Volume I

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Tempeh Isn't So Scary After All

       I am sure you have heard the hype about Soy, and that Tempeh is bad for us. What is wrong with Tempeh? Some of it contains soy, and soy is bad, right? Not really. If you have no soy allergies, you would have no reason to expect to have a bad reaction to it. I should correct that. It can taste pretty dreadful if you do not know how to prepare it, but we will save that part of our discussion for later though. For now, I would like for us to explore the finer points of this meat replacing wonder-food.

       It occurs to me that some of you know what Tempeh is, but I am also acutely aware of the fact that some either have no idea what it is or you are only vaguely aware of what it is. Those would likely be the people who have never tasted it. I have heard descriptions of the taste as being from dreadfully bland to the greatest food on earth. I even had one man tell me it kind of tasted like Mushrooms. I couldn't seem to get him to understand that it would not have tasted like mushrooms unless a part of the flavoring added to it was mushrooms which had been powdered or which had been cooked in a flavoring broth. This seemed unfathomable to him for some odd reason, and he became quite argumentative over it. I am guessing he hated mushrooms since he said he hated Tempeh before mentioning the mushroom flavor. I changed the subject just to avoid arguing with him. I am sure you have been there before regarding Tempeh or some other subject.


       Tempeh is especially popular in South-East Asia, but it has gained major popularity in Vegan and Vegetarian communities worldwide as well. One strong reason for this is the ability of Tempeh to seem like animal flesh-based meat. The texture is quite similar to meat, and when properly marinated and prepared so is the flavor. I catch myself stating animal flesh-based because of some demanding that it can't be called meat unless it is from an animal. I wholeheartedly disagree since meat used to mean the bulk of any meal whether animal flesh was a part of the meal or not. I am often quick to point this out when I am confronted with the objections to the phrase Vegan meat or Veggie based meat.

       Now, back to the subject. I feel that it is safe to say that Tempeh is a portion of healthy food. Why is it good for us? Tempeh is low in fat. 166 grams of Tempeh only has approximately 18 grams of fat while the same amount of Beef has 25 grams of fat, chicken has 23 grams of fat, and ham has a whopping 28 grams of fat. Because the human body does not properly healthily handle the animal fats, the numbers make Tempe seem superior in that it contains fats that are more easily handled by our digestive systems and ultimately our bodies. I would consider this to be a glowing fact to bear in mind.

       There is also the calory factor to consider. Tempeh has 162 calories in just 84 grams (3 ounces) while the numbers are again higher with animal-based meats. It would interest many to think about the fact that our bodies need far fewer calories than are commonly consumed by Omnivores or Vegans either one. I read in Medical News Today, that, "According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, women are likely to need between 1,600 and 2,400 calories a day, and men from 2,000 to 3,000. However, this depends on their age, size, height, lifestyle, overall health, and activity level," I hasten to remind you that I am speaking of collective caloric intake spanning over a full 24-hour period" This is a direct quote from the article, How many calories should I eat a day? If we are consuming a well-balanced diet it is more than easy to consume too many calories even as Vegetarians or Vegans. But, let us be honest in realizing that this isn't just about calories or fats. Our bodies also need vitamins and minerals in our diets in order to function. Following is a complete list of some of the beneficial nutrients that are also present when we consume Tempeh:

    • Sodium
    • Iron
    • Zinc
    • Calcium
    • Riboflavin - vitamin B2
    • Niacin - vitamin B3
    • Magnesium
    • Magnesium
    • Phosphorus
    • Manganese
    • Thiamine
    • Pyroxodyne - vitamin B6
    • Folate - vitamin B9
    • Cyanocobalamin - vitamin B12

       Since Tempeh is Fermented we reap digestive benefits from consuming it, so we need not avoid it. The fermentation makes it easier for us to digest the proteins contained in the soy used in making it. Of course, many commercially sourced forms of Tempeh are pasteurized so buying it, rather than making your own, is far less beneficial to the consumer. I also consider it more worthwhile to make your own Tempeh since it is cost-effective as well to do so. Of course, making your own Tempeh with soy is worthwhile because it also contains beneficial phytonutrients. Below is a helpful list of them:

    • Flavonoids and Isoflavonoids
    • daidzen
    • genistein
    • malonylgenistin
    • malonyldaidzin
    • Phenolic Acids
    • Caffeic acid
    • Coumaric acid
    • Ferulic acid
    • Gallic acid
    • Sinapic acid
    • Phytoalexins
    • glyceollin I
    • glyceollin II
    • glyceollin III
    • Phytosterols
    • beta-sitosterol
    • beta-stigmasterol
    • campestrol
    • Proteins and Peptides
    • defensins
    • glycinin
    • conglycinin
    • lunacin
    • Saponins
    • soyasaponins (group A and group B)
    • soyasapogenols

       You may ask how phytonutrients are helpful to us. They contain anti-inflammatory properties, they tend to block certain pain receptors, they are believed to aid in fighting cancer and women reap the benefit of phytonutrients encouraging their bodies to produce more estrogen. For some time it was thought that these Flanonoids would benefit women during menopause but it has since been proven that this is not the case. The actual benefits are numerable though. They provably enhance immunity and intercellular communication. This repairs damaged DNA from exposure to toxins, detoxify carcinogens and alters estrogen metabolism. Considering the way Tempeh makes these benefits more bio-available, I can not imagine removing it from our diets unless a person is allergic to soy, and it is then therefore necessary to do so.

       Tempeh is rich in probiotics so it also causes beneficial changes in our gut microbiota which is the bacteria that resides in your digestive tract. This leads to more frequent bowel evacuation, and according to modern medicine is responsible for a reduction of inflammation which, in turn, increases memory capacity. I am sure this is a facet to how Soy and Tempeh aid in decreasing the risk of cancer for some, and in dulling pain. I personally am impressed by the finding that the probiotic property of Tempeh, and other fermented foods, increases the formation of short-chain fatty acids in our colon. For those of you who do not understand the function of short-chain fatty acids, they contain butyrate, and butyrate is the primary source of energy for the cells that line our colon. It is fair to point out that anything which aids us in such positive ways deserves our respect and is thus worthy of our creating it and of consumption. The fact it can be prepared to taste as wonderful as it can don't hurt matters either.

       Due to the information, I have chosen to share in this article I must encourage you to also contemplate visiting our Make Your Own Tempeh page so that you can reap all the benefits of this remarkable product as well.

Written By:

C. J. York
(Speak To Me Magazine Editor)