Whether you’re a vegetarian, flexterian, #meatlessmonday follower, vegan or just trying to cut down on your overall meat intake, everyone can benefit from eating meatless meals. Sometimes it's just hard to know the best way to go about this. Is it okay to eat soy? How good are those faux soy meats? Why is my tofu forever-soggy and tasteless?
Ever had a friend that you dig but everyone seems to misunderstand them?
This friend only ever has good intentions; they're always kind and caring. Yet, people seem to create rumours about them and demonise them.
This, my friends, is how I feel about soy.
I think it’s fair to say that as a society, we’ve created a fair bit of fear around soy. I’ve heard some crazy rumours about soy in the past - like that it'll make men grow man-boobs, ruin female hormones and be harmful to heart health.
While I do agree there are soy products that aren’t so good for us, like non-traditional, GMO soy cereals, soy thickeners used to emulsify products or plastic-tasting fake meats, there are good quality and traditional sources of soy that can be beneficial to your wellbeing in moderation.
Organic and non-GMO soy products such as miso, tempeh, natto and tofu are all great sources of protein, vitamins and minerals. Consuming non-GMO soy products is a great way to get a tasty source of protein and minerals in while cutting down on your meat intake.
There’s a little-known community of people known as the Okinawans in Japan. They follow a plant-based diet which involves low levels of dairy and grains, and a plethora of colourful vegetables and soy products. They have one of the lowest risks of atherosclerosis, hormone issues and hypertension in the world. They’re one of the healthiest communities on the planet and they regularly consume healthy versions of soy - something must be up here!
Tofu's less popular, but definitely better-looking older cousin, tempeh, is also made of soybeans. However, tempeh is made of fermented, cooked soybeans, meaning it's less processed than tofu and higher in both protein and fibre. This fermentation process makes it easier for us to digest and makes it rich in probiotics which are key to healthy gut microflora. Probiotics help us break down sugars, control harmful bacteria, fight diarrhoea, relieve indigestion, resist against chronic inflammation and boost immune system function.
Tempeh is also rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that can help protect blood vessels from oxidative and inflammatory damage. Tempeh is also high in protein so it can be a beneficial addition to your diet if you're trying to lose weight and/or build muscle. While soy may not contain as much calcium as regular milk, it does contain triple the amount of magnesium which is a great mineral for maintaining bone and muscle health.
For those of you who've never tried tempeh before, it has a slightly earthy and sweet taste and is firm and chewy in texture.
If you want more vegetarian and vegan recipes, my cookbook Eat, Clean Green and Vegetarian has over 120 delicious and nutritious plant-based recipes. They're seriously good.
I've spiced up this tempeh and placed it into a delicious caesar salad and let me tell you, your meat-inclined friends won't even know the difference!
I'd love to know what you guys think! Leave a comment below 🙂
Vegan Caesar Salad
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 block of tempeh, chopped into (1/4 inch) cubes
- 3 tablespoons wheat-free tamari
- 1 Cos lettuce, washed, dried and torn
- 1 small bunch shallots, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons almond butter
- 2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons sugar-free Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons flaxseed oil
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the tempeh for five to ten minutes, or until golden. Add the tamari and heat until warm. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- To make the dressing, mix all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl.
- Place the Cos and shallots in a bowl and spoon over the dressing, tossing to ensure the salad is evenly coated. Sprinkle the cooled tempeh over the top and serve.