Are you a vegan, vegetarian, lactose-intolerant or cutting back on the animal products you consume? Do you love cheese, but can’t have it due to diet restrictions? Then, nutritional yeast is for you. You may not like the word, “yeast,” but surprisingly this dairy-free product truly tastes like cheese. Plus, it is super nutritious.
While nutritional yeast has been a cornerstone of the vegan diet for decades, recently it started to appear on more and more menus that it has the non-vegans wondering what all the fuss is about. Ever since I first used it for my Vegan Alfredo Zucchini Pasta, we have been hooked to these versatile Parmesan-like tasting flakes.
About Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast, termed as “nooch” by many regular users, is deactivated yeast made from beet molasses and sugarcane. It should not be confused with dry yeast used in baked goods. Nooch is sold as a food product in the grocery store and comes in the form of yellow powder or flakes. Nutritional yeast can be a used as a substitute for cheese because of its creamy, nutty, and cheesy flavor. It can also be used as a garnish for popcorn or added as an ingredient to pasta dishes like mac and cheese and lasagna.
It is also a supplement since it has essential nutrients. Depending on the brand, 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast has 5 grams of protein and 2 to 3 grams of fiber. Other than that, it is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. It’s fortified with B-vitamins like B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), and B12 (folate). It also has zinc, manganese, copper, iron, and magnesium, and is gluten-free, low in fat, and low in sodium.
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How to Use Nutritional Yeast aka Nooch
Cheesy-flavored nooch flakes or powder can be used in many ways.
- You can add flavor to your popcorn or pasta without using parmesan cheese by simply mixing equal parts of walnuts (or other nuts) and nooch in a food processor. Your garnish is ready once the mixture turns into a fine powder. Add salt to taste.
- Instead of your usual sour cream and butter on top of your baked potato, why not try a healthier choice? You can spread a paste out of roasted garlic and nooch on your spud and drizzle it with some olive oil. Or why not add it to cashew sour cream for an added “cheesy flavor?”
- You can also use it to make a creamy and cheesy sauce. In a food processor, blend nooch with mustard powder, onion powder, cashew butter or cream, and adequate warm vegetable broth until your desired consistency is achieved.
- For pesto lovers, instead of your usual cheese, you can add this into your pesto for a nutty and cheesy flavor. Nooch can also be added to other pasta dishes.
- You can also use this yeast to your favorite breakfast dishes. Use it to add flavor to your scrambled eggs or hearty quinoa breakfast bowls or porridge.
- Planning to cook a vegetarian soup? Instead of using commercially-prepared vegetable broths which can taste bland sometimes, you can add a handful of nooch for an added flavor, and for a creamier and thicker textured-soup.
- You can also add nutritional yeast into your sweet potato, beet, or zucchini chips recipes, or to vegan recipes like cheesy spinach dip, garlic and herb cream cheese, baked eggplant stacks with cashew ricotta, and vegan risottos.
- Care for some dessert? You can also add nooch into your No-Bake Vegan Cheesecake.
Now, you can include this versatile ingredient in your dishes and enjoy its health benefits. There are more creative and delicious recipes using nooch that you can find online. Check out the recipe section to get some inspiration.
Thanks for reading. Until next time!
Crazy cat lady, life and food lover, certified biologist, and holistic health coach.