What’s for Dinner Tonight? Tempeh!

Most people have heard of tofu. Fewer people, however, have heard of tempeh. Tempeh is a meat substitute made from soybeans that is quite popular in Asia and is growing in popularity in the United States. Like tofu, tempeh is very high in protein, but tastes quite different. Many people enjoy its slightly nutty, earthy flavor and firm texture. Tempeh is made from soybeans and can be an excellent addition to the diet of anyone looking to increase his or her protein intake. It is a complete protein which means it contains all the essential amino acids that your body needs, and offers many nutritional benefits in addition to being highly digestible. Once only found in specialty stores, the increasing popularity of tempeh means that it is now readily available in most grocery stores. More ambitious readers may be interested in making their own tempeh; recipes for making tempeh yourself are readily available online, but given its low cost, many people simply opt to purchase it at the grocery store. Tempeh is often described as possessing a nutty or earthy taste; some have compared its taste to that of mushrooms. It tastes quite different from tofu, although both are made from soybeans, and has a much firmer texture. You can buy tempeh with no extra flavor added, but some brands do offer several varieties of tempeh, such as barbecued tempeh, smoked tempeh, etc. Try them all and see which you prefer. Tempeh is most often found in stir fry dishes or soups. Saute up some vegetables and throw in some tempeh instead of tofu, or add some tempeh crumbles to your favorite chili recipe. Tempeh is also delicious in spaghetti sauce; fry some tempeh squares, make spaghetti, warm up some spaghetti sauce, and you have yourself a delicious and nutritious meal! Tempeh has a very firm texture, and so should be cooked, sauteed, or fried in thin slices or cubes. Sautee or fry it until it is a light golden brown color; the outer crust will be crispy, whereas the inside will be chewy. Tempeh can be crumbled by hand or with a cheese grater and added to soups in the place of ground beef. Tempeh stores very well in the freezer and maintains its taste well. You can store it for up to three months in your freezer, and defrost it by placing it in a bowl of warm water or putting it in the refrigerator overnight. Many people have incorporated tempeh into their diets because they enjoy its flavor and nutritional benefits. It is a far less processed food than tofu and can easily be added to meals as a meat substitute. Like tofu, tempeh will take on the flavor of what it is cooked in. Soy protein has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and lower one’s chances of heart disease. For that reason, many people have made the switch to tempeh and tofu. So head to your local grocery story and throw some tempeh into your cart! You’ll be pleased with the results.  

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