While the name might not sound too appetizing, nutritional yeast has a pleasant, cheesy, savory, nutty kind of taste. I've been creating new recipes with it, so in case your are wondering what is nutritional yeast I thought I'd help you understand this terrific ingredient.
At first this seemed like a totally weird ingredient to me, until I tasted it and started to work with it. Now I know how good it is. And since I am highly reactive to Parmesan, this helps me to get a similar flavor I'm craving.
What is It?
Popular in the vegan community for its nutritional properties, nutritional yeast is sometimes referred to as "nooch", savory yeast flakes in Australia, Brufax in New Zealand and by other global names. It's not only dairy-free, but gluten-free, and a terrific add to everyones diet.
It satisfies that fifth taste called umami that so many of us love in Parmesan, mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, and soy sauce. This flavor comes from free, natural glutamic acid, not added MSG.
Is It Living Yeast?
Nutritional yeast is an inactive or deactivated yeast similar to yeast used in bread baking and brewing. It has no leavening ability so it is not used in baking.
For those of you with yeast concerns, it is not candida albicans. It is not brewers yeast. It is a unique product.
Open a package of nutritional yeast and you'll find fine dry flakes. It looks sort of like fish food flakes for your pet goldfish. Natural brands are a light beige in color. Fortified brands have a brighter yellow color. More about the difference in a minute.
How it's Made
Nutritional yeast is grown on sugar cane or beet molasses, but it has no sugar. It is harvested, pasteurized and dried with heat to deactivate it. From there, it is made into flakes or powder then packaged. I know this does not sound too appetizing but hang in there with me. It really is good!
What Does it Taste Like?
Since it has a cheesy flavor, use it in place of cheese. It's kind of a magical ingredient.
How To Enjoy
- Toss it with warm popcorn. It's great!
- Sprinkle over salads
- Stir into warm grains like quinoa or brown rice
- Sprinkle it over steamed, roasted or grilled vegetables instead of Parmesan
- Use it in pestos and sauces
- Stir it into warm polenta for cheesy polenta or grits
- Add it to dips
- Sprinkle on soups for garnish
I use it to make a non-dairy cheesy sprinkle with cashews and garlic, and a terrific No-Cheese Sauce I created for Dr. Mark Hyman's NYT bestselling book Eat Fat Get Thin.
While brands vary slightly, one tablespoon of nutritional yeast provides 3-4 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbs, and 1-2 grams of fiber and about 20-30 calories.
Brand Options When Buying
Pioneer's in the health food industry, Bragg is a brand you will see in most stores. Just look for the bright yellow lid. Their B vitamin is partly natural from the fermentation process, then to get to the level needed to meet the label and nutritional standards, synthetic B vitamins may be added to make up any difference. The B12 is always natural. And contrary to what I was once told, their product is not GMO. So glad to hear that.
Bob's Red Mill sells nutritional yeast that is not GMO but is fortified with synthetic vitamins. You can also find nutritional yeast in the bulk dry goods market section.
Another brand I use is from Sari Foods. You can buy it on Amazon.com. The package says not fortified, no added synthetic vitamins and non-GMO. The product info says it provides 18 amino acids and 15 different minerals as well as a natural vitamin B-complex.
While the package does not say organic, the company states that it is organic and grown here in the United States.
I hope this post on nutritional yeast has given you food for thought and the desire to try something new.
nutritional yeast says
Thanks you for this really interesting article about nutritional yeast ! It's look so amazing, going to try it !
I'm enjoying your easy to make, healthy cuisine, Sally. I tried the steamed salmon I found on your website. Love, salmon, but never considered steaming it before. The seasonings that were suggested and the preparation of the salmon turned out perfectly. My husband and I added steamed zucchini, and a side dish of pesto angel hair pasta, since pesto was suggested for flavoring the salmon as well. Voila! It was a big hit!! Thanks!
Sally Cameron says
Love to hear that Colleen! Thanks for coming back and letting me know! I may have to make that for dinner this evening. We love it too.
This powder looks intersting as you can use in many ways. Did you ever try Marmite? My fav.
Sally Cameron says
Hey Denise. You should try it! It's very different than Marmite. For those you are not familiar with it, Marmite is a thick, savory, brown spread made from the by products of beer brewing. It's big in England and there are other similar things in Australia (the famous Vegemite) and New Zealand. I hear it has quite a unique taste but I've never tried it.