Nooch up Nutrients and Flavour with Nutritional Yeast!

There’s nothing flaky about these flakes
wooden spoon full of nutritional yeast
© Can Stock Photo / Nedoba

So you want to serve up more plant-forward meals but are worried that your fave Alfredo sauce or minestrone might fall flat without the umami goodness of cheese or meat-based ingredients? If you ask any vegetarian or vegan worth their weight in veggies, they’d share with you the secret of nooch. We’re not talking contraband here, we’re talking good, old fashioned, nutty, cheesy, and totally delicious nutritional yeast. Let’s get to know this flavourful friend.

Nooch is very niche!

Made popular in the 1970s by veggie-loving hippies, nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast grown on a sugar medium. This means that unlike baker’s or brewer’s yeasts, nutritional yeast cannot multiply, feed bacteria, or help your baking rise—for all intents and purposes, nutritional yeast is dead. So please, don’t try substituting it for your usual quick-rise when making a loaf of bread. It’ll fall flat. Literally.

Typically sold in flake or powdered form, this yellowy-gold powdery goodness looks an awful lot like the dubious contents of those familiar mac and cheese boxes. But here, my friends, is where the similarity ends.

Nooch is a many-splendoured thing

Nutritional yeast is a powerhouse of B vitamins, and many brands fortify theirs with B12. If you’re aiming for less meat in your diet or are embarking on a sans-meat lifestyle, then you’ll appreciate the importance of getting enough B12 in your life. One serving (or about two tablespoons) of nutritional yeast is a complete protein; we’re talking nine solid grams of protein and all nine of the essential amino acids humans need to get from food. Plus it’s got three grams of fibre per serving which we could all use a little more of in our lives! Nutritional yeast also contains trace minerals like selenium, zinc, manganese, and molybdenum, all necessary for body regulation. And nooch has antioxidant power, thanks to glutathione and selenomethionine. And for the pregnant set: one serving of nutritional yeast is more than 100% of your daily folic acid requirement (*mic drop*).

Get some nooch into you!

Try sprinkling it on popcorn or a steaming bowl of soup. Mix it up in a quick dairy-free sauce with a little almond milk, nutmeg, and pureed cauliflower (it’s like Alfredo minus the guilt!). Or turn any veggie into a party with a little shower of noochy goodness. Cat lovers of the world unite and nooch it up: cats love a little nutritional yeast sprinkled on their food!

The fungus we want among us

Technically speaking, nutritional yeast is a fungus, and if you have Crohn’s disease, IBS, gut issues, or Candida concerns then you may have been told to steer clear of fungi, including Saccharamyces cerevisae, which is the strain often used in the making of nutritional yeast. In order to maintain a healthy gut microbiome, many experts recommend restricting fungi (thus, yeasts) from the diet. However, if you’ve been avoiding nooch, fear not! Nutritional yeast is deactivated, so the yeast cannot feed bacteria and upset the microbiota balance. In fact, it’s considered FODMAP friendly, which is great for those who must avoid many pantry standards.

Making nutritional yeast a kitchen staple is a great way to sprinkle your way to a tasty and healthy new way of enhancing your cooking. Let nutritional yeast be the big cheese in your house!