What’s the deal with nutritional yeast?
Ask a few of your friends their opinion of nutritional yeast and you’ll get everything from: “YES, I friggin' love this stuff”, to “Why would I want to eat yeast? (Ew.)” Don’t let the name confuse you-- nutritional yeast is not the same as active yeast used for baking or brewer’s yeast (a by-product of brewing beer). Instead, nutritional yeast is a completely non-active strain of yeast, specifically grown for human consumption. Many people love it as a quick and easy way to add extra flavour and a nutrient boost to their meals. It comes in a yellow flake or powder form and has a cheesy, savoury and nutty flavour. It is especially popular with vegetarians and vegans because it is often fortified with Vitamin B12, a nutrient found in significant amounts only from animal sources.
What are the benefits?
Nutritional yeast is high in fibre, a complete protein source, is naturally gluten-free, low in sodium, and packed with B Vitamins, which are essential for energy and brain health. Vitamin B12, in particular, is one of the most difficult vitamins to obtain from food sources, because it is mostly only found in animal products. However, because nutritional yeast cannot actually produce B12, be sure to check the label to ensure that it has been fortified with it, as brands vary. It's also important to mention that while nutritional yeast does have nutritional benefits, it is primarily used to add extra flavour and tastiness to your food (don't think of it as a supplement, as you would have to consume a significant amount to see results).
How do you use it?
The options are endless. Sprinkle it on your salad, popcorn, pasta, pizza, stir-fry or make a dressing or dip with it. You can season kale chips or baked tofu with it. It pairs really well with sea salt, miso, cayenne pepper, tamari, tahini and other savoury flavours. Nutritional yeast is available at most health food stores or in the bulk section of your grocery store.