As promised in my last post, here is my take on nutritional yeast. If you are not familiar with this versatile vegan ingredient, you are not alone. Admittedly, I have been meat-free for twentysome years and just recently started using it myself. I guess when I first became a vegetarian (back in the dark ages before the internet) it just didn’t appeal to me for some reason. I know I’d heard about it but, I just couldn’t get past my oddly undeserving prejudice of the stuff. I will now attempt to atone for this grievous misdeed.
Nutritional yeast (not to be confused with Active Dry Yeast or Brewer’s Yeast–it won’t make your bread dough rise) is a deactivated form of the microorganism Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The yeast is pasteurized and placed in a dryer which deactivates the yeast and brings out its nutritional properties. The yeast, which is gluten free, has a nutty cheesy flavor and is rich in amino acids, B-complex vitamins, niacin, folic acid, zinc, selenium and thiamine. Most nutritional yeast has been fortified with vitamin B-12, as well (please check the details on what you purchase).
There is a popular notion (and I’m sure nutritional studies stating this to boot) that vegans and vegetarians need to supplement with B-12 because they don’t eat animal products. Here is my unconventional take on the matter. If I’m eating a natural diet of organic whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and grains, why would I need to supplement in any way? This, to me, is like saying that a vegan diet is unnatural. Which it is not. I always say try things for yourself and see how it works for you or not.
I’ve heard that nutritional yeast is often referred to as nooch. I’ve never called it that nor do I know anyone personally who does.
So what the heck do you do with this stuff anyway?
Here are some things I like to do with it:
I make a very tasty vegan version of mac and cheese (I dare you to ask me for the recipe)
I sprinkle it on popcorn
I use it in various sauces and gravies such as vegan hollandaise sauce
I’ve made vegan mozzarella cheese
I put it in my famous tortillas (burrito-like, wrap-like meals)
I use it in my kale chips
I sprinkle it on a baked potato or other roasted veggies
I put it in bean dip
There are tons of other uses and I would not be offended if anyone wants to share.