What the Heck is Tempeh Anyway?

By: Natasha Short

My newest passion project is helping helping clients with in home meal preparation. Lately, most of the bulk meal requests I’ve been receiving is the want for more plant based meals. It seems many individuals are moving in this direction, while ensuring they and their families continue to receive the proper nutrition through well-planned and balanced meals.

One of my favourite go-to dishes is a Tempeh stir-fry with lots of veggies served on brown or jasmine rice. My typical reaction is “what the heck is tempeh?”

Whether you’re familiar with Tempeh or not, here are the facts:

  • Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian soy product 
  • It is made from fermented soybeans that results in sticky form which allows the beans to bind together into a firm brick
  • Unlike tofu which is processed, Tempeh keeps the integrity of the beans (keeps them whole) which maintains its nutritional benefits
  • Tempeh is an alternative form of soy which is likely to be less exposed to GMO’s 

Benefits of Tempeh:

  • An excellent source of plant based protein
  • Since fermented, it can help to support the beneficial bacteria in the gut
  • Great source of Calcium – integral to growth and maintenance of bones
  • Contains Soy isoflavones  found to significantly decrease levels of total and LDL (dangerous) cholesterol
  • Isoflavones also serve to support menopausal symptoms 
  • Contains high manganese levels to help balance blood sugars

How I choose a good quality Tempeh:

  • Look for Organic/Non-GMO Tempeh as soybeans are typically known to be common GMO food
  • Bonus if you can find Sprouted tempeh!
  • Be mindful of the salt content in flavoured or seasoned Tempeh (these are a great way to introduce Tempeh into meals)
  • My favourite brands: Henry’s Gourmet, Lightlife, Sol Cuisine, Tofurky and Yves

How to incorporate Tempeh into your meals:

  • Use in stir frys and season them anyway you’d like (the longer they marinate, the more flavour it’ll retain) – BBQ, Mexican, Italian, and Red pepper are my favourite seasonings
  • Have it on a sandwich or in a wrap in place of deli meats with lots of veggies
  • Incorporate into tomato sauce for pasta or chilies
  • Try scrambled in a breakfast hash
  • Prepare by lighting frying in a cast iron pan or baking 

I love explaining all of my grocery choices in my meal prep sessions. I dive into details of each ingredient and explain why they should be staples in everyone’s diet. If you’re interested in home cooking with me, check out my availability here!