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Tempeh: That’s behind the meat substitute!

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 364 views

A popular meat substitute made from fermented soybeans: tempeh contains a lot of high-quality protein and is now popular not only with many vegetarians and vegans. Read here what tempeh is, what nutrients it has and how it differs from tofu.

Tempeh: What is it?

Tempeh comes from Indonesia and has been made and eaten there for centuries. The Dutch probably brought it to Europe in the 19th century. In the meantime, it has also become an integral part of our vegan and vegetarian cuisine. But that’s not all: many meat-eating people who want to eat a balanced and healthy diet reach for it on the supermarket shelf.

For this fermented meat substitute , peeled and cooked soybeans are fermented with the noble mold Rhizopus oligosporus in a closed container for up to 48 hours. During this period, the fungus develops thread-like cells that wrap around the individual beans and connect them to one another. Camembert cheese is made in a similar way.

Contain a lot of high-quality protein and fiber

The consistency of tempeh is firm. It tastes a bit like cheese and slightly nutty. Depending on how the soy-containing food is processed, this inherent taste changes.

Tempeh is high in high-quality protein and fiber . Since the soybeans are preserved in its manufacturing process, unlike tofu , the nutrients, vitamins and minerals it contains are not lost.

Different variations of tempeh

Tempeh is mainly available in organic supermarkets or online shops. It is often available shrink-wrapped – in the natural version, seasoned or marinated with garlic , curry or BBQ. In principle, tempeh can be made at home, but this requires practice and patience.

Other beans, grains or peas can also be fermented into tempeh. Lupine tempeh, for example, is trendy. This fermented meat substitute is made from the seeds of sweet lupins.

use and preparation

Tempeh can be boiled, steamed, pan-fried, and deep-fried. It is often sliced ​​and fried in oil until crisp. Tempeh’s inherently harsh taste is softened by steaming it.

This plant-based meat substitute is suitable as a side dish in salads or soups. You can also use tempeh to cook vegan goulash, minced meat, curry or chili. It also tastes good as a filling in stuffed cabbage.

Store sealed tempeh in the refrigerator. Depending on the manufacturer, a pack can be kept for up to six weeks while it is still closed. Once you have opened a pack of tempeh, it can be enjoyed chilled for a maximum of four days.

Tempeh is also available in jars. In this variant, the meat substitute can be stored for up to ten months.

What nutrients does tempeh have?

Tempeh is low in fat, cholesterol-free and high in fiber and protein. There are 167 calories per 100 grams. The same amount contains almost 20 grams of protein. Through fermentation, it can be easily utilized by the body. Therefore, tempeh is a good protein substitute for vegans and vegetarians.

The meat substitute also contains no lactose and no gluten. However, people with a histamine intolerance are better off avoiding it, since soy is one of the histamine-releasing foods.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, 100 grams of tempeh has the following nutritional values:

  • Carbohydrates : 11.9 g
  • Egg white: 19.5 g
  • Fett: 5,36 g
  • Magnesium: 81 mg
  • Calcium: 71 mg
  • Fiber: 6.5 g
  • Eisen: 2,14 g

How healthy is tempeh?

So tempeh contains a lot of nutrients. Soybeans also contain isoflavones. These are secondary plant substances that influence many metabolic processes. However, the study situation about isoflavones and their effect on the body is still somewhat contradictory.

According to recent findings, they reduce the risk of heart disease, various types of cancer and osteoporosis. They also help alleviate menopausal symptoms.

There is also evidence that foods containing soy may reduce overall mortality after breast cancer. However, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) advises against food preparations with isoflavones if women have an increased risk of breast cancer in the family or have already had breast cancer.

Furthermore, there are now research results that soy products such as tempeh can reduce the risk of prostate cancer, colon cancer, uterine cancer and lung cancer.

Isoflavones with hormone-like effects

Isoflavones are also known as phytoestrogens because they have an estrogen-like effect. They may inhibit the production of thyroid hormones in people who already have thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism. In healthy people, however, they probably do not cause any problems.

In general, it is better to get isoflavones from food than from supplements . There is nothing wrong with moderate consumption (one or two servings a day) of foods containing soy.

Finished products often with many additives

If you like to use ready-made tempeh products, pay attention to the additives. The more processed the food, the more aromas, additives , flavor enhancers and salt it contains. They are therefore not suitable for a balanced diet.

Organic products are non-GMO

Also, if you want to be sure to avoid GM soybeans in tempeh, it’s best to buy organic.

Difference between tempeh and tofu

Although both tofu and tempeh are made from soybeans and can be used similarly, there are some differences.

  • With tofu, the soybeans are squeezed out and pureed. As a result, some of the soy nutrients are lost. They are still preserved in tempeh. For example, tempeh has 32 times the amount of vitamin B2, 4.5 times the amount of magnesium, and 17 times the amount of zinc .
  • Tempeh is easier to digest thanks to fermentation.
  • 100 grams of tofu have around 80 calories, while tempeh has more than twice as many at 167.
  • The protein content of tempeh is around 18 grams, almost twice that of tofu.
  • Tempeh tastes more intense in the natural version and is more al dente.

Tempeh is so climate-friendly

Tempeh has a much better carbon footprint than meat. However, according to Greenpeace, soy monocultures cause massive negative environmental impacts. However, most of the soy production is for animal feed. Only a maximum of 20 percent of the global harvest is used for food.

Most soy products that can be bought in Germany come from the EU, North America and China. If you want to shop sustainably, it is best to use tempeh from organic and European cultivation. In the meantime, soya is also cultivated in southern Germany.

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