TEM-WHAT?! Tempeh is one of those foods, that when people see me eating it they go “WHAAAATTT?!” and when they hear the name they go “WHOOOOO?!”! It is not a common ingredient used in cooking, and I must admit, is not the most aesthetically pleasing…though I love its nutty taste and it comes with a huge amount of nutritional benefits! Generally used by vegans and vegetarians as a protein substitute, tempeh is fermented cooked soybeans (I know ! sounds fantastic ;) ). I see tempeh as tofu’s more powerful brother with 15.4 g of protein per serve (vs 10.1 in tofu) and 3.5g of fibre (vs 0.5g in tofu). So next time you’re feeling adventurous head over to the vegetarian section of the supermarket where the cold products are kept and whip up this super yummy tempeh bowl!
The following is a list of the many benefits a serve (120g) of tempeh can provide to you!
FERMENTED – Due to tempeh being a fermented food product it means that the digestibility (especially its proteins) and nutrient absorption is increased!
GREAT MEAT REPLACER – By replacing a serve of meat with a serve of tempeh, you could increase your intake of folate, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, iron and fibre.
HEART HEALTHY & DISEASE PREVENTING - Additionally you could lower your total cholesterol intake by about 125 milligrams per day and your saturated fat by about 2.4 grams per day. These nutritional changes, in turn, would lower our risk of several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases.
The thing I love about food is that there are endless possibilities of ways you can use it, some which can make the food more tolerable, some which can increase the nutritional properties and some which don’t even require eating! Here are some of my favourite uses for tempeh:
Tempeh can be cut into slices or crumbled, and so you can control the intensity of the tempeh in your dish. Crumbled tempeh will usually be much less "evident" and feel much more like a texture-only component, whereas sliced tempeh will usually be much more "evident" and will provide great flavour.
Slice it up and use it on a sandwich with a nice spread of hummus and fresh vegetables
Grill it in some oil and spices and place atop a salad!
Cube it up and chuck it into a stir fry or curry with a homemade satay sauce or Penang base!
I must admit I am one of those people who when told “less is more” ignores that advice COMPLETELY and will instead use half the product in the first use or drench my whole meal with the “SUPERFOOD”. I think that especially in regards to products and foods that are deemed “healthy” for you, people are more likely to consume/use extra in the hope that it will make them SUPER HEALTHY, SUPER QUICK! Though I have come to realise that sometimes having too much of a good thing can actually to more harm than good! It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health, therefore, it is better to eat a diet with variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health! Some of the not so happy side effects that can occur if you overdo it are:
As mentioned above, tempeh is made from soy beans, which many of us know, are associated with much controversy. One of the issues associated with soy consumption is the high content of phytoestrogens. These are plant chemicals that mimic the effect of oestrogen in the body. These chemicals appear to offer benefits as well as pose dangers. They can help prevent certain cancers and help older women reduce the symptoms of menopause. But they can also increase the risks of cancer. In men, excessive consumption of phytoestrogens, especially from soy products, can affect fertility and sex drive and bring out feminine qualities (how lucky for them ;)). Another problem with soy beans is that most are genetically modified. So to enjoy the health benefits of tempeh while minimising the dangers, you need to look for tempeh made from organic, non-GMO soybeans. Unfortunately, this is more likely to mean factory-made tempeh, which may not be as nutrient-rich. Though, its super simple to avoid these issues by ensuring you do not consume more than 1 serve (120g) of soy products per day!
400g tempeh, cut into 5cm cubes
1 cup brown rice, uncooked
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup frozen green peas
½ cup Wattle Valley capsicum pesto
Olive oil, for frying
Feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
Sun dried tomatoes (optional)
Sliced green olives (optional)
Cook brown rice according to packet direction, with vegetable stock
While rice is cooking, heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and add a good guzzle of olive oil
Once the pan is heated add the tempeh and stir fry until golden brown, then turn off heat
When the rice has 5 minutes left, add the peas to the pot and cook with rice for 5 minutes
Drain rice and return to pan along with the pesto and stir well
Add optional extras if desired and then distribute between four bowls, topping each with a serving of tempeh