What Is Nutritional Yeast, And More Importantly, What's IN It?

Here's why you should be eating it.

We suspect that nutritional yeast is one of the reasons many folks are scared off from vegan recipes. It doesn't sound like the most mouth-watering ingredient around. But don't let the wholly unappetizing name of "nutritional yeast" keep you from this surprisingly delicious ingredient. Nooch, as it's affectionately called, is in fact something everyone -- not just vegans -- should keep in their pantry because it. is. awesome. In fact, it is one of the best kept culinary secrets around.

Nutritional yeast has a cheesy, nutty, umami flavor that tastes beautiful on popcorn, makes roasted veggies taste that much better and elevates salads to a realm of awesome. And while vegans often use it in place of cheese because it is the best substitute around, you could even use it with cheese if you wanted.

But what are these yellow flakes? Basically, nutritional yeast is yeast that has been deactivated. More specifically, it's an inactive form of the yeast strain Saccharomyces cerevisia (which is not the same as brewer's yeast). This strain usually grows on molasses or beets and is harvested, heated (to deactivate it), dried and crumbled before it makes its way to a health food store near you.

We haven't even told you the best part. Nutritional yeast is in fact nutritional. It's loaded with vitamins and minerals and has a decent amount of protein and fiber too. So get popping (some corn) and serve yourself up a big bowl topped with these tiny flakes of awesome.

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