I first heard about nutritional yeast a few years ago from one of my vegan friends. She was talking about the cheesiest, most delicious mac and cheese that she had just eaten. I was totally confused: cheesy vegan mac and cheese?
Neither the word “nutritional” nor “yeast” made my mouth water. I started probing her with a laundry list of questions and I have to say, I’m glad that I did. Today, nutritional yeast is a staple in our cupboards and one that I don’t often run out of.
There are so many reasons nutritional yeast is awesome for families, especially those with a dairy or lactose intolerance - you’ll get the benefits of the cheesy flavour without the discomfort afterwards.
What is nutritional yeast?
- A deactivated yeast and fungus (it tastes better than it sounds, I promise!)
- Produced by culturing the yeast with a mixture of sugar cane and/or beet molasses. After 7 days, it is harvested, deactivated by pasteurization, dried and packaged.
- Bakers yeast and nutritional yeast are not created equally! Nutritional yeast is rich in vitamins and minerals, whereas bakers yeast can deplete the body of B vitamins and other nutrients. And nutritional yeast won’t leaven a loaf of bread like bakers yeast does.
3 reasons nutritional yeast is awesome for families (and kids)
Don’t let the fact that it resembles fish food deter you from enjoying this nutrient dense food.
- Rich in Folate (vitamin B9) - 530 micrograms of folate per 1/2 tablespoon
- Pregnant and breast feeding mamas have a higher risk of experiencing folate deficiency and should be particularly careful to get enough in their diets. A deficiency during pregnancy and infancy can lead to Developmental problems, including stunted growth
- Good source of all B vitamins, including B12
- Worldwide Studies that look at childrens’ nutritional status find B vitamin deficiency at the top of the list. This is important because B vitamins are essential for releasing energy from the food we eat, optimal mental function, the formation of healthy red blood cells and nerve function.
- Non-animal source of protein – 9g of protein per 2 Tbsps
- Contains all 9 essential amino acids
- We need protein for so many things from hormone health and energy to battling sugar and process carb cravings.
For all of these reasons and many more, we should be getting some nutritional yeast on the dinner table once in a while! NOTE: Because it is a highly concentrated source of B-vitamins, we don’t want to go overboard. About one teaspoon per day for a toddler is sufficient. Reason being niacin and vitamin B6 can cause adverse reactions if given in excess, such as flushing, diarrhea, rash, irritability and headaches.
5 ways to use nutritional yeast tonight!
- Nutritional yeast can replace cheese in most recipes that call for it! (eggs, sauces, etc.)
- Sprinkle it on pasta, salads, baked or mashed potatoes
- Use it to thicken soups, stews and even smoothies
- Simply sprinkle a couple tablespoons over popcorn
- Fill a shaker and let your little ones have the fun by shaking the flakes onto your next snack or meal.
Here are a few quick recipes that I’m positive you and your family will enjoy.
Oh She Glows - “Quick and Dirty, 5 ingredient Vegan Cheeze Sauce
Gluten Free Goddess - Creamy Vegan Scalloped Potatoes
Minimalist Baker - Cheesy Kale Chips
Ready to try nutritional yeast?
- Buy in bulk: if I haven’t completely sold you on nutritional yeast yet, you are in luck because you can find it in the bulk section of most health food stores. That way, you can purchase a small amount before committing. But I promise you will be back for more.
- Try a brand like Bob’s Red Mill
- Storing tip: to preserve the B vitamins, store it in a dark glass or a ceramic container in a cool place to protect it from the light.
Nutritional yeast tastes as delicious as it is nutritious. I’d love for you to share how you experimented with this delicious and nutritious food, comment below and let me know.