Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Behold The Power of Tempeh!

I'm a huge follower of tempeh. I'm almost worshiping it. Truly. I love it.

I'll be honest... I bought tempeh a couple times and never even opened it. I had to toss it when the 'best by' date came and went and the reason was because I had no idea what to do with it. The only tempeh I had ever had was the Fakin' Bacon from Lightlife and while it was ok, I didn't go crazy nutso over it until my friend Morgan (her blog is Little House of Veggies), gave me direction in how to prepare it. Then, my love affair with tempeh began and it's been in full force ever since! I think I have a couple ounces every day!

So, I'd like to share my love with all of you and hopefully introduce many people to the wonder and deliciousness that is tempeh!

What is Tempeh?
Tempeh is whole hulled soybeans that have been cooked, mixed with a culture and then fermented. The result is a pressed cake that can be sliced, grated, chopped or even slipped onto a skewer for the grill.
Some temeph can be multi-grain where brown rice, millet, flax or barley can be added to the cake.

Tempeh has a nice chewy bite and a nutty flavor. Like tofu, tempeh can be marinated to pick up whatever flavor you want it to have.

The History of Tempeh
The people of Indonesia have been eating tempeh for 2000 years!

The Health Benefits of Tempeh
Tempeh is a whole soy food that is minimally processed (unlike soymilk or tofu) so it's full of fiber. Fiber binds dietary fat and cholesterol so less is absorbed (but if you follow a plant based diet you aren't actually eating cholesterol, are ya?). Tempeh is a complete protein and it contains all of the essential amino acids. Tempeh is fermented so it aids in digestion much like a yogurt would. Tempeh has all the benefits of soy - it's lowers the bad cholesterol while raising the good, can ease menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and osteoporosis.

What About the 'Danger' of Soy?
Depending on who you ask, soy is either a miracle food or a food to avoid. I have done my own research on this topic and my conclusion is that it is fine if you don't go crazy eating overly processed soy and if you don't have a thyroid condition. If you have a thyroid condition, speak to a holistic doctor or nutritionist. A medical doctor doesn't get the nutritional training they do. Medical doctors probably won't be able to answer your questions.

Now, tempeh isn't processed in the same way soymilk, tofu and prepared convenience foods are. Tempeh is a whole food. I feel confident in eating a few ounces of tempeh a day. I don't eat tofu very often, I never have soy milk and I am careful to monitor my intake of all prepared convenience foods.

How to Use Tempeh
Tempeh can be used anywhere you'd use animal flesh. It can be made into bacon, burgers, ribs, ground for dishes, grated for tacos... the uses are really endless. The best way to prepare tempeh is either by steaming it and then using it as steaming removes some of the bitterness or marinating it and pan frying it or baking it. Many recipes use tempeh that has been chopped or crumbled but the way I use it most often is in bacon form!

I can place the bacon strips on a sandwich or crumble it on a salad or chop it into various dishes.

My friend Morgan has a great tempeh tutorial on her blog along with some fabulous recipes so be sure and check this link out!  I love her tempeh salad. She also gives you a great glazed tempeh recipe that is wonderful. You can find more great tempeh recipe on the internet. There are tons!

I'll share with you my recipe for tempeh bacon.

It was inspired by Brian Patton, The Sexy Vegan Chef. My recipe isn't exactly the one he makes.. so make sure you check out his book for his recipe.. it's fantastic too!

My BLT - I use a nice whole wheat bread, toasted with a smear of Vegenaise (I love to add a little chipotle sauce to it) along with campari tomatoes and a few leaves of lettuce. I usually use 4 to 5 slices of tempeh per sandwich.

Shelly's Tempeh Bacon
8 oz tempeh
1/4 to 1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp liquid smoke
6 grinds of Trader Joe's South African Smoke seasoning (optional)
Few grinds of fresh pepper

Slice the tempeh into thin bacon slices. if you do them thin, you can get them crispy. I usually get about 26 to 30 slices off an 8 oz brick. Place the slices into a container that has a leak proof lid. You will be marinating it and gently turning the container.

Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Pour the marinade over the slices and carefully turn over until the slices are all coated in marinade. Let sit in refrigerator for 24 hours if you can but no less than 8 hours. It helps to flip the container a few times thru that 24 hour period to help the marinade get all over the slices.

Preheat two or three frying pans (then you can cook it all at once) with a about a tablespoon of canola oil in each one. Drain off the marinade and rinse that container and set it aside. Pan fry the bacon slices until brown on both sides. You can cook longer if you want it crispy but pay attention as it can easily burn. I usually cook it until brown but not crisp and then if I want it crisp later on, I can warm it up in a pan with a little oil and make it crispy.

Refrigerate in the container you marinated it in.

You can also bake it at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, flipping it half way thru.

To reheat: cook for 45 seconds in the microwave or warm up in a pan.

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