Nutritional Yeast

Hi folks! Sorry I’ve been MIA for a week (yikes!) I’ve been trying to balance school, homework, work, household chores, dog-walking and digging my car out of the perpetual snow/blizzards we’ve been getting up here in Massachusetts…Grrrr…. I’ve really had my fill of snow – for a lifetime. This morning, I couldn’t even get out of my building because they hadn’t snowed our walkway yet! I didn’t mind wading through knee-deep snow, but poor Folly was awfully distraught and confused…she ended up “bounding” through my tracks in an attempt to make it to the parking lot….since the snow was higher than her!

All right…enough complaining about the snow… (well for now anyway..till our next snowstorm :)). Today, I thought I’d write a little about Nutritional Yeast and it’s benefits – particularly for vegetarian and vegan diets.

I have the Red Star brand of nutritional yeast at home:

nutritional_yeast

To begin with, it should be noted that Nutritional Yeast is NOT the same as Brewer’s Yeast which is used in baking, beer-making and producing wine through the mechanics of fermentation. Brewer’s yeast is “live” and the growth of the fungi (because that’s what yeast is!), the fermentation, generates the carbon dioxide and causes bread to rise, beer to be “brewed” and wine to be produced. Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast so it does not cause any “fermentation.” As this article outlines, nutritional yeast is obtained from a different strain of fungi called Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is grown on beet and cane molasses. It’s harvested, pasteurized and dried after the fermentation process is over and then packaged and sold as a nutritional supplement.

Nutritional Yeast is used by many vegetarians, vegans (and non-vegetarians) as a supplement because it is an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals, protein and fiber.

nut_yeast3

Just 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of this parmesan cheese-like powder contains 4g of fiber, 8g of protein and an abundance of thiamin (670%), niacin (290%), folate (250%), riboflavin (590%), vitamin B6 (480%) and vitamin B12 (130%), plus 20% of our daily requirement for zinc (all percentages are based on a 2000 calorie diet. As noted above in the label, individual needs may differ based on individual calorie requirements). Nevertheless, at only 70 calories – that’s a whole lot of nutrition! Especially for vegans who sometimes may have a difficult time meeting their vitamin B6 and B12 requirements through other plant-foods alone (since vitamin B12 especially, is only found in animal products).

Taste and texture-wise, nutritional yeast is somewhat like a parmesan/cheddar cheese mix, in a powdered/flake form, and so it can be used in any way that you would use a shredded cheese. I like to sprinkle it on soups, salads, pasta and vegetables; you could also add it to stews, casseroles, curries and pasta dishes – or use it in place of parmesan cheese on pasta. Many vegans and vegetarians also like to make a nutritional yeast “queso” sauce out of it for dips and mac-and-“cheese” dishes. One recipe  for a Nutritional Yeast Queso sauce is on vegweb.com

I have yet to try the Queso sauce recipe with the nutritional yeast but I do plan on trying it at some point soon! Till then, I’ll keep sprinkling it on my salads, veggies and soups…If you haven’t tried nutritional yeast yet, give it a shot….you may find that you like it – and the nutritional benefits are definitely going to be a bonus!

– Cheers!

References:

Vegweb.com, Yeast DefinitionsRed Star Nutritional Yeast

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Posted on January 27, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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