With interest in vegan and plant-based food on the rise, nutritional yeast is getting some great press and, understandably, people are curious. While I was at a gathering a few weeks ago, I was asked how I use it and what I liked about it. It was clear to me that the “yeast” part was creating some confusion.
So, what is it? Is it like active baking yeast? Brewer’s yeast? The short answer is no. Brewer’s yeast can be purchased alive, is extremely bitter and used to brew beer. Baker’s yeast (active dry yeast) is also purchased alive and used to leaven bread. These three yeasts are absolutely not interchangeable!
All About Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is usually grown on sugar cane or sugar beet molasses. After harvesting the yeast, it is completely pasteurized, deactivated, dried, and prepped for sale.
It’s typically sold two ways – flaked or powdered. I prefer the flaked variety but both will blend beautifully into hot foods. The flakes are a bit fluffy while the powdered is dense.
If a recipe calls for flaked and you have powdered, simply cut down the measurement by about half. After purchasing, store in a covered container – preferably glass – in a cool location.
It will keep for months! I have a tall mason jar full in my fridge. If space is an issue any cupboard will do, just be a little mindful of heat and sunlight.
Most brands you’ll find are “fortified” – which means they add more B vitamins to it than unfortified. If your goal is to add extra vitamins and minerals to your diet – look for fortified. If it’s mostly a flavor thing, then either one will work for you.
A single tablespoon serving of fortified nutritional yeast has…
- 3 grams of protein
- 1 gram of fiber
- Substantial amounts of niacin, folic acid, zinc, selenium, and thiamine
- B vitamins
- A full day’s supply (30-180% ) of non-animal based vitamins B and B-12.
Additionally, it’s naturally low in sodium and calories, is fat-free, sugar-free, gluten-free and vegan. Nutritional yeast can be found at any health-food store, numerous supermarkets or online.
My Thoughts About Nooch
I’ve been using nutritional yeast (affectionately nicknamed “nooch”) for 35 years. I absolutely love this stuff. It has a cheesy, savoury and nutty flavor. I use it on just about everything, including my morning hot buttered toast.
A tablespoon or two can bump up the creamy richness of soups and sauces or sprinkle generously on veggies, tofu, grilled bread, potatoes, salads and popcorn. (Definitely try the popcorn!)
Roasted vegetables dressed with ‘nooch’ and a squeeze of bright fresh lemon are simply out of this world delicious. Nice clean flavors coupled with the perfect touch of cheesiness. Simple. In terms of overall health and flavor value, nutritional yeast may be one of the best additions you’ll ever make to your diet and, of course, your taste buds!
For a great ‘nooch’ recipe try my Vegan Parm!