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Well and Good: Nutritional Yeast… a Super-food?

When you think of a superfood, images of blueberries, acai berries, quinoa and hosts of other nutritious ingredients come to mind. So, what is yeast doing in that category? Isn’t that what makes bread rise? What’s so great about it anyway?

Unlike the yeast that makes bread rise, nutritional yeast is inactive. Coming from the same family as edible mushrooms, saccharomyces cerevisiae (the strain of yeast used in nutritional yeast) is grown on cane sugar and molasses for seven days, then the yeast is harvested, cleaned and pasteurized.

So, what’s so great about it? I’m glad you asked! Nutritional yeast packs a serious nutritional punch.

Protein. In just 1 1/2 tablespoons, nutritional yeast contains a whopping 8 grams of complete protein. That’s a big deal! Complete proteins contain all the amino acids your body can’t make on its own. Finding complete proteins can be a challenge for people following a vegan lifestyle, so this is great news for them!

B Vitamins. Nutritional yeast is best known as a vegan source of vitamin B12 and other B vitamins. Essential for metabolism and energy production, these vitamins are usually present in animal proteins, which are off limits for vegan lifestyles. B vitamins are important for stress management, energy and memory function.

Minerals. Nutritional yeast is a great source of calcium, magnesium and zinc. Important for muscle function and nerve signaling, these minerals are essential for body function.

How does it taste? Nutritional yeast is known for a cheese-like flavor. It’s commonly used by vegans to replace cheese in recipes. Want to try it? Here’s a recipe we really like!

Vegan Nachos

2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp turmeric
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/8 cup lemon juice
1 tsp or 1 packet yellow mustard
1 cup vegetarian chili mix

Combine the broth and flour in a measuring cup and whisk with a fork until dissolved. Preheat a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Place the oil and garlic in the pan and gently cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often.

Add the thyme, salt, and pepper and cook for about 15 seconds. Add the broth, turmeric, and nutritional yeast and raise the heat to medium. Use a whisk to stir constantly. The mixture should start bubbling and thickening in about 3 minutes; if it doesn’t, turn the heat a bit higher.

Once the mixture is bubbling and thickening, stir and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the lemon and mustard. The mixture should resemble a thick, melty cheese. Add chili mix. Stir to combine. Taste for salt (you may need more, depending on how salty your vegetable broth is). Turn off the heat, and cover the pan to keep it warm until ready to use. Serve with chips (we like Garden of Eatin’ Blue Corn Chips) and FRESH Pico de Gallo.

*Recipe adapted from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Plan to try the recipe? Drop by the bulk department to get most of these ingredients in just the amount you need. We have a copy of this recipe on hand (because we love it!), so if you forget it, just ask! We’d be happy to print out another for you.