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7 Day Vegetarian Challenge: Day 7

We made it to the home stretch! For our last night, I wanted to do something a little different. For the most part, we had been working with prepared ready to cook meat replacements but its always better to make your own so I wanted to try some vegetarian cooking from scratch. So we bought two non prepared vegetarian proteins to try cooking, tofu and tempeh.

imageI have eaten tofu in restaurants before but this was my first time attempting to prepare it myself. Tempeh was something completely new to me.

Tempeh is a fermented soy product with roots in Indonesia  that has been eaten for centuries. It has whole fermented soy beans so it has a firmer texture than even extra firm tofu. Tofu, as soy bean curd, is mushy even in its firmest form. It doesn’t have much of a taste, but the baby and I enjoyed eating a few raw pieces while cooking. I didn’t give the baby any raw tempeh but I tried a few pieces and it wasn’t bad. It has a slightly nutty taste and doesn’t taste super strong the way many fermented foods do.

imageI decided to try both products in a stir fry with onions and mushrooms. I cooked them separately so we could see which we liked better between the two.

imageHere’s the delicious looking meal. The tofu is in the upper right while the tempeh is over the bed of rice.

The tofu was ok. It was still mushy in the middle despite being pan fried to a crispy finish. Maybe I cooked it too fast? Neither Ted nor The Kiddo liked it at all. The baby ate a little and I ate my portion but I didn’t love it. We have decided that we will try tofu again at a later date after researching cooking techniques.

The tempeh on the other hand was absolutely delicious. The nutty flavor was perfect in a stir fy and tasted sort of like a Thai peanut sauce. Ted wanted seconds and so did I. The Kiddo wasn’t thrilled with it but at least she ate it. The baby wanted more than the tiny bit I allowed him to taste. We will definitely be adding this ingredient to our regular meal planning.

Reflecting on the overall experience after a week of vegetarian meals, I would have to say that I had fun. Our weekly grocery bill was about the same as when we buy meat, but I definitely noticed health benefits. I was less bloated and gassy and definitely more “regular” all week. By the end of the week my pants were a little less snug. Having low blood pressure, there were times that I felt like my blood pressure was actually getting a little too low during this so I ended up eating some unhealthy snacks to even things out. That said, a vegetarian diet would be great for someone with high blood pressure. Food waste was less during this since the meat substitutes generally came in smaller packages than the meat we usually serve. Also, other bowel related issues that I’d rather not go into detail with here were much improved.

At the end of the week we decided that we still like meat and are not going to go fully vegetarian or vegan anytime soon but we did enjoy the experience and will be including meatless meals in our diet more frequently from now on.

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