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VitoVino 11-23-2011 04:04 PM

I just started using nutritional yeast (complete protein source)
This stuff is great on popcorn!


Singing the praises of nutritional yeast

By Elizabeth Brown

April 25, 2009

While hiking in Vermont, I stumbled upon this quaint little movie theater in Montpelier. They serve popcorn made with real butter, sea salt and this yummy, flaky, cheesy flavored stuff sprinkled on top.

It was 1996 when I first learned about nutritional yeast and I have been singing its praises from the mountain tops ever since. I also recommend visiting the actual Von Trapp lodge in Stowe, the inspiration for "The Sound of Music," but I digress.

I really do tell everyone about the wonders of nutritional yeast. "You should try nutritional yeast on your popcorn!" I always say. And with a look of both intrigue and fear they reply, "What is nutritional yeast?"

Even though I've been putting it on popcorn and mixing it into food and beverages for years, I never really answered that question intelligently and succinctly. I would usually say something like, "It's this stuff that tastes kinda like parmesan cheese. It's loaded with B-vitamins, and it's a complete protein."

Then they'd usually say, "Well, that's not a very appealing name, nutritional yeast. You need a better name."

Although people don't like the name, it really tells you a lot about what I consider a very under-acknowledged superfood.

Nutritional yeast is grown from yeast, a tiny form of fungi, like mushrooms but much, much smaller.

The "scientific" name for yeast is saccharomyces cerevisiae or sugar-eating fungus. Yeast cells use sugar for energy just like other living creatures.

Nutritional yeast, unlike yeast used in baking or making beer, is a deactivated yeast, made by growing it in a medium of sugarcane and beet molasses, then harvesting, washing, drying and packaging the yeast. It is candida albicans free, which means it can be enjoyed even by yeast sensitive individuals.

You can find nutritional yeast in the form of yellow flakes, my preferred choice. I like KAL and NOW brands. It's also available in a gritty form, similar to cornmeal, but I find this version has a more pungent smell and flavor that's a bit off-putting.

Nutritional yeast is available in bulk. While I advocate bulk foods, I don't recommend nutritional yeast in bulk because it's the richest source of the B-vitamin riboflavin, and riboflavin is sensitive to light. This is especially important for vegans and vegetarians who exclude milk and yogurt, the next richest source of riboflavin, from their diets.

Nutritional yeast comes in fortified or unfortified forms. The unfortified version, although lower in B-vitamins, is an excellent source of iron and all of the B-vitamins with 35 to 100 percent of the daily value for all B's except B12. B12 is found in highest concentrations in seafood, red meat and fortified cereals. Nutritional yeast is a must for those who follow a vegetarian, whole foods-based, gluten-free diet.

Two tablespoons of fortified nutritional yeast flakes, the serving size on the nutrition facts label, contain 60 calories, 5g carbs, 4g fiber and 9g protein plus beta-1,3 glucan, a type of fiber that may aid the immune system and help to lower cholesterol. Additionally, nutritional yeast is a good source of selenium and potassium. Fortified nutritional yeast has significantly less iron than the unfortified kind, five percent versus 20 percent respectively. The B-vitamin content in the fortified form ranges from 150 percent for B12 to 720 percent for riboflavin.

If you follow a vegetarian diet, you might want to buy both the fortified and unfortified brands and mix them in order to receive ample amounts of iron and B12 and ward off any potential types of anemia.

Since your body can only absorb so much of any one nutrient at a time and since you need B-vitamins dispersed throughout the day to help your body convert food to energy, I recommend adding just a teaspoon of nutritional yeast to foods at each meal. One teaspoon mixes easily into any food or beverage, costs only nine cents and provides 10 calories, 3/4 gram of fiber, 1.5g of a complete protein, 50 to 100 percent of your daily value for all B-vitamins plus some selenium and iron.

Elizabeth Brown is a registered dietitian and certified holistic chef specializing in weight management, sports nutrition, disease prevention and optimal health through whole foods.


Yeast Meets West

Yeast is considered by many to be the most valuable supplement available. It is a complete protein and contains more protein than meat. Yeast is an excellent source of B-vitamins including B12 and it contains the glucose tolerance factor that helps in the regulation of blood sugar. It is a single-celled fungi present in the air around us and on fruits and grains - it converts various types of sugar to alcohol. The earliest recorded use was in 1550 BC in Egypt. But it is only during the last few decades that the outstanding health benefits of nutritional yeast have been researched.

Raised On Molasses

Nutritional yeast is grown on mineral enriched molasses and used as a food supplement. At the end of the growth period, the culture is pasteurized to kill the yeast. You never want to use a live yeast (i.e. baking yeast) as a food supplement because the live yeast continues to grow in the intestine and actually uses up the vitamin B in the body instead of replenishing the supply. (Brewer's yeast is nutritionally the same but as a by-product of the beer-brewing industry it has a characteristic bitter hops flavor).

It's Good For Ya'

Nutritional yeast contains 18 amino acids (forming the complete protein) and 15 minerals. Being rich in the B-complex vitamins, it is vital in many ways and particularly good for stress reduction. The B-complex vitamins help make nutritional yeast such a valuable supplement, especially to the vegetarian. Yeast, though technically a fungus, is considered a vegetarian food, since yeast cells do not "have a face." One element of yeast is the trace mineral chromium, also known as the Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF). This is necessary to regulate blood sugar and is important for diabetics and people with a tendency toward low blood sugar.

Kohsamui 11-23-2011 11:47 PM

Interesting... I'll give it a try. One place says serving size 2 tablespoons, but writer suggests a teaspoon... Any tips? Add it pre- or post-cooking?

VitoVino 11-24-2011 12:42 AM

I sprinkle it on post cooking. It doesn't need to be cooked at all and I'm not sure it should be.

I use Bragg's nutritional yeast. I found it at my local supermarket in their health foods specialty section.

The Nutritional Facts from the jar has it 20 calories for 1 Tbsp, 2 grams protein and 1 gram fiber.

It's interesting alright. The most intriguing thing is the flavor. Almost cheese-like and 1 teaspoon packs plenty of flavor. The stuff can easily become addictive. I use it on microwaved sweet potatoes as well, along with some non fat sour cream. I'm still discovering uses for it. Give it a shot. If you like the flavor of a medium flavored cheese, this should be a winner. But this has zero fat and only 1 gram carb in the 20 calories.

01gt4.6 11-24-2011 01:00 AM

Hmmmm, I'll have to check it out, if I can remember to look for it.

jwilson0994 11-24-2011 01:44 PM

Very useful information thanks

VitoVino 11-24-2011 09:49 PM



* 1 Add to savory food. Nutritional yeast goes with almost every type of savory food. As you experiment with nutritional yeast, use it as a condiment, sprinkling it on after you cook the dish. As you become familiar with its taste, begin incorporating it into recipes.

* 2 Sprinkle on popcorn. Nutritional yeast, especially in powder form, is delicious on popcorn and is a great way to get your daily B-12 requirement!

* 3 Stir into soups, sauces and gravies. Nutritional yeast is a natural with any sort of savory liquid. It breaks down well when heated and creates a deliciously cheesy taste. Add to your favorite recipes.

* 4 Bake with nutritional yeast. Add one tablespoon to cup nutritional yeast to your favorite savory baked good. You may need to increase the liquid-but only slightly

* 5 Make faux cheese. "The Uncheese Cookbook" by Joanne Stepaniak provides hundreds of vegan recipes that replicate dairy cheeses, and other vegan cheese recipes can be found online.

* 6 Make a "parmesan" topping. A quick and delicious topping for pizza and pasta can be made by blending equal parts blanched almonds and nutritional yeast until fine. Add salt to taste. Refrigerate for up to a month.

* 7 Share with your cats! Most cats enjoy nutritional yeast, so try sprinkling it on your cats' food or put a teaspoon on a plate for them to sample. It's a healthy feline snack full of nutrients.

SamuelPotter 05-17-2013 01:29 PM

You share very nice suggestions, the recipes are good specially the fortified and unfortified mixer. I'm just a bit confuse about popcorn thing is it really pure protein?

Kathy13118 05-17-2013 02:42 PM

I love the stuff. I recently mixed a bunch of it in with some softened butter which I had mixed with equal amounts of canola oil. The butter mixture ended up looking very brown but it tasted delicious on baked potatoes.

I buy it from the bulk bin at Whole Foods, because I think it's cheaper.

carolynnq 05-17-2013 10:34 PM

It's also great on baked kale chips. My son thought it was parmesan!

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