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What is Nutritional Yeast? Discover Top Health Benefits

Nutritional yeast is a superfood that is abundant in essential vitamins and minerals, making it an excellent addition to anyone’s diet. It is rich in vitamin B12, which is vital for maintaining energy levels and supporting brain function. Moreover, it contains folic acid and iron, which are crucial nutrients for pregnant women. Nutritional yeast also has immune-boosting properties due to its high concentration of beta-glucans, which can help fight off infections and diseases. Along with B12, the other B vitamins in nutritional yeast help convert food to energy, which can stabilize blood sugar levels. This process helps your body maintain a healthy metabolism and consistent energy levels.

Studies have shown that beta-glucans can stimulate the immune system by activating white blood cells known as macrophages. These cells then target and destroy harmful pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. Additionally, nutritional yeast is a great source of protein and dietary fiber, both of which can help with weight management and satiety. It’s worth noting that nutritional yeast is also packed with antioxidants, essential for protecting cells against damage and eliminating toxins from the body. Having enough glutathione in your system becomes increasingly important as you age and your production of the antioxidant declines. Nutritional yeast may help lower cholesterol levels, similar to the beta glucan found in oats and barley.

One of the best things about nutritional yeast is its versatility in the kitchen. It has a nutty, cheesy flavor that makes it a popular ingredient in vegan recipes as a cheese substitute. You can sprinkle it on popcorn or roasted vegetables for added flavor or mix it into sauces and dips for a creamy texture. With so many potential health benefits and delicious culinary uses, nutritional yeast is undoubtedly worth adding to your diet for extra protein and improved nutrition.

What is nutritional yeast, and why is it becoming so popular?

Nutritional yeast is a popular ingredient among health enthusiasts and vegans alike, and for good reason. It is highly nutritious, packed with vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals that are essential for overall health.

Some of the benefits of nutritional yeast include being a rich source of B vitamins, which are important for energy production and maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails.

Additionally, nutritional yeast is also a great source of trace minerals, providing the body with essential micronutrients, including vitamin B12, typically found only in animal products (e.g., dairy). This makes fortified nutritional yeast a good source of the nutrient for those practicing a plant-based diet.

Also known as “nooch,” is an inactive variant of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which sets it apart from active dry yeast.

Nutritional Yeast Flakes provide a delightful cheesy taste and contain 8 grams of protein per serving. They are also abundant in vitamin B12, making them an excellent vegetarian dietary supplement.

It is also a complete protein source, containing all nine essential amino acids necessary for muscle growth and repair. Additionally, nutritional yeast is low in calories and carbohydrates, making it an ideal choice for those looking to manage their weight.

Its nutty, cheesy flavor, similar to Parmesan cheese, makes it a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes such as soups, sauces, and even popcorn toppings. The processes used to make nutritional yeast deactivate the yeast, releasing amino acids like glutamate, which contributes to its savory flavor profile and adds an umami flavor to dishes.

How to Use Nutritional Yeast in Food

There are plenty of creative ways to use. Here are just a few of many…

  • Creamy risotto
  • Baked chickpeas
  • Oven baked chicken
  • Vegan pesto
  • Pasta
  • Popcorn
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Vegan hollandaise sauce
  • Kale chips
  • Crackers
  • Vegan sour cream
  • Baked potatoes

How do I make Cashew No Cheese Sauce?

Don’t fancy dairy cheese? No worries! This creamy and flavorful Cashew No Cheese Sauce is created using only six ingredients, without any dairy.

The combination of cashews, salt, garlic powder, water, and lemon juice results in a delectable “cheese sauce” that can be enjoyed with a variety of dishes such as broccoli, nachos, veggies, and noodles. It’s so delicious that yoeu might even be tempted to savor it on its own by dipping your spoon in!

Here’s some basic recipes to get you started:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews (soaked for at least 2 hours or overnight, then drained)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup water (adjust for desired thickness)
  • 2 cloves garlic (optional, for flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (optional, for color)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper or chili powder (optional, for a little heat)

Instructions:

  1. Soak the Cashews:
  • Place the raw cashews in a bowl and cover them with water. Allow them to soak for at least 2 hours, or overnight if possible. Soaking the cashews helps soften them, making them easier to blend into a creamy sauce.
  1. Drain and Rinse:
  • After soaking, drain and rinse the cashews thoroughly.
  1. Blend the Ingredients:
  • In a high-speed blender or food processor, combine the soaked and rinsed cashews, nutritional yeast, water, garlic (if using), lemon juice, salt, paprika (if using), and cayenne pepper or chili powder (if using).
  • Start blending at low speed and gradually increase to high speed. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. You may need to scrape down the sides of the blender or processor and blend again to ensure everything is well combined.
  1. Adjust Consistency:
  • If the sauce is too thick, you can add a little more water, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. If it’s too thin, you can add a few more cashews to thicken it.
  1. Taste and Adjust Seasoning:
  • Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings as needed. You can add more salt, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, or spices to suit your preferences.
  1. Heat (Optional):
  • If you want to serve the sauce warm, you can gently heat it in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Be careful not to overheat or boil the sauce, as it can become too thick.
  1. Serve:
  • Use the cashew “cheese” sauce as a dip, drizzle it over pasta, use it as a nacho cheese sauce, or pour it over steamed vegetables. It’s incredibly versatile!
  1. Store:
  • Leftover sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Feel free to customize this recipe by adding herbs, spices, or other seasonings to suit your taste. Cashew “cheese” sauce is a great dairy-free alternative that adds creaminess and flavor to a variety of dishes.

My favorite is adding it to my popcorn as a treat. As it is a healthy and yummy topping for popcorn. It adds a cheesy and nutty flavor while providing a nutritional boost. Here’s how to use on popcorn:

Ingredients:

  • Popped popcorn
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Olive oil or melted butter (optional)
  • Salt (to taste)

Instructions:

  1. Pop the Popcorn:
  • You can use an air popper, stovetop method, or microwave to pop your popcorn. Make sure it’s fully popped and free from any unpopped kernels.
  1. Optional: Add Fat for Adherence:
  • To help the nutritional yeast stick to the popcorn, you can lightly drizzle it with olive oil or melted butter. This step is optional, but it enhances the flavor and makes the yeast adhere better.
  1. Sprinkle:
  • While the popcorn is still warm and just out of the popper or microwave, sprinkle nutritional yeast evenly over it. The warmth of the popcorn will slightly melt the nutritional yeast and help it adhere.
  1. Season with Salt:
  • If desired, sprinkle a bit of salt over the popcorn to enhance the flavor. Keep in mind that nutritional yeast can have a slightly salty flavor on its own, so adjust the salt to your preference.
  1. Toss and Mix:
  • Gently toss the popcorn to ensure the nutritional yeast and salt are evenly distributed. You can do this by shaking the bowl or using a spatula to gently mix.
  1. Serve Immediately:
  • Enjoy your popcorn while it’s still warm and fresh. The cheesy, nutty flavor of the yeast pairs wonderfully with the popcorn’s crunch.

Tips:

  • You can adjust the amount to your liking. Start with a couple of tablespoons and add more if you want a stronger cheesy flavor.
  • Nutritional yeast is a source of B vitamins and adds a savory umami taste. It’s a great alternative to traditional cheese for those who are lactose intolerant or follow a vegan diet.
  • Experiment with other seasonings to create unique popcorn flavors. You can add a pinch of garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, or your favorite herbs and spices.
  • Feel free to get creative by mixing with other seasonings or even a touch of chili powder for a slightly spicy popcorn.

Popcorn is a delicious and nutritious snack that’s easy to make and can be tailored to your taste preferences. Enjoy!

And I can not leave out one of my favorites…

How to make Vegan Mozzarella

This recipe for Vegan Mozzarella Cheese incorporates ingredients such as Almond Flour, coconut oil, and Tapioca Flour. When combined with nutritional yeast, these ingredients create a cheese that can be sliced, grated, and melted.

Vegan mozzarella cheese can be made using various plant-based ingredients to replicate the creamy and melty texture of traditional mozzarella. Here’s a simple recipe for homemade vegan mozzarella cheese:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in hot water for 1 hour or in cold water overnight, then drained
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened, plain plant milk (e.g., almond, soy, or cashew milk)
  • 2 tablespoons refined coconut oil (for a more authentic melting texture)
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca starch or arrowroot powder
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon white or chickpea miso paste (for a tangy flavor, optional)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • A pinch of garlic powder (optional, for flavor)
  • A pinch of smoked paprika (optional, for color)

Instructions:

  1. Soak Cashews:
  • If you haven’t already, soak the raw cashews in hot water for 1 hour or in cold water overnight. Drain them before using.
  1. Blend Ingredients:
  • In a high-speed blender, combine the soaked cashews, plant milk, coconut oil, tapioca starch or arrowroot powder, nutritional yeast, miso paste (if using), apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, salt, garlic powder, and smoked paprika (if using).
  • Start blending at low speed and gradually increase to high. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. You may need to scrape down the sides of the blender and blend again to ensure everything is well combined.
  1. Cook on Stovetop:
  • Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk. As it heats up, it will begin to thicken.
  • Continue to cook and stir until the mixture becomes stretchy and gooey, similar to the consistency of traditional mozzarella cheese. This should take about 5-7 minutes.
  1. Remove from Heat:
  • Once the mixture has reached the desired consistency, remove it from the heat. It will continue to firm up as it cools.
  1. Shape or Store:
  • You can shape the mozzarella into a ball or log and refrigerate it until it firms up, usually for a few hours. Alternatively, you can use it immediately in recipes that call for melted mozzarella cheese.
  1. Use:
  • Use your homemade vegan mozzarella cheese in dishes like vegan pizza, lasagna, sandwiches, or wherever you’d use traditional mozzarella.

This homemade vegan mozzarella cheese has a creamy texture and a mild, cheesy flavor. Adjust the seasonings to match your taste preferences, and feel free to experiment with additional herbs and spices for extra flavor.

It can be utilized on a pizza, in a caprese salad, or enjoyed on its own. Additionally, it serves as a fantastic vegan option for charcuterie spreads or cheese plates. To prepare this cheese, simply add the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Then, heat the mixture until it thickens. Finally, wrap the cheese in plastic and follow the instructions provided to transform the mixture into mozzarella!

Nacho Cheese Dip

And If you are craving a guilty pleasure that has been transformed into a healthy option, then look no further than this Nacho Cheese Dip. This heavenly dip is created using cashews, nutritional yeast, salt, paprika, chili powder, ground cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, water, and lemon juice.

Once your cashews have been ground into a fine powder, incorporate the nutritional yeast, salt, and spices. Then, add lemon juice and water. Serve the dip while it is warm with high-quality store-bought tortilla chips or prepare your own by following our recipe for homemade tortillas. To turn this into a complete meal, combine a variety of beans with your tortilla chips, shredded chicken, guacamole, and Pico de Gallo. Finish off your dinner with a drizzle of nacho cheese dip for an extra touch of indulgence. You’ll be in pure bliss!

Here’s a simple recipe to make a delicious and creamy vegan nacho cheese dip:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in hot water for 1 hour or in cold water overnight, then drained
  • 1 cup unsweetened, plain plant milk (e.g., almond, soy, or cashew milk)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • 1/4 cup diced green chilies (canned or fresh)
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapeño slices (adjust to taste for spiciness)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (for color, optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Soak Cashews:
  • If you haven’t already, soak the raw cashews in hot water for 1 hour or in cold water overnight. Drain them before using.
  1. Blend Ingredients:
  • In a high-speed blender, combine the soaked cashews, plant milk, nutritional yeast, diced tomatoes, diced green chilies, pickled jalapeños, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, turmeric (if using), salt, and pepper.
  • Start blending at low speed and gradually increase to high. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. You may need to scrape down the sides of the blender and blend again to ensure everything is well combined.
  1. Heat and Thicken:
  • Pour the blended mixture into a saucepan and heat it over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. As it heats up, it will begin to thicken. This should take about 5-7 minutes.
  1. Taste and Adjust:
  • Taste the nacho cheese dip and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Add more salt, nutritional yeast, or spices to match your taste preferences.
  1. Serve:
  • Once the dip has reached the desired consistency and flavor, remove it from the heat. It will continue to thicken slightly as it cools.
  • Serve your vegan nacho cheese dip warm with tortilla chips, nachos, or as a dip for vegetables.
  1. Optional Toppings:
  • You can garnish the nacho cheese dip with additional diced tomatoes, sliced jalapeños, chopped cilantro, or even a sprinkle of extra nutritional yeast for added flavor.

This homemade vegan nacho cheese dip is a fantastic dairy-free alternative that’s perfect for dipping, drizzling over nachos, or using as a sauce for various dishes. Enjoy!

Typically, one-quarter of a cup (4 tablespoons) of nutritional yeast contains approximately:

  • Calories: Around 60-80 calories
  • Protein: Approximately 8-10 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: About 4 grams
  • Total Carbohydrates: Approximately 6-8 grams
  • Sugars: Minimal, usually less than 1 gram
  • Total Fat: Approximately 1 gram
  • Saturated Fat: Negligible
  • Unsaturated Fat: Mainly in the form of healthy fats
  • Vitamins and Minerals (approximate values can vary by brand):Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Can provide over 100% of the recommended daily intake (RDI)
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Often provides more than 100% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Typically a good source
  • Vitamin B6: Often provides more than 100% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B12: Can provide a significant amount of the RDI, especially in fortified versions
  • Folate: Typically a good source
  • Zinc: Usually a notable amount of the RDI
  • Selenium: Typically a good source
  • Iron: Provides a moderate amount
  • Magnesium: Often provides a decent portion of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: Typically a good source
  • Potassium: Usually provides a moderate amount

Please note that the nutritional content of nutritional yeast can vary slightly depending on the brand and specific product. Some nutritional yeasts are fortified with additional vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin B12, which is important for vegans and vegetarians, as it is primarily found in animal products. Always check the product label for the most accurate nutritional information. Additionally, fortified nutritional yeast contains added vitamins to further enhance its nutritional value. This ensures that even unfortified nutritional yeast still provides a moderate amount of B vitamins and other minerals. If you’re looking for unfortified nutritional yeast, read the ingredient list. Any added vitamins or minerals will be listed.

In Conclusion:

Incorporating nutritional yeast as a substitute for unhealthy ingredients in your recipes is a smart and nutritious choice. This versatile ingredient not only provides a rich, savory flavor but also offers a wealth of essential nutrients like B vitamins, protein, and minerals.

By replacing less healthy ingredients like cheese, butter, or artificial flavorings with nutritional yeast, you can reduce saturated fats, cholesterol, and artificial additives in your dishes, making them more heart-healthy and suitable for various dietary preferences, including vegan and vegetarian diets.

Whether you’re looking to enhance the nutritional profile of your meals or simply enjoy a delicious cheesy flavor without the guilt, nutritional yeast is a valuable addition to your culinary repertoire.

So, embrace its potential, experiment with it in your recipes, and savor the benefits of this wholesome ingredient.

author avatar
Robin Dall Adventurer-in-Chief
Robin Dall is a spirited author, seasoned writer, and dynamic travel concierge with over 50 years of rich, real-life experience. A fitness and nutrition enthusiast, Robin is passionate about health and wellness. Originally hailing from Kansas City, Robin embraced the sunny Floridian lifestyle in 2020, bringing along a zest for adventure and a love for her son and furbabies. Whether she's crafting captivating travel narratives, sharing fitness tips, or creating nutritious recipes, Robin's content is infused with creativity, charm, and a genuine love for life. With her husband, son, and two dogs by her side, she explores the world with boundless curiosity and joy, always eager to share the journey with others. Join Robin on her adventures and discover a world where travel, fitness, and well-being come together in perfect harmony.

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