The highly versatile soybean (the cornerstone of tempeh) and the nutty (and yes, legal) hemp are two current food trends that are turning heads due to their amazing health benefits.
Even more importantly, many people are choosing to forgo meat as more and more light is shed on the fact that a meat-laden diet has negative implications for the environment. While we, the eco-conscious, do our best to reduce, re-use and recycle, and are mindful of our own carbon footprints, should finding suitable replacements to meat also be a part of that picture?
So, whether you are just hoping to add some variety to your current diet or are avoiding meat for environmental, health or dietary reasons, steer your cart in a new direction by incorporating these two healthful foods into your diet.
Here’s what you need to know about hemp and tempeh—and what they can do for you.
What it is:
If you are looking for a high protein food, but would rather avoid meat, hemp is perfect. Hemp seeds are produced from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa L. Hemp is commonly confused with marijuana, as it belongs to the same family, but the two plants are actually quite different. Hemp plants are cultivated for industrial use and harvested to create fibres, seeds, oils and meals, which can be used in a variety of healthy dishes.
The hemp plant and hemp seed are perfectly suited to do what nature intended them to: provide us with a sustainable source of protein food. Hemp products are perfect for vegans and vegetarians as hemp seed protein can supply all your protein requirements, minus the saturated fats in meat and the stomach upset associated with some soy products.
The nutritional lowdown:
Hemp seeds really do appear to be the ideal food for optimum human health. Not only do they contain the perfect balance of essential amino acids, including gamma linoleic acid (GLA), for sustaining good health, but hemp seeds are one of the most balanced and richest known sources of omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs. The seeds also provide other phytonutrients, including phytosterols and carotenes as well as vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
EFAs have been well-researched and are thought to confer many health benefits including reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, arthritis, eczema, psoriasis, attention deficit disorder and depression.
The hemp seed is versatile. It can be hulled and sprinkled raw over salads, pastas or cereals, or ground into a rich, nutty-tasting flour that will add a unique and healthy twist to your baking or smoothie recipes. In one of its most impressive forms, it can be pressed into a supremely healthy oil which provides the perfect balance of EFAs.
Shelled hemp seeds have also been used for several years as a food ingredient in a wide variety of food products, including baked goods, snacks, breakfast cereals, beverages, frozen desserts, tofu and milk substitutes.
Hemp Products in Canada:
While hemp seeds are grown in many parts of the world, its major producers include Canada, France and China. There are many sources of hemp in food products found across the country. Here are a few:
What it is:
Made from whole fermented soybeans, tempeh has been coined “the king of all soy foods, or the perfect soy protein.” In fact, Tempeh is one of the highest quality sources of plant protein, and an excellent substitute for animal protein, which makes it ideal for vegetarian and vegan diets and those cutting back on meat.
To make tempeh, soybeans are cleaned, cracked, dehulled, cooked, then inoculated with a starter culture, and finally incubated, where fermentation occurs. Tempeh owes much of its flavour, texture and nutritional properties to the fermentation process, the same one that gives us cheese, yogurt, bread and wine. The resulting tempeh, is a chunky cake of beans that offers a mild, nutty flavour with a firm yet tender, or chewy texture that is perfect for a variety of cooking processes.
The nutritional lowdown:
Soybeans, the main ingredient in tempeh, are thought to be one of the healthiest foods on earth. Soy’s key benefits are related to its excellent protein content, high levels of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s), numerous vitamins and minerals including calcium, B vitamins and iron, phytochemicals, isoflavones and saponins, and it’s extremely high fibre content—all of which are tied to an impressive array of medical benefits including the reduction of heart disease and some cancers. Additionally, tempeh, unlike other soy products, is ideal for those on low sodium diets and is an excellent option for diabetic patients who tend to have problems with some animal sources of protein.
Tempeh has a tender chewy consistency that makes it an excellent addition to a variety of foods. Its nutty, mushroom-like flavor can be used in soups, salads and sandwiches. Normally, tempeh is eaten cooked and can be marinated, grilled, grated, stir-fried, pan-fried, toasted, baked or steamed.
Tempeh Products in Canada:
Henry’s Gourmet Tempeh is an artisanal, handcrafted soy food produced in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. It is a 100% organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, fermented, cultured, preservative-free and pasteurized ready-to-eat product, readily available at local health food stores and some grocery stores throughout Ontario and Quebec.
Yves Veggie Cuisine also carries a line of tempeh products including original and five-grain tempeh’s. Both are ideal for everyday cooking and are high in fibre, easy to digest, contain isoflavones, and have no cholesterol. They are readily available in grocery stores across Canada.
– Article from Green Living Online on May 29, 2009