dairy free

Spiced Tempeh

rena williams wellness

I remember when I first decided to cook with tempeh. I ran out to the grocery store. And. Could. Not. Find. It. 'Why is this so difficult to find?' I thought. Because I can be a bit A type, I took finding it as a challenge. I wasn't going to feel defeated by a grocery store shop. ;)


Finally, feeling as though my gosh have I forgotten how to grocery shop? I asked the store clerk (novel idea, I know) where can I find tempeh?


Oh it’s right here, in the frozen food aisle, right next to the strawberries. He said. Right. Of course...


So to save you some time at the grocery store (and so you feel pro) you’ll most likely find tempeh in the freezer section. It’ll be right next to the strawberries. ;)


I don’t typically eat soy but tempeh is something I make an exception for. I talk about why I choose not to eat the majority of soy products over here.  


But today, let’s chat about the goodness of tempeh. I appreciate it for a few reasons. It's minimally processed in that the entire soybean is being used instead of a fraction or isolated component. This means a lot of its nutritional goodness stays intact. Tempeh is a great source of plant based protein. There’s over 20 grams of protein in a standard serving. It’s also high in iron, calcium and zinc, which we need for healthy oxygenated blood, bones and gorgeous skin.


Tempeh goes through a fermentation and culturing process. Just like you use a starter or culture to begin making kombucha, turning soy into tempeh begins with a culture as well.


This process makes soy much more digestible, which means absorbing all its nutritional value is a lot easier on your digestive system. When you open a package of tempeh it looks like a flattened pancake and often you’ll see black or grey flecks in it. This is part of the fermentation process and is totally normal. 


Tempeh also has a high amount of fibre, which is fantastic for stabilizing blood sugar levels, helping you feel full for longer periods of time. 


I do find it to have a slight nutty flavour so I like to marinate it. And the beauty is it takes on whatever flavour you marinate it with, so its natural nutty flavour fades away.


I’ll leave you with one of my favourite tempeh recipes. This recipe is super flexible. You can make the marinade in the morning and then dinner is pretty close to being ready when you get home from work.


You can serve this dish with rice, quinoa, salad, add it to a wrap, etc. The options are endless. I hope you enjoy. Share with me in the comments below one of your favourite ways to enjoy tempeh. 

spiced tempeh

Spiced Tempeh

serves 2 as mains or 4 sides


240g (8 oz) package of organic, non-gmo tempeh

3 tbsp coconut aminos or gluten free tamari

3 tbsp finely chopped shallots

2 large garlic cloves, minced

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp grated ginger, skin removed

1 tsp honey

1/4 - 1 tsp finely chopped chili pepper (use according to your heat tolerance)

1/4 tsp Himalayan rock salt

1/4 tsp black peppercorns, freshly ground

2 green onions, roughly chopped


How to:

  • Chop tempeh into 1 inch cubes or slices. Set aside
  • In a small bowl, mix coconut aminos, shallots, 2 tbsp olive oil, garlic, apple cider vinegar, ginger, honey, chili pepper, salt and peppercorns together, creating a marinade
  • Add in chopped tempeh, stirring well
  • Cover and let rest for minimum 15 minutes, up to a few hours
  • When ready to cook tempeh, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat 
  • Add in marinated tempeh and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so it browns evenly
  • Remove from heat and stir in green onion
  • Serve warm with steamed rice, quinoa or over a green salad  

Sumac Falafel + Tahini Sauce

rena williams wellness

You want a recipe that becomes a lifesaver to your busy workweek. One that doesn’t require a lot of active time to put together and one that can be frozen and kept on hand for a later date.


This falafel recipe delivers on all counts.  


And as an added bonus it’ll keep both your body and health rocking. Yes it’s free from gluten, dairy and the norms you’ve come to expect from me, but the true highlight in this recipe is the spice blend.


Spices pack such a beautiful and powerful health punch. I was intentional with choosing this blend so please do try it out as is. 


I’ve talked at length about turmeric and it’s wonderful anti-inflammatory, digestive health, heart health, anti-aging and antioxidant properties.

Today, I’m highlighting cumin, sumac and nigella. Like turmeric, these three spices have incredible health benefits, like reducing inflammation and supporting healthy immunity. There are recent studies exploring their impact on promoting weight loss, diabetes and increasing insulin sensitivity, heart disease, reducing cholesterol and anticancer activities. 


If sumac and nigella are spices that are new to you, they’re worth a trip to your spice store or an online purchase. You can find both online here or here.


Now about that recipe.


Tossed in a pita, tortilla or collard wrap, falafel can be super versatile. With the chickpeas + tahini, you're getting a good amount of protein. And let’s talk about sesame seeds for a moment. One of the best plant-based sources of calcium. These little seeds have more calcium, gram for gram, than either milk or cheese. 


Now I leave you to make this midweek lifesaver. Share with me in the comments below your favourite way to enjoy falafel. 

rena williams wellness
rena williams wellness
rena williams wellness

Sumac Falafel

makes approx. 26 falafel


3 cups (28 oz) garbanzo beans, cooked, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup spaghetti squash, cooked (any other cooked winter squash will work)

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1/2 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

1 tsp baking powder

3 Tbsp garbanzo or garfava flour

1 1/4 tsp Himalayan rock salt

2 tsp cumin seeds, ground

1 tsp nigella seeds, ground

1 tsp sumac

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp black pepper, ground

extra virgin olive oil for brushing


How to:

  • Add chickpeas to food processor. Pulse about 6 or 7 times until coarsely chopped, scraping down sides of the bowl as you go 
  • Transfer chickpeas to a mixing bowl and set aside
  • Add all other remaining ingredients to food processor. Process on high until finely chopped
  • Add herb paste to chickpeas and mix together until well blended
  • Set aside covered in the fridge for a least 1 hour up to overnight* 
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400F
  • Taking one spoonful of batter, roll into a ball and place on a baking sheet
  • Continue until all batter is formed in balls on baking sheet
  • Lightly brush each falafel with olive oil
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until beginning to brown
  • Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving
  • Serve in a salad, pita, wrap, or veggie bowl topped with Tahini Sauce
  • Enjoy


*This recipe really sings if you give the batter a chance to rest. The flavours meld together giving it a much richer taste


Tip: Falafel (and it’s batter) freezes well. Will keep properly stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. 


Tahini Sauce

makes approx. 3/4 cup


1/4 cup sesame tahini

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

3 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1/4 tsp Himalayan rock salt

1 tsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp sumac

1 tsp lemon rind


How to:

  • Except for lemon rind, add all ingredients to a high powered blender. Blend until smooth
  • Transfer to a glass container and stir in lemon rind
  • Serve with falafel
  • Will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days