Monday, June 2, 2014

What the HELL is Nutritional Yeast!?

The food that I've selected for June Food of the Month is Nutritional Yeast!  I realize that many people have never heard of nutritional yeast and may be turned off by the name of it.  BUT, don't let that stop you from trying it!  

Nutritional yeast is inactive yeast that has been cultured in a mixture of sugarcane and molasses and then dried. The end result is tasty little yellow flakes, which are sold in health stores, such as Whole Foods, often in the bulk section. Nutritional yeast has a tangy nutty cheesy flavor and is super healthy. It contains a TON of B vitamins (is a great source of B12 for vegans) and has ~8g non-animal protein per tablespoon! In addition to it's nutritional benefits, I have a friend who swears that it prevents hangovers when eaten late-night after overindulging in alcoholic beverages! However, user beware! This stuff is so good that it is seriously addictive - another friend refers to it as "hippy crack!"

Here is a little list of great ways to use nutritional yeast!

1.  Popcorn.  Probably my favorite usage of nutritional yeast.  Sprinkle nutritional yeast on top of popcorn and I guarantee by the end of the bowl you will be licking it off your fingers :)  Even better (but a lot more unhealthy), take nutritional yeast with you into the movie theater - it tastes awesome on movie theater popcorn.

2.  Potatoes.  Add nutritional yeast to your mashed potatoes for added cheesy flavor.  Sometime I also sprinkle it on baked potatoes and sweet potatoes (this is a great substitution for butter or sour cream).

3.  Soups/stews.  Stir in some nutritional yeast as a savory flavor adder.  

4.  Kale chips.  Lightly mist raw kale with oil.  Sprinkle with Mrs. Dash & nutritional yeast & bake until crispy.  Yum!

5.  Pizza.  Sprinkle nutritional yeast on top of cheese-less pizza.

6.  Spaghetti.  Ditch the green can of processed Parmesan cheese.  Instead use a few sprinkles of nutritional yeast.  

7.  Vegan pesto.  Substitute nutritional yeast for Parmesan cheese in pesto recipes.  See below for one of the BEST vegan pesto recipes EVER!

8.  Vegan mac & cheese.  Nutritional yeast can be made into a cheese-less sauce, perfect for vegan version of kid's favorite meal!  There are tons of recipes

9.  Vegan nacho cheese dip.  Sounds weird, but tastes amazing.  See below for recipe!

10.  Grits.  Craving good old fashioned sausage & grits?  Simply cook some grits, add some Gimme Lean veggie sausage, a little unsweetened soy milk & vegan butter, + nutritional yeast and you will think you are eating the real thing!

11.  Roasted veggies.  Sprinkle on top of roasted veggies to add cheesiness. 

12.  Bread crumbs.  Use nutritional yeast in place of bread crumbs!

13.  Salad topper.  Sprinkle on top of salads to add flavor without all the added fat calories in typical salad dressings. 

14.  Vegan gravy.  Nutritional yeast provides a flavor boost to vegan gravies.  

15.  Dog food.  Yes, dog food.  One client told me that her dog would never eat it's food until she started adding nutritional yeast to it and now her dog can't get enough of the stuff!

Vegan Pesto
2 cups fresh packed basil
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup walnuts
salt & pepper to taste

1.  Blend all of the above in high-powered blender until consistency of pesto is reached.  
2.  Toss with whole wheat penne pasta.  

Nacho "Cheese" Dip, from The Everything Vegan Cookbook by Jolinda Hackett
3 Tbsp vegan margarine
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp peanut butter
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3/4 cup salsa
2 Tbsp chopped canned jalapeƱo peppers
[I also sometimes add in a little Cholula and Red Hot to add to the depth of flavor in this dip!]

1.  Heat margarine and soy milk together in a pan over low heat. Add garlic powder, salt, and onion powder, stirring to combine.  Add peanut butter and stir until melted. 
2.  Whisk in flour, 1 Tbsp at a time until smooth.  Heat until thickened, about 5-6 min.
3.  Stir in nutritional yeast, salsa, & jalapeƱos.  
4.  Allow to cool slightly before serving, as sauce will thicken as it cools.  


  1. what is the best way to store nutritional yeast? Does it go bad?

  2. It's best kept in a cool dry place. Sometimes I keep it in the refrigerator. I've never had it go bad on me...but maybe that's cause I eat it so quickly ;)