Nutritional Yeast: 3 Vitamin-Rich Recipes for Vegetarians, Vegans, and the Rest of Us

Nutritional yeast contains many vegetarian-friendly vitamins.
Nutritional yeast contains many vegetarian-friendly vitamins.

When is a cheese sauce not a cheese sauce?  When it's made with nutritional yeast!  Nutritional yeast, or "nooch," is an inactive yeast loved by vegetarians, vegans, and health-conscious folks for its rich vitamin content.  Related to edible mushrooms, nutritional yeast contains numerous B-complex vitamins and is the only vegetarian source of Vitamin B12.  B-complex vitamins help manage stress levels and support cell metabolism and, as a result, weight loss and maintenance.  These vitamins also nourish the skin and may even prevent pancreatic cancer.  Nutritional yeast is also rich in folic acid and essential fatty acids and proteins, and it is sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and contains healthy fats. 

So . . . Is Nutritional Yeast for Baking?

Although nutritional yeast can be added to baked goods, it is not the same kind of yeast that makes breads rise.  Bread-making yeast is called active yeast because it allows breads to rise.  Brewer's yeast is also different from nutritional yeast and is a byproduct of distilleries. 

Nutritional yeast is essentially an edible multi-vitamin.  It is sold in powder or flake form, often found in the bulk section at natural grocery stores.  Nutritional yeast has a cheesy, nutty flavor and is used by vegans in place of dairy-based cheese.  It is a versatile supplement, although the taste is an acquired one for some, including myself.  It took me many nooch-supplemented meals until I finally could honestly declare my enjoyment of this nutritious product. 

Homemade pizza with nutritional yeast "cheese" sauce.
Homemade pizza with nutritional yeast "cheese" sauce.

Recipe: "Cheese" Sauce

  • 2 T nutritional yeast (I recommend flaked)
  • 3 T hummus (any variety)
  • water to thin

In a small bowl, combine the nutritional yeast with the hummus. Add a bit of water to thin the mixture and mix. This sauce has a mildly cheesy flavor and makes a versatile topping for wraps, scrambled eggs, and toast. I prefer to use this sauce in place of cheese on a homemade pizza.

Quick Mexi dip, served with a baked tortilla chips and some carrots.
Quick Mexi dip, served with a baked tortilla chips and some carrots.

Recipe: Quick Mexi Dip

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 heaping T salsa
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast, or more to taste

Mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Top with a last sprinkle of nutritional yeast and serve with tortilla chips. This simple 30-second recipe makes 1 serving of my favorite dip.

Two-bean hummus.
Two-bean hummus.

Recipe: Two-Bean Hummus

  • 16 oz (or 1 can) garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • 16 oz (or 1 can) kidney beans
  • 1/4 cup tahini (I used raw)
  • 1/8 cup sliced jalapeno peppers
  • 3 T minced garlic (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp onion powder (or 1/4 of fresh onion, diced)
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth, adding small amounts of water as needed to thin the mixture. If your appliance has trouble blending large batches of dense ingredients, add the beans incrementally, processing in between additions. Serve with crackers, fresh vegetables, or as a sandwich spread.

Other Healthy Culinary Uses For Nutritonal Yeast

According to Suite 101's Vegetarian Cuisine, nutritional yeast can also be used in these ways:

  • sprinkled with olive oil over popcorn
  • sprinkled on a baked potato with yoghurt or olive oil
  • added to a white sauce to make a 'cheese' sauce for pasta, lasagna or vegetarian cauliflower cheese
  • used to season chicken or fish
  • added to bread dough for a 'cheese-stuffed' taste
  • added to gravies, stews and soups
  • sprinkled on salads
  • eaten in grilled 'uncheese' sandwiches with onion and tomato sauce

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Talk Back! 1 comment

Shades-of-truth profile image

Shades-of-truth 2 years ago from USA

I love nutritional yeast, especially since I did not eat any flesh foods except fish, for about 20 years. Recently, I have been eating some turkey and a little chicken, but I definitely needed the B12 in nutritional yeast, and eat it frequently!

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