Meet your soon-to-be favorite new food. P.S. It's vegan!
So What Is Tempeh Anyway?
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You may have heard of tempeh, but have no idea how to cook, eat, or even pronounce it (it's "tem-pay"). If you haven't heard of it, now you're probably wondering what's up with this strange, sort of lumpy loaf. Before you get weirded out, just know that you can make bacon with it. Yes, tempeh bacon is a thing and it's amazing.
Tempeh is like tofu's hipster cousin. Basically, it's a loaf made of fermented soybeans all packed together. It has a sweet, nutty taste and is firm and chewy (so if you're not a fan of tofu's sponginess, this alternative is worth a try). The plain version, like Lightlife Original Soy Tempeh, has 140 calories per three-ounce serving, with just four and half grams of fat, a whopping 16 grams of protein, and 10 grams of carbs, plus 7 grams of filling fiber. Comparatively, a three-ounce serving of Nasoya's Orginal Extra-Firm Tofu has 80 calories, four grams of fat, nine grams of protein, and three grams of carbs (and 1 gram of fiber). So while both are great meat-free alternatives, tempeh may just have tofu beat when it comes to packing in the protein. (Plus, fermented foods are pretty good for your digestion).
You can slice, cube, or crumble tempeh, and bake, sauté, or steam it. The possibilities are endless, but these 10 recipes (that look SO good) should get you started.
Photo: Corbis Images
Baked Buffalo Tempeh Tenders
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These wannabe buffalo chicken wings taste crazy close to the real thing—but when they're baked, not fried, you can eat the whole plate without a second thought. All you do is soak the tempeh in buffalo sauce, dip it into crushed cereal, and throw the "tenders" in the oven. Baked Buffalo Tempeh Tenders for the win. (Just be careful not to overdo it on the Buffalo sauce if you really do want to devour them all.)
Photo: My Fork and Beans
Simple Vegetarian Meatballs
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Toss these Simple Vegetarian Meatballs on top of some hearty spaghetti and sauce and you'll have the ultimate, easy, meat-free comfort meal. Just throw tempeh in the food processor, mix with the other usual meatball ingredients (including vegan bread crumbs and a flax egg if you're steering clear of animal products completely) and pop in the oven. (Try these 10 Healthy Pasta Alternatives to turn up the good-for-you temperature even more.)
Photo: Minimalist Baker
Lentil, Tempeh, and Sweet Potato Chili
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The easiest way to eat tons of hearty veggies? Throw them in a pot of chili. This Tempeh Lentil Sweet Potato Chili packs a ton of plant-based protein and fiber to fill you up and keep you going.
Photo: Produce on Parade
Vegan Tempeh Carbonara
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Forget everything you knew about carbonara—this Vegan Tempeh Carbonara swaps all the unhealthy ingredients in the classic recipe (read: cheese, egg yolks, and bacon) for lighter, plant-based ones (unsweetened plant milk, cashews, nutritional yeast, and tempeh bacon).
Photo: Vegan Heaven
Lemon Garlic Tempeh & Kale
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When you're tired of having chicken for dinner every. single. night., try swapping your poultry for soy. This Lemon Garlic Tempeh and Kale recipe has just 325 calories, 12 grams of fat, 25 grams of protein, 28 grams of carbs, and 11 grams of fiber per serving—making it a stellar option for dinner that leaves you some wiggle room for dessert. (And if you want to keep your dessert vegan too, try these 6 Decadent Chocolate Vegan Desserts.)
Photo: Eating Bird Food
Tempeh Black Bean Tacos
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Swap your usual ground turkey or beef with tempeh in your favorite taco or burrito recipe, or give these Tempeh Black Bean Tacos a try. Just crumble the tempeh, mix with taco seasoning, and sauté. Then prepare your tacos as usual. With tons of fiber coming from the tempeh and beans, you'll stay full for hours.
Photo: The Garden Grazer
Peanut Butter Basil Tempeh with Broccoli
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If you're still not sure about trying tempeh, this Peanut Butter Basil Tempeh with Broccoli is worth a try. The blogger says it best herself: "If you love tempeh this dish is for you. If you don't love tempeh so much but would like to, this dish is for you. Finally, if you think you don't like tempeh, this dish is for you." Basically, tempeh is delicious and this recipe calls for you to put peanut sauce on it. Need any more convincing?
Photo: Connoisseurus Veg
Sesame Kale Glow Bowl
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Why is it that sometimes dinner just tastes better when everything is together in one bowl? Proof is here with these Sesame Kale Glow Bowl with broccoli, tempeh, kale, and quinoa. Sauté all the ingredients while the quinoa is cooking, dump them both into a bowl together, and voilà—dinner is ready. (If you want to know more about making perfect one-dish dinners, take a peek at The Anatomy of a Perfect Bowl.)
Photo: The Glowing Fridge
Tempeh Salad Sanwich
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This Tempeh Salad Sandwich ditches the chicken or tuna for tempeh and swaps the mayo for avocado to create the ultimate healthy vegan sandwich. Bonus: You can throw it in a wrap, on top of some greens, or scoop it up with crackers for tons of tempeh lunch and snack options.
Photo: Margaret's Dish
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This Tempeh Bacon recipe is still fried like regular bacon, but is a great alternative to fatty meat (translation: You shouldn't eat a ton of it just because it's a bit healthier). The secret to the authentic bacon taste: liquid smoke. You might have to search around your grocery store to find it, but the savory crunch is well worth the effort.
Photo: Simple Vegan Blog