Let’s Talk About Tofu and Tempeh

It is no secret, if you read my What I Ate Wednesday posts, that I like to make sure I eat plenty of protein throughout the day.  I am pretty active, and lift weights on a regular basis, so the added protein helps feed my muscles and active lifestyle.  A slightly higher protein intake has proven to be effective for me, so I make sure I include a some protein in each of my meals.  My favorite protein sources are:

  • chicken 
  • eggs
  • full fat Greek yogurt
  • nuts or nut butter
  • turkey
  • beef (occasionally – high quality beef provides a lot of nutrients, but I only like it every once in awhile – it’s a personal preference)
  • Plant proteins such as soybeans, beans, etc
  • Tofu or Tempeh (occasionally)

So what exactly is tofu and tempeh, what are the differences between the two, and how come I only eat them occasionally.  Let’s talk about tofu and tempeh, starting with tofu…

Tofu is made from soybeans, which is why it is popular for people that follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.  It is high in protein without the need for animal products.  Tofu is made by curdling soy milk, much like cheese is made from curdling cow’s milk, but the curds are then pressed into tofu blocks and tofu does not melt like cheese does.  Tofu is pretty flavorless by itself, hence the bad rep it gets from non-tofu eaters, but it absorbs the flavors of what it is cooked in, so tofu can actually be very flavorful…so why do I only eat it occasionally?  Let’s start out with a list of pros and cons.

Pros

  • high source of animal free protein
  • no antibiotics or hormones are added to tofu (since it is not an animal product)
  • Easy to find at most grocery stores

Cons

  • It is a processed food
  • Flavorless unless prepared correctly
  • Organic tofu is preferred, but can be harder to find at the grocery store

Now onto tempeh…tempeh is very similar to tofu, but it is made with fermented soybeans instead.  The fermented soybeans give tempeh an added nutritional punch and a more nutty flavor than tofu…so what are the pros and cons of tempeh?

Pros

  • high source of animal free protein
  • no antibiotics or hormones are added (since it is not an animal product)
  • Fermented soybeans of full of isoflavones which have many health benefits such as heart health and cancer prevention

Cons

  • It is a processed food
  • Can be hard to find at the grocery store (although, my local grocer does carry it)

In conclusion, and my opinion (I am a strong believer in different approaches working for different people)… tofu and tempeh are a great source of protein.  My preference is to only eat them occasionally because they are a processed food, and I try to avoid processed foods, but I think it is a good idea to include vegetarian protein sources in my diet every once in a while.  I prefer tempeh over tofu because of the added nutrients from the fermented soybeans, but I don’t rule out tofu completely from my diet.  I also prefer both my tofu and tempeh to be organic, which can be harder to find.  

 

Do you include Tofu or Tempeh in your diet?

Do you include a protein source in each of your meals?

 

 

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