Nutritional Yeast 101: Why it seems to be in everything and what you can do with it

When I first became interested in plant-based cooking I was annoyed to see nutritional yeast (and often cashews, too) in what seemed to be every single recipe. People find that it can provide a hint of a cheesy flavour, so it is often used in recipes like homemade plant-based cheese and other creamy sauces. Some brands are also fortified with vitamin B12 which some on a plant-based diet tend to try and supplement.

When I first wanted to try it I could buy it in quantities enough for a single recipe at Bulk Barn, but I never really had it on hand so it was very much a well-planned in advance event. That isn’t really how I cook. I also didn’t like making the extra trip to another store. If you haven’t tried it out before you might find a large sealed bag in the natural foods section of your grocery store. Like me, you might look at that bag and wonder when on earth you’d mange to use that much of the strange ingredient. Out of a lot of the strange seeming one-time use ingredients that show up in vegan cooking, this one actually has a lot of potential in your pantry.

Aside from many plant-based macaroni and cheese recipes, here are some other ways to try it out:

  • On toast: Family friends used to make toast, butter (margarine?) it, and then sprinkle it with nutritional yeast. This was a favourite on Saturday night visits, often served with fruit salad and munched on while planning games or watching a movie.
  • Popcorn seasoning: Same family friends. They would make popcorn and then top it with nutritional yeast as well. If you use an oil like melted margarine or olive oil it sticks on better.
  • With pasta: Have you ever made plain pasta with olive oil, garlic and shredded parmesan cheese? You can sub the nutritional yeast for the parm.
  • Seasoning for Kale Chips or Roasted Chickpeas: You might try using nutritional yeast as a seasoning for cheesy kale chips or roasted chickpeas. I’ve had it on the kale chips and it was delightful!

What else can you do with it? Bon Appétit calls it “nature’s cheeto dust” and suggests that pretty much anywhere you might add a sprinkle of cheese you could try using nutritional yeast.








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