So you might have heard of the growing army of fans for insect flour based energy bars, maybe you've tried them ... but what about whole insects? Here we put whole roast insects to the test!

I, Jan Minihane, have a confession to make: I'm not a big fan of eating anything that looked like it did when it was alive (I know, I'm a bit strange!) - whole fish, small whole game birds ... and you know, whole insects ...

So when Jimini's, a whole insect and insect flour business from France got in touch to see if I'd like to review their product range, I was kinda hoping they'd only send their Jimini's cricket flour bars. Having already reviewed quite a few of the leading UK bars recently, I was looking forward to seeing how these measured up.

Alas, as well as three good-looking snack bars, were two dinky little boxes filled with whole roasted grasshoppers and crickets turned up. This was going to test my inner Paleo-self to the limit!

It was also going to test my rusty French as only the bars had made it into English packaging - how I love a challenge ;-) (Jimini's did let me know they have English versions too).

I roped my office mates into testing them with me and we went brave ....

Packaging



We *love* the name of the company - Jimini's is inspired and brought a smile to all our faces (Although if you're a young one, you may not get the reference to the character Jiminy Cricket from the Walt Disney Film, Pinocchio!).

The packaging is clean, bright, grown-up and feels good quality. You would definitely reach for them if you saw them in the shop (although the picture of the cricket on the front might put some off).

The only slight niggle is the nutritional information and ingredients were really hard to read on a small bar/box (or maybe I'm just getting old and my eyesight is failing, ha!).

Taste & Texture

Apricot, Goji & Chia Bar



Moist, good chunky texture and crunch from the chia seeds is excellent. It had a bit of a christmas cake or dense fruit cake feel. Our overall favourite. We all agreed we could eat one of these no problem at all, any time of the day.

Dark Chocolate & Fig Bar



A good one for fig fans - very figgy texture but slightly less moist than the Apricot bar. It had a nice bit of crunch from the fig seeds. It felt like its flavour wasn't as strong as the others though (maybe needs more figs or chocolate?).

Banana & Dark Chocolate Bar



For me (Jan), the banana flavour was a bit too overpowering but others found the banana really on the money and the chocolate too overwhelming - so it spilt us down the middle. We did all agree that it had a really nice long after-taste.

For those who loved it, it was their favourite. For the rest of us, it was our least favourite (and we'd probably struggle to eat the whole thing).

Then we got really brave ....

Le Grillon (Whole Crickets) - fresh mango flavour (mangue douce)



Really small, proper snack size and way less intimidating to try than the Grasshoppers - definitely the one to start with before moving on to the Grasshoppers.

Taste and texture was like a dried rice puff, it had a bit of flavour but we wouldn't say it was mango, certainly it wasn't unpleasant. We all thought it was rather dry but inoffensive. We would want a drink afterwards, it certainly dries the mouth out. We thought that it needs a stronger flavour to make it 'pop' a little more.

Le Criquet (Whole Grasshoppers ) - Greek flavour (a la Grecque)



We can't lie, these are *really* intimidating to look at, man they are big and took some nerve for most of us to dive in! We all preferred these, the tomato and herb flavours really came to the fore, a much stronger flavour overall.

The wings did get a bit stuck in my teeth but you are advised on the packet to either eat them whole or remove the head and wings before eating (which we read after we'd eat them, oops).

One of the tasting team went on to scoff a dozen of them he liked them that much, which given we found out afterwards they are considered an aphrodisiac, might not have been such a good call at the start of a work day, haha!

Ingredients

Apricot, Goji & Chia Bar - almonds, date paste, dried apricots (14%), dried goji berries (10%), chia seeds (7%), agave syrup, cricket flour (5%)

Fig & Dark Chocolate Bar - almonds, date paste, dried figs (24%), dark chocolate (13%) [cacao mass, cacao butter, vanialla extract], cricket flour (5%)

Banana & Dark Chocolate Bar - date paste, dark chocolate (16%) [cacao mass, cacao butter, vanilla extract], almonds, dried cranberries [cranberries, cane sugar, sunflower oil], cricket flour (11%), dried banana (8%), agave syrup, hazelnuts (7%)

Le Grillon (Whole Crickets) - fresh mango flavour (mangue douce) - whole dried crickets, mango, glucose syrup, mango puree, sugar, salt, pepper, water, guar gum, spice extract, potassium sorbate

Le Criquet (Whole Grasshoppers) - greek herbs flavour (a la Grecque) - whole dried grasshoppers, acacia gum, salt, thyme, oregano, pepper, paprika, dextrose, citric acid, garlic, onion, natural flavouring

The whole crickets also come in Smoked BBQ & Onion flavour, the whole Grasshoppers also come in Original, Fruity Curry, Pepper & Dried Tomato or Paprika flavours.  You can also get whole mealworms in Original, Imperial Soy, Garlic & Herbs or Sesame & Cumin flavours. The bars also come in Apple & Cinnamon flavour.

As you can see, 2 of the bars are 100% paleo-friendly. The banana & dark chocolate bar falls short thanks to those dried cranberries being sweetened with cane sugar and the use of sunflower oil, which is a shame.

The whole insects also fall short of being 100% Paleo thanks to the use of sugar, glucose syrup, dextrose potassium sorbate and those stabilising gums.

That said, they'll be 'clean enough' for many and you could always go for the original ones.

Nutritional Analysis

Per 100g (each bar is 45g, each box of whole insects is 10 to 18g and you'd do well to eat a whole box in one sitting!)


Apricot & Goji Bar
Fig & Choc Bar
Banana & Choc Bar
Crickets (Mango)
Grasshoppers (Greek)
Saturated Fat1.7g4.2g4.6g0.9g9.2g
Carbohydrates35.7g42.6g44.5g22.2g10.4g
(of which sugars)35.7g40.1g41.0g17.7g1.4g
Protein16.2g14.5g13.8g42.1g48.8g
Fibre12.3g9.5g7.0gn/an/a
You can't hide from the fact that the whole insects, unsurprisingly, have the higher protein and lower sugar profile (especially the grasshoppers) - although you'd have to eat a fair few in weight terms. If they could clean up the ingredients they would be a very appealing prospect from a nutrient density point of view.

The bars have decent protein and fibre levels, the trade-off is the high natural sugar content.

Price

The bars are £2.40 to £2.50 each, which makes them slightly cheaper than most of their UK competitors.
The whole insect boxes are £5.85 to £6.20 which seems pricey but given one small box would last you a number of days, is a viable option.

All products are available on Jimini's website.

Summary

As far as the cricket flour bars go, these are seriously good and we'd highly recommend them (apart from the banana & chocolate one if you're being strictly Paleo).

They are certainly up there with our previous 'winner', Crobar. Moist, great texture and you could easily polish a whole bar off no problem. As always, moderation should be applied to any bars like this that do have the likes of date paste and agave syrup in - whilst they are Paleo, it's still a big natural sugar hit. We'd be looking to use them as a pre or post workout snack.



For the whole crickets and grasshoppers, although we were pleasantly surprised by the taste of them, we think there's more work to be done (especially if they want to appeal to the Paleo, Whole30 and Clean Living tribe) - the likes of sugar, glucose syrup and dextrose are a big 'no'. That said, we're really glad we got to try them, they tasted pretty good and we're keen to see how Jimini's develop these products in the future!

You can find out more about Jimini's on their website, facebook page or twitter account.

Have you tried whole insects before? If not, would you?