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    All-Star of the Day: Tempeh

    “Oh wow, this is good!” is the typical reaction of my non-vegetarian friends once I ask them to try tempeh.

    Despite being familiar with meat alternatives, I myself didn’t try tempeh until a few months ago. I was instantly hooked. I loved the nutty flavor and texture, and its nutritional profile even more.

    Tempeh has been an Indonesian staple for approximately 2,000 years that is finally starting to make its way into mainstream US culture. In fact, many commercial supermarkets across the country offer it alongside their tofu and faux meats in the produce department.

    Its partly so nutritious because it is a whole food which undergoes very little processing, meaning its health properties remain intact.

    To make it, soybeans are cooked and then fermented with a special agent. The fermented product is then incubated until a patty or thin cake is formed. Raw tempeh looks moldy, but it is 100% safe to eat.

    There are many ways to prepare it. My favorite is to cut it into small strips, which I then sautee, and put in a salad. It also makes for an excellent stir-fry ingredient.

    Just how good is tempeh, you ask? Half a cup provides:

    • 210 calories
    • 19 grams of protein (a little less than half a chicken breast)
    • 7 grams of fiber (the equivalent of two medium apples)
    • 550 milligrams of blood-pressure stabilizing potassium (slightly more than a medium banana).

    That half cup also contains 30% of the recommended amount of riboflavin, a B-vitamin that, among many other tasks, oversees our liver’s detoxifying process.

    Tempeh also delivers all of soy’s isoflavones (plant derived compounds) in one tasty package.

    Since so many of soy’s health benefits are targeted to women, let me throw this tidbit out to my male readership. One of soy’s isoflavones, genisten, has been shown to lower our risk of colon cancer (for best results, it is recommended to consume 12 ounces of whole soy products a week).

    Genisten is so powerful that not only does it prevent the spread of malignant cells, studies also suggest it interferes in such a way that it sets off their own self-destruction!

    Curious for a taste? Lightlife offers several varieties of tempeh — including my favorite, with added flaxseed (another all-star I will discuss soon), that offers 11 grams of fiber and 20 grams of protein per serving.

    Lightlife also sells “fakin’ bacon” tempeh strips that are a perfect addition to a lazy Sunday brunch.

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