Quantcast

What the Heck Is Nutritional Yeast and Why Should I Use It?

Food

When I first joined the plant-based community, I kept hearing about this mysterious substance called nutritional yeast. I found it in the bulk bins at my local grocery store and I bought a few scoops of the flaky, yellow substance. The next step: learning what the heck to do with it.

Nutritionally, this yeast contains folic acid, selenium, zinc and protein and it is often fortified with vitamin B12. Photo credit: Shutterstock

First of all, what exactly is nutritional yeast? Affectionately known as “nooch” in the plant-based community, nutritional yeast, often a strain of saccharomyces cerevisiae, is a deactivated yeast in powder or flake form that is sold commercially as a food product. It is grown on molasses and then harvested, washed and dried with heat to kill or “deactivate” it. Nutritionally, this yeast contains folic acid, selenium, zinc and protein, and it is often fortified with vitamin B12.

It is not the same as other yeasts, such as brewer’s yeast and should not be substituted for any other type. Though it can’t help you bake a loaf of bread, nutritional yeast makes an excellent vegan cheese substitute, as it a has a nutty, somewhat umami flavor.

So how can you use this plant-based powerhouse? There are a multitude of uses, but these 10 should get you started.

1. Pasta Pick-Me-Up

Nooch can be used in place of parmesan cheese as a pasta topping.

2. Make Super Soup 

Just a tablespoon or two of nutritional yeast enriches any soup or gravy, adding a nice depth of flavor.

3. Whip Up a “Cheese” Sauce

For those who don’t tolerate dairy well, nutritional yeast is an excellent base for a “cheesy” sauce. There are a ton of recipes on the web and finding your favorite is just a process of experimentation.

4. Pretend Parmesan on Pizza

Like with pasta, nooch can be used in the place of parmesan cheese on pizza. Sprinkle it on extra liberally if you plan to skip the mozzarella, too.

5. Make Your Salad Sing

Using nutritional yeast in salad dressings gives them a rich, creamy flavor without the actual cream. For a quick and easy dressing, add some nooch to equal parts apple cider vinegar and olive oil, plus some garlic and a little salt.

6. Bread Crumbs, Be Gone

Nutritional yeast makes an excellent binder, which means you can substitute it in any recipe you want to make gluten-free or carb-free.

7. Next-Level Kale Chips

You don’t have to buy prepackaged kale chips—you can also make them in a dehydrator, or bake them in the oven at a very low temperature. A nooch-based marinade gives kale chips an extra rich flavor.

8. Take Tofu Up a Notch

On the weekends, I like to spend a little time in the kitchen and splurge by making a big brunch. Scrambled tofu is a favorite. Adding a couple tablespoons of nutritional yeast just prior to serving gives it a beautiful creaminess and richness of flavor.

9. A Popcorn Partner

Organic popcorn with melted vegan buttery spread and lots of nutritional yeast? Better than movie theatre popcorn.

10. Great “Cheese” Grits

Grits are a Southern staple—and can even be vegan, though they’re traditionally served with tons of butter and cheese. Instead of the dairy products, make your grits with vegan buttery spread, salt and nutritional yeast.

These are just ten of the hundreds of ways to use nutritional yeast. Stock up and start experimenting.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

8 Superfoods You Don’t Even Know About

How to Eat a Low-Carbon Diet

7 Products Big Food Wants You to Think Are Healthy

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Trevor Noah appears on set during a taping of "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" in New York on Nov. 26, 2018. The Daily Show With Trevor Noah / YouTube screenshot

By Lakshmi Magon

This year, three studies showed that humor is useful for engaging the public about climate change. The studies, published in The Journal of Science Communication, Comedy Studies and Science Communication, added to the growing wave of scientists, entertainers and politicians who agree.

Read More Show Less
rhodesj / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Cities around the country are considering following the lead of Berkeley, California, which became the first city to ban the installation of natural gas lines in new homes this summer.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Rebecca Burgess came up with the idea of a fibersheds project to develop an eco-friendly, locally sourced wardrobe. Nicolás Boullosa / CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

If I were to open my refrigerator, the origins of most of the food wouldn't be too much of a mystery — the milk, cheese and produce all come from relatively nearby farms. I can tell from the labels on other packaged goods if they're fair trade, non-GMO or organic.

Read More Show Less
A television crew reports on Hurricane Dorian while waves crash against the Banana River sea wall. Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

Some good news, for a change, about climate change: When hundreds of newsrooms focus their attention on the climate crisis, all at the same time, the public conversation about the problem gets better: more prominent, more informative, more urgent.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) met with Bill Gates on Nov. 7 to discuss climate change and ways to address the challenge. Senator Chris Coons

The U.S. Senate's bipartisan climate caucus started with just two members, a Republican from Indiana and a Democrat from Delaware. Now it's up to eight members after two Democrats, one Independent and three more Republicans joined the caucus last week, as The Hill reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
EPA scientists survey aquatic life in Newport, Oregon. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to significantly limit the use of science in agency rulemaking around public health, the The New York Times reports.

Read More Show Less
A timelapse video shows synthetic material and baby fish collected from a plankton sample from a surface slick taken off Hawaii's coast. Honolulu Star-Advertiser / YouTube screenshot

A team of researchers led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration didn't intend to study plastic pollution when they towed a tiny mesh net through the waters off Hawaii's West Coast. Instead, they wanted to learn more about the habits of larval fish.

Read More Show Less
Two silver-backed chevrotain caught on camera trap. The species has only recently been rediscovered after being last seen in 1990. GWC / Mongabay

By Jeremy Hance

VIETNAM, July 2019 – I'm chasing a ghost, I think not for the first time, as night falls and I gather up my gear in a hotel in a village in southern Vietnam. I pack my camera, a bottle of water, and a poncho; outside the window I can see a light rain.

Read More Show Less