Normally, I prefer to use ordinary, everyday ingredients in my cooking. You know what I’m talking about. The type of ingredient that you can get at virtually any grocery store, whether it’s in Los Angeles or the most out of the way town you can find. Things like flour, spinach, apples… heck, even vegan soy milk can be found in almost any store nowadays. They sell it in Target! But one of the few products I try to always keep on hand, even if I have to drive out of my way to get it, is Nutritional Yeast. Why? Well, there are several reasons.
First and foremost, it’s yummy. I am completely serious. I know the name sounds unappetizing, but that’s not the point.
Nutritional Yeast usually comes in bags or a plastic container that you can buy at your local health food store, co op, or even order online. You can sprinkle it on salads or add it to dishes like soups and sauces for additional flavor. Sometimes I like to sprinkle it on dishes just because it makes the presentation pretty. It looks like golden colored flakes or powder.
That’s important. Nutritional yeast comes as pretty golden flakes or a fine golden powder. It is NOT the granular yeast you get to make your bread rise. If you get that stuff and use it as a condiment, you’ll be very disappointed.
Nutritional Yeast lives up to it’s name because it’s very, you guessed it, nutritional. Mainly, it contains a ton of B vitamins, as well as being cholesterol and fat free. And tasty. Did I mention tasty?
The flavor has been described as both nutty or cheesy. I think it has a hint of both. It’s used in a lot of vegan cheesy-ish type recipes for soups, sauces, and even faux cheeses. Honestly though, if you really want to know what it tastes like, you’ll just have to taste it. You can usually get a small bag of nutritional yeast for a few dollars.
Now, I’m not telling you to rush out, buy a bag of nutritional yeast, and just eat it straight. But as a condiment? Heaven! I find it combines nicely with vegan margarine on mashed potatoes or popcorn, but I’ve also loved it on salads, soups, and even in brown gravy!
Among vegetarians and vegans, Nutritional Yeast is a staple for the simple reason that it’s an easy and versatile source of B12. I’m not going to go into incredible detail about why vegans need to make sure they have an adequate source of B12. Just trust me. It’s important. It’s not difficult either since many cereals, soy milks, and other staples are already routinely fortified with B12. As I said before though, Nutritional Yeast has other benefits.
On the B12 note though, let me mention one more thing. Not all Nutritional Yeasts are created alike. The Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula Nutritional Yeast contains B12, but some of the other ones do not. Some stores even carry (for some unimaginable reason) Nutritional Yeasts that contain non vegan ingredients such as whey and other dairy products. So it pays to read the label.
So let’s sum up. Nutritional Yeast. It’s nutritious. It’s a great source of B vitamins – especially B12. It’s versatile, yummy, and last but not necessarily least, it’s pretty.
What are you waiting for?