Have you heard of nutritional yeast? There are so many interesting food products out there that you may not have tried yet – nutritional yeast is something I urge you to put on your next shopping list. It’s a tasty, healthy, versatile (and vegan!) food that can add so much flavour to many dishes; but what exactly is nutritional yeast?
What is nutritional yeast?
Nutritional yeast is a popular food product for vegans and vegetarians, but it is found in so many commercial foods. It’s a “deactivated yeast” that looks like dry flakes of yellowish material and has a slightly salty, “cheesy” taste to it, which is why vegans love it, as it’s a great cruelty-free product that can add ‘oomph’ to foods.
Two large tablespoons of this food contains about 60 calories, 5 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fibre. Nutritional yeast is also packed with other nutrients, including B vitamins like thiamine, folate, B6 and niacin. These healthy elements are especially useful in helping to improve energy levels, which is great news if you’re planning on upping your exercise routine.
You might have heard of Vegemite or Marmite; both are yeast products, the former being designed after a competition to find a use for this by-product of beer.
Nutritional yeast is a vegan food
I first discovered nutritional yeast when I went vegan for a year. I loved being vegan, and I still enjoy many vegan and vegetarian foods. Going without eggs and dairy was quite difficult, as I loved cheese. Being of Italian (actually I’m Slovenian) heritage, I really missed parmesan cheese, so I found a way to make ‘vegan’ parmesan cheese with crushed sesame seeds, nutritional yeast and spices. You can find the recipe for vegan parmesan cheese here.
Where do I buy nutritional yeast?
The product might be difficult to find in some areas, but it is definitely gaining popularity and can be found in most health food stores. You’ll occasionally find it in the health food section of your supermarket, or at wholesale food stores. Failing that, you can order nutritional yeast online from places like Amazon (The Braggs do a great, all-natural version).
Personally, I have found that buying it from health food stores can be an expensive way of getting it; ideally you want to be paying less than $10 for a large bag or jar of it. A little goes a long way.
Nutritional yeast recipes
Here are a few things you can do with nutritional yeast. Remember, it’s a tasty food whether you are vegan or vegetarian or not.
Mac n cheese with nutritional yeast
Again, there are a million recipes online for this one, so do a simple search. Mac n cheese is a favourite of so many people, and yes, it can be made vegan with nutritional yeast. It’s a healthy option that really tastes great.
Oh how I love pesto. However, The Boyf has a nut allergy, and yeah, you can make nut-free pesto but it’s just not the same. Traditional pesto contains parmesan in many cases, so substitute that for nutritional yeast and hey-presto, vegan pesto!
Nutritional yeast coated chicken (or tofu!)
Mix this great product in with your panko breadcrumbs and a bit of salt and pepper and use it as a crumb for chicken pieces or tofu. It fries up really well and adds a lovely golden colour too.
Traditional carbonara contains both cheese and egg but you can swap these out for a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Again, there are many recipes online that you can find. If you’re not vegan, then simply adding 2 or 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast to your regular carbonara recipe will add additional flavour.
Kale is a very robust vegetable and bakes in the oven at a slow heat to create kale chips. Before cooking, add salt, nutritional yeast, chilli flakes and lemon zest and get ready for a flavour injection!
It’s always great to try new things!
Life is really too short to always eat the same things, day in and day out. Try new foods, give meditation a go, get out and exercise and introduce one new food to your kitchen every week. I’d love to hear your favourite nutritional yeast recipes and tips, so tell me in the comments below.