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What is Nutritional Yeast?

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Nutritional yeast is not the kind of yeast that expands and bubbles in bread doughs. It’s deactivated and comes in the form of yellow flakes or powder. It has a pleasant cheesy flavor and is used in many plant-based recipes and as a topping for dishes and snacks. Nutritional yeast is also different from “yeast extract,” which is a dark brown paste. 

How nutritional yeast is made

Nutritional yeast is made by letting yeast grow in a glucose solution for a few days. Then the yeast is deactivated with heat, washed, dried, and packaged. 

Uses in plant-based cooking 

Nutritional yeast is popular as an ingredient in dishes where a cheesy flavor is desired. It’s used in recipes like Gracious Vegan Creamy Tomato SauceSun Dried Tomato RisottoGreen Goddess Garlic DressingCreamy Broccoli Soupand No-Oil, No-Butter White Sauce. It’s also used in recipes for plant-based cheeses, like Gracious Vegan Parmesan Cheese and Gracious Vegan Ricotta Cheese. Many people sprinkle nutritional yeast on popcorn. 

A+ for nutrition 

Nutritional yeast is an excellent source of fiber and protein. Many brands of the yeast are also fortified with iron and B vitamins, including the all-important B12, which vegetarians and vegans need to make sure they get enough of, given you can’t get enough from plant foods. Taking B12 supplements is probably a less expensive and easier source of Vitamin B12 than nutritional yeast for most people. 

The fiber in nutritional yeast, according to recent research, may help stimulate the body’s immune defenses. In one study, people who ate the equivalent of a spoonful of nutritional yeast a day experienced a 25% reduction in the recurrence of common cold infections and, if they did get sick, a decrease in cold-related sleeping difficulties. 

Where to find it

Nutritional yeast is now sold in most grocery stores, including many bulk sections, too—that’s the most cost-efficient way to buy it. It is definitely available in natural food stores. 

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