So, what is nutritional yeast anyways? It's not brewers yeast, it's not bread yeast ... it's TOTALLY different. Nutritional yeast is a microorganism that grows in a controlled environment on sugar cane and beet molasses. It gets harvested and is heated to deactivate the yeast, keeping it from leavening when you use it. This process dries it out and it becomes the yellow, flaky product that we can buy from the store. It has a distinct cheesy, nutty flavor.
I started using nutritional yeast as a cheese substitute when I needed one. However, there are so many great benefits to it, I now add it to so many things, even when I don't need a cheese substitute. It is a complete protein which means that it contains all of the amino acids that your body can't produce. It also contains a ton of minerals including zinc, manganese and iron. It contains 4 grams of fiber too! Nutritional yeast is low in sodium and fat which makes it a great flavor burst to foods while being good for your diet. It's gluten free, soy free and dairy free.
Being a vegetarian, I love nutritional yeast for its B-Vitamins, including B-6, B-12, folate, thiamine and niacin to name a few. Just a 1/2 teaspoon a day can give you your daily dose of Vitamin B. Because nutritional yeast is grown in a controlled environment, it is fortified with B-12, which can only be found in animal products. It is important for us veggie eaters to get our B-12. B-12 deficiency can be the cause of many things ... anemia, gastritis, immune system disorders like Graves' disease or lupus and even conditions effecting the small intestines like celiac disease, Crohn's disease or bacterial growth.
Nutritional yeast is not just for vegetarians and vegans though! It is a great addition to any diet, gluten-free, paleo ... even carnivores! Lastly, not all nutritional yeast is created equal. Check the label to make sure it has what you're looking for. Because not all nutritional yeast is the same, they will vary in flavor too. The brands I tend to use are Frontier, Mrs. Braggs and Kal.
15 Ways to Use Nutritional Yeast
- It's a thickener ... replace flour in any sauce using nutritional yeast as your thickening agent.
- It's a binder ... replace your breadcrumbs in a burger to help hold them together.
- Add it to baby food.
- Sprinkle it on popcorn.
- Make a Vegan Mac & Cheese or even add some to your box macaroni and cheese.
- Top your salad with it.
- Make a salad dressing with nutritional yeast, olive oil, Mrs. Braggs Amino Acids, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle it on homemade tortilla chips or kale chips before baking them.
- Mix it in your mashed potatoes.
- Add it to your soup.
- Sprinkle it on your roasted vegetables.
- Amazing nachos! No more soaking nuts overnight for a creamy cheese dip ... this dip takes 15 minutes and it's delicious! Use the cheese sauce as a dip or mix with your favorite roasted vegetables. Sometimes, I even replace the jalapeños with basil and I have an Italian cheese dip or add a little Buffalo Sauce and faux-chicken for a vegan Buffalo Chicken Cheese Dip.
- Add it to your marinade.
- Toss it with your fries before you bake them.
- Make an eggless egg salad or even add it to your normal egg salad.
Or ... if you're like my son, you'll grab a spoon and have a scoop just as it is! However you decide to use nutritional yeast, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, and please, I'm always interested in more ways to use it so let me know how you like to use nutritional yeast too!
The back of my Bragg's Nutritional Yeast can.