Way back when, when food and healing was an intriguing idea full of possibilities (could what you eat actually affect how you feel?) I decided to become a full-blown vegan. I was still not up to speed on what healthy eating really was, just a teenager intrigued by the notion that what we ate could shift our health.
I was still in high school though, and not even close to truly getting the connection, or really eating properly. I can’t remember how long I lasted back then but I don’t think it was too long. I imagine McDonald’s, pizza and boys somehow got in the way.
Yet, the principles of veganism and the positive benefits have stuck with me, and while I do not call myself a vegan today, I eat a heavily plant-based diet. I now know the well researched, true healing benefits to eating a lot less meat, more greens and mixing up my proteins with plant-based options such as beans, tofu, and tempeh.
If you are interested in shifting to a more plant-based way of eating, you might want to give tempeh a try. If tofu always seemed to bland for you, tempeh is like tofu’s more bold cousin. It’s fermented soy, so it imparts more of a tangy taste and is much denser than tofu.
Are you running out to buy tempeh yet?
Here’s more good news. You can cube tempeh and put it in stir fries and bowls as I did in the recipe below. You can also crumble it and use it as a meat substitute in chilis and other recipes that call for ground meat. Because it is made from soy, there is no cholesterol, no saturated fat, and yet it is still high in protein.
Are you wondering about eating too much soy, and if it’s safe? Soy was getting a bad rap for a while, some for good reason. A lot of soy is genetically modified and highly processed. Soybean oil, for example, is found in a lot of snack foods. Soy foods like tempeh and soy are perfectly fine to eat. Be sure to buy organic, which will ensure it is not genetically modified or processed.
Try this Tempeh and Broccoli Bowl with Spicy Peanut Sauce. It might convert you to veganism after all.
Tempeh and Broccoli Bowl with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Makes 4 servings
2 cups cooked short grain brown rice
8 ounces tempeh, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups low sodium vegetable stock
2 teaspoons honey (preferably local)
1 clove garlic, smashed
1-inch knob of ginger, sliced
1 head broccoli, cut into medium-sized florets (stem removed)
1 red pepper, sliced thin
1 tablespoon organic canola oil, or other neutral oil
Spicy Peanut Sauce
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey (preferably local)
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce (more or less depending on your spice tolerance)
1. Prep the tempeh: tempeh needs to be marinated or simmered in a broth before you cook with it. In a saucepan, add the vegetable stock, honey, garlic, and ginger. Bring to a simmer and add the tempeh. Cook for about 10 minutes, then drain. Remove the ginger slices and set aside.
2. Steam or microwave the broccoli: microwaves are okay to use but I don’t love using them to cook with since they heat unevenly. But, to save time, place the broccoli in a microwave proof bowl, cover and cook until tender. Alternatively, fill a large pot 1/4 filled with water and bring to a simmer. Add the broccoli and cook for about 3 minutes, until the broccoli turns bright green. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
3. Saute the vegetables: in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add the canola oil. Add the pepper slices and stir every few minutes. After 5 minutes, add the broccoli and tempeh and continue cooking for another 3 minutes. At this point, you may add in the rice, as I did, or you can leave it aside. Turn off the heat.
4. Make the peanut sauce: in a mini food prep or blender, add the peanut butter, sesame oil, low sodium soy sauce, honey, water and Sriracha sauce. Blend until smooth.
5. Divide the tempeh and vegetables into four equal bowls, add the rice if you have not done so yet and drizzle the peanut sauce. Serve hot.