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Three Ways to Enjoy Tempeh

By Marni Sumbal

As athletes or fitness enthusiasts, we all understand the importance of eating for fuel. It's important that we setting ourselves up for quality training sessions so we move closer to reaching our performance goals.

Having said that, we all know how important it is to eat for health and to not sabotage our performance and health gains, by not appreciating the "fuel" that we put into our body on a daily basis. 

Think about about your current exercise or training routine and see if you can address a few strengths and weaknesses in your current lifestyle routine that may be affecting how you fuel, recover and perform during your daily choice of activity. There isn't a right or wrong response and for each person it will vary. For example, some may decide to address hunger, never feeling satisfied, always feeling stuffed, experiencing extreme cravings or experiencing low (or rapid drops) blood sugar as weaknesses affecting your current lifestyle routine.

You see, food and exercise are areas in your life that you want to control, but your diet and fitness routine should enhance your life, not control it. When it comes to finding that right balance in your lifestyle routine, there is no one right answer for everyone. We all have different ways to live our lives but it is up to you to address the areas in your life that may need improvement. 

For me, every eating opportunity, whether it is a snack or meal, is a chance to provide my body with quality nutrients. Without addressing individual choices for body composition, training goals and dietary habits, it's important to recognize that as an active individual, health is your priority, then performance. The two can certainly go together if you are choosing to provide your body with a balanced diet of quality, wholesome nutrients that your body knows how to metabolize and use. There's no perfect diet but rather a diet that allows you to succeed in all areas of your life.

When it comes to succeeding in sport, prioritize your nutrition so that you are gaining the most possible from every single workout. You should not be trying to "save calories" or "exercise to eat" as this is not beneficial for a balanced lifestyle routine. As you work on perfecting your individual sports nutrition (for each workout of the week, as this will also vary depending on duration and intensity and the sport of choice), be mindful of how you are eating throughout the day. Be comfortable with food and do not fear food. It is there to not only enhance performance, but also your activities of daily living.

I have three wonderful tempeh recipes from this past week to share with you. Although tempeh is the star in each of the recipes, I added a twist to each one as I feel variety is key to everything we do in life. 

tempehTempeh has a nutty and meaty texture and can be added to nearly any meal. On its nutrition profile you will find manganese, protein, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and vitamin B2 (riboflavin) to name a few. Tempeh is packed with protein so it can be used as a great replacement for meat or for those who need to increase quality protein in the overall diet. You will find tempeh at most grocery stores in the refrigeration section near the tofu.


Stir-fry Tempeh, Mushrooms and Purple Onions

  • 1 Tbsp heart-healthy oil
  • Tempeh
  • Mushrooms (sliced)
  • Purple onion (sliced)
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Tomatoes 
  1. In large pot on medium heat, drizzle olive oil and cook onions until slightly brown.
  2. Add tempeh and mushrooms, toss occasionally.
  3. Cook until tempeh is "browned" on edges.
  4. Plate on a bed of greens, with sliced tomatoes.

Curry Tahini Dressing

  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp chili spice
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp tahini
  1. Whisk together ingredients. Add water to meet your consistency needs.

Arugula, Tempeh and Fruit Salad with Curry Dressing

  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Tempeh
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches (canned in juice)
  • Cashews
  1. Cook tempeh in oil for a few minutes (until golden brown).
  2. Toss together all ingredients, including dressing.

tempehSweet Bulgur and Tempeh Salad

  • Tempeh
  • Bulgur
  • Chickpeas
  • Tofu
  • Onions
  • Peaches (canned in juice)
  • Sunflower oil
  • Romaine lettuce
  1. Cook bulgur for 10-14 minutes, according to package/box (either on stove top or microwave)
  2. Cook tempeh, chickpeas, tofu and onions in large skillet, with 1-2 tbsp oil. Toss occasionally.
  3. When ingredients above are golden brown, turn off heat.
  4. Plate romaine lettuce in shallow dish and make a circle in the middle to serve 1 serving of bulgur.
  5. Top with veggie stir fry mixture and add a few sliced peaches.


Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) and holds a certification by the American Dietetic Association in Adult Weight Management. She is a USA Triathlon Level I Certified Coach, Ironman finisher and an Oakley Women ambassador, and she has contributed articles to a number of triathlon organizations, such as Lava Magazine, Triathlete Magazine, and To contact Marni, email, visit or become a fan of TriMarni Coaching and Nutrition on Facebook.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.