BBQ Tempeh and Black Bean Lunch Bowl (vegan, gluten free) Packed with nutrients, BIG on flavor

This tempeh bowl is creamy, savory, and packed with nutrients! Easy to make. Can be eaten hot or cold - perfect for busy workdays.

This lunch has been a household staple since my husband and I got married.  At the time, I was looking for something healthy but filling enough to hold me through my 10-11 hour workdays at Cleveland Clinic. These bowls can be eaten warm or cold-  perfect for a hectic day or not being near a microwave. We’ve used barbecued chicken or pulled pork in the past, but lately I’ve been cutting back on the amount of meat I’m eating.  Tempeh is a great sub.


Are you reading and this asking yourself what the heck is tempeh??

It’s a traditional Indonesian food made by fermenting soybeans.  Tempeh has more protein and dietary fiber than tofu.  Some people prefer it’s nutty taste and consistency too.


Are you reading this and saying to yourself soy is unhealthy???

Yes, our amazing American ingenuity found a way to process the heck out of soy products and use them as additives in everything (yay for us…).

Yes, too much soy is bad.  What is too much?  Having soy at every meal (drinking soy milk for breakfast, tofu for lunch, and a soy burger for dinner).  This is why eating a variety of ALL foods is important.

For those without health issues affected by soy, small amounts are ok to eat.

Not all soy products are created equal.  Tempeh is fermented and tends to be digested easier than other forms.

Processed soy, like isolated soy protein or soy energy bars, are not.  They may also block mineral absorption in the gut- so any good nutrients you eat alongside that soy burger might not be put to use in the way your body needs.

Fermented foods like tempeh also help benefit the gut which is related to many health issues.  More on fermented foods and probiotics here.


Back to the recipe…

I used Lightlife Garden Veggie tempeh.

Unrelated… but I have to say the fakin’ bacon version is pretty amazing on a vegan Ruben sandwich.


I also used a dairy free version of cream cheese.  Kite Hill is ridiculously good, but Daiya is great as well.


This meal requires 2 simple tasks:

  1. Chop veg
  2. Brown tempeh in pan.


Combine ingredients with some cream cheese to bind it together.   You’ve got yourself a healthy lunch packed with nutrients to power you through the rest of your day!

Add a handful Siete Foods tortilla chips for crunch and enjoy!   Portion the chips out to not get caught mindlessly snacking 🙂



Nutrients from this meal to help you feel your best!

A Eye health and vision

Immune system support

Wound healing

  • Carrot
  • Red peppers
  • Poblano peppers
  • Smoked paprika
B Vitamins

(B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9)

Energy production


DNA repair

Skin, digestive system, nerve, GI tract health

Toxin breakdown in liver

Red blood cell production and health

Immune system support

Many other body functions

  • Black beans
  • Corn
  • Tempeh
  • Black beans
C Antioxidant

Immune system support

Wound healing

Collagen production 

Skin health

Iron absorption

  • Red peppers
  • Green peppers
  • Corn
  • Lime juice
Calcium Muscle function

Nerve signal conduction


Teeth, bone health

  • Black beans
  • Tempeh
Iron Oxygen transport/storage

Red blood cell function

Anaerobic energy

Numerous body functions

  • Black beans
  • Green peppers
  • Corn
  • Cumin
  • Tempeh
Potassium Electrolyte balance
  • Black beans
  • Red peppers
  • Corn
  • Tempeh
Insoluble fiber Intestinal tract movement

Supports good gut bacteria

  • Corn

BBQ Tempeh and Black Bean Lunch Bowl (vegan, gluten free, packed with nutrients)

BIG on flavor, creamy, satisfying.  

Dairy free, gluten free, and nutrient rich to fuel your body through it’s busiest days.  

Easy to make. Can be eaten hot or cold!

  • 1 package tempeh (ex: Lightlife original or garden veggie *link below)
  • 1 bag frozen organic corn; thawed (I like Whole Foods Brand Organic Fire Roasted Corn – freezer section)
  • 2 cans organic black beans, drained + rinsed
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 3 peppers of choice (mine = red bell pepper, poblano, and cubanelle)
  • 1 jalapeno ((optional))
  • 1 juice of 1 lime
  • 8 tbsp dairy free cream cheese (I like Kite Hill or Daiya *links below)
  • 1.5 cups BBQ Sauce (Annie's Organic or use recipe below *link below)


  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 pinch cayenne

BBQ Sauce

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste (around half of a 6-oz can )
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tbsp brown mustard (I like Bertmans. Start with 1, add second as needed *link below)
  • 1/4 cup organic vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp granulated onion
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder (I use roasted garlic powder. Regular garlic powder is fine too)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked sea salt (Sub regular sea salt)
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 drops hot sauce (I like Cholula *link below)
  • 1-2 drops Worchester Sauce (Optional. Annie's for vegan/gluten free *link below)
  1. If making BBQ sauce: combine ingredients in a mixing bowl, taste, and add more of ingredients as needed. 

  2. Crumble tempeh into bite-size pieces. Mix with BBQ sauce in a small bowl. Marinade 30 minutes in refrigerator

  3. Chop peppers; combine with carrots, black beans, and corn in a large bowl. 

  4. Add lime juice and seasonings, mix, and adjust to taste as needed.  

  5. Remove tempeh from fridge; cook a stovetop over medium-high heat until slightly browned. 

  6. Serve vegetable mixture in a bowl combined with ~2 tbsp cream cheese. (add more if you’d like a creamier consistency). Top with 1/4 of the tempeh.

*The flavors of this recipe are best after refrigerating 60 minutes or overnight but feel free to serve immediately if you can’t wait that long!

Ingredient links:

Further reading:

  1. Berardi, John et al. The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Precision Nutrition, Inc, 2017.
  2. What’s the Difference Between Tofu, Tempeh, and Seitan?
  3. Precision Nutrition Blog: Becoming a vegetarian without giving up meat. 
  4. Precision Nutrition Blog: All about probiotics
  5. 5 Myths About Corn You Should Stop Believing