Diane's Healthy Living Blog

Tempeh: a great source of protein

TempehAs 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
cholesterol: 0
fat: 5.5 grams
calories: 120

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!

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6 thoughts on “Tempeh: a great source of protein

  1. Brenda Greathouse

    Diane, thanks for this info. I have heard about tempeh for years but never knew how to prepare it. My question is whether it will raise estrogen levels? I wold o limit my intake of soy because of my estrogen levels wonder if I should try this.

    BTW the we site is beautiful.

    1. admin Post author

      Hi Brenda, Thank you for your compliment on my site and for your question. Everyone needs to make their own decision and consult with their doctor, but my research has found that if the soy is processed properly and we don’t ‘overdue”, it’s actually a good thing. Here is a good explanation from Dr. Richard Brouse from the Sunnyside Health Center in OR; “It is true that soy is a “phyto-estrogen” food, which means it contains substances that have hormone-like components. However, their estrogen strength is 1/1000th that of the body’s own stronger estrogens. Therefore, you want to load your digestive system with quality controlled raw soy powder, because these weaker estrogens will block the estrogen receptor sites from receiving your body’s own stronger estrogens and therefore be very protective against estrogen fed cancer. “

      1. Brenda Greathouse

        Thanks Diane! Wonderful to know. This is something I will definitely ask my doctor about. Although I am not a vegetarian I do prefer to limit my meat portions to only a few a week. Tempeh may turn out to be a good protein resource for me and my family.

        1. Gustavo

          Just made this for dinner tongiht and it was delish! It was so easy and satisfying. I will for sure be making this frequently. I ate mine with raw shredded zucchini and carrots. I had to double the sauce though, it disappeared on me pretty quickly as soon as I added the tempeh. Thanks for the great recipe

      2. Aditya

        Wow, you can find tempeh in the States,I am glad, I was airafd of not eating it when I am there.It is a traditional food from Indonesia, It is healthy and has a long history. I eat tempeh almost everyday. You can simply fry it, but you should let it soak for a while in a mixture of salt, minced garlic and water. Where do you get some tempeh by the way? Does Walmart have it? Or do you have to find it in An Asian market which sells Indonesian products?thanks a lot.


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