BOOK NOW
BOOK NOW

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.

A love note to Soy…

One of the most commonly asked questions I get is regarding the health of soy foods. I either hear that someone would love to go vegan but wants to avoid soy (which is fine, but also not necessary), or that they wish they “could” consume it, but are worried about relying on it as a source of plant-based protein because of all the negative implications they have heard from someone, somewhere. Regardless, my answer is the same! The right types of soy are unequivocally, a healthful choice. I talk more about the right types below.

Let’s look at the evidence in regard to some major concerns:

Soy contains oestrogen: No it actually doesn’t. It does however contain phytoestrogens (beneficial constituents of plants, also found in flaxseeds). This type of oestrogen “imitator” is not bad, but indeed, beneficial, with its naturally occurring oestrogenic activity. They adapt to what the specific individual needs, raising or lowering oestrogen levels accordingly. Regarding female fertility, a large-scale study at a fertility centre demonstrated improved birth rates in females consuming soy and undergoing fertility treatment. A note on menopause, women dealing with hot flashes found relief from soy products according to this study.

Soy makes men grow breasts: Nooo! Men’s sex hormones, including testosterone remain unaffected by consuming soy products. This study concluded that soy does not “exert feminizing effects on men at intake levels equal to and even considerably higher than are typical for Asian males.” Soy does not adversely effect semen quality, and a study at Harvard University found soy intake had no effect overall on male fertility.

Just so we are clear on this topic, I’d like to point out the ludicrously of these claims by illustrating that the milk from a cow comes from a female animal that has just given birth. Not only is this a much bigger animal than us, with a different hormonal profile, but just as humans, when cows give birth, their oestrogen levels elevate. Therefore, it stands to reason that the concerning source of oestrogen in the diet is cows milk! And so far, I’ve just mentioned the natural oestrogen (due to their recent pregnancy)… think about the hefty doses of synthetic hormones dairy livestock are injected with to increase their milk production! This only adds to the oestrogen load of most cows milk. Yuk!

Cancer growth and recurrence: research appears to indicate soy consumption has a positive effect on preventing or slowing down the growth of cancer. Phytoestrogens (present in soy) act as antioxidants and have anti-proliferative properties to inhibit tumour growth. Among women with breast cancer, soy food consumption has been significantly associated with decreased risk of death and recurrence. This study suggests that greater consumption of isoflavone-containing foods is associated with a reduced risk of endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women. Other analyses have found that soy foods are protective against prostate cancer in men.

Bone health: I hear you, don’t we need dairy to protect against osteoporosis? No, we don’t, and evidence suggests that populations consuming higher amounts of cows milk actually have higher incidence of osteoporosis versus populations who don’t. There are a number of reasons for this, namely, the acidity of the milk causing greater calcium excretion from the body. However, I thought it apt to point out that whilst soy generally does contain less calcium, it contains triple the amount of magnesium, a vital mineral for bone maintenance. Indeed, the latest research suggests soy milk is actually much better for bone health. Interestingly, the beneficial isoflavones (types of phytoestrogens) in soy are thought to inhibit the breakdown of bones. For example the isoflavone Daidzein, is actually used to create the drug ipriflavone, which is used to treat osteoporosis.

Hypothyroidism and soy: Soy products do not cause hypothyroidism and hypothyroid adults need not avoid soy foods. However, the isoflavones  in soy may potentially reduce iodine availability, required for healthy thyroid hormone production. It is therefore suggested that people who consume soy might need slightly more iodine in their diets (which we can get from sea veggies like dulse and nori).

***There is always conflicting evidence and debate around the statistical significance of the findings in such studies. However whether there is no benefit, little benefit, or substantial benefit, I am yet to find a negative finding regarding soy, and that should be the message we hear loud and clear.

At the end of the day, the fear around soy seems to stem from a few sources:

  • The grouping of all soy together – the bad: i.e. concentrated soy proteins and soy-derivatives used to thicken or emulsify products (often non-vegan products too), GMO, non-organic, non-traditional varieties such as highly-processed faux soy meats + the good: i.e. traditional sources of soy, non-GMO and organic such as tempeh, tamari, miso, natto and even a little good quality tofu from time to time is ok. So too is edamame. Combining the good and the bad like this is akin to saying that the questionable ground meat in a fast food chain burger is the same quality as the meat from your local organic butcher (whilst I don’t think either meat is healthy, this is a helpful comparison!);
  • Rare cases of harm due to consumption of ridiculously large amounts of soy on a daily basis;
  • Similar to point 1 above, because soy is grown in ginormous quantities and added to absolutely everything, including often unhealthy packaged foods, it is viewed negatively, similarly to corn. Again, non-GMO and organic varieties in their wholefood form are fine!; and
  • Poorly-conducted research based and/or articles by groups with vested interests e.g. the Weston A Price Foundation (WAPF).

 

Soy sources to include:

organic and non-GMO edamame and fermented sources such as tempeh, natto, miso, tamari (easiest to digest and assimilate). Whilst soy milk and tofu are more processed, organic varieties from time-to-time if you really enjoy them are not going to negatively impact your health and should not be feared.

I am not claiming soy to be a miraculous cure-all, I am simply pointing out that there is a lot of good evidence indicating its benefits, and that you should feel confident in including it as part of a plant-rich varied diet (if you so choose). 

 

Healthy Replacements for all your favourites

ELIMINATE: red meat, eggs, dairy, gluten/wheat, refined sugar and caffeine…

For some, these words are absurd. Others, are subtly aware (deep within them) that they were a long time coming. For most, it is completely overwhelming.

When I tell my clients to eliminate certain foods from their diet, it is my priority to replace those foods with healthy alternatives. My goal is to not only offer a more nutritious option, but an item/s that taste similar and/or better, making the transition far easier and less daunting than initially thought.

The truth is, we all love to have our unhealthy habits or choices confirmed – we like to be told that a glass or two of red wine each night is good for us, that “butter is back”, that we need to eat cheese and ice cream because… well, calcium! But the second you start to question that, the overwhelm sets in and cutting out these staples, that so many of us have grown up on, seems unbearable. Impossible. Cruel! Well, I am here to tell you, it isn’t so bad. Here are some suggestions I put forward in my plight to have my clients and readers, not only looking better, but feeling a whole lot more lighter, energetic and clear-headed…

Instead of coffee:

Order an almond or coconut milk chai tea, hold the sugar – ask if they have Natvia instead or carry some in your purse. Extra cinnamon please!

Most cafe’s these days have alternatives like matcha, turmeric, or chai lattes. Swap your regular milk for a plant-based option, and be sure to ask what it is sweetened with. Again, if it is sugar, ask for it unsweetened and add your own BYO Natvia. 

At home, try making my hot cacao, or your own turmeric latte.

Instead of dairy:

Swap dairy milk with plant-based options – almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, oat milk, soy milk (definitely organic and non-GMO). *A note on soy… we are all so quick to dismiss it as having “too much oestrogen”, but may I remind you the biological and often synthetic oestrogen in cows milk, as it comes from a pregnant cow obviously producing her own hormones however additionally often injected with hormones… compared to the natural, weak phytoestrogens found in the soy bean. Just think about that for a moment. Read here for more on soy and oestrogen.*

Cheese – nut-based cheeses, for creamy pasta sauces add coconut milk, pumpkin puree or soaked cashews with nutritional yeast (tastes like cheese and is AMAZING for you), sprinkle nutritional yeast on a salad, instead of adding fetta or goats cheese, add avocado for the same creamy, “fatty” addition, cheese cake can be made with soaked cashews as a base.

Yoghurt – Coconut yoghurt, almond yoghurt – check ingredients for added sugar, cashew or coconut cream.

Also check out my post on going dairy-free, here.

Instead of gluten/wheat:

Grains – Brown, basmati or wild rice, Quinoa, Millet, Amaranth, Teff, Buckwheat;

Bread – Sprouted bread varieties, DIY your own bread, or choose a gluten-free option (check ingredients for eggs if avoiding, sugar, and additives you can’t pronounce);

Crackers – flax crackers, rice crackers, corn or rice thins, buckwheat crackers, seed crackers;

Pasta – Quinoa pasta, rice pasta, Konjac noodles, Zucchini pasta, kelp noodles, 100% buckwheat soba noodles;

Flours – Almond meal, Buckwheat flour, Coconut flour, Teff flour, Chia flour, Banana flour.

Instead of red meat:

Tempeh, lentils, beans, chickpeas, quinoa, rice, portobello mushrooms, stuffed veggies… some meal ideas:

Tempeh stir-fry with or without brown rice; Mixed Bean salad with roast veg + avo; Stuffed sweet potatoes with beans, cashew cheese, guacamole; Quinoa salad with roast veg and roast tamari pumpkin seeds; Stuffed capsicums with rice/teff and lentils; Stuffed mushrooms with quinoa, capsicum and capers, Zucchini pasta with lentil bolognese, Cauliflower rice with chickpeas, almonds and greens, Mushroom and lentil san choy bow, Cauliflower mash with peas and mushroom gravy….

Instead of eggs:

Breakfast options – smoothies, chia pudding, bircher muesli, oat porridge, quinoa porridge, pea protein powders (I like Nuzest), Avocado smash or hummus and mushrooms on gluten-free toast, breakfast salad of quinoa, sauteed greens and mushrooms, roast tomatoes, avocado and pumpkin/sweet potato and pepita’s;

Cooking – flax egg, arrowroot, tapioca flour, chia, chia flour, mashed banana, water or almond milk

Order out – if there is a big vegetarian brekky with eggs, ask for it without eggs but add extra veggies, avocado or sweet potato to bulk it up or opt for the porridge options (there is always is one!) with a dairy-free milk.

Instead of sugary snacks or treats:

All homemade or health-food store bought treats made with stevia/xylitol OR coconut nectar, maple syrup, dates

Bliss balls, DIY muesli bars, DIY granola, Cacao/turmeric lattes (as above), Raw chocolate (In Aus, Pana chocolate is a good brand, Well naturally from Woolies, or see if you can get your hands on BSKT vegan chocolate), or make your own raw choc, Cacao smoothie, Berry smoothie, Chocolate or coconut/berry based chia pudding, Vegan pancakes, Strawberry Chia Jam, Avocado chocolate mousse.

SIGN UP TO THE HEALTH & BLOOM NEWSLETTER