As a vegan, one of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “How do you get your protein?” My answer is that I eat a lot of beans and legumes, some tofu and tempeh, and supplement with a good, non-GMO, organic soy protein.
What is Tempeh?
While most people have heard of tofu, not many know anything at all about tempeh. Tempeh is fermented soybeans, often mixed with grains and/or rice, in the shape of a patty or cake. The whole soybean is used in a fermentation process resulting in a more concentrated and easily digestible protein. This makes it a fantastic, cholesterol-free alternative to meat!
I first tasted tempeh when I was living in Boston and studying at the Kushi Institute for Macrobiotic Studies. I loved it! Tempeh and tofu are both made from soy beans, but the two are very different. Tempeh is more nutritious – it contains less sodium and more protein and fiber than tofu – and, as you can see from the photo, it is more dense and less processed than tofu. You can find tempeh at Whole Foods (or many health food stores) in the refrigerated section, right next to the tofu.
Nutrition facts for 1/2 a Tempeh cake:
protein: 10 grams
fiber: 4.5 grams
fat: 5.5 grams
How is tempeh prepared?
Now that I’ve told you about tempeh’s characteristics, you may be wondering what it tastes like and how to prepare it. Tempeh usually has a nutty taste on its own, but readily absorbs the flavors in which it is cooked, making it an easy and versatile ingredient to add to any dish. It’s important to cook tempeh thoroughly for proper digestion. To prepare tempeh, I simply cut the tempeh cake into thirds, add enough water just to cover it, and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes. I then add 1 to 2 teaspoons of Tamari or soy sauce, coriander and garlic.
Once the tempeh is cooked and I have enhanced the flavor, I cut it into cubes and add it to a veggie sauté, soups, stews and chili, or make cutlets for a sandwich.
I love this recipe for Tempeh Stew with carrots, potatoes, celery and fresh herbs. .
Give tempeh a try and let me know what you think! If you have any specific questions about tempeh or how to manage a plant-based diet, send me a message!