The Nutritionist-Approved Bacon Stand-in (That’s Amazing in Salads)

updated Jan 18, 2021
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Four salads sit next to a vinaigrette dressing.
Credit: Joe Lingman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Like many people, I have been gradually trying to eat a more plant-forward diet. While I do believe that meat is important in moderation, I also believe that eating more plants is good for the planet, for our health, and for our wallets. Over the past six months, I have been making it a point to have two “meatless” days in my home per week. On those days, you will find all sorts of things taking the place of my usual steak, chicken, and sausage.

While making plant-based swaps has been relatively simple and satisfying, there’s one food that I was missing deeply in my meatless recipes: bacon. As a registered dietitian, I know that bacon can be loaded with sodium, fat, and preservatives, but there’s just something about it that can’t be matched. When I discovered Lightlife Smoky Tempeh Strips, however, my need for bacon suddenly vanished. This tempeh has a savory-yet-sweet flavor and is a great go-to bacon alternative that is packed with protein — yet is meat free.

Credit: Lightlife

Buy: Lightlife Smoky Tempeh Strips, $3.29 for 6 ounces

Tempeh comes from an Indonesian word meaning tender-cooked legumes. In the case of Lightlife tempeh, that’s organic soybeans. The soybeans are cooked and fermented, and then packed into a cake-like shape, ready to be sliced and added to recipes. Chock-full of protein, fiber, iron, and other key nutrients, tempeh is a nutritious and plant-based alternative that is simple to find and relatively economical. Bonus? Due to the fermentation process, tempeh contains live probiotics that help support gut health.

Credit: Lauren Manaker

Before I found Lightlife Smoky Tempeh, I was simply doing without some of my favorite dishes that need bacon in them. Once I started using these strips in recipes like BLTs, “Cobb” salads, creamy potato soup, and spaghetti carbonara, it was like I discovered the missing link. They’ve filled the bacon void that my plant-based journey created — and now there’s no turning back.

Would you try these tempeh strips in place of bacon?