Nutritional Yeast is a BIG Deal!

Don’t confuse nutritional yeast with brewers’ or bakers’ yeast. They’re all very different. Nutritional yeast is a deactivated form of yeast that’s grown on molasses or beet sugar. It’s typically off-white in color, has a nutty or savory flavor, and contains high amounts of B-complex vitamins.

Nutritional yeast is commonly added to vegan cooking to provide a cheesy flavor. It works well in sauces, over salads, on popcorn, and in pasta dishes.

To use this delicious ingredient, simply sprinkle it over your food before serving—it’s delicious and has so many applications. For instance:

  • We lightly spritz freshly popped popcorn with water and then dust it all with nutritional yeast for a tasty cheesy flavor.
  • You’ll also get a nice cheesiness when you fold it into mashed potatoes.
  • When mixed into pasta sauces it contributes an extra umami flavor (savory).
  • The taste of roasted vegetables is incredible when sprinkled with it before roasting. Besides the extra nutrition, it gives them an added crunch.
  • It’s also delicious when mixed into scrambled eggs and omelets.
  • It takes soups, stews, and chili to a new level, adding a surprising depth of flavor.
  • Top your favorite salads with some crumbled nutritional yeast for an extra kick of vitamins and minerals, plus a protein boost!
  • Coat your home-made kale chips for an extra tasty snack.
  • Add it to cashew cream for a creamier taste!

Expert vegan cooks like using nutritional yeast when making vegan cheese sauces (think mac ‘n cheese). I haven’t tried this yet—it seems a little advanced, but it’s on my TO DO list.

While all types of yeasts are single-celled fungi, nutritional yeast is inactivated during production so it can’t be used to produce alcohol and it won’t leaven dough.

You’ll typically see it as flakes and granules. The granule version provides more of an intense flavor. Occasionally you’ll find it in powdered form, which is especially nice for adding to soups and sauces because it blends so well.

Besides being high in B vitamins, nutritional yeast is a great source of other essential vitamins, minerals, folic acid, and protein. But what makes it such a BIG deal is that it’s especially loaded with vitamin B12. The only other ways to get this vitamin are with mushrooms and algae.

Vitamin B12 helps prevent anemia and damage to the nervous system. So if you’re interested in eating more whole plant foods and less meat, you’ll want to be sure to include a source of vitamin B12 in your diet. And nutritional yeast is an easy way to do this.

Nutritional yeast is also low in calories and fat, high in fiber, rich in antioxidants, contains all nine essential amino acids, is low in carbohydrates, contains Beta Glucan and lots of niacin, contains traces of zinc, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, tryamine, and potassium. In other words, it protects and strengthens the immune system.

Besides being 100% gluten-free and has no dairy components, preservatives or sugar, it also helps lower cholesterol levels. All this while adding delicious flavor to dishes without adding one bit of sugar or sodium!

If you’re looking to up the flavor- and health-factor in your cooking, give this yeast a try. And to get you started, here’s a quick and delicious recipe that will easily introduce you to this wonderful ingredient. You’ll soon see why nutritional yeast is a BIG deal!

Basic Avocado Toast


1 ripe avocado halved, pitted, sliced
2 slices favorite bread toasted
1 pinch sea salt
1/2 fresh lemon juiced (optional)
small handful grape or cherry tomato halved
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast (flakes or granules)
fresh basil for garnish (optional)

Toast bread; slice avocado halves. Lay avocado atop toasted bread. Add grape tomato halves; sprinkle nutritional yeast over all. Garnish with basil leaves, if using.

Recipe formatted with the Cook'n Recipe Software from DVO Enterprises.

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    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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