If you've been around the vegan world for a while you have undoubtedly come across the ingredient nutritional yeast, otherwise known as NOOCH. Many people love it, some people hate it. But it's an undeniably handy and nutritious ingredient that you'll want to know a bit more about, if you're not already familiar.
I often get questions about nutritional yeast:
- What is it?
- Is it different from Brewer's/Baker's Yeast?
- Do you have to refrigerate it?
- Is it good for you? (and if so why)?
- What are some ways to include it in your diet?
- Can you eat it if you have Candida or a yeast allergy?
I answered some of those questions as part of this week's episode of In My Plant-Based Kitchen
But I thought I'd also provide some of the answers in a blog post here today. AND I'm going to share one of my favourite recipes featuring nutritional yeast, my NOOCH Dressing.
So, what is Nutritional Yeast? And is it different from Brewer's/Baker's Yeast?
In a word nutritional yeast is the deactivated form of yeast that you’d use to make bread (baker’s yeast) or beer (brewer’s yeast). Nutritional yeast is grown specifically as a food product and it tastes very different from baker's or brewer’s yeast, which tend to be bitter -- so don't buy one of those and put it on your popcorn! They are NOT the same.
Nutritional yeast Is grown on cane sugar and molasses, then harvested, washed and dried into flakes. After harvesting it is washed and pasteurized to make sure it won’t keep growing.
Is it good for you? (and if so why)?
Yes! It's very...well nutritional! Or nutritious, let's say :-) It's an excellent source of protein and a rich source of B vitamins, which are important for energy production, helpful in the metabolism of protein, fats and carbs (meaning they help us to better use the fuel from our food), and they're important for helping us to manage stress too. Nooch is known for its B12 content (notable since B12 is difficult to get without supplementation on a vegan or vegetarian diet); however, since B12 deficiency is not something you want to wrangle with don't rely solely on nooch for your intake -- just take a supplement. :-)
Finally, nooch contains a variety of antioxidants, which we can all use a little more of.
It IS important to note though, that some nooch is fortified with additional nutrients, and some are not, so read your labels to make sure you know what you're getting.
Nooch is thought to be helpful for immune health, heart health, liver health and more. In short, yes! It's very good for you! Eat it!
What are some ways to include it in your diet?
Nooch has a delightful cheesy, nutty flavour that is great
- on popcorn (sprinkle with apple cider vinegar first to make it stick)
- in dressings and sauces (see recipe below)
- sprinkled on salads or savoury oatmeal
- mixed into anything you want to add a little cheesi-ness too
- used to make lots of vegan cheeses
- great as part of a coating on air-fried or roasted tofu!
Can you eat it if you have Candida or a yeast allergy?
Though the yeast cells of nutritional yeast are killed during manufacturing, to be on the safe side people who are allergic or sensitive to yeast are advised to avoid nooch.
Do you have to refrigerate it?
You don’t need to keep it in the fridge, but do store in a cool dark place and it will last for about 2 years.
Now that you know all about Nutritional Yeast, time for a recipe!
Makes about 600 ml
- ½ cup nutritional yeast flakes
- ¾ cup water
- ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
- ½ cup cooked chickpeas
- 1/3 cup braggs soy alternative or coconut aminos (lower sodium)
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic
Place all ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. Make sure you give this enough blender time to get SUPER creamy – you will know it is ready when a little bit between your fingers feel smooth and not at all gritty. Use as a salad dressing, over steamed broccoli or cauliflower, roasted vegetables, rice bowls, or even as a vegetable dip. Keeps in the fridge for a week; also freezes well.