Pronounced ‘tempe’ is a traditional Indonesian food product, that is usually made from fermented soybeans (plant-based); but any whole bean (i.e., red kidney, white beans [chowli], chickpeas [chole], black beans, kala chana; any beans really) can be used. It looks like a cake, and the starches in the bean become easier to digest after we get the finished product post-fermentation i.e., tempeh. The process involves using a fungus (a good one) sold as a tempeh starter. It has this firm and earthy and nutty flavour, and is excellent for vegetarians who desire a more hardy texture; great for burgers, patties, add it to a salad, and tacos or a roti roll; for additional protein components (especially for vegetarians). I discovered it when I was studying my Macrobiotic education; the kitchen often made us tempeh burgers, and they were divine.

For vegans, it becomes an additional source of B12 (as it’s a fermented food product), and for vegetarians and vegans both; it’s great for that additional protein that one needs. I find that because I have a tough fitness regime, and desire robustness in my foods, tempeh becomes a great option for me when I want to get the additional satisfaction out of my meal.

What does Tempeh do for you?

Just 85 grams gets you very far in nutrients that it provides, by adding the following:

  1. 15 grams of protein to your meal
  2. 160 calories only
  3. 9 grams of fat
  4. 9 grams of carbohydrates
  5. Iron 12% of RDI
  6. Calcium 9% of RDI
  7. Magnesium 18% RDI
  8. Niacin 12% of RDI

Fermentation increases the bio-availability (basically this means how the body is to assimilate the nutrients, will increase) of all nutrients.

Benefits of Tempeh

  1. Rich in good strains of beneficial bacteria, so it is amazing for the gut. The prebiotic fibre is also excellent for gut bacteria.
  2. High on fibre and Vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium, potassium, zinc, manganese, folate, and pantothenic acid.
  3. Especially HIGH on then PROTEIN quotient (3 ounces=15grams, that’s a lot!!). This particular food will keep you fuller longer.
  4. Plus, it is an anti-inflammatory food (prevents oxidative damage, great on an anti-inflammation diet). It has a high antioxidant profile.
  5. It has peptides (smaller parts of protein). Some peptides are ACE inhibitors = Angiotensin-converting-enzyme; which makes it easier to regulate blood pressure.
  6. Soy isoflavones in tempeh will positively affect heart health.
  7. It will help you lose weight – as it’s higher on protein quotient, will give you similar results to what non-vegetarian protein will do in a weight loss program.
  8. Fermented foods are rich in prebiotic bacteria, this is something that tempeh has, and is excellent for your gut health. An excellent choice for those with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), as it is pre-digested, due to being fermented.
  9. It’s great for your bones, as it is rich in calcium, manganese, copper, and phosphorus – all necessary for strong bones.
  10. It has no cholesterol.
  11. It will also improve insulin resistance.

How to use Tempeh

  1. Burgers (in the shape of a patty).
  2. Shepherd’s Pie.
  3. Cut into cubes, pan fry and use in salad.
  4. In Indian cuisine, it can be substituted and be used instead of paneer in dishes like palak (spinach) paneer or gravy with peas or other vegetables.
  5. You can shred it after sauteing it and use it in tacos or tortillas.
  6. Stuff red peppers with scrambled tempeh and vegetables.
  7. Make scrambled tempeh (instead of eggs).
If you need to eat it, steam it first, boil it or pan fry it for at least 20 minutes. Cooking reduces the strength of flavour, especially bitterness, makes it ready to also assimilate more flavours


  1. Women with thyroid (hypo or hyper) can consume it, As the energy of the beans changes making it more nutrient-rich.
  2. Don’t eat if you are histamine intolerant.
  3. Storage: You can keep it in the fridge for up to 10 days. I freeze it, as I tend to buy it in bulk, it can be kept frozen for up to 3 months.
  4. Avoid eating it if you have a soy allergy.

Tofu Versus Tempeh

I enjoy both, however, tempeh does have a flavour while tofu can be quite bland and needs flavours added. Also, the fermentation time for each is different, with tofu requiring a lesser fermentation time.

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