Nutritional Yeast 101

by Holladay Allen

Native Foods Cafe


What’s up with nutritional yeast? My mother used to put
nutritional yeast on her popcorn when she was younger because she loved the
flavor, before she even knew what vegan was.  For most vegans, it is the food equivalent of gold.    In fact, when interviewing
people for the blog or our newsletter, I often ask What one vegan product could
you never live without?
and by far the most common answer is nutritional yeast,
or “nooch” as it is affectionately called.  Nutritional yeast tastes cheesy, like really cheesy, and can
make dishes seem almost creamy when mixed in.  Not only that, but it is often fortified with B12, which
vegheads like as well.  

6a0112796f38d028a40168ea396201970c-500wiFreddie's Mac 'n' Cheese at Native Foods Cafe.  vegan restaurant, vegan food

So where does nutritional yeast come from?  Well it is cultivated on sugarcane or
molasses, then when ready to “harvest,” it is heated (to deactivate), washed
and dried.  Because it is
deactivated when heated, it does not have the ability to make dough rise like
other yeasts.  And it is not the
same as brewer’s yeast, so don’t make that mistake.

These are barrels of molasses that are fermenting for the
making of rum at the North Shore Distillery in Lake Bluff. | Photo Credit: Tom

Nutritional yeast is a yellow flaky substance that is a good source of protein and B vitamins.  It is low fat, low sodium and sugar free (even though it feeds on sugar during the growth process!).  You can find nutritional yeast at health food stores and
Whole Foods, and of course you can order it online.


Native Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this image courtest of American Spice.

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