Tempeh: A Meat Alternative

25 Oct


Tempeh (pronounced TEM-pay) may be a familiar ingredient among vegetarians, as it is a great source of vegetable protein (before cooking, it contains 19.5% protein) for those who do not consume meat or animal products. For many others, tempeh may just be an unfamiliar ingredient that is emerging in grocery stores.

Tempeh originated from Indonesia where it has been a staple for 1000 years or more. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans but it has different nutritional characteristics as well as a different texture. It is formed by the fermentation of cooked soybeans which results in a compact white cake. Different varieties include soy tempeh or tempeh fermented with grains, such as rice, sunflower seeds, etc.  The flavour of tempeh has been described as nutty, meaty and mushroom-like. 

Soy products have been linked to reduced risks of: breast cancer, prostate cancer, coronary heart disease and bone fractures. There is almost no reliable evidence indicating that soy consumption leads to adverse health effects. However, more research is needed to support these nutritional findings.

Nutritionally, tempeh is a great source of: protein, unsaturated fatty acids, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium and more. For an extensive nutrient analysis visit The World’s Healthiest Foods!

There are many ways to prepare tempeh. It can be used as an ingredient in items like chili, soups, salads, pasta sauces, tacos and sandwiches. It can be purchased in grocery stores in its natural form (solid cakelike slab) or pre-marinated strips, often taking only a couple minutes of cooking to prepare.  


An easy recipe for those first trying tempeh is a barbecue tempeh sandwich!

Barbecue Tempeh Sandwiches

Source: All Recipes

Serves 4


  • 1 cup barbecue sauce, your choice
  • 1 (8 ounce) package tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 kaiser rolls, split and toasted


  1. Pour the barbeque sauce into a medium bowl. Crumble the tempeh into the sauce, and let it marinate a little, about 10 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the red and green peppers, and the onion. Cook, stirring frequently until tender. Stir in the tempeh and barbeque sauce, and heat through.
  3. Spoon the tempeh mixture onto kaiser rolls, and serve.

Other recipe suggestions:

Tempeh Chili
Tempeh Bacon
Tempeh Crab-Free Cakes
Sweet Potato and Tempeh Stew
Vegetarian Tempeh Taco
Sweet and Sour Vegetarian Tempeh


One Response to “Tempeh: A Meat Alternative”

  1. sprint2thetable October 26, 2011 at 12:54 am #

    Thanks for the link up! Your BBQ tempeh look fabulous. 🙂

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