Nutritional Yeast is low in fat and sodium and is free of sugar, dairy and gluten. It has a strong nutty/cheesy flavor that can be added to any dish to impart a cheesy taste. Use in many recipes in place of cheese, such as mashed and fried potatoes, as well as put into scrambled tofu as a substitute for scrambled eggs. Another popular use is as a topping for popcorn.
Nutritional yeast—sometimes referred to as “nooch”—is an inactive (e.g. dead) form of the yeast strain known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It’s the same strain of yeast bakers use to leaven bread, except it’s been pasteurized to dry out the yeast in order to extract its nutritional benefits. Once the yeast is mature, it gets poured out onto a conveyor belt and goes through a drying process that breaks it down into little flakes. Nutritional has a bright yellowish hue and is most commonly sold in flakes such as these.
As mentioned above, use nutritional yeast the same way you would a grated cheese. Sprinkle it over anything from salads and roasted veggies to pasta and rice for a subtle, savory flavor boost. Toss a couple of tablespoonfuls with a little bit olive oil, salt, and freshly popped popcorn for a “cheesy” snack that to rival even the most addictive flavored chip or corn puff, minus the dairy or fluorescent-orange food coloring. (Nature’s cheese powder!)
Since vegan diets restrict the consumption of dairy products (including cheese), nutritional yeast is commonly called for in vegan versions of recipes that are traditionally made with lots of cheese. Do a quick Google search for vegan mac and cheese, pesto, enchiladas, or risotto, and chances are a good number of those recipes will include nutritional yeast.
A tablespoon-sized serving of nutritional yeast has just 20 calories, yet packs in a surprisingly dense amount of protein. Although the yeast has a naturally savory quality, it is naturally sodium free.
Store nutritional yeast in a cool, dark place or in the refrigerator and it should keep for about two years.