Nutritional yeast is a source of great mystery for most people. Isn’t yeast what makes bread rise? And beer ferment? Yes, but nutritional yeast is quite different. It’s non-active yeast that has been grown (usually on glucose or another simple sugar), deactivated by heat, then dried, pasteurized and eventually sold in your neighborhood health food store. You may see it commercially as flakes for a yellowish powder (looks like cornmeal). Some cook with it but it is also popular as a condiment.
Here are some benefits of nutritional yeast :
- It can be used to create cheese sauces for vegan comfort foods like Mac and cheese that can trick almost anyone into thinking it’s the real thing.
- It can thicken up sups and sauces without having to add flour or make a roux. It’s an especially great alternative if you’re gluten free.
- It’s inexpensive if you buy in bulk and has a long shelf life. Look online for 5-10lb buckets or “pails” to get the best deal.
- It’s packed with vitamins and is usually fortified with B12, an essential nutrient produced by microbes. It’s also a great source of vitamins and minerals including manganese, and a very good source of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid and zinc.
- It has some catchy nicknames like “Yeshi”, “Hippie”, “Dust” and the most popular “Nooch”.