Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pantry Staple - Nutritional Yeast

(Pasta topped with arugula, red sauce and nutritional yeast on the boat)

The savory umami of nutritional yeast is very handy to have in your healthy vegan pantry.  Though I am not sure why nutritional yeast is something that people seem to love or hate. I happen to love the stuff. For me nutritional yeast mimics the umami of a good smelly cheese.  I love it so much that I have a 4 pack on auto-ship with Amazon.  Whenever I have something on auto-ship this is a seriously love affair I am having with the product.  Personally I couldn’t imagine making this healthy vegan life of mine work without the stuff.

What is Nutritional Yeast?

Specifically nutritional yeast is a type of yeast (saccharomyces cerevisiae) that is grown (cultured) on glucose, usually molasses.  Next the yeast is killed (deactivated) with heat, washed, dried and packaged.  Some manufacturers add B12 to the final product but not all.  Please don’t assume that that this covers your vegan requirement for B12.

(nutrition label on Bob's Red Mill Nutritional Yeast)

Are there any health benefits associated with consuming nutritional yeast?

Nutritional yeast is mostly protein.  But since ¼ cup of nutritional yeast only has 45 calories, mostly protein translates into 6 grams.  The Bob’s Red Mill Yeast that I buy contains B12 but I still supplement with a sublingual B12 three times per week.  I use nutritional yeast for the umami flavor and aroma it provides.

What Nutritional Yeast is not.

Nutritional yeast has been deactivated which means that it will not make dough rise like bakers yeast.  Nutritional yeast is also not brewer’s yeast which is a different product.   Yeast in a fungus like mushrooms and therefore not an animal product.

Where can I find it?

In Baltimore I can find nutritional yeast at:  Wegman’s, Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, and our local health food stores (The Natural Market, Health Concern and Roots). I have also seen it at Shopper’s Food Warehouse which is a grocery store near the boat.   They may also carry it at Giant Foods but I haven’t looked for it there.  About a year ago I put it on my Amazon auto-ship subscription which I find to be the easiest way to obtain it.

(pizza veggies both raw and cooked topped with walnut parm)

What can you do with it?

Nutritional yeast is very versatile.  If you add just a little (a tablespoon or two) to a dish it can mimic the flavor of butter. When you add more yeast it moves from buttery to cheesy in flavor.

I like to sprinkle it directly on top of food as you would use cheese.  One of my common meals is frozen mixed vegetables which I steam and then toss with hot marinara and top with nutritional yeast and hemp seeds. I call this veggie pizza and I really like it.  It is filling, high in phytonutrients, has a lot of flavor and is in low in calories. 

If you have more time and extra calories in your food budget I suggest that you make a batch of my walnut parmesan to keep on hand. This is wonderful used in any way that you have used parmesan cheese in the past. 

(loaded veggie pizza with a little nutritional yeast "sauce")

Nutritional yeast works on vegan pizza. 

(butternut squash and mushroom barley risotto topped with walnuts and salad)

We also like it stirred into risotto. 

(nutritional yeast topped "cheezy" popcorn)

It is terrific on popcorn.  In fact I love it on popcorn, as does our baby Binky. BTW I have yet to figure out how to get the yeast to stick to the cheese without oil

(my vegan queso dip and chips)

If cheese sauce is your think you can make my vegan queso and add nutritional yeast to it.  When Dan was “learning to love” nutritional yeast I made the queso without yeast. Now I add nutritional yeast (about ¼ cup or so) to this sauce.

How do you typically use nutritional yeast?

The most common way I use yeast is to top my favorite fast food, veggie pizza that I mentioned above.  

(jar of walnut parm ready for the refrigerator)

I also make a lot walnut parm to use on Dan’s food.  

(enjoying dehydrated pizza almonds on the boat)

We love nutritional yeast on pizza almonds.

(veggie salad topped with nutritional yeast and broccoli sprouts)

I like nutritional yeast and/or nutritional yeast on salad.

(curried ravioli topped with a buttery vegan white sauce with peas, tomatoes and arugula)

Finally I use nutritional yeast often to mimic the savor flavor of butter in dishes.

Happy thoughts:
  1. We made it through another day and for that I am grateful. Some days are a little rougher than others. However every day that we wake up is a chance to start again and make a positive difference in the world.
  2. Dan is continuing to improve. His fever is generally in the 100’s and 101’s so far today which is a vast improvement. Now if he can just get some rest I think he will feel much better. 
  3. I got a bit more rest last night and I am also grateful for that.  Hopefully tonight we be even better but I will take what I can get.
  4. I had a nice workout at zero dark thirty this morning while Dan slept. I am grateful that my body is capable of taking the punishment that I dish out without breaking down.
  5. I had a great conversation yesterday with one of guys from Dan’s office.  It was so nice of him to call and check on Dan.  Since Dan was sleeping we talked for about 30 minutes. Hopefully he and Dan can coordinate their schedules so the four of us can go out to dinner soon.
  6. I have kept up my super healthy eating that I put into place after indulging on Sunday and I feel really good.  I think I am going to stay off the grains for another week and see what happens. I enjoy experimenting with my body to see what works best for me.

Signing out:

Saturday has been a reasonably slow day at our house. Dan has been napping on an off and I have been busy working, working out and chatting.  It has been as nice a day as possible given that Dan doesn’t feel great.  However he is starting to look much better so I think we have turned the corner.

How is your weekend going? Are you doing anything fun?  Since I am stuck at home I would love to hear what fun you are having if you feel up to sharing it with everyone.  J  Ciao for now.


  1. We love nutritional yeast! My children are seriously crazy about it! What do you put in your queso?

    1. Hi there Betsy,

      Nutritional yeast is the best isn't it? Even our youngest cat goes crazy for it. Here is the queso link... If that doesn't work just look up queso in the search window on this blog. :-)


  2. Forgot to add that I am glad that your husband is feeling a little better. I am sure he is ready to get back to his normal life. Hope you have a wonderful Sunday!

    1. Thanks! It is very nice that he is starting to feel better. This morning his temp was 99.3 which is great. Now we just need to keep it there so he can get some quality rest.

      Hope you have a wonderful Sunday too. :-)

  3. Glad your husband is feeling better! Flu has been going around at work - it sounds like it's really miserable this year. We've just started using nutritional yeast. I've been making a homemade whole wheat pizza, and I sprinkle nutritional yeast on it instead of using cheese.

    I wanted to mention that I've started roasting mushrooms a couple of times a week, using the recipe you posted recently. I take them to work with me along with some sauteed kale or collards. They're wonderful! I'm also using dried mushrooms in soups and stews for the first time; they really add a lot.

    1. Thanks Statch,

      We are very happy Dan is feeling better too. :-)

      I love topping pizza with nutritional yeast, great idea! The walnut parm works well sprinkled on pizza too.

      Yay for roasted mushrooms. I am so you glad you are enjoying them. :-) Aren't the dried mushrooms great in soups and stew? Good for you for trying that too. I just love experimenting with food and it sounds like you do too. Love that!

      Hope you have a great week,

  4. My husband just asked me what was in nutritional yeast, so I was comparing the one we buy (Red Star) with the Bob's Red Mill one whose label you showed...and the Red Star has 70 calories in a 1.5-tablespoon serving, and 1g of fat in that size serving. Hmmm...and it's also an old bottle, so I think it's time I got some new nutritional yeast...

    1. Statch,

      That is crazy that he two brands seem to have such different nutritional stats. I have read before that nutrition labels can be off by a lot so maybe Bob's is low and Red Star is high. I am just guessing but I can't imagine the stats are really that different. *shrugs*

      BTW I don't think that nutritional yeast ever "goes bad" so yours is probably just fine.


  5. I love nutritional yeast, too! I buy the Red Star brand from the bulk section of my health-food store because it's a lot cheaper that way. I store it in an old coffee can. It's funny that you mentioned your queso -- it's on my "to make" list either this week or next.

    1. Brigid,

      Buying it from the bulk bins is cheaper. Good point.

      I hope you like the queso as much as all my friends do. :-) Don't forget I add nutritional yeast now that Dan has come around to it.

      Hope you are week started off well,

  6. I love yeast flakes on popcorn too! I use a small spray bottle of Braggs and mist some on the popcorn before sprinkling on the flakes. It works even better if you put it in a paper bag and give it a good shake.

    1. Jen,

      What a great idea to use a bag to distribute the yeast onto the popcorn!!! Thank you so much for sharing that. I am definitely going to give it a try. :-)


  7. NOTE the clear package on the Bob’s Red Mill Yeast! Clear packaging allows light in which can destroy the B12!

    1. JD Mumma,

      I don't recommend that anyone rely on nutritional yeast for their B12.



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