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4 ways with Tempeh

The beauty of tempeh is how easy it is to cook. Yet, I meet so many people afraid to give it a go! It has actually already been fermented, and thus, partly cooked, so unlike chicken, you really can’t undercook it.

Firstly, I have spoken about this before, but let’s reiterate that there is no good evidence suggesting traditional soy-foods like tempeh are detrimental to your health and should therefore be avoided. Tempeh is a healthful source of protein. Tempeh is made using the entire soybean, but it is fermented, making tempeh more easily digested and “antimutagenic” than unfermented beans, as well as making it a great source of vitamin K2 (bone, heart, brain and cancer protective nutrient).

Secondly, it is important to source non-GMO and organic varieties of tempeh. In Australia, Woolworths stocks Nutri-Soy, my go-to. I buy the unflavoured one to avoid cheap soy-sauces and other additives. Stick to the plain like me, and make your own flavours with the below suggestions.

Quick guide. Choose your tempeh variety by comparing it to meat options…

Pan-fried – chicken/fish replacement

Marinated – steak replacement

Ground – mince replacement

Crusted – schnitzel replacement

Using 1 x 300g packet of tempeh….

SIMPLE PAN-FRIED TEMPEH

½ tsp coconut oil, 2 cloves minced garlic and 1 tbsp tamari OR 1 tsp curry powder. Allow the garlic to heat for 3 mins before adding slices of tempeh. Cook first side for 3-4 minutes over medium heat, cover with tamari or spices, flip and cook the second side for a further 3 minutes. Serve with vegetables for a veggie stir-fry.

JUICY MARINATED TEMPEH STEAK

Boil tempeh whole for 30 minutes. Remove from pot and then marinate in 3 tbsp tamari, ½ lemon juice, 1 tbsp maple syrup, 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 tsp dried for 1-3 hours. Once ready, fry whole 5 minutes each side. Slice into 4 servings and serve over veggies.

GROUND TEMPEH

Grind the tempeh by pulsing it in thirds in a food processor until it resembles mince. Then heat up your stove with a little coconut oil, just to coat, throw the tempeh mince in and pan fry with the following spices and condiments…

Mexican-inspired: ½ chopped brown onion, 2 cloves minced garlic and 1-2 tsp of spices like cumin, paprika, cajun, chili or a Mexican spice blend. Allow the onion and garlic to brown before adding the tempeh and spices. Pan-fry for 6 mins whilst stirring occasionally. Pair with brown rice and black beans.

Italian: ½ chopped brown onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 can organic diced tomatoes, 1 tsp dried Italian herbs or oregano, handful fresh chopped basil. Allow the onion and garlic to brown before adding the tempeh and spices. Pan-fry for 4 mins whilst stirring occasionally. Then add the diced tomatoes and pan-fry for a further 4 minutes. Lastly, add the basil, stir, remove from heat and serve over grains, roast veggies or pasta.

SESAME-CRUSTED TEMPEH

Preheat oven to 200 C. Prepare your “sticky” mixture of 1 tbsp flax meal soaked in 3 tbsp coco milk, 1 tsp tamari and ¼ tsp garlic powder. Allow it to soak for at least 10 minutes whilst you prep the rest. Place ¼ cup sesame seeds in a dry wide bowl. Slice the tempeh into thin-medium slices and dip each in the sticky mixture. Place onto a lined baking tray and sprinkle each slice with 1-2tsp sesame seeds. Press down on them with the back of the spoon. Bake for 25 minutes, flipping each after 15 minutes. Optional to sprinkle the other side with more sesame once flipped and before baking for the last 10 minutes.

How to keep it clean when dining out

Socialising over food is a part of life, and shouldn’t be the bane of your existence. There are times when you want to indulge and the rules go out the window (that is fine), and there are times where you would like to stick to the rules a little more closely. I eat out once or twice a week for a main meal, and whilst I usually find it relatively easy as I seek out health-oriented cafe’s and restaurants, there is the occasion where I have no control over where we go, or end up somewhere I wouldn’t usually choose. That is often the case when traveling or dining with larger groups! But these occasions don’t need to be avoided entirely, nor do they need to be stressed over. Embrace them and enjoy them for the company and experience, and keep these tips in mind, or in your phone, to gently guide you toward more healthful options.

1. Skip the bread basket, order crudités if on the menu, a veggie based starter to share, or simply olives, if you feel tempted to snack whilst you wait for your meal.

2. Avoid words like creamy, crumbed, crispy, or deep-fried on the menu, it is likely loaded with nasty oils and saturated/trans fats.

3. Let them know you are dairy-intolerant – vegan or not, there is no need for milk, milk powders/solids in your sauces and mains. This also means steering clear of creamy based dressings and sauces which often contain other undesirables like preservatives, thickeners and unhealthy fats etc. Find out why I choose to avoid dairy here.

4. Ask if they can cook in less oil, or use extra-virgin olive oil/coconut oil instead of butter (for vegans/dairy-free) or other vegetable oils.

5. Request dressings and even sauces on the side. Ask for a lemon, balsamic vinegar, tahini or avocado to compensate.

6. Order a bunch of side vegetables as a main – a balanced meal can often be created from a side of sweet potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, steamed greens, grains, side salad etc. Alternatively, see what produce ingredients they use in their other dishes and single out one or two you would like e.g. avocado, quinoa or beans, to add to your sides. This is also a great tip if you are vegan and there is no suitable plant-based option.

7. Ask if they have a vegetarian / vegan menu – these often exist, and are often healthier as veggies are the star of the show! They also tend to be grouped together with other diet-specific requirements i.e. gluten-free, refined sugar-free too.

8. Skip the fries and double the veggies or see if they will steam you some rice or sweet potato instead, if craving something more starch-based. NB: sometimes I do have the fries, moderation 😉

9. At Asian restaurants, see if they have gluten-free Tamari sauce available in place of soy sauce for a happier tummy. Be wary of the sugar used in some sushi-rice, ask if they would be open to swapping for steamed rice, however this might not always be possible.

Enjoy your food, but mostly the dining experience and the company you keep! There is no perfect, and your body can tolerate less-than-ideal choices from time to time 🙂

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