What is nutritional yeast and what are its benefits?
by Ezra •6 minutes read
Last updated: 08 Mar, 2023
Nutritional yeast (also advertised as savoury yeast, nutritional seasoning, nutritional yeast flakes, or simply ‘nooch’) looks pretty funky with its flaky, yellow consistency. Don’t let this put you off though - the health benefits of nutritional yeast are endless! It has a delicious, savoury flavour much like parmesan, making it a brilliant dairy-free substitute.
Nutritional yeast is the perfect addition to any dishes that you want to give that extra nutty, cheesy flavour too.
Filled with essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals
Nutritional yeast is a great source of vitamins and minerals, and it is packed with essential amino acids. It has no artificial flavours or colours, is low in fat and high in protein and fibre. This makes nutritional yeast the ideal supplement for those following a plant-based diet, as it is rich in vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), and folic acid. When fortified, nutritional yeast also includes B12 which is a necessary addition for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Vitamin B12 is a vitamin that those following a plant-based diet can easily become deficient in, as it is primarily found in animal products. A B12 deficiency can result in anaemia, nervous damage and, eventually, paralysis. Luckily, these are all problems that can be easily avoided by taking B12 supplements or eating fortified foods. Nutritional yeast is the best way to get your daily dosage of this important vitamin!
Although nutritional yeast is a good addition to a vegetarian or vegan diet, many others can benefit from its numerous vitamins and minerals. It is dairy, soy, sugar, and gluten free, making it an excellent food product for people with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), food allergies or sensitivities, or those on a restricted diet. Always be sure to seek medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, if you experience any of these issues.
How to use nutritional yeast
Now, you may be wondering, how do you use nutritional yeast in a dish?
Nutritional yeast can be used as:
A dairy-free substitute to create a cheese sauce
A seasoning over roast vegetables, popcorn, tomato-based dishes, or salads
An addition to smoothies
An umami flavour in chilli and broths
A flavour enhancer for pet food
Always store nutritional yeast in an air-tight container and keep it in a cool, dark area to ensure it keeps its flavour and vitamin and mineral content. If you store it correctly, it can last for up to 2 years!
Brewer’s yeast vs baker’s yeast vs nutritional yeast
When you’re on the hunt for nutritional yeast in the supermarket, be careful not to confuse it with brewer’s yeast or baker's yeast. Although all the products derive from saccharomyces cerevisiae, a fungus better known as yeast, they are very different when it comes to purpose, flavour, and nutritional value.
Brewer’s yeast is a byproduct of the production of beer, giving it a bitter taste, whilst baker’s yeast is used to make bread rise and therefore has a sweeter flavour. Baker’s yeast has no nutritional value but baker’s yeast has high levels of minerals such as chromium, potassium, and selenium. These are minerals that are not found in nutritional yeast, which instead is rich in B vitamins. Both types of yeast are sold as supplements and can be consumed together to form a healthy, balanced diet.
If you’ve read to the bottom of this article, I’m sure you’re eager by now to give nutritional yeast a try. There’s a lot of brands out there, so to save you the hassle of trial and error I will recommend to you my favourite - Marigold’s Engevita yeast flakes. You have a range of products to choose from, including nutritional yeast with B12, or protein and fibre, and one that is organic.
Marigold has even come up with some delicious yet simple recipes for you to try, each one with its own difficulty rating so all abilities are able to fit nutritional yeast into their diet! Feel free to check out their website and let us know how you get on.
My personal favourite is the hearty Lentil & Sweet Potato Cottage Pie:
Lentil & sweet potato cottage pie
2 tbsp olive oil
250g dried green lentils
1 tbsp gluten free gravy granules Marigold dissolved into 375ml water
500g sweet potato
1 whole celeriac (about 500g)
1 tsp cumin seed (or ground)
1 tsp mustard seed (or ground)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 ½ large carrots
2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp Marigold Engevita Nutritional Yeast Flakes
Fry the onion in the olive oil on a low heat until golden brown, for around 5 minutes.
When done, stir in the lentils.
Dissolve the gravy granules into boiling water and add this to the pan.
Bring the broth to the boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer, for around 30 minutes.
Cut the sweet potato and celeriac into cubes, about 2cm across.
Add this to a separate pan filled with 500ml water and all the spices.
Gently simmer with a lid for around 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Drain the sweet potato and celeriac, saving the water, and place it to the side.
Mash the root vegetables until smooth.
Stir the olive oil, the pan water (adding more if too thick), and the nutritional yeast into the mashed potato.
Cut the carrots into large diagonal chunks and add this to the lentils, along with the finely chopped sundried tomatoes and the can of chopped tomatoes.
Spread the lentil mix into a casserole dish and pat until flat.
Spread the sweet potato/celeriac pie mixture on top and pat until it is also flat.
Cook for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle some Engevita Nutritional Yeast Flakes on top of the pie and put it back into the oven for 5 minutes to brown..
Let it cool for a few minutes, then serve and enjoy! A fresh dip or a creamy relish and salad on the side goes well with this dish.
- Image Credit: Artizone / Flickr. This image has been modified. - https://www.flickr.com/photos/artizone/6822012921
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