(Family Features) As a key part of a nutritious eating plan, protein intake can be a healthy step to take in the new year. One increasingly popular way to add protein to your at-home menu is with protein-packed, plant-based foods like tempeh.
Tempeh’s roots date back thousands of years and originate in Indonesia. It’s an all-natural protein source made with simple, whole-food ingredients – most often fermented soybeans, water and rice – and is high in protein, packed with fiber and low in fat, sodium and calories. Tempeh is also loaded with vitamins and minerals like calcium, manganese, phosphorus and iron, and has all nine essential amino acids. Because it’s fermented, the nutrients in tempeh are easy for the body to digest.
The health benefits of tempeh, including 18 grams of protein per serving, are one reason to give it a try, but another is it’s easy and versatile to cook. It has a firm texture, nutty taste and can be baked, fried, steamed or grilled. Tempeh also easily absorbs marinades, spices and sauces. To prepare tempeh, cut it into cubes, strips or crumble it then toss into a stir-fry, layer it onto a BLT sandwich or simply warm a skillet and sear it until golden brown.
The possibilities for tempeh are nearly endless, and it’s also increasingly easy to find. For example, Lightlife, founded in 1979 as “Tempeh Works,” was among the first commercial producers of tempeh in the United States. Today, it offers its Original Tempeh at more than 18,500 retail stores nationwide.
Find protein-packed meal ideas, like Sesame Ginger Tempeh Power Bowls with Quinoa and Sweet Potatoes, at lightlife.com.
Sesame Ginger Tempeh Power Bowls with Quinoa and Sweet Potatoes
Pickled Pink Onions:
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 package (8 ounces) Lightlife Original Tempeh
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 cups baby spinach or kale
- 2 cups cooked tri-color quinoa, at room temperature
- 1/2 ripe avocado, cubed
- 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 6 red grape cherry tomatoes, halved
- 6 yellow grape cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup pea shoots
- To make pickled pink onions: In small pot, bring white wine vinegar, sugar and salt to boil. Add onions and toss to coat 15 seconds. Turn off heat and let sit 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and bright pink. Set aside.
- To make sesame ginger vinaigrette: In small bowl, stir vegetable and sesame oils with ginger, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and sesame seeds. Pour into two small ramekins. Set aside.
- To make sweet potatoes: In large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add sweet potato slices and cook, turning occasionally, 15-17 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary until tender when pierced with knife. Remove to cutting board and cut each slice into quarters. Wipe out skillet.
- To make tempeh: Cut tempeh crosswise into eight triangles. In nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, heat vegetable oil. Cook tempeh with soy sauce until golden brown and warm, 2-3 minutes per side. Remove tempeh from pan and add baby spinach or kale; stir 1-2 minutes just until wilted.
- To assemble bowls: On bottoms of two shallow bowls or plates, spread cooked quinoa. Top with piles of warm sweet potatoes, pickled pink onions, sauteed spinach or kale, avocado, chickpeas, grape tomatoes and pea shoots. Top with tempeh and serve with sesame ginger vinaigrette.