A lot of people think that tofu is some sort of "miracle" food, at least that seems to be the consensus among vegetarians. They say it's a good source of protein, has lots of minerals, takes on the flavor of whatever you're cooking. While it may be a good source of protein, tofu / soy also has high levels of phytates which chelates certain minerals and prevents your body from absorbing them. All those minerals in tofu? They're bound up in phytic acid and are pretty much useless inside your body. It's not just tofu that you may want to think about. In addition to faux meat products like Tofurky, tofu hot dogs, and tofu bacon (fake bacon?! No, no, NO!), there's soybean oil, soy milk, and soy nuts to consider.
Of course, if you eat tofu occasionally or even once or twice a week, I highly doubt you'll come down with a mineral deficiency, man boobs, or an enlarged thyroid. It's also been shown that eating tofu with meat reduces the phyates' effects. The problem comes when we over-consume soy in the form of over-processed tofu, Tofurky, Boca burgers, sugary soy milk, soy protein powder, and soy cheese. And that's easy to do, especially if you're a vegetarian living in America and you have meatless sausage links for breakfast, down it with a glass of soy milk, have a soy protein smoothie for lunch, and for dinner eat your soy burger with soy cheese and have soy ice cream for dessert.
Tofu also isn't going to be healthy if you are cooking it in bad oils like vegetable, soybean, or corn oil and you use sugary sauces like hoisin or oyster sauce. And obviously deep fried tofu won't do you any favors. If you do like to cook tofu, try lightly frying it in olive oil, grass-fed butter, or even coconut oil. Or bake it with your choice of veggies. I personally don't make an attempt to include tofu in my diet and I don't ever drink soy milk. I stick to eggs, grass-fed ruminants, chicken, and fish as my main source of protein.I would hunt my own deer and cow if I could.
Fermented forms of soy like miso are best, because fermenting them gets rid of some of the problems you encounter in their non-fermented counterparts. Speaking of fermented soy, tempeh is the focus of my recipe and blog post today (finally!).
If you've never had tempeh, you have to try it at least once. The taste and flavor is hard to describe, but it's very unique. It has a meaty and hearty texture, very different from tofu. I found tempeh here, and at first I baked it. It turned out okay. Not really a big fan of the taste. I did like the almost crispy texture of the outside part when I baked it, though. So I decided to cut the tempeh into thinner slices and throw some spices on them before baking, hoping for crispy chips. That worked pretty well! Then, I got a pizza craving. I threw some tomato sauce on the tempeh, some herbs and onions and cheese, popped that baby in the oven, and was able to satisfy my craving for pizza without resorting to gluten and grains.
You can find tempeh at most Indonesian grocery stores. I got mine from the Indonesian store here in the city. I've heard that Whole Foods and Trader Joe's has tempeh. However, the Trader Joe's version is made of barley, millet, rice and soybeans and should be avoided if you are eating paleo.
TEMPEH PIZZA CHIPS
What you'll need:
- Pizza / tomato sauce (flavor it with whatever you want!)
- Thinly sliced baby button mushrooms
- Thin red onion slices
- Cheese (I used grated Parmesan on mine but you can do any type of cheese, even hard cheeses). Omit if you don't include dairy in your diet.
- Preheat oven to 180C / 350F.
- Cut your tempeh into thin slices about 1/4 inch thick. Line a baking sheet with wax paper and place your tempeh slices on.
- Bake for about 20-30 minutes until they feel slightly crispy and lightly browned.
- Take them out, spread some pizza / tomato sauce on the slices. Place your mushrooms and your onion slices on, top with cheese if you are using cheese, and sprinkle your choice of spices on top. I used oregano and black pepper.
- Pop them back into the oven for about 10 more minutes, until the cheese starts to melt and the mushrooms are cooked.
- Take them out, let them cool for a few minutes before enjoying!