Nutritional Yeast is one of those ingredients that you probably think only a hard-core vegan uses, right? It may even scare you a bit. Well, fear not, this nutrition powerhouse is easy to use and rich in flavor…we promise! It has become a more common household ingredient and here is why.
Nutritional yeast is essen
tially traditional yeast that has been grown on molasses and sugar cane, heated and, in turn, deactivated. Because it is inactive, it does not froth or grow like baking yeast and therefore has no leavening ability and no ability to explode in your cabinets if you were afraid of that. Once the deactivation process is complete, the yeast is washed and dried into a powdered or flaked form. The final product gives dishes a nutty, cheesy flavor with a delightfully creamy texture which is why it is used as a cheese alternative in many dairy free recipes.
From a health standpoint, nutritional yeast is a great source of complete protein and B-complex vitamins. It is low in fat and sodium, and naturally sugar, dairy and gluten-free. Furthermore, it is often fortified with B12 making it a good choice for vegetarians and vegans. Here are a few popular uses for nutritional yeast to try:
- Sprinkle on top of hot popcorn
- Stir into potato cauliflower mash
- Sprinkle on any pasta dish
- Add it to your favorite nut cheese recipe
- Use it to fortify a salad dressing. Try this: in a blender, combine 1/3 cup water, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast 1-2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp tamari, 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar, 1/4 tsp sesame oil, 1/2 tsp dijon OR 1/3 cup water, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 tsp dijon
- Add to creamy soups for some added, super savory, flavor
- Almond Parmesan Crumb – mix together nutritional yeast with raw almonds in a food processor to use in place of breadcrumbs for a flavorful coating on fish, baked tofu or even baked vegetables
Spinach Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 lb. pasta, cooked according to package instructions
- 1 ¼ C water
- 1 C plain almond milk or dairy free milk of choice (unsweetened)
- ¾ C nutritional yeast
- 13/4 cup mashed sweet potato
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- ½ tsp. dry mustard
- ½ tsp. smoked paprika
- ½ tsp. turmeric
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 C fresh or frozen spinach leaves (more if desired)
- Bring pot of water to boil and begin cooking pasta according to directions.
- While pasta is cooking, boil the sweet potato until tender (you can use frozen sweet potato or butternut squash cubes as well for a little cheat)
- Blend together the water and all remaining ingredients with the sweet potato.
- When the pasta is al dente, reserve ½ C of the cooking waterand drain the remainder.
- Return the pasta to the pan.
- Add the sauce mixture and frozen spinach to pasta, cook, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens.
- If needed, add a little reserved pasta water to sauce.
Erin DeMito, RD, LDN