Tempeh: A Tasty, Protein-Rich Holiday Dish

Protein food — it’s all the buzz in the food industry. Protein is one part of a healthy diet. There are three essential nutrients that the human body needs to maintain health and longevity. Protein is one of them, as are carbohydrates and fats. We as humans need all three in our diet in a balanced way, or we will deal with the consequences later. We should have carbohydrates in their complex form, or what is called, whole grains; fats in healthy, unsaturated fats; and protein in good quality, complete protein.

Protein is what builds our tissues and is the building block of our muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. Protein is the food that feeds and nurtures the largest muscle in your body, your heart. But protein will never give you energy. You get energy from your food in the complex carbohydrates and fats.

Being a vegetarian or vegan, one excellent protein food choice for you is tempeh. Tempeh is a complete protein. It contains all the amino acids gained from eating meat. It is 19.5% protein. Tempeh is made from soybeans. The soybeans are covered with boiling water, soaked over night, then hulled and partially cooked. They are then cooled to room temperature. A started culture grown on hibiscus leaves is then added to start the fermentation process. It is then left in a humid environment until it becomes tightly bonded by firm, white mold that holds the tempeh together. Being that tempeh is fermented, it is very easy to digest.

For the holiday season we attend many parties and it is always challenging to come up with a vegetarian, vegan dish that will be enjoyed by everyone. The following recipe is one I have served many times at my holiday parties and is always a hit! You can serve it with crackers, chips or vegetables.

Layered Tempeh Vegetable Dip
1 package tempeh (crumbled)
Toasted sesame oil, tamari
1/4 onion (diced small)
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. Mexican seasoning
4 cups broccoli (cut up)
1 cup grated carrots
1 1/2 cup Vegenaise (dairy free, sugar free mayonnaise)

Sprinkle a generous amount of toasted sesame oil and tamari in a sauce pan. Add the crumbled tempeh, onion, paprika and Mexican seasoning. Brown the tempeh on a medium heat. Set aside and let cool. Steam the broccoli until fork tender. Do not use raw broccoli. Raw broccoli is in the cabbage family, is high in sulfur and very hard to digest. Set broccoli aside and let cool. When cooled, put in a food processor and pulse to mince the broccoli. In a 8’x12′ casserole dish, spread the minced broccoli over bottom. Sprinkle the grated carrot over broccoli. Gently spread the Vegenaise over the carrots. Lastly, sprinkle the tempeh over the Vegenaise. Refrigerate and serve cold.

Val Wilson

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About the writer: Valerie Wilson

Valerie Wilson is a chef, author, counselor, and host of "Healthy Cooking with Macro Val" on BMSRadio. She teaches macrobiotic, vegan cooking classes in Westland, Mi.

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