You’d be surprised how many messages I get about tempeh!
What is tempeh? What do I think about it? What’s the deal with tempeh? It looks so weird! How do I cook it? What does it taste like?
I get it, because I was there once too. I think people are scared of tempeh because it looks a little strange in the package, but there are SO many reasons why I love it and I hope this post helps to clear some things up about my favorite plant protein. There’s nothing to be scared of!
What is tempeh?!
Tempeh is a type of plant-based protein that originated in Indonesia. It’s made from fermented soybeans (the carbohydrates are broken down by bacteria and yeast) and then the soybeans are pressed together to form a dense patty. There are other variations of tempeh too, made from either hemp, beans, flax, or barley. My favorite brand is Lightlife (the original or three-grain), or I buy it from Trader Joes because it’s cheap!
#1: Tempeh is fermented and super easy to digest
The first main reason I love tempeh is, it’s super easy to digest! A lot of people have a hard time digesting beans and legumes so they are turned off to most plant proteins… but what makes tempeh so special is it’s fermented so it’s packed with prebiotics; a type of fiber that the beneficial bacteria in your gut go crazy for! This is also why it can look darker in some spots which is totally natural and normal, it has not gone bad!
I consider it one of the easiest foods for me to digest. It has a soothing effect on my stomach and helps reduce inflammation. Studies have shown that tempeh can help increase the colonies of good gut bacteria, and we know the gut is our second brain and plays a central role in our overall health.
Tempeh is also considered more of a “whole food” than tofu! Tofu is way more processed and while I still love tofu, I often prefer tempeh for all it’s whole-food health benefits.
#2: Tempeh has an impressive nutrient profile
Hello, fiber and protein!! Tempeh has a whopping 10g of fiber and 19g of protein per serving! Impressive, right?! It’s also high in micronutrients like iron, potassium and calcium. And we can’t forget the antioxidants. The soy isoflavones in tempeh act as antioxidants to help fight off free radicals and prevent oxidative stress (which is super important for healthy ovaries and happy hormones!
#3: Tempeh is versatile
Tempeh has a firm texture which means it doesn’t fall apart and can hold up in any recipe you want! It has a slightly nutty taste but takes on any flavor you want. It can be marinated or seasoned just as you would any other type of protein, for a flavor boost. You can eat it plain or include it in a salad, stir fry, soup, wrap, sandwich, anything you want! You can even fry it up with some tamari or liquid aminos to make long strips of tempeh “bacon”.
When I’m super lazy, I literally chop it into cubes or strips and toss it in a simple salad to make sure I’m getting protein during lunch. I even add it to my Daily Harvest cups for extra protein.
I hope you feel inspired to include more tempeh in your diet! It’s always a go-to for me, and I eat it at all times throughout my cycle, but especially in the menstrual and follicular phases!