Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Quick and Healthy Tempeh Sloppy Joes

When I think back on my childhood, there are a few meat dishes that I really miss. Among these are Sloppy Joes. My three sisters and I loved "SloJoes" ... mmm, the sweet tomato sauce and soft, warm hamburger buns really bring back good memories.

Fast forward to adulthood, ground beef Sloppy Joes are not in the cards for me anymore, as I have become aware of the unhealthy, unsanitary state of factory-farmed ground beef and the immoral prospect of killing animals for my own gluttonous pleasure and coronary demise.

Luckily, I can have my Sloppy Joes and eat them too. I looked high and low for a non-meat Sloppy Joe recipe and created one that rivals, if not surpasses, recipes using real animal flesh. I like serving these Sloppy Joes on a soft multi-grain bun with a side salad or corn on the cob.

Here is the recipe:


1 8 oz. package tempeh, cubed (I prefer the soy kind)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black ground pepper
2 tbsp. vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. Tabasco or other hot sauce (optional)

Steam tempeh for 10 minutes in a steamer basket placed on top of a pot filled with water. Once the tempeh gives off a nutty aroma, after 10 minutes, it's ready. Transfer to a bowl and crumble it.

In a large-size saucepan over medium heat, heat oil and saute onion until translucent. Add bell pepper an tempeh, and saute for a few minutes more, stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Add tomato sauce, chili powder, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and hot sauce (if using). Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes longer.


The first time I bought tempeh, I never thought that I would like it ... but I had to try it at least. I thought it looked weird and couldn't imagine how it could possibly be made to taste good. Since I had already bought the tempeh, I went ahead and made my first tempeh dish. To my surprise, my first attempt at cooking tempeh was a total success, and even my omnivore husband liked it ... and he doesn't like a lot of things. Since then, I have sought out tempeh recipes to try and even created some of my own.

The trick to cooking tempeh is to steam the tempeh, as noted above, crumble it, and then cook it with flavorful spices and sauces, since it really is a great vessel for flavor. To give the tempeh a better texture, I lightly fry the tempeh with a little canola oil and onion before I incorporate other ingredients. Tempeh also absorbs a good amount of water, not as much as rice or pasta, so be aware of keeping that water balance.

Nutritionally, tempeh is very nutritious, especially the one made from soybeans. Soybeans are regarded as equal in protein quality to animal foods. Just four (4) ounces of tempeh provides 41.3% of the Daily Value (DV) for protein for less than 225 calories and only 3.7 grams of saturated fat. Plus, the soy protein in tempeh tends to lower cholesterol levels, while consuming protein from animal sources tends to raise them. In addition, four (4)ounces of tempeh provides 23.5% of the DV for riboflavin, 21.9% of the DV for nature's blood vessel relaxant, magnesium, and 72.5% of the DV for manganese and 30.5% of the DV for copper, trace minerals that serve various physiological functions.

In additional, tempeh provides beneficial effects on cholesterol levels and platelets, stabilizes blood sugar, promotes gastrointestinal health, treats menopausal symptoms and lowers the incidence of prostate cancer.

So, try tempeh if you haven't. Who knows ... you might like it and improve your health quite a bit in the process with this super-healthy meat alternative.


Nancy, a.k.a. The Vegan Voice


  1. I just may adapt this on my meatless style loaf. The tempeh info was very educational and hopefully will encourage more foodies to adapt it to their recipes.
    I hope your Wednesday is turning out better than your Monday ;o)
    Ciao for now and flavourful wishes, Claudia

  2. I have no experience whatsoever in cooking tempeh ... but I am powerful tempted by this Sloppy Joe recipe! I confess a love for this childhood staple too ... though when I make it now, I use ground turkey breast. I really would like to try your tempeh version though. Thanks for the cooking tips!

    The real test would be getting my supremely carnivorous husband to eat it! LOL

  3. These are super healthy sloppy joes with tempeh! Though I've read about tempeh, I have not tried it yet. It's great to learn more about it.

  4. Great recipe Nancy! I have to admit that because of your vegan recipes, I'm able to learn and adapt a heap of healthy to my food. Thanks for introducing me to tempeh as I haven't heard of it before! it a shame? ><

  5. I eat seafood, but no red meat, so I really appreciate this recipe; I didn't know anything about tempeh, but will seek it out for a try...Thanks, Nancy, hope you have a week filled with joy!

  6. Hey Nancy! I am making these! What a good idea-I want to slap myself for not thinking of this sooner. I'm actually not that crazy about tempeh, but it's okay. I'm sure it's delicious slathered in the sauce above.
    p.s. I loved reading the new font you wrote in-much easier to read, concentrate, and enjoy (smile).

  7. Yummy! Thanks for all the info on tempeh! It helps to know how to cook it right!

  8. Mm, that looks really tasty! I've never tried tempeh before. It took me a long time to come around to tofu - but I think that's mainly because I've never really cooked with it rather than the taste. Is the taste of tempeh similar?

    Hungry Jenny x

  9. Oh my God, yummy.
    I wish I could eat this awesome bun sandwich now.
    Really delicious ♥

  10. this is totally new for me have never heard of it, looks really delicious would love to try this!

  11. I have never eaten nor cooked tempeh before but would one day like to try it. Actually I have never even heard of it until reading food blogs. That recipe sounds absolutely delicious and comforting. Thank you for sharing this Nancy.

  12. Tempeh SLOJO's, an interesting idea. I now only eat grass-fed beef but even then not too much of it. Thanks for all the great tips on preparing the tempeh... good for us novices to know!

  13. Hi Nancy, I've heard and read of tempeh before, but never tried them. I think its about time to try them. Thank you for sharing a beautiful and healthy recipe. And thank you also for all the educational information about tempeh.

  14. I eat a lot of tempeh but mostly fry it, put it in curries or toss it into salads.

    This looks so good - I have to try it!

    Thanks for another great recipe Nancy!

  15. I have always wanted to try sloppy joes but couldn't because of the meat factor - but now I can!

  16. I am not familiar with Sloppy Joes but I love tempeh, I make patties with it. That is definitely a creative way to use it and such a wonderful alternative to meat. Great recipe Nancy!

  17. The way you see the food change with the years (..not for all) your new version is healthier. I need to try a similar one...but no idea if I've tempeh here.



  18. I don't know tempeh but I'm so curious to try. That Sloppy Joe looks amazing and just as good as the meat version.

  19. Sloppy joes are one of my absolute childhood favorites! I haven't cooked with tempeh yet because I was looking for a good way to prepare it -- now that I have your reicpe, I'll pick some up at the store. Thanks! :)

  20. I ADORE tempeh! I think it is possibly one of my favorite meat substitutes. The vegetarian sloppy joes look and sound delicious! I've made a non-vegetarian version with super spicy buffalo sauce that I bet would make a great vegetarian version as well!

  21. hi :)
    excelent !it really tasty ...

  22. We always learn something new at your of the most creative and yum places to visit and one of our favourite too :)

  23. I don't think we have tempeh in Greece but love this healthy version.

  24. I have never tried tempeh and hubby loves sloppy joes..hmm this might be a great way to give it a try..


  25. Great info! I love tempeh, never could "stomach" beef. thx for this recipe, we havn't had sloppy joes in a great while, my boys thank you too! ;-)

  26. Oh, I love tempeh, and though my husband gobbles up tofu I have not found a way to make tempeh that he'll warm up to it ... perhaps this is the dish, at long last!

  27. This vegetarian sloppy joe looks great and tempeh is so healthy!

  28. I never thought I'd ever see tempeh and sloppy joes in the same sentence, let alone on the same plate.

    I love the way you created an oxymoron of a dish. :)


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