QUESTION: I'm trying to cut back on meat and other animal products but of course, my family is concerned about protein. Someone told me to use tempeh, but I'm not familiar with it, whether it's healthy and how to prepare it. Help!
ANSWER: Tempeh is a traditional soy product originally from Indonesia. It’s made by a natural fermentation process that binds soybeans into a firm block-like form. Yes, it’s soy, but don’t let that turn you off right away! Tempeh is relatively unprocessed and it’s made from the whole soy bean, so it ranks pretty high up on the “healthy scale”.
Tempeh packs a lot of nutrients – and protein – in a small package! One cup of tempeh has about 31 grams of protein. Most people need roughly 45 – 55 grams of protein per day, so with a little tempeh, you are well on your way. A cup of tempeh will also supply about 20-25% of your recommended daily allowance of calcium, iron, magnesium and many more important minerals and vitamins.
Tempeh is generally found in most grocery stores today in a rectangular package. There are usually several varieties, experiment till you find one you like, they are somewhat similar in taste – in my opinion. Right out of the package, it’s kind of flavorless so you really need to season it before actually using it in a recipe. Most recipes will give you that, but just so you know, it involves cutting or grating the tempeh into the desired shape or texture (check your recipe) and simmering it in a combination of water and soy sauce/tamari. It’s a brief step, but the end result is much better tasting, in my opinion, than if you omit this step.
Once you’ve prepared the tempeh, you’re ready to rock and roll! With so many ways to prepare tempeh, it’s impossible to choose what’s best, but here’s a few of my favorites:
– Make Tempeh and Peppers, just like traditional Sausage and Peppers but without the cruel and unhealthy ingredients.
– Grate it and cook it up like ground beef for tacos, meat sauce or stuffed peppers.
– Bake or fry strips and eat like chicken fingers or use in a BLT…but just call it a TLT!
Search our archives for tempeh recipes or look online. Oh, and remember to always buy organic soy products. Unless labeled otherwise, soy is generally a genetically modified food and has heavy residuals of toxic pesticides and herbicides.
I hope you do give it a try, and please write back and let me know how you made out!
ANSWER: If you are exploring veganism, it won’t be long before you see a recipe that calls for “nutritional yeast”. Besides not knowing what it means, it certainly doesn’t sound appealing, does it? It is however, one of the very important, very healthy and very delicious secret ingredients in so many dishes that you should definitely care!
Let’s start with what it is. Nutritional yeast, or “nooch” as some folks call it, is yellow in color and has a strong, cheesy flavor. You can generally find it in the bulk section of most healthy grocery stores and you’ll see that it has a flakey consistency. Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast made from a single-celled organism, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. It’s grown on molasses or sugarcane and then harvested and dried with heat to kill or “deactivate” it.
Nutritional yeast is not the yeast used in baking to make dough rise, nor is it the same as brewer’s yeast, which is a by-product of the beer-making process and has a very bitter taste. Most vegans consider nutritional yeast a good source of the illusive vitamin B-12, but that’s only if the nutritional yeast has been fortified (most brands are, thankfully). Yeast cannot produce B-12, which is only naturally produced by bacteria. Some brands of nutritional yeast, though not all, are fortified with vitamin B-12. When fortified, the vitamin B-12 is produced separately and then added to the yeast.
So now that you know more than you ever wanted to know about what nutritional yeast is…you probably want to know what to do with it. Simple…just add a tablespoon or two to soups, gravy, tofu scrambles, vegetable dishes, beans, grains, mashed potatoes…basically anywhere you want a richness and savoriness to your flavors. You can even sprinkle it on popcorn instead of using butter and salt. Once you start using it, you’ll find that you turn to it often so keep a supply of “nooch” in your pantry and you’ll wonder what you did before you found out about it.