While nutritional yeast has been around for quite some time, it seems to be gaining in popularity in recent years, popping up in stores and on blogs. I’ve had a number of people ask me for more information on it, so I thought I’d compile it into one blog post here. If you have any further questions, feel free to hit the comment section below!
What It Is:
Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast that is slightly yellow in color with a unique flavor similar to cheese, and is easily digestible. It’s grown on a mixture of beet and sugar cane molasses, and is harvested, washed, pasteurized and dried at high temperatures before it is made available for us. It comes in flakes or a powder, and can be found in health food stores or in the bulk food sections of regular grocery stores.
Why It Is Important:
Not only is it packed with 18 amino acids (the building blocks of protein!), nutritional yeast is also the only reliable dietary source of vitamin B12. Vegans and vegetarians will recognize this vitamin as something lacking in their diets, as B12 is derived only from animal products. In 1 large tablespoon, there is 60 calories, 7 grams of carbohydrate, 4 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of protein. It has 130% of your daily requirements for B12, as well as high levels of all the other B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, and folic acid).
What To Do With It:
With its slightly salty, cheesy taste, nutritional yeast is a great addition to meals where you only want a hint of that cheese flavor. Sprinkle some onto popcorn, garlic bread, or cereal, or toss some into pesto or tomato sauce for pasta. You can even include it in salad dressings or use it as part of a homemade bread crumb mixture to coat chicken, pork, or even tofu. Nutritional yeast has a rough texture that will smooth out when blended with oils or liquids, so get creative and experiment with your own “cheese sauce”!
Have you tried nutritional yeast before? What is your favorite way to enjoy it?
Assistance provided by Megan Skinner