Tempeh is a soy-based product made through a natural culturing and fermentation process. This means it is easy on digestion and enables more nutrients to be absorbed.

It’s less processed than tofu and contains more protein and fibre. It’s also a great non-dairy source of calcium. A study conducted in Kuala Lumpur involving post-menopausal women found that the calcium in tempeh was equally well absorbed by the body as the calcium from cow’s milk (although it should be noted that the calcium in cow’s milk is more concentrated, so more tempeh is needed to reach the same total amount). Many adults could benefit from increasing their calcium intake, and this is a great plant-based way of doing so.

In addition to this, using tempeh as a meat substitute has the ability to help significantly lower our cholesterol intake and reduce our saturated fat intake too. Research has found that in replacing meat and dairy with tempeh, this could lower our total daily cholesterol intake by approximately 125 milligrams, and our saturated fat intake by about 2.4 grams each day. This consistent reduction limits the risk of many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular.

“Tempeh is less processed than tofu and it also contains more protein and fibre.”

Please don’t be intimidated by tempeh if you’ve never cooked with it before. It’s super simple to use as a meat substitute once you get the hang of it. I love to slice or cube it and marinate with ingredients such as tamari, rice vinegar, sesame oil, coconut milk, ginger and spices. Then you can bake it, grill it or pan-fry it.

vegan tempeh chilli

You can also use it crumbled into stews and sauces. I’ve got a recipe for Vegan Tempeh Chilli on here (plus many more in my book). This recipe is a vibrant and delicious twist on the original chilli con carne, but without the animal protein. It’s a perfect choice for all the family to enjoy on a Meatless Monday and is a great way to pack lots of extra plants into your day.

You can buy your tempeh online or source it in your local shops (ask an assistant for help if you get stuck!) and give it a try. Report back on what you make – I’m excited to see how you take on tempeh and make it your own! @calgaryavansino

5 more ways to add tempeh to your life…

  1. Marinate your tempeh for 20 minutes, grill or sauté on a medium heat for 15-20 minutes, then add as a delicious filling to your burritos. It’ll be super filling, especially with some homemade guacamole, cooked beans, chopped tomatoes and sliced black olives.
  2. Bake the tempeh and add on top of a hearty plant-based salad to get your protein fix.
  3. Make your own vegan BLT sandwich. All you need is a slice of wholemeal or rye bread, a slathering of mashed avocado (with some lemon squeezed in for a citrus kick and salt for seasoning), some chopped tomato and lettuce, and your cooked tempeh on top as a bacon substitute.
  4. Bake it without any marinade and add to your curry for some ‘meaty’ texture.
  5. Marinate your tempeh, then bread it (see recipe here, but swap the meat out), before baking on a medium temperature (about 250 degrees) for 15-20 minutes. You then have your very own meat-free ‘nuggets’.
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