Active yeast is familiar. We know it’s used it to make bread, pizza crusts, donuts and soft pretzels. But what the heck is nutritional yeast?
Especially popular among vegans, nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast sold as a separate food item, mostly in health food stores. It’s a yellowish, flaky substance that tastes much better than it sounds.
Nutritional yeast has a nickname. Fans call it nooch, replacing five syllables with one. It won’t make your dough rise, but it does have lots of nutritional benefits.
Nutritional yeast is best known for being a source of vitamin B-12. This is especially important for people on plant-based diets, because B-12 is the only vitamin that is found exclusively in animal foods. It’s almost always added to nutritional
yeast, so if you avoid animal protein but eat nutritional yeast, you’ll get the B-12 you need. Other B vitamins you’ll get from eating nooch include thiamine, folate, B-6 and niacin.
Nutritional yeast is a complete protein that also contains iron, selenium, zinc and fiber. And it’s naturally gluten free, soy free, dairy free, low in sodium and many brands are kosher. Also, since it’s deactivated, there is no issue for those who have an overgrowth of yeast in their gut.
If you’re intrigued but not sure what to do with nutritional yeast once you’ve acquired some, here are a few suggestions. People describe the taste of nooch as cheesy, nutty or savory. The number one use for nooch is on home-popped popcorn.
It can also be used as a cheese substitute for those who try to avoid real cheese. There are tons of recipes, like this one, for vegan cheese sauce made with nutritional yeast and poured over potatoes, steamed vegetables, pasta and more. You can also sprinkle nooch flakes over baked or mashed potatoes, cooked beans and steamed vegetables, even without making a cheesey sauce.
Some people use nutritional yeast in place of bread crumbs, add it to soups, sprinkle it on baked fries and add it to dressings and dips. I happen to love the taste, but if it isn’t for you, you can still get some of the nutritional benefits of nooch by adding some to your morning smoothie. The fruit will hide the delicate flavor.
Wherever you can add some nutritional yeast, you’ll get a deeper flavor in your dish and you’ll enhance the nutritional rating of the food at the same time.
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Author: Rebeca Espinoza
Rebeca Espinoza writes about health, fitness and weight loss for Spatz Medical, makers of the Spatz3 Adjustable Gastric Balloon. You can find her on Google+ or at email@example.com.