific proteins, an effect is the reprogramming of the tumor cells’ metabolism, enabling them to proliferate.

“To sustain persistent growth, tumor cells change the way they produce energy and building blocks and present a signature metabolic phenotype that differs from that of normal cells,” Franco said. “We discovered that peroxynitrite, the most powerful oxidant produced by cells, controls the metabolic changes that occur in tumor cells of the nervous system and supports their growth. We believe that there are specific proteins that when they become nitrated acquire a new function they did not have before, and this new function may control tumor growth.”

Peroxynitrite is produced at high levels in “pathological conditions,” she said – such as those found in tumors – but not in normal tissues.

“This opens up the exciting possibility of targeting peroxynitrite production exclusively in tumor cells as a new therapeutic strategy for the treatment of tumors of the nervous system, with minimal to no side effects on normal tissues,” Franco added. “We are uncovering a completely new category of targets for the treatment of solid tumors, and not only tumors of the nervous system – it may have broader implications for the treatment of several cancer types. We can go after proteins that usually aren’t modified in normal cells; we can target those modified proteins with inhibitors that don’t affect normal cells, hopefully developing a treatment with minimal side effects.”

The National Institutes of Health and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs supported this research.

Findings were published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Source : Oregon State University

Dietary Choline in Eggs and Meats Associates with Reduced Risk of Dementia

A new study by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland is the first to observe that dietary intake of phosphatidylcholine is associated with a reduced risk of dementia. Phosphatidylcholine was also linked to enhanced cognitive performance. The main dietary sources of phosphatidylcholine were eggs and meat. The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Choline is an essential nutrient, usually occurring in food in various compounds. Choline is also necessary for the formation of acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter. Earlier studies have linked choline intake with cognitive processing, and adequate choline intake may play a role in the prevention of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, choline is nowadays used in a multinutrient medical drink intended for the treatment of early Alzheimer’s.

The new study now shows that the risk of dementia was 28% lower in men with the highest intake of dietary phosphatidylcholine, when compared to men with the lowest intake. Men with the highest intake of dietary phosphatidylcholine also excelled in tests measuring their memory and linguistic abilities. These findings are significant, considering that more than 50 million people worldwide are suffering from a memory disorder that has led to dementia, and the number is expected to grow as the population ages. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, for which no cure currently exists. The new findings may, therefore, play a vital role in the prevention of dementia. Successful dementia prevention is a sum of many things and in this equation, even small individual factors can have a positive effect on the overall risk, possibly by preventing or delaying the disease onset.

“However, this is just one observational study, and we need further research before any definitive conclusions can be drawn,” Maija Ylilauri, a PhD Student at the University of Eastern Finland points out.

The data for the study were derived from the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, KIHD. At the onset of the study in 1984–1989, researchers analysed approximately 2,500 Finnish men aged between 42 and 60 for their dietary and lifestyle habits, and health in general. These data were combined with their hospital records, cause of death records and medication reimbursement records after an average follow-up period of 22 years. In addition, four years after the study onset, approximately 500 men completed tests measuring their memory and cognitive processing. During the follow-up, 337 men developed dementia.

The analyses extensively accounted for other lifestyle and nutrition related factors that could have explained the observed associations. In addition, the APOE4 gene, which predisposes to Alzheimer’s disease and is common in the Finnish population, was accounted for, showing no significant impact on the findings. The key sources of phosphatidylcholine in the study population’s diet were eggs (39%) and meat (37%).

Source: University of Eastern Finland

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