When I first heard about Exo Protein bars, made with cricket flour, my reaction was something along the lines of “Say what? Cricket flour? Mmmkay, let me call you riiiight back.” But then I looked into it more and things started looking intriguing. I reached out to the brand to see if I could get a sample or two, and they were kind enough to oblige, and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
First, let’s talk about the numbers:
The handy graph kind of says it all.
Crickets are high in protein and low in saturated fats and sugars, and are also a complete protein, containing all of the essential amino acids. Not to mention micronutrients like iron (more than beef!), calcium, and b-vitamins. And all of this with marginal environmental impact, with virtually no methane production (which leads to global warming) and minimal feed, water, and space necessary to raise them. Crickets are 20x more efficient to raise as a protein source than cattle, which is kind of crazy if you think about it.
So that’s all well and good, but to me and a lot of people, there’s still something skeevy about eating bugs. The creepy-crawly effect is kind of hard to get over, but the team at Exo knows this, so they’ve come up with some pretty delicious offerings. The crickets are ground down into a super fine powder, which I’m told tastes something like almond flour, and a good indication of the direction things are heading. The bars are also made with raw cacao, dates, almond butter, and coconut. The bars are gluten-free, grain free, and contain no soy or dairy.
They currently offer protein bars in three flavors: Peanut Butter and Jelly, Cashew Ginger, and Cacao Nut
Rather gourmet sounding, if I do say so myself. But do they taste good? They’re amazing.
The first one I tried was the Peanut Butter and Jelly, which tasted like a top notch peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I’m talking homemade jam and freshly roasted peanut butter. Like, not even kidding. Now, I will be honest, the crunch factor here with the peanuts kind of threw me for a loop, especially since it was the first one I tried and I was still trying to wrap my mind around the “eating bugs” thing. But the crickets are ground up into flour, and there’s nothing to remind you of them visually or texturally. So just get over the thought and give it a taste.
The Cashew Ginger was my second favorite, and was a nice change of pace for when I was heading to the gym. It’s not sweet, and tasted something closer to a really nice carrot cake sans the frosting. As someone who has tried a lot of protein shakes and bars, my complain is things are either too sweet or taste like bark. This is deliciously in the middle.
The Cacoa Nut was my least favorite of the bunch, but I’m not really into cacao — I can recognize this one is good, especially if you like the “drier” taste of a pure cacao. The effect of this one was decidedly high-end brownie, so still a top contender.
Overall, the brand aesthetic is very clean and modern, and fits nicely into the David Barton and Equinox concept of health and fitness. The bars themselves are more akin to something you’d find at a Whole Foods or local vegan bakery, and are way healthier (and far more delicious) than any of the other protein bars that I’ve tried.
These were a genuinely pleasant surprise, and I’m super excited to start working them into my own workout schedule.
Pricing on these works out to about $3 a bar, which I thought was pretty decent.
Find them online at http://www.exo.co/collections/all