Meatless Monday: Tempeh Tacos

In honor of Meatless Monday, today we are talking about tempeh. You know — that brownish, grayish, grainy, cake-y looking block you see in the meat substitute section at the grocery store.

We just made tempeh sound really appetizing, right?

We know — tempeh looks a little odd, but it really is quite delicious! Plus, it’s bursting with protein and vitamins, is super easy to digest and a total breeze to cook with. Don’t believe us? Here’s a recipe for tempeh tacos that will take you all of 15 minutes to whip together, start to finish. Add your favorite taco toppings, and you’ll have a nutritious and delicious Meatless Monday dish your family will be asking for all week long!

Getting to Know Tempeh

Before you cook with tempeh, it’s helpful to know what, exactly it is. Records show that tempeh originated on the island of Java in Indonesia in the 1700s, and it is still very popular there today! Tempeh is made from soybeans that have been fermented and packed into cakes.

You’ve probably heard that fermented foods are “better” for you — but why? Fermented foods undergo a chemical process called fermentation, whereby sugars and carbohydrates are converted into an acid or an alcohol. In a way, the fermented foods are partially broken down, making them easier to digest. They are beneficial for a variety of reasons, including the creation of “good” bacteria; by-products of the fermentation, including vitamins and enzymes; increased storage life and safety; and elimination of superfluous processing and preservatives. With tempeh, fermentation makes the soybeans and other ingredients (usually brown rice or flax/millet) easier to digest.

Tempeh is usually beige in color and may have some darker brown spots due to the fermentation process — so don’t be alarmed if you see those! It’s packaged and sold in the refrigerated tofu/”fake” meat section of the grocery store; however, of the meat substitutes, tempeh is the least “processed.” It’s usually gluten free, too, making it a great choice for those with gluten sensitivity.

Tempeh contains about 31 grams of protein per 1 cup serving, so you can rest assured your kids will get lots of protein if you include it in your Meatless Monday menu! It has a nutty, almost mushroom-y flavor, but readily takes on whatever flavors you infuse it with.

You can marinate strips of tempeh in balsamic vinegar, olive oil and maple syrup, then pan fry and serve alongside butternut squash and roasted brussel sprouts for a fancy dinner; you can shred it into your favorite marinara sauce to make a meatless “meat” spaghetti sauce; you can crumble it and saute to make taco “meat” that’s delicious in burritos, salads or nachos.

Today we’re making tempeh tacos!

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So next time you’re at the store, pick up some tempeh for a Meatless Monday dinner your entire family will love!

For more Meatless Monday inspiration, check out 5 Easy Vegetarian Dinners!

Photo Credit: Sarah M.

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Sarah is a yoga practicing, mostly vegan, coffee chugging, Jack White-loving, stay-at-home-mom to three kids 4 and under in Cincinnati, Ohio. In her free time, she does freelance work for Cincinnati Parent, Dayton Parent and Indy’s Child, and blogs about her adventures with three kids in the Queen City.

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