Healthy lunch ideas with Tempeh + BONUS recipe (VG, DF)
Today, I’m sharing a few simple, delicious and super colourful lunch box ideas, including the recipe for my most popular and versatile tempeh recipe. I’ve used it so many times: in my wraps, summer rolls, buddah bowls, salads, you name it, and throughout all seasons!
We’re officially in September! Back to work, back to school, or simply back to our home routines. Just because summer holiday is now behind us (no more summer fitness goals?) and the weather will soon get chillier (think, more layer clothes?), it doesn’t mean we should let go of the healthy routines we’ve been building into and during these summer months. Let us keep up this momentum by keeping our mind and body refreshed and energised, with healthy foods.
We can start as simple as with eating a bit more vegetables and fruits every day, especially those at its best this season (broccoli, kohlrabi, Swiss chard , apples, pears, plum peaches, etc.) more wholegrain and complex carbs (richer in nutrients and keeping us full), high fiber-food (important for digestion and bowel flows), healthy fats, and a healthy mix of protein (fish, lean meat, beans & legumes, soy)
This week, I’d like to share with you some lunch ideas, starring TEMPEH – which is a plant-based protein made from fermented soybeans. They are rich in protein, probiotics, calcium, manganese, and a whole bunch of other vitamins, while containing having far more heart-healthy and lower saturated fats than meat. For this reason, it is one of my favourite lunch ingredients. It’s not that I am a vegan (I am not!) or just going for the hype, but to keep a balanced diet and daily menus. I like sparing fish or meat for dinner while preferring lighter and more plant-based meals for lunch.
Though both are made from soy beans, tempeh is made from the process of culturing and fermenting cooked beans, while tofu by curdling fresh and hot soy milk (thus processed). Tempeh is denser in texture (making it more portable), nuttier in taste, and higher in calories and nutrients than tofu (keeping us full for longer!). With that said, it might not be for everyone, surely those with allergy or intolerance for soy, as the taste can be quite distinct. However, there’s a trick to solve this puzzle –> Read on below in the Recipe’s note
Here are some of my most frequent tempeh lunches:
1. Healthy Lunch Wrap / Rolls with BBQ Tempeh
This is probably the most popular and versatile tempeh recipe. I’ve use it in my wraps, summer rolls, buddah bowls, salads, you name it, and throughout all seasons! A simple version of these vegan BBQ strips can be found here
Just one block of tempeh and you’re good for the whole week. But to avoid repetition, I’d suggest to make 2-3 lunches and save the rest in the freezer for another week 😉
Ideal to combine with
- Mango chutney sauce (recipe – coming soon)
- Cilantro lemon dressing (recipe – coming soon)
Tempeh Taco Wrap perfect for bento lunch
2. Buddha bowls or banh mi with Vietnamese-style tempeh
Bursting with Asian flavours of lemongrass, ginger, garlic, lime, coriander, the umami taste of soy sauce and a dash of fish sauce, these tempeh strips are best served as:
- Vegan banh mi: wholegrain barguette, pickles (from the simple cucumber, carrot to the sophisicated daikon, kohlrabi, and the exotic young papaya)
- Rainbow buddha bowls: grains of choice, roasted chickpeas, roasted vegs such as sweet potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, aubergine; shredded cabbage, kale/spinach, and hummus of choice
- Meatless taco: load up your taco shells with shredded cabbage, kidney beans, mashed avocado, red onion and extra jalapeno
3. Complete-meals with Peanut Butter Tempeh – Recipe included!!!
These bento boxes are the portable versions of a complete meal with full range of complex carbs, plant-based protein , healthy fats, antioxidant-rich greens and all the essential vitamins and minerals we need for the day. And what’s better than to kick off the new season with this yummy and nutty tempeh in our lunch boxes. All with 5-6 ingredients that almost all of us already have in our kitchen!!!
There are so many ingredients, mostly to mix and match that our boxes will hardly be exactly the same:
- The greens: Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard, cruciferous vegs such as red cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts,
- The grains: enough choices to make weeks after weeks: black/brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, couscous, bulgur, or even soba noodles
- Roasted vegs: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnip
- The protein: tempeh and/or beans and legumes
- The fats: yes, we need fat to generate energy, metabolise and regulation vital functions. And those little peanuts have plenty of heart-healthy fats to offer. Plus, they also contain a lot of protein – Two birds with one stone, isn’t it?
- The dressing: peanut butter (or tahini) dressing made with low-sodium soy sauce, ginger, lime juice, some honey or liquid sweetener of choice, 1/2 tsp salt, and some warm water
I hope these give you some inspo for your lunch boxes this month and temp you to try this easy breezy vegan “meat”
Easy breezy peanut butter tempeh that goes perfectly with any Asian-inspired lunch boxes
- 250 gr tempeh half a block, cut in 2×4 pieces or in strips (See note for tip on how to enhance the flavours)
- 2 tbsp ~ 35gr smooth peanut butter
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp minced ginger OR ½ tsp ginger powder
- 1 tbsp ~ 15ml low-sodium soy sauce OR 1.5 tbsp coconut aminos which is lower in sodium and sweeter in taste
- ½ lime juiced
- 1 tsp honey + ½ cup of water OR replaced by 50-70ml of fresh orange juiced I often use the latter as the tangy sweetness of orange goes extremely well with ginger and soy
- 1 fresh chili minced OR ½ tsp dried chili flakes if you like it spicy (Optional)
- 1-2 tbsp warm water
To make the marinade, mix all ingredients except the Tempeh in a bowl.
Whisk until everything is smoothly combined into a semi-thick liquid.
Place tempeh into a Ziploc bag, pour in the marinade
Massage the bag so that every piece of our tempeh is coated
Place the bag in the fridge for 20-30mins so that all the liquid and flavours are fully absorbed
In the meantime, pre-heat the oven to 175C.
Line the baking tray with baking paper
Evenly spread tempeh strips onto the tray
Bake at 175C for 12 mins
Pause to flip side then continue to bake for another 12 mins
Peanut butter dressing
Topped with crushed dry-roasted peanuts, chopped coriander and mint if these are also your favorites
A simple trick to make tempeh even more loveable and spices is to steam (NOT boil!!!) it for about 10-mins. Not only will this step neutralise the distinct nutty taste but will also make out tempeh more absorbent of herbs and spices used, as well as to shorten the baking time. 3-in-1 win-win-win!!!