11 Mar Nutritional Yeast – the perfect supplement to a vegan and allergy friendly lifestyle
Let’s discuss an obscure culinary outcast called Nutritional Yeast. It’s about the least sexy and appetizing sounding thing ever, right? The word “Yeast” is like the word fungus, it probably invokes a bit of revulsion like “drinkable algae”. Add “nutritional” in front of it, and it sounds like a necessary evil. But nutritional yeast, otherwise known as “nooch” in the vegan community, is a fantastic source of many necessary vitamins and minerals for both vegans and those who suffer from food allergies since it is also allergy friendly!
I am always trying to figure out how to add protein or vitamins or anything healthy to boost up my kids’ nutritional intake. And mine if I’m honest. If I make sweets, I try to sneak in some chia or flaxseed…If I make a “cream” sauce (dairy free), I try to use things like cauliflower or chickpeas as the base so that there is protein. So here is where this little outcast fits in; adding a scoop or two of nutritional yeast can provide that boost of nutrition and if used correctly, it adds great salty almost Parmesan like flavor. In fact, Bon Appetite magazine calls nutritional yeast, “Nature’s Cheeto Dust”! Talk about a fabulous way to introduce it to your kiddos!
So let’s start with the basic questions about Nutritional Yeast since many people know nothing about it.
WHAT IS HECK IS NUTRITIONAL YEAST?
Nutritional yeast is NOT the same as brewer’s yeast or the active yeast that you use to make bread. It is an inactive yeast that is dairy free and almost always gluten free. It is a single celled organism that is grown on a medium such as molasses or can sugar. So it’s a bi-product of that medium, commonly molasses.
Because it is not an active yeast, it cannot be used as a substitute for active yeast as a leavening agent. So the bottom line is that it is used as a seasoning ingredient that has some incredibly nutritional value!
You can buy nutritional yeast in 2 forms; flake or powder.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS?
Great source of Vitamin B-12
The main sources of Vitamin B-12 are meat, eggs and dairy. This makes it a challenge for those who are vegetarian, vegan and/or have dairy and egg allergies. While nutritional yeast does not naturally contain Vitamin B-12, most brands add it, knowing that vegans are the biggest purchaser of nutritional yeast. Make sure, however, that you double check your brand of Nutritional Yeast for the supplemental Vitamin B-12. A couple of reliable brands are Bragg’s, NOW Foods, and Red Star, all of which are sold on Amazon.
Because the lack of Vitamin B-12 leads to a fatigue and weakness, adding this vitamin through nutritional yeast will boost your energy level!
Reduce gut inflammation
According to Medical News Today, “Research has shown that S. cerevisiae, the strain of yeast in nutritional yeast, can support the immune system and reduce inflammation resulting from bacterial infection. It may also be helpful in treating diarrhea.”
With a resume boasting 15 different minerals and 18 amino acids, it’s easy to see why those living a plant based diet are so loyal to this ingredient which is now growing in popularity in the food allergy world.
Now, the fun part, how to incorporate nutritional yeast into your diet and recipes!
The easiest way to use nutritional yeast is to think of it as a substitute for grated cheese. So anything you would sprinkle Parmesan on! The most popular way to eat it is sprinkled on popcorn. Here is a great recipe for you to try to introduce yourself to this deliciously nutty and cheesy seasoning!
Another popular way to use nutritional yeast is in a dairy free cheese sauce like this one from Veggie Inspired. This orange sauce is orange from natural carrots instead of the processed sludge that typically colors orange cheese sauce.
Simple Tahini dressing
Whisk ¼ cup tahini, ¼ cup lemon juice, 3 tbsp water, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 minced garlic clove, 2 tsp honey, 1/4 tsp cumin and a pinch of salt in a bowl until smooth. Serve on “bowls”, as a dressing for salads, or as a sauce for vegetables.
OTHER GREAT WAYS TO INCORPORATE
- “Bread coating” for Chicken Nuggets or Eggplant Parmesan – Add a couple of tablespoons to your “bread” coating.
- Mix into your favorite pesto or tomato sauce
- Sprinkle on roasted vegetables or salads
- Add to soup or rice
We’d love to hear from you if you have a favorite recipe that uses nutritional yeast! Just email us and we will share with the rest of our customers!