If you are vegan, or have vegan friends, you probably know quite a bit about nutritional yeast. For many years, followers of a plant-based diet have used nutritional yeast to impart a cheesy and somewhat nutty flavor to foods. Used in anything from salads, vegetables, and even cheese making, there are many reasons why you too should get this ingredient for your pantry!
Nutritional yeast is the same type of yeast used to make bread or beer, namely Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It usually comes in the form of flakes, powders, or granules. It has a flavor similar to parmesan, which is the reason why it has become a popular alternative to seasonings like salt and pepper, especially for vegans who don’t consume dairy products, or those who are lactose intolerant.
Users of nutritional yeast praise it for its health benefits. It is very high in vitamin B12, a vitamin that most of us are deficient in, and one that is usually found only in animal products. In a single teaspoon of nutritional yeast, you exceed your daily requirement of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and folate. And 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast will supply you with up to 10g of protein! It also contains dietary fiber and minerals like magnesium, copper, and manganese.
Due to all these nutrients, nutritional yeast will help to boost your energy, contribute to healthy hair and nails, and could possibly even lower cholesterol.
Now that you know all the health benefits, you might be tempted to go all out with nutritional yeast by getting a container full of it and sprinkling it over everything. But it’s important not to overload your digestive system too quickly. Always remember that moderation is key: anything can be bad for you if you overdo it.
It has been reported that people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and hypertension don’t react well to nutritional yeast, so be careful if you have these conditions. You should also avoid nutritional yeast if you are already sensitive to yeast in general, or have a yeast infection.
Because of its cheesy flavor, it can be used as a substitute for parmesan cheese in pastas. Some even use it to make a delicious vegan cheese sauce. Simply bring the following ingredients to the boil (while stirring continuously): ¾ cup coconut milk, 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, 2 Tbsp tapioca flour, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp onion powder, ¼ tsp garlic powder, and a pinch of paprika. Let it simmer for a minute or two until the sauce becomes stretchy and ‘cheesy’. Use the sauce for pizzas, pastas, or as a cheesy dip!
If you do start eating nutritional yeast in small amounts and find that you have no digestive problems, then feel free to eat it over popcorn, roasted vegetables, or even try your hand at making vegan cheese!