What I seem to hear the most from people interested in starting a plant based diet is, “What is Nutritional Yeast, and how do I use it?” The name makes it sound daunting and not very tasty but it’s delicious and can be added to a variety of recipes or used to top things like popcorn and pasta. Nutritional Yeast has a beautiful cheesy-like flavor while also being extremely rich in vitamins, especially B- vitamins. Most people begin adding this to their meals for the nutritional aspect but then keep it around for the flavor.
In this article I will breakdown what exactly nutritional yeast is, the nutritional benefits, where to find it and how to incorporate it into your meals.
What is Nutritional Yeast?:
Nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast, it’s sold as small thin yellow flakes or in powdered form, it has the taste and texture similar to Parmesan cheese with some added nuttiness. You may also hear people referring to it as “Nooch” or “Hippie Dust”.
Nutritional Yeast is naturally gluten- free and is known for its B-vitamins. Most B-vitamins are found together in food sources as they often need each other to preform best in the body. Some nutritional yeast brands are fortified with extra B12. It also contains protein, potassium and iron.
What that means for our health? Well B-vitamins are essential to our well being, important to note is that they are water-soluble meaning they do not store well in the body and should be consumed daily. B-vitamins are important for normal functioning of the nervous system and play an important role in energy function. B-vitamins have tons of benefits including improving stress, fatigue, anxiety, and can also help with skin issues.
If you believe you may be low in B-vitamins ensure to get your levels tested by your doctor.
Where to find Nutritional Yeast:
Nutritional Yeast is not hard to find. It’s a very common health food item and can be found in most health food aisles in common grocery stores, health food shops and stores that sell bulk food. You can also easily order nutritional yeast online. Some recognizable brands are Bob’s Red Mill and Bragg.
How to incorporate it into meals:
As previously mentioned Nutritional Yeast is commonly used as a cheese substitute. It works well as a replacement for Parmesan cheese to top pastas, popcorn, nachos and salads. I also like to sprinkle it on top of vegan Lasagna and Shepard’s Pie. Nutritional yeast also gives cheesy flavors used directly in creamy pasta sauces such as Vegan Cheesy Spaghetti , it can also be added into tomato based sauces and soups to give it that nutritional boost. Don’t be shy, try adding it to your favorite dishes and you will be surprised at how easy it is to incorporate this amazing ingredient!
Have your own favorite ways to use Nutritional Yeast? Share it in the comments section below!
Source: Elson M. Haas, MD. Staying Healthy with Nutrition, 21st- Century Edition. 2006