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What is Nutritional Yeast? Its Benefits, Recipes, and More!

Nutritional yeast, affectionately dubbed as "nooch" by enthusiasts, has been gaining popularity in recent years for its unique flavor and impressive nutritional profile. But what exactly is this ingredient, and why is it making waves in the world of nutrition? Let's explore the origins of nutritional yeast, its health benefits, and share three delicious recipes to incorporate it into your culinary repertoire.



What is Nutritional Yeast?


Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast, typically Saccharomyces cerevisiae, that is grown on molasses or sugar cane. After cultivation, the yeast is harvested, washed, and dried at low temperatures to deactivate it. The resulting flakes or powder boast a savory, cheese-like flavor, making it a popular ingredient in vegan and vegetarian cooking as a dairy-free alternative to Parmesan cheese.


Health Benefits of Nutritional Yeast


Nutritional yeast is not only prized for its umami-rich taste but also for its impressive nutritional content. Here are some key health benefits of incorporating nutritional yeast into your diet:


  1. Rich in B Vitamins: Nutritional yeast is an excellent source of B vitamins, including B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), and B12 (cobalamin for fortified varieties). These vitamins play essential roles in energy metabolism, nervous system function, and cell health.

  2. Complete Protein: Nutritional yeast contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

  3. Antioxidant Properties: Nutritional yeast contains compounds such as glutathione and selenium, which possess antioxidant properties that help protect cells from oxidative damage and support immune health.

  4. Supports Digestive Health: Nutritional yeast contains beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber that may support digestive health by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and improving bowel regularity.



Nutritional Content of Nutritional Yeast


The nutritional content of nutritional yeast can vary slightly depending on the brand and whether it's fortified with additional vitamins. However, here's an approximate breakdown of the nutritional content of 2 tablespoons (approximately 16 grams) of nutritional yeast:


  • Calories: 60

  • Protein: 8 grams

  • Fat: 1 gram

  • Carbohydrates: 5 grams

  • Dietary Fiber: 4 grams

  • Thiamine (B1): 140% DV

  • Riboflavin (B2): 130% DV

  • Niacin (B3): 50% DV

  • Vitamin B6: 40% DV

  • Vitamin B12: Varies (fortified varieties provide up to 100% DV)

Keep in mind that these values are approximate and may vary depending on the specific product. Additionally, nutritional yeast is often used as a condiment or flavoring agent rather than a primary source of nutrients, so the serving size may vary depending on how it's used in recipes.


Recipes


  1. Vegan Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

  • Ingredients: Cauliflower florets, olive oil, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper.

  • Instructions: Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil, nutritional yeast, and seasonings. Roast in the oven until tender and golden brown. Serve as a cheesy and nutritious side dish.

  1. Creamy Vegan Cashew Cheese Sauce

  • Ingredients: Raw cashews, water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic, salt.

  • Instructions: Blend soaked cashews with water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic, and salt until smooth and creamy. Use as a dairy-free cheese sauce for pasta, nachos, or dipping veggies.

  1. Savory Vegan Popcorn Seasoning

  • Ingredients: Popped popcorn, melted vegan butter or olive oil, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt.

  • Instructions: Drizzle melted vegan butter or olive oil over freshly popped popcorn and toss with nutritional yeast, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and salt for a flavorful and addictive snack.


Nutritional yeast is not only a versatile culinary ingredient but also a nutritional powerhouse packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Whether you're looking to enhance the flavor of your dishes, boost your nutrient intake, or explore plant-based cooking, nutritional yeast is a worthy addition to your pantry. Try out these recipes and unleash the delicious potential of nutritional yeast in your kitchen!


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