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What the Heck is Nutritional Yeast?

The other day I received a comment on my channel from a viewer wanting to know more about nutritional yeast.

I had no idea what nutritional yeast was before I become a vegan.  I thought it was just like traditional yeast -- used as an agent for rising bread.

Nutritional yeast is actually a deactivated yeast and isn't used to rise bread. It's a good source of protein and is typically formulated with vitamin B-12.

What is it made out of? Nutritional yeast is made from a single-celled organism, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, which is grown on molasses and then harvested, washed, and dried with heat to kill or “deactivate” it. Because it’s inactive, it doesn’t froth or grow like baking yeast does so it has no leavening ability. (Source)

How does it taste? The yellow flakes have a nutty flavor to me and many vegans compare it to cheese.  I personally don't think it tastes anything like cheese.

How is it used in vegan recipes? Nutritional yeast is often used in sauces and sprinkled on popcorn as a "cheese" substitute. I use it in this Alfredo sauce and in the "cheese" sauce for macaroni & cheese.

What's the point? Nutritional value? Since vitamin B-12 isn't prevalent in a plant-based diet, and nutritional yeast is typically formulated with it, it's a great way to incorporate it into a plant-based diet. 

Where can you purchase it? Any health food store or right online.  It's typically available in the bulk bins or in a shaker container like the one made by Blue Star.

Further reading:

Do Vegans Need to Worry About B12 Deficiency?

What Every Vegan Should Know About B12

How do you get enough B12?

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