When you buy tofu, you’re probably expecting a soft white slab. You’re kind of right there! However, tofu has different firmness and texture (like silken or firm). It’s not all soft. It’s also made from soy milk that has been coagulated and then left to form blocks. Tofu, especially raw tofu, is quite bland-tasting.
Tempeh, on the other hand, is made from fermented soybeans itself. It’s compacted and fermented soybeans that give tempeh its own unique look and feel. If tofu is quite commonly soft, then tempeh is its firmer and denser counterpart. Tempeh has a distinct nutty and earthy taste to it.
Lastly, both organic tempeh and tofu are by-products of soy. Soy, soya, soybeans, or soya beans all mean the same thing, and tofu and tempeh are simply soy food. So, when you say soy, we take it that you mean the whole lot of food and beverages that are soy-based!
Is Soy Food Healthy?
For starters, vegans with gluten intolerances rely on soy food like organic tempeh and tofu. Whether they order tofu online or buy tofu from a local store, we’re certain that they’re looking for nutrition. With that being said, let’s go over what makes soy food like tofu and tempeh so healthy!
Let’s go over organic tempeh. Because tempeh is more compact or denser than tofu, you’ll be right in thinking that they often pack more nutrition than tofu - though that doesn’t make tofu any less nutritious, mind you!
For every 84-gram serving of tempeh, you’re getting 162 calories, 15 grams of protein, 9 grams of carbs, 9 grams of fat content, 9 milligrams of sodium, and other nutrients like iron, calcium, magnesium, and manganese.
How does tofu stack up? Tofu, since it’s made from soy as well, has similar nutrients as tempeh. The difference is just how much.
For a 100-gram serving of tofu, you’ll get 144 calories, 17 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber, 9 grams of fat, calcium, manganese, copper, Vitamin A, iron, magnesium, and zinc.
A great takeaway is that both tofu and tempeh are low-calorie and nutrient-rich soy foods!
Here Are The Top Brands To Try
Like Meat’s Gluten-Free Chick'n Alternatives
Like Meat is just like meat, but it’s made from plants! ‘Nuff said. Here, you have the option to choose from BBQ chicken, chicken pieces, or grilled chicken. You’ll be able to get as much as 19 grams of plant-based protein per serving with these soy chicken alternatives!
Mori Nu’s Extra Firm Tofu
If you need to buy tofu, you needn’t look far. PlantX has it! Mori Nu’s Extra Firm Tofu is great for grilling, frying, and sauteing. Trust us, this is the best firmness for all those cooking applications. Plus, this one is free from preservatives and non-GMO verified.
Tofurky - Plant-based Original Sausage
Tofurky’s sausages are flavorful soy sausages that are free from gluten, cholesterol, and preservatives. Comes in 3 flavors: Italian, Beer Brats, or Kielbasa. Perfect for the barbecue, hot dogs, tapas, or with paella, pasta, and rice dishes. These nutrition-dense sausages can be a tasty addition to any of those recipes.
Like Meat’s Gluten-Free Chick'n Nuggets
What do four tasty Gluten-Free Chick'n Nuggets from Like Meat bring? 9 grams of protein at just 180 calories! As you can expect, this soy food is completely plant-based and made with non-GMO ingredients.
Dishes That Go Best With Tofu, Tempeh, and Soy
- Vegan Eggs: Start breakfast with some scrambled eggs… but with soy! Tofu can make a wonderful scramble if you have the know-how. Sara's Easy Vegan Tofu Scramble recipe will show you just what to do.
- Salads: Deep-fried or plain fried tofu cut into strips can add texture to salads. Plus, they can serve as your protein, replacing other meats that would normally go in them.
- Stir-Fries: Whether it’s noodles or rice, firm and extra-firm tofu can stand in for meat. The firmness is important because it will allow the tofu to hold its shape whilst being tossed and stirred while cooking. Speaking of rice, here’s a Thai Curry with Tofu & Rice recipe!
- Dumplings: If you have fresh veggies, you can crumble or finely dice some tofu to mix in with them to create vegan dumplings! Firmer tofu is preferred with the moisture wicked out of it so that the dumplings don’t unwrap while cooking.
- Over Rice: Because it is denser, tempeh can be a great base for teriyaki or curries. For this, it’s really all in the sauce. Fry up your tempeh, add some sauce (even gravy), and plop that on top of rice for a healthy meal.
- Wraps and Sandwiches: Tempeh holds its shape quite well even when sliced thinly. For this, think of it as a bacon alternative.
- Grilled Tempeh: Ever thought about grilling your tempeh? You could! And this smokiness is perfect for making a delicious burger or with some roasted veggies.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does tofu contain estrogen?
Great question! The estrogen connection with soy has been heard around the world. Soy, and therefore soy foods, does contain plant-based estrogen.
This leads us to a potential concern you might be thinking of. If you eat a healthy, moderate amount of tofu, it will not decrease your testosterone levels if you’re a man. It also won’t increase your estrogen levels if you’re a woman.
Are chickpeas and soy the same?
In that they are both part of the legume family! Yes. But they are actually different. They both are abundant in nutrients, with some differences in how much.
As a general comparison, soybeans tend to have more Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, protein, and fat content. Chickpeas, however, are known to have more Vitamin A, fiber, and carbs. Both are naturally free from cholesterol.
Can soy be part of a healthy diet?
Soy foods are full of nutrition and relatively low on calories. That makes organic tempeh and tofu great for most diets. Though it’s not a plentiful amount, soy foods still contain healthy servings of fiber. Fiber is thought to promote healthy bowel movements.
Is soy good for the brain?
Adding soy foods like tofu and organic tempeh could be helpful for brain functions. That said, soy foods are not the end-all and be-all solution for healthy brain function.