Don’t be intimidated by this unappetising looking powder. It is tasty, versatile and, as the name suggests, it’s really good for you.
Although it has the word ‘yeast’ in the name it is inactive and is different from Bakers yeast. Also, don’t get it confused with similar-looking Brewers yeast powder which is bitter tasting and contains gluten. Let’s be honest the name is off-putting, there are a few more kicking about; savoury yeast flakes, nooch, hippie dust, yeshi and Cheeto dust, apparently. All terrible. My friend calls it Nutty Beast, I can work with this.
What does it taste like?
Umami (savoury). Cheese is the predominant flavour, it also tastes nutty, creamy and slightly salty.
How to consume it
- Use it in place of parmesan cheese
- Sprinkle on unsalted popcorn or kale crisps
- Add it to savoury bakes, waffles and pancake batters
- Use it to make salad dressing
- Use it to make vegan cheeses and vegan bechamel sauce
- Add it to scrambled tofu with eggy tasting black salt (kala namak) as a scrambled egg replacement
- Sprinkle it on soups and stews to add a great umami flavour and cut down on salt
- Mash it into potatoes for a super creamy mash
Nutritional yeast is extremely low in calories, fat and sodium, it also contains no dairy or gluten and no MSG. “It is rich in many basic nutrients such as the B vitamins, chromium, sixteen amino acids, fourteen or more minerals, and seventeen vitamins (not including vitamins A, C and E). Yeast is also high in phosphorus.” (1)
Phosphorous is second to calcium when it comes to maintaining healthy bones and teeth. It also aids digestion and helps keep the kidneys healthy.
B vitamins “support the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins to provide energy for the body. They are also important for maintaining a healthy nervous system, aiding with vision, and enhancing the integrity of the skin and hair.”(2)
It’s a good source of Folic acid (B9) which has a crucial role in cell maintenance and production and is very important to women who are planning a pregnancy “Folic acid is very important for the development of a healthy foetus.” (3)
“It’s a complete protein, which means it has all nine essential amino acids that our bodies can’t alone produce.” (4) Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues. Our muscles, organs, and immune systems are made up mostly of protein.
What is it?
Nutritional yeast is the result of a sugar-eating fungus called Saccharomyces Cerevisiae (more dazzling names) which “is grown on sugar cane or sugar beet molasses”… “After growing the yeast, it is completely pasteurised and deactivated so it is quite safe and won’t give rise to yeast overgrowth in someone who eats it.” Michael Donaldson, PhD (3).
History and studies
Ancient Egyptians were known to use yeast. In more recent history it is considered one of the earliest forms of supplementation. Brewers yeast was used during the Spanish Civil War (1937-38) to combat a Niacin (Vitamin B3) deficiency.
Nutritional yeast is a great high energy food and also has immune-boosting properties which has been studied in athletes. A daily spoonful of nutritional yeast during training has had positive effects on marathon runners physically and mentally post-race. “Athletes who overtrain may put excessive stress on their bodies, and become more susceptible to respiratory infections. But, the fibre found in nutritional and brewer’s yeast may prevent this immune decline in marathon runners.” (5)
Where to find it
I use the brand Engevita and buy locally from independent supermarket HISBE in Brighton. You can also find it in most health food shops, Wholefoods, Holland & Barratt. You can buy it online at Ocado or if you can’t find any locally there is always Amazon.
Nutritional yeast has to be the most underrated foods I that know, we need to take it out of vegan and plant-based circles and bring this Nutty Beast to the masses.
1.Huntington College of Health Sciences https://www.hchs.edu/literature/Nutritional%20Yeast%20&%20Liver.pdf
4. NHS Choices: https://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/913.aspx?categoryid=54
5. Nutrition Facts: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/preserving-immune-function-in-athletes-with-nutritional-yeast/