Baked Tempeh Sticks with Mustard Marinade (and A Dog’s Life)

by Maria Theresa Maggi on January 24, 2016

Tempeh Sticks with Mustard Marinade

Before I tell you the story of the little transgression that gave rise to this recipe post, I want to remind you that my nutritional choices are based on my own subjective experience, which is dynamic, and can change over time. Therefore, it’s not medical advice, or even advice that strictly conforms to any one plant-based doctor’s eating plan. It’s just my account of living my experience of daily life and what I like to eat or cook to stay healthy. Beneath it all is the framework of Dr. Swank’s Diet for MS, again, with my own personal twists: eating vegan and cooking without oil. Sometimes, though, I post a recipe which contradicts with the subtitle of my blog banner, which reads:

Living Well with MS. Fat Free. Gluten Free. Soy Free.

This is one of those times. So I’ll tell you the story from my point of view, and also offer you a soy free option if you are so inclined.

As it turned out, in the 24 hours I celebrated my 60th birthday by eating out twice, both the Proper Plate and the Harvest Bowl I ordered had baked tempeh sticks as components. And as is always the case when I go to a public place, Romeo was at my side. He is a pro at waiting patiently while we humans sit and eat. As he’s gotten older, though, I make sure to bring him something soft to nap on, since the cement floors of trendy eateries can be very hard and cold for a streamlined aging body type like his. When we’re at home, like any good friend, he often waits to eat his own food until I’m eating mine. I’m so used to this, that even though it’s the last thing I should be doing in terms of being professional, I couldn’t help but slip him a few black beans and bites of tempeh as part of my birthday celebration. I kind of did it without thinking, like you’d share tastes of what you ordered with a friend.

I don’t usually cook tempeh at home, but Mike and Kelly make it a lot, and I’ve come to look forward to eating it at their house. Since I’ve moved to Portland, I’ve also discovered I can buy some that is locally made at the Alberta Cooperative Grocery near where I live. Since I enjoyed it so much over my birthday, this week I decided to try some of this local tempeh out at home. I threw together this mustardy marinade, and cut up the sticks to coat them in it while we went for a walk before dark.

Romeo is not a voracious eater, and he rarely actively lobbies me for whatever it is I’m cooking. That was mostly the former” job” of our golden retriever Tinne. She loved winter squash, and would lay herself down next to the back door near the stove and literally wait for it to come out of the oven. She’d eat the skins and anything else I’d give her. (She also used to steal pears off my pear tree.) I still sometimes think of her fondly and her digestive system that was akin to a garbage disposal when I’m scooping cooked squash out of it skin. Romeo, on the other hand, is largely indifferent to squash. He prefers sweet potatoes, but even those he rarely lines up for.

But this week after those clandestine bits of birthday tempeh, I discovered what he WILL line up for in the kitchen–the smell of marinaded tempeh baking in the oven. As I’ve written about before, though I don’t often post recipes using soy, as I get older, the extra calories, protein and plant estrogens in edamame, tofu, and tempeh seem to be very good for me.  One of the reasons I rarely buy tempeh, though, is that I don’t always want to eat it all myself. But now I know I won’t be eating it all by myself anyway, even if I’m the only human in the house. In fact keeping it around for more than a day or two might end up being the new problem.

Whether or not you are a crazy dog lady like me, sneaking food to your service dog in the restaurant when you know better, I’m sure you will enjoy this savory slightly spicy sweet low fat oil free marinade. If you’d rather use tofu, or even cauliflower steaks, I think you could spread slabs of those with this marinade and bake it too. I’m not sure the soy free tofu recipe I’ve posted would hold up to this kind of baking, but you could give it a try if you’re game.


Maria (moonwatcher)

Leave a Comment

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Veronique Blommaart January 25, 2016 at 8:24 am

I like your dynamic food choices, adapted to your life and your needs. I also experience benefits from soy since coming closer to the age of the Crone 😉
Yummy, those look great. As soon as I finish my Mary’s Mini I am going to make them!! Thank you!!


2 Maria Theresa Maggi January 25, 2016 at 9:37 am

Thanks Veronica–and here’s to the power of Crone energy! 🙂


3 The Savvy Sister January 25, 2016 at 9:05 am

I will most certainly be trying this!
As a nurse and breast cancer survivor I have done extensive research on “soy” and have even given lectures on it. It’s a complex subject that doesn’t lend itself to “all or nothing” choices. There’s whole soy, processed soy, soy protein and fermented soy.
There’s strong evidence that eating fermented soy actually significantly lowers risk of breast cancer in those who have had it or not.
And I could SMACK the oncologists who tell their patients to stay away from soy bean oil as the hormonal components are only in the protein, not the oil.
Anyway, thanks for the post! Can’t wait to make this tonight!


4 Maria Theresa Maggi January 25, 2016 at 9:39 am

Thank you Savvy Sister! I really appreciate the experiential support and complex knowledge of the issue you offer here on the role of traditional soy foods like tempeh. Hope you enjoy these tasty sticks!


5 Carole Nelms January 25, 2016 at 9:09 am

I am a big tempeh fan! This recipe sounds delicious! I bet it will be perfect on my salad! Thank you so much Maria for sharing! (I also make bacon tempeh and enjoy that!) hugs from PA to my vegan friend! Carole


6 Maria Theresa Maggi January 25, 2016 at 9:40 am

Hi Carole! Yes, it is great in salad. 🙂 And thanks for the hugs all the way from PA. If you are covered in snow, hope you are staying warm. 🙂


7 Margie January 25, 2016 at 5:47 pm

This looks wonderful, can’t wait to try it. Do I need to steam the tempeh first


8 Maria Theresa Maggi January 25, 2016 at 6:37 pm

Thanks Margie! No, you don’t need to steam it first.


9 Veronica January 29, 2016 at 9:16 am

It’s so interesting to see how our bodies adapt and change over time to different things – you’re so right that we have to be in tune with it and test out new things every so often. I’m glad your food options are widening – I’m sure that makes things much easier, and more interesting! And now Romeo has found something… Which could prove dangerous… 😉
We recently found a local tempeh maker that we love! I will have to try this recipe out on it, add it to a large salad or sandwich or something. 🙂


10 Lee February 1, 2016 at 12:16 pm

Hi Maria, these sound amazing! Romeo has excellent taste, although I disagree with him on sweet potatoes–I will totally line up for those. 😉 I still don’t do much soy myself, but I’ve reintroduced small amounts without trouble, so I’ll probably be including more. I’m thinking tempeh is probably the way to start, so I may make this yet. Otherwise I’ll do the cauliflower option–would be totally tasty in a taco!

And while I’m dog-less right now (my sweet pooch Tippy passed away in late 2014, and for whatever reason I’m still getting over it), I’m totally a crazy dog lady too. Lucky Romeo that his person slips him tidbits!


11 Maria Theresa Maggi February 1, 2016 at 12:26 pm

HI Lee–So very astute of you to congratulate Romeo on his good taste. 🙂 He will eat sweet potato quite willingly, he just doesn’t line up for it like he does for the tempeh. And yes, when you feel like you’re body is ready to try a little soy, I think tempeh is a great choice. I also like your idea of putting the cauliflower version in a taco!

I do remember that your Tippy passed away, and was very sorry to read that when it happened. We all take whatever time we need, and that is as it should be. No totally “getting over” those who have given us so much love, but when the time is right maybe there will be another dog. After all, that’s what us crazy dog ladies do. 🙂 And thanks for understanding about slipping R some tidbits! xoxo


12 Terri Cole February 4, 2016 at 2:49 pm

Wow this looks good! I’m pretty sure there is some tempeh in my freezer and I will be trying it soon.

Funny how our critters can have such distinct preferences. My cat Woody loved cantaloupe, our cat Pickles loves peanut butter and my daughter’s dog loves chickpeas!


13 Maria Theresa Maggi February 4, 2016 at 3:35 pm

Thanks Terri! Hope you enjoy it. Sounds like the animals in your life have good taste too! 🙂


14 Gena February 4, 2016 at 4:38 pm

I’m always on the lookout for new tempeh marinades, Maria, as it’s a food I make a ton of at home. This one is delicious — I can’t blame Romeo for lining up with a wagging tail! Love the idea of tempeh “sticks,” too — so playful.



15 Maria Theresa Maggi February 4, 2016 at 5:54 pm

Thanks Gena! I couldn’t resist naming them “sticks” as a throwback to my childhood when Friday night was often “fish stick” night. 🙂 I think I actually like these better though. 🙂 xo


16 Peggy Harris February 5, 2016 at 7:42 am

Great recipe. I also have access to locally sourced tempeh. How many ounces in a package, please? I find that the package sizes are not standard around here.


17 Maria Theresa Maggi February 5, 2016 at 9:30 am

Thank you, Peggy. Good question. The package I got is 12 oz (340 grams) so one half of it is 6 oz. The amount of marinade in the recipe generously covers the 6 ox cut into “sticks.”


18 Peggy Harris February 6, 2016 at 8:28 am

Thanks for the reply. I was sent some kind of notice after my comment was submitted. It was very confusing (to me, anyway). I thought I was giving permission to see any replies to my comment. I may have done the opposite, and I’m afraid I may have changed settings so that you don’t appear anymore. Just wanted you to know that the automatic “permission” notice isn’t clearly worded. At all. (I’m an English teacher with years of computer experience, so . . . .)


19 Maria Theresa Maggi February 11, 2016 at 9:17 am

Thanks for this Peggy. I will pass it on to Susan Voisin, who moderates the Fat Free Vegan site, of which my blog is a part. Unfortunately, all I do is write and edit the post and respond to comments, and do not field the kinds of notices you got. I will pass this on to her. Hopefully we can untangle it! Perhaps, though, everything is okay, because I got this comment. Hope you see it too!


20 Sally March 17, 2016 at 9:47 am

Hi Maria – I have been remembering these and your story about Romeo and the tempeh sticks. I am making these for Easter … probably served with a baked potato and who knows what else. I am mostly a lurker here but really enjoy your posts and recipes.

I had been gluten free for a while and depended too much on corn. Am now learning that too much corn can be depressing – literally. So off corn and your use of millet and just blending flours has taught me a lot. Thanks.



21 Maria Theresa Maggi March 17, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Thank you Sally! So happy to know all this! Nice to read my experience is helpful. 🙂


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