Tempeh Is Protein-Packed And Great For Your Gut – 6 Recipes To Try

Tempeh is packed with plant protein


5 Minutes Read

A vegan tempeh and apple slaw sandwich Tempeh is packed with protein and a great alternative to meat - Media Credit: Happy Skin Kitchen

Tofu is a staple of plant-based cooking – but have you tried its “meatier” cousin, tempeh? 

Like tofu, tempeh (pronounced tem-pay) is made from soybeans, but its texture is firmer and its taste more beany and tangy. That’s because it is made with cooked, fermented soybeans pressed into a “cake.”

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Not only is tempeh a great, versatile ingredient that can play the “meat” role in many dishes, it’s also very good for you.

It’s packed with protein, a range of vitamins and minerals, and is good for your gut too.

“Tempeh contains both probiotics and prebiotics,” Noah Praamsma, Nutrition Education Coordinator at Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, tells Plant Based News. Though pasteurization of most tempeh products kills the gut-friendly probiotics, the prebiotics remain. “Soy products like tempeh are rich in fiber and other nutrients that gut bacteria thrive on.”

How is tempeh made

Making tempeh involves fermenting the cooked soybeans with a starter culture made from Rhizopus fungi. The filaments of the fungi binds the soybeans together so that when it is pressed into a cake it is dense and firm. It’s a minimally processed food with the whole soybeans still visible.

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Tempeh hails from Indonesia, where it was originally made using banana, teak, or waru leaves to wrap the soybeans. It’s thought that fungus spores in the leaves may have accidentally fermented the beans, leading to its modern production method.

Health benefits of tempeh

Tempeh is among the fermented foods that health experts recommend to improve the gut microbiome. Maintaining a healthy inner ecosystem can be beneficial to the immune system, sleep, digestion, and even mental health. Fermented foods like tempeh contain live bacteria that help keep the gut healthy.

Tempeh is also an incredible source of plant-based protein. A 100g serving (about half a block of tempeh as sold in supermarkets) packs a massive 21g of protein. By comparison, 100g of tofu contains 16g of protein. Soybeans are a “complete” source of protein, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids humans require.

All soy products like tempeh and tofu are “healthful sources of plant-based protein,” says Praamsma. “Many can be exchanged to fit a person’s preferences and what they have access to.”

Tempeh is rich in iron and a good source of calcium. It contains vitamin B2, which is important for a healthy metabolism and producing energy in the body. 

6 tempeh recipes to try

Tempeh can be eaten raw (if pasteurized), fried, or roasted. It can be shredded or minced, and will work in any type of cuisine. Here are six vegan recipes to try.

Sweet Chili Tempeh

Photo shows a bowl of sweet chili tempeh served with two kinds of dipping sauce.
World of Vegan Tempeh is a great plant source of protein

This World of Vegan recipe uses an air fryer to cook the tempeh, but it could easily be baked instead. Steamed and marinated in a soy and paprika dressing first, the tempeh will be tender and crispy at the same time. Serve as a side dish or with rice for a main.

Find the recipe here.

Tempeh Neatballs

A zinc-packed vegan pasta dish made with tempeh meatballs
Happy Skin Kitchen Tempeh can be used to make meatballs

These neatballs by Happy Skin Kitchen made of minced tempeh, mushrooms, and brown rice are a delicious, protein-packed alternative to meatballs. Seasoned with soy sauce and nutritional yeast and all brought together with oat flour, these will be perfect with spaghetti or in a “meatball” sub.

Fine the recipe here.

Sunshine Tempeh Curry

sunshine tempeh curry, a vegan plant based dinner
BOSH! Try this simple yet fragrant plant-based curry made with vegan-friendly tempeh

This vibrant, healthy curry from BOSH! is packed with vegetables and flavored with a rich, homemade curry paste. Crumbled, cooked tempeh marinades in a spiced coconut milk mixture to absorb the flavors while you make the rest of the meal.

Fine the recipe here.

Tempeh Black Bean Burger

Tempeh black bean burger
Sculpted Kitchen Make your own burger patty from tempeh, beans, and veg

Need a change from pre-made alt-meat burgers? The burger patty in this recipe from Sculpted Kitchen is packed with vegetables as well as tempeh and black beans. The recipe also includes instructions on how to make plant-based mozzarella from cashew nuts to top your burger with.

Fine the recipe here.

One-Pot Chili Mac

A vegan chili mac in a bowl next to dairy-free cheese and cilantro
Rainbow Plant Life This chili mac is vegan, dairy-free, and easy to make

Crumbled tempeh, beans, and mushrooms form the bulk of the chili in this twist on mac’n’cheese by Rainbow Plant Life. Made in one dish in the oven, the washing up is minimal and the meal hearty and filling.

Fine the recipe here.

BBQ Tempeh and Apple Slaw Sandwich

A vegan tempeh and apple slaw sandwich
Happy Skin Kitchen If you’re on the hunt for vegan sandwich inspiration, look no further…

BBQ marinaded tempeh pairs perfectly with an apple, cabbage, and carrot slaw in this recipe from Happy Skin Kitchen. It shows you how to make a BBQ sauce from scratch and suggests letting the tempeh marinade in it for several hours for maximum flavor.

Fine the recipe here.

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