Gluterra - gluten-free and healthy

Click here to get a FREE GF Substitution Guide!

Nutritional yeast anyone?

When we lived in a small town next to a big college, we frequented a hip vegetarian restaurant in town called "The Grit." This was my first vegetarian restaurant experience, but it was one of those places that didn't seem to be vegetarian because the food tasted so good. They served (and still do) all sorts of dishes - Southern, Asian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Italian, sandwiches, salads, etc. — all for affordable prices. This is the place where I first met nutritional yeast flakes.

So what exactly is nutritional yeast? It is deactivated yeast that is rich in B-complex vitamins and protein ("complete protein" that is, meaning all 9 essential amino acids are in the protein). It's also gluten-free. If you have never seen it, it is pictured above (typically sold in the form of flakes or powder). You can see what we usually buy as well as order some for yourself at this link: Kal Nutritional Yeast Flakes

I grew up eating kinako, which is a roasted soybean flour, in Japan. My first impression of nutritional yeast was that it reminded me of kinako which has a roasted nutty flavor. Nutritional yeast also has a hint of cheesy flavor. Some people use nutritional yeast to make vegan "cheese" sauce. In fact, I saw Trisha Yearwood making vegan lasagna on The Food Network and she used nutritional yeast in her tofu ricotta cheese.

My favorite way to eat nutritional yeast is similar to how my favorite vegetarian restaurant serves their 'tofu cubes'. I cook tofu in olive oil, season it with gluten-free soy sauce, and then generously sprinkle nutritional yeast flakes all over the tofu for the finishing touch. My version of the tofu cube recipe can be found here. The tofu cubes are great hot or cold, and leftovers make a great snack too!

Another way my husband started to use nutritional yeast is to sprinkle the flakes on freshly popped popcorn. One of our friends (thanks Serena) told us about it; something we would have never thought to do. When you want a little flavor to the popcorn besides salt and want to keep it healthy, try it some time. It's delicious and addictive.

Want to know more ways to use nutritional yeast? Here are 200 more ways to use it.