Nutritional Yeast: A Delicious and Nutritious Choice for Vegans
How Does Nutritional Yeast Taste?
The taste of nutritional yeast is usually described as "nutty" or "cheesy." It is frequently found as an ingredient in recipes that require a cheesy taste, such as vegan versions of macaroni and cheese, risotto, and various sauces. It also makes a delicious topping for popcorn, salad, or any pasta dish.
A vegan version of parmesan can be easily made by combining equal parts of nutritional yeast and the nut or seed of your choice - such as walnuts, blanched almonds, or sesame seeds - in a food processor and adding salt and garlic powder to taste. (Combining salt with nutritional yeast makes the flavor "pop" nicely.) This condiment can be stored with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for quite some time. This makes it convenient for sprinkling on pasta or salad dishes. (See below for more recipes!)
Mac-n-"Cheese" made with Nutritional Yeast
How Is Nutritional Yeast Made?
Nutritional yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is a fungus related to the mushroom and is grown on a combination of cane and beet molasses. B vitamins are added in order to help the yeast grow, which is why it is such a good source of various B vitamins.
After harvesting, the yeast is heated in order to deactivate it. So unlike active yeast, nutritional yeast will not cause bread dough to rise or liquids to become frothy when beaten. It is also different from brewer's yeast, which has a very bitter flavor.
Nutritional Benefits of Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is a superb source of vitamin B12. This is of particular importance to vegans because vitamin B12 occurs naturally only in meat, dairy, and egg products. Vegans, who do not consume any animal products, must eat foods fortified with vitamin B12 or take vitamins containing B12 in order to maintain healthy levels of this nutrient in their bodies. B12 deficiencies carry significant health risks, so this is an issue of some concern.
Most - but not all - brands of nutritional yeast have more than enough B12 to meet the dietary guidelines of 6 micrograms (mcg) per day. Because some brands have lesser amounts of B vitamins, it is necessary to check the label for nutrient information. Although not very common, some brands may also contain whey, a dairy product, so do read the ingredient label carefully.
In addition to being an excellent source of vitamin B12, nutritional yeast is a powerhouse of other B vitamins, protein, and fiber. Different brands contain different amounts of these nutrients. KAL Yeast Flakes, the brand that I use, has 150% of the daily requirement for vitamin B12 per serving size of three rounded tablespoons. That serving size also contains a remarkable 9 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and an abundance of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and folic acid.
For most uses, I personally don't consume an entire serving at one sitting. I typically use anywhere from two teaspoons to two tablespoon when I sprinkle nutritional yeast on popcorn, salad, or pasta. Even so, this provides a generous portion of B vitamins and a respectable amount of fiber and protein. Combined with other foods I eat during the day, this gives me a nice boost of critical nutrients.
Kal Nutritional Yeast Flakes
This is the brand of nutritional yeast I use. It has a great flavor and is packed with B vitamins and other nutrients.
Do You Use Nutritional Yeast?
Over the years, the word "nooch" has been adopted by many vegans when referring to nutritional yeast. It's a much more fun, endearing term than "nutritional yeast!"
Nooch is most commonly sold as flakes, though it also comes in powder form. If you are using the powder in a recipe, only use about half the amount that the recipe specifies, since it is much more dense than flakes.
More information about vitamin B12
- Vegans, Are You Getting Enough Vitamin B12?
Our bodies require only a small amount of vitamin B12, but this vitamin is not found naturally in vegan diets.
Links to Recipes Using Nutritional Yeast
- 20 Great Ways to Use Nutritional Yeast | Ecorazzi
Click here to see a variety of ways nooch can be incorporated into delicious and nutritious foods! Links to specific recipes are included.
Follow Vegan Journey on Pinterest and Facebook!
- Vegan Journey on Pinterest
Stop in for information and inspiration! Pins for lots of recipes, vegan living information, and tips and tricks.
- Vegan Journey on Facebook
"Like" the Vegan Journey Facebook for occasional posts of recipes and information about vegan living.
- Vegan Journey
Here are links to my numerous articles about vegan living. I've divided them into several categories: Getting Started, Family and Community, and Recipes. I've also included links to other websites.