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Food and Nutrition

Food for Thought: Tempeh

Kathy Pariani, RD | Nutrition Specialist
/ July 30, 2021

Tempeh, a traditional Indonesian food, is a high protein, high fiber plant-based option made from fermented soybeans. It can also be found combined with whole grains such as brown rice, barley, and millet. Tempeh is a great option for vegans and vegetarians looking for a whole food protein source, rather than a meat substitute. See the chart below to see how it compares to other common vegetarian protein foods:

Food Serving size Protein Carbohydrates Fiber
Original tempeh 3 oz 18g 12g 6g
3 grain tempeh  3 oz 19g 11g 10g
Extra firm tofu 3 oz 9g 1g 1g
Black beans 4.5 oz 6g 19g 6g
Lentils 3.5 oz 9g 20g 8g
Quinoa 3.5 oz 4g 21g 3g

What to do with tempeh?

I don’t see too many images of tempeh while reviewing meal photos! Most preparations involve marinating slices of tempeh in a combination of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and spices that work best for the overall meal. It can be steamed, baked or sauteed in oil, such as grapeseed, olive or coconut oil. I hear it is also great in an air fryer. Here are a few options to get you started:

  • Tempeh burger sandwiched with portobello mushrooms or lettuce.  Add tomatoes and onions for the full burger experience
  • Stir-fry with vegetables and cauliflower rice
  • Indonesian gado gado plate, including tempeh slices, hardboiled eggs, cucumber, bean sprouts and peanut sauce
  • Tacos – in this case, crumble tempeh before cooking and stirfry with chili powder, cumin, garlic, onion powder and lime juice
  • Skewers – marinate in soy ginger sauce and grill
  • Curry – cut into cubes, bake or saute, then add to vegetarian curry

Hope this inspires you to branch out! I’d love to hear and see your favorite preparations.

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