You may have noticed over the last 12 months that there have been some new snack bars popping up in the health food/protein snack bar arena. There is something a bit different about these bars; they are made using insects. Now your first reaction is most likely going to be have they gone mad? Followed by a slight curiosity as to what they may taste like!
Today I am going to be taking a look at Zoic Bars; a protein bar that includes mealworms amongst its ingredients. In terms of what Zoic Bars are about their website states that “Good nutrition is simple. Take what the Earth gives you and eat it. So we took the 5 best ingredients we could find and packed them into a food bar. Zoic bar is a handmade, no-nonsense bar that literally has everything your body needs. It is prehistoric nutrition modernised”. I know I am certainly intrigued to try them out and see what the world of insects has in store.
You may be wondering why insects? You may be surprised to learn that around 2 billion people worldwide regularly eat insects as part of their diet. Over 1,900 species are edible and the most commonly eaten are beetles, caterpillars and ants. They are a good source of protein, fats and calcium; containing more protein and iron than beef, more Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids than salmon and more calcium than milk. The United Nations has even called bugs the “food of the future”.
There are also ethical considerations in play; there is no waste product when it comes to eating insects as absolutely everything can be eaten. They also have a much smaller environmental footprint using up less water and land resources as well as contributing significantly less to Green House Gases compared to our traditional livestock choices. In terms of “energy-in, energy-out” insects come out on top everytime with only 2kg feed needed for 1kg of insect meat; compare this to 8kg feed for 1kg beef and you can see where the drive to introduce bugs into our diet is coming from.
Initial Thoughts on Zoic Bars
When faced with a snack bar containing insects my first thought was to try and imagine exactly what “insects” would taste like. I wonder if I will be able to pick out the defining flavour or would I simply not know any difference if the bar was just handed to me?
When I think of eating insects the first thing that comes to mind is crunchy. In my mind insects are all legs and hard bodies; there is nothing particularly edible about them that comes to mind and of course my thoughts go to all the negative images that you get from “bush tucker trials” which let’s face it never ended with someone saying how much they enjoyed it.
Then I had to stop myself. I was letting my mind get carried away with images of people eating whole, often live, insects. This was so far removed from the situation I had sitting in front of me. There are no whole insects; it is mealworms ground into flour and there are certainly no legs or bodies in sight. I don’t normally get queasy or apprehensive about any kind of food and believe you should always try something once and this is no different. Plus the insect content is really only small – just 8% of the bar is made of ground mealworms.
With this in mind my apprehension turned to curiosity which soon turned to excitement over trying something new. So let’s get started with the ingredients…
There are just five simple ingredients (I always love to see just a handful of ingredients in pre-packaged foods) that are all 100% natural:
Dates (44%), cashews (35%), cacao (8%), mealworm flour (8%) and coconut flour (5%).
The bars are personally handmade by the Zoic Bar team using only the highest quality ingredients. There are no processed foods, added sugar, soy, gluten, dairy, or GMOs. Just all essential nutrients and of course one very special ingredient!
As mentioned above, the insect content is only 8% which reflects the density and cost of the flour as an ingredient.
Nutrition per each bar:
9.9g fat (of which 3.2g saturates)
21.6g carbohydrates (of which 9g sugars)
What I take from this is that they are a good protein snack but be careful if you are watching your carbohydrate intake as it is quite high for a snack. I would suggest that they are best consumed pre or post workout when they will be a fast and effective way of getting some of the nutrients that you need. I had my bars post kettlebell workout and it went down very well!
Now the important bit what did they taste like. When I took my first bite I honestly didn’t know what to expect. The first thing that I noticed was that the bar has a firmer texture to some of the other Paleo snack bars that are available which tend to be quite soft. I personally prefer a firmer texture as it is easier to transport around and I don’t feel that I need to keep it in the fridge before I eat like I do with other options. The bar is also slightly drier in texture which I prefer.
The main flavour that comes through is the cacao which I really enjoyed, it is not overpowering and works well with the nuts. There is a slight crunch to the bar which again I like as it adds more texture; whether this is the ground mealworm or the nuts (which are not completely ground down) I am not too sure! I also found the Zoic Bar is not as sweet as other Paleo alternatives. There is a slightly dry aftertaste but I find this is not uncommon with protein based bars.
I think it would be interesting to try a version with some additional flavours included. Whilst I enjoyed the cacao flavour I think it would work well as a combination with other flavours – perhaps the sharpness of some berries to lift it slightly.
Where to Buy & How Much
You can purchase Zoic Bars from their website and packages range from a Sample Pack (4 bars) to Zoic Pack (16 bars) with prices for the different options ranging from £10.90 to £38.90.
As with all Paleo products, using good quality fresh ingredients and making by hand does cost more money. If you are buying as a package from the Zoic website they work out at £2.73 a bar for the smallest pack and £2.43 a bar for the largest pack. You can also purchase single bars from Perfectly Paleo and they are currently on offer at £2.00 a bar (usually priced at £2.50) so I would head over there for the best priced option.
They are not the cheapest snack available in the Paleo arena but if it suits your needs as a protein snack (and you prefer a snack bar which isn’t as sweet) then they could be a good option for you. They are a similar price to other insect based snack bars in the market.
I would recommend that everyone gives insects a try. A snack bar is the perfect way to get the benefits of bugs but without having to be brave enough to eat the whole thing. By grinding into flour there is no adverse texture and I could genuinely not tell that there was anything “different” about the bars from the taste. They are less sweet than other Paleo snack bars and have a firm, slightly crunchy texture which I personally like. I would certainly have them again for workouts.
You can learn more about Zoic and follow them on social media by using the links below:
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