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  • Writer's picturePlant Your Seed

The Magic of Nutritional Yeast: Benefits and Culinary Uses

Nutritional yeast, affectionately known as "nooch" among enthusiasts, is a staple in the pantries of many, especially those following plant-based diets. This golden flaky or powdery substance may not sound appetizing by name, but its nutty, cheesy flavor, coupled with its nutritional benefits, makes it a culinary gem. Let's delve deeper into the world of nutritional yeast.

1. What is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast, specifically Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Unlike the yeast used in baking which causes dough to rise, nutritional yeast is rendered inactive through pasteurization, so it's purely for flavor and nutrition.

2. Nutritional Benefits:

  • Protein Powerhouse: Nutritional yeast is a complete protein source, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids our bodies need.

  • Rich in B-Vitamins: Many brands of nutritional yeast are fortified with B vitamins, including B12, which is often lacking in vegan diets.

  • Mineral Boost: It’s a source of trace minerals such as zinc, selenium, and manganese.

  • Low in Fat and Sodium: An ideal ingredient for those watching their salt and fat intake.

3. Culinary Uses of Nutritional Yeast:

  • Cheese Substitute: Due to its naturally cheesy flavor, it's a vegan favorite for mimicking cheese. Sprinkle it on popcorn, stir it into mashed potatoes, or use it to make dairy-free cheese sauces.

  • Enhanced Flavor: Elevate the taste of salads, soups, and stews by adding a sprinkle or two. It provides a savory depth, often referred to as umami.

  • Thickening Agent: Its flaky or powdery consistency can act as a thickener for soups, gravies, and sauces.

  • Tofu Scramble: For a cheesy and rich flavor, many vegans add nutritional yeast to their tofu scrambles.

  • Pesto and Dips: Mix it into pesto, hummus, or other dips for an added layer of flavor.

4. Purchasing and Storing:

When buying nutritional yeast, look for brands that are non-GMO and fortified with B12, especially if you're vegan. Store it in a cool, dry place, ideally in an airtight container, to keep it fresh.

Nutritional yeast is more than just a dietary supplement; it's a flavorful addition to a myriad of dishes. Whether you're vegan or simply looking to add a burst of umami to your meals, give "nooch" a try. Its distinctive taste and impressive nutrition profile might just make it a staple in your culinary repertoire.

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