By Shannon Lane @Shannonroselane

A HEALTH enthusiast is adding an unusual ingredient to her meals - insects

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Videographer / director: Ned Dervenkov
Producer: Shannon Lane, Ruby Coote
Editor: James Thorne

Kremena uses a variety of cooked insects in her meals

Twenty-eight-year-old Kremena Despinova has been experimenting with cooking with creepy crawlies for a year and a half.

The entrepreneur from Sofia, Bulgaria said: “I was looking for the best protein source out there that is free from any artificial ingredients, such as hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and is the same time is a complete protein that contains all essential amino acids.

A home cooked cookie covered in buffalo worms

“Last Autumn I was browsing recipes on the internet and I found this US based company that makes protein bars with cricket flour. After that I placed my first order on dried insects, which comprised of crickets, grasshoppers and buffalo worms.

"I can clearly remember this moment when I was holding a cricket between my fingers, and I was about to put it in my mouth and I can remember this rush of curiosity and excitement in my chest right before experiencing the texture and taste. It was incredible.

Kremena first discovered her love for insects in Thailand

“Honestly I loved the taste instantly.”

Kremena’s bug infused recipes include, cricket flour pancakes topped with syrup and buffalo worms, cricket and guacamole filled tacos, silk worm and avocado salad and chocolate mousse with chocolate covered grasshoppers.

The fitness fanatic said: “I like grasshoppers, when you remove the wings and legs they taste like shrimp and I also like all kind of worms; meal worm, buffalo worm, silk worms are great because you don’t really feel any body parts like the antenna, wings or legs.”

A scorpion lolly

As well as ordering her insect ingredients online from Thailand and European producers, Kremena has also bred her own critters.

She said: “I bred crickets for a period of six months but then I had to travel and there was no one to look after them so I had to stop, but now looking to start over this project."

Eating insects is known as ‘entomophagy’, and has existed for thousands of years, and is still common practise in many regions of Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.

This beetle is actually made from just chocolate

Although somewhat taboo in Western culture, insects are believed to be healthier for humans on average than other animal meats.

It is also suggested that entomophagy could be the solution to the environmental crisis as they require less energy and water to maintain than traditionally farmed animals, and produce a fraction of greenhouse gases.

Kremena said: “Apart from being very nutritious, eating insects is also very good for the planet.

Kremena discovered her insect recipes when searching online

"For example for a kilogram of crickets you need 2000 times less water, twelve times less food and about thirteen times less land in comparison to a kilo of beef.”

Due to these factors, many of the health and environmental conscious of the Western world are incorporating bugs into their everyday meals, and are encouraging others to do so too.

She starts the day with protein packed worm pancakes

Luckily for the faint of heart, forward-thinking companies have now integrated insects into staples of Western diet, such as pasta and protein bars, so that they no longer resemble the creepy crawlies.

The insects are a great source of protein

“Whether you like it or not, we already eat insects. It is estimated that a person eats around half a kilo of insects per year through processed foods. The most quantities are found in chocolate, beer, coffee, peanut butter - many of our favourite foods. So why don’t you do it consciously next time?”

Her meals may not be for the faint-hearted but they're definitely healthy

For more of Kremena’s insect recipes, visit https://www.instagram.com/kdespinova/