Tempeh is one of my favorite sources of vegan protein. It's incredibly versatile and absorbs flavors easily, so you can make it taste like almost anything you like, which makes it perfect for vegetarian recipes for kids.
Tempeh is pronounced "temp-ayy," and is made by packing together whole soybeans and allowing them to ferment. The fermentation process makes the beans easier to digest, therefore it's easier on your bowels. It also changes the structure of the soybeans, allowing your body to more easily absorb their calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, folic acid, and protein.
You actually end up getting more protein, fiber, and vitamins than when you eat tofu because tempeh comes from a whole soybean. It's considered a "complete protein" because it has all of the essential amino acids, just like meats and eggs, but without the cholesterol and saturated fats. Also, unlike meats and eggs, it's packed with fiber and is low in sodium.
You should be careful to look for certified organic when you buy anything made from soy because it's one of the most highly genetically modified plants on the planet. Buying organic ensures that your soybeans are non-GMO and not sprayed with chemicals.
You have so many options when cooking tempeh recipes for kids. You can slice it right out of the package and throw it on the grill, bake it, sauté it, or you can steam it and marinate for a long time. If I have the time, I typically take the time to steam it because it makes it soft and opens up the pores so it can absorb new flavors better.
You can also crumble it up and flavor it with spices as a great faux meat substitute. If you're in a rush, you can even put a little bit of water in a bowl, throw in your tempeh and microwave it for a few minutes to soften it up.
You can also keep it in the fridge for a few weeks or store unopened extras in the freezer for up to six months.
This vegan tempeh recipe is perfect in the summertime when you can accompany it with fresh corn on the cob, kale salad, and heirloom tomatoes. You can make it with any barbecue sauce your family loves, and either cook it on the grill or throw it in the oven to bake it.
Assume 4 ounces of tempeh per person, maybe slightly less for younger children. Cut the tempeh block into big rectangles, trying to keep them as large as possible so they can still fit in the steamer.
Steam the tempeh for about 10 minutes, until it's fluffy and softened.
Here's the Ribz part… Cut the tempeh rectangles with a sharp knife, being careful not to cut all the way to the bottom. Basically you're trying to get the look of "the real thing" without the pieces breaking into tiny strips themselves. You don't want the strips to come apart when you lift up the rectangle of tempeh.
Place the steamed tempeh into a shallow baking dish and cover with barbecue sauce. Allow it to marinate for at least an hour, turning every 30 minutes or so to make sure the whole thing tastes good.
If you want to bake your ribz, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spoon some extra sauce on top of the ribz and bake for 5 minutes, then flip it over, add more sauce, and bake for another 5 minutes.
If you prefer to grill it outside, I recommend putting it on foil with slits cut through it so you don't risk losing your tempeh to the holes of the grill. Again cover with sauce, cook for a few minutes, flip, resauce them, and cook for another few minutes.
One of my favorite vegan breakfast recipes is a scrambled tempeh. I personally prefer its nutty texture to the more soft and egg-like tofu scramble. It's a big hit with kids and goes great with a vegan breakfast waffle, or even as a fun breakfast-for-dinner once a month or so.
Assume about four ounces per person, or slightly less for really young children. You also might want to alter the spices if your family is less into strong flavors, I'll make suggestions in parentheses. This recipe assumes four servings.
Ingredients for Scrambled Tempeh:
Crumble the tempeh into a sauce pan and cover it with water. Simmer the tempeh over medium heat until the water is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Add your favorite tempeh recipes below...
Whether you're grilling tempeh for a child's barbecue birthday party or just for fun around the house, you can never have too many recipes. What's your best vegan tempeh recipe to share with others?