When people discover I am in the midst of a vegan conversion they inevitably ask "How can you get enought protein? You are not eating MEAT!" This was a legitamate concern for me as I was contemplating eating more compassionately. As many vegans already know, there are plenty of ways to get excellent quality protein so they don't wither away; seitan, tofu, beans, and one of my favorites - tempeh. So fear not, if you decide to go veg, which is an awesome and delicious thing to do, you will not wither away from a protien deficiency. Quite the contrary.
Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans. This description sometimes puts people off, but don't let it keep you from the joys of this delicious and nutritious food. Tempeh packs a whopping 17g of protein per and 11g of fiber per serving. That is not too shabby. What fleshy products can offer that much fiber in a serving. None that I am aware of! Tempeh is one of those products that people either seem to love or hate. I happen to be a Luvah. Try it and decide for yourself.
One word of warning for those who are trying it for the first time. I was not aware of the important process boiling or steaming plays in mellowing tempeh. I don't always do this because I like the slightly bitter robust flavor it has on its own. For those who have a palate that appreciates less bitter foods, make sure to boil or steam it before you use it.
The first time I tried tempeh it was love at first bite. I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was the West Sandwich from Mandala Tearoom in Scottsdale, AZ (now closed). It was basically a TLT (tempeh, lettuce, and tomato sandwich if you need it spelled out). Below is my version the TLTA made with Joanna's Maple Strips (from her next book that is still being created). This is one of my favorite sandwiches of all time vegan or other wise.
Tempeh is very versatile. It can be crumbled, diced, sliced, grilled, sauteed, steamed, breaded and fried. One of the more delicious and popular recipes out there comes from Katie at Don't Eat Off the Sidewalk. Her Tempeh Wingz are the talk of the vegan town. I can't believe I don't have a picture of these. I also can't believe it has been so long since I have had them. Note to self, make these bad boyz soon! They are seriously fantastic.
Veganomicon (VCON) by Isa Chandra Moscowicz and Terry Hope Romero offers some delicous easy marinated tempeh dishes. Below is the easy an tasty Smoky Tempeh from VCON.
Another VCON masterpiece are the Tempeh Baja Tacos. These takes a little bit more planning and prep, but they are phonomenal. I served them at an omni Cinco de Mayo party. It was the first time some of the peeps had tried tempeh. They were a huge hit. My picture doesn't do them justice. These alone are reason to own VCON.
Do yourself a big favor; if you haven't yet experienced the joy of tempeh, pick up a good vegan cookbook, do a quick search online or click the link for the tempeh wingz. Try yourself some bad-ass tempeh. It is cholesterol free, high in fiber, protien, and even iron. It is a wonderful, tasty, healthy, compassionate and eco-friendly alternative to eating meat. Go for it!