Spotlight on…Nutritional Yeast

A few months ago, a friend asked me to do a post on nutritional yeast and I’m finally getting around to it! I finally bought some a few weeks ago and cracked it open recently and sprinkled quite a bit of it on yet another version of the soup I keep making. That’s when another friend said, “Doesn’t that give you yeast infections?”

I decided it was time to get to work. I liked that I was getting the whole B complex of vitamins and then some, as well as some protein (2 g. per Tablespoon) and fiber (1 g per Tablespoon).  And it thickened up my soup nicely.

But the yeast infection thing — total deal breaker if it’s true. The good news? It’s not! At least as far as I can tell from the various sites I visited.

Here are a few things I learned:
• Yeasts are a fungi — like mushrooms. It’s cultivated for its nutritional content and some consider it the same as fruits and vegetables.

Though there are many different companies who make nutritional yeast, I have Bragg brand, pictured above. Here’s what its Web site says about how they cultivate it:

Bragg derives its primary grown nutritional yeast from pure strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae grown on mixtures of beet and cane molasses in combination of nutrients.  When the fermentation process is complete, the yeast is harvested, thoroughly washed and cleaned, and dried on roller drum dryers.  This special and unique drying process is the secret to the wonderful flavor of Bragg Premium Nutritional Yeast.”

• Nutritional yeast isn’t “alive” like that used in bread or beer making. It also doesn’t contain candida (the yeast involved in infections). ALSO, yeast infections happen because of a bacterial/pH imbalance. Nutritional yeast doesn’t affect that. Just unfortunately has the same name! Also, because this yeast isn’t alive, people who have trouble digesting yeast generally have no trouble with nutritional yeast. However, if you are allergic to yeast, you shouldn’t eat it.

• Vegetarians and vegans are generally lacking in B vitamins because they’re found in animal products. So, that’s one big way nutritional yeast can help supplement a vegetarian and vegan diet.  It’s said to help immunity, help lower cholesterol and have cancer-fighting properties.

• Among the ways people use it, I’m just starting to try, but here are a few I stumbled upon on various sites: In mashed potatoes, on pasta dishes, on popcorn,  in sauces, gravies and stews, on rice, on vegetables, in soups… basically anywhere! It’s got a mild flavor and some tend to use it like they do parmesan cheese (which I can kind of see), but really I think it’s its own thing.

I’m going to keep trying it out and see how I can use it. Please comment and let me know how YOU like using nutritional yeast!

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5 responses to “Spotlight on…Nutritional Yeast

  1. I love nootch on popcorn along with chili powder–when I was vegan, that was my go-to snack to satisfy cheese cravings. I also use it in the vegetarian milk gravy I make to go with biscuits. And just a couple of weeks ago, I discovered that it’s delicious on cottage cheese or plain yogurt with a little salt.

    I think the reason people think it tastes like parmesan cheese is that they’re both really rich in glutamic acid, which gives them both that savory “umami” flavor. But I agree with you–nootch has a totally different flavor and texture.

  2. Thanks for the insight!! My family loves it on popcorn and in soups. I agree that it adds that savory depth often lacking (to my tastes) in meatless soups…
    I often use it as an addition to my homemade baby food concoctions for its wonderful vitamins, and immunity boosts.

  3. Angela got me into this recipe from The Grit – the Golden Bowl. I have made it before with tofu and not vegetables, and added the tofu to soup for texture (it was oddly kind of chicken-y when I made it) but when Angela made it, it was more of a cheese flavor. This recipe from Veg Times includes veggies.
    http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipes/10632

  4. Thanks everyone! I can’t wait to use it more and more.

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