August 20, 2013

What the **** is Nutritional Yeast?

Yeast in hand
My great friend Rob asks:  
Hi Ginger,
While I have been using Nutritional Yeast for years and pondering its label.  Even today I am stunned and marvel at what I read on said label of this delicious "sprinkle food".  I wonder WHY ... have I seen practically (exactly?) zero written about this yellow, flaky, (a-hem) "wonder"?

Awesome question!   Nutritional Yeast IS sort of a wonderful "sprinkle food".  This mystery product generally lives in the natural food realm.   I think people are confused because they don't know what to do with it.  A nice way to get started is to get some at the bulk bins of Whole Foods to try it out.  Otherwise, Braggs makes a nice brand (see picture below).  
People are on different sides of the fence with Nutritional Yeast:
1. I love it! I put it on everything.
2. What the heck is it?  I'm afraid of it
photo(100)It does not have the most appealing name and some people may confuse it with the type of yeast you make bread with (baker’s yeast) or beer with (brewer’s yeast). Nutritional yeast is deactivated (no longer a living organism) and usually of the species S. cerevisiae. Generally well known in the vegan/vegetarian world, nutritional yeast is a substitution for cheese as it has a nice savory/nutty flavor and is often used on popcorn, kale chips, or in recipes (see below!). It is a great source of protein and B-vitamins, particularly B-12 for those who choose to avoid animal products as this is where most people get their natural sources of the vitamin.

Easy Pesto Casserole
*adapted from the Forks Over Knives cookbook by Del Sroufe (which is fantastic)
What a great way to use your summer veggies up. This recipe incorporates classic summer veggies like basil, squash and tomatoes. Enjoy!
  • 1 tsp olive or canola oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced into thin rings
  • 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into ½ inch rounds
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 large yellow summer squash, cut into ½ inch rounds
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into ¾ inch rounds
  • 1 batch of Basil Pesto *(see recipe below)

Basil Pesto
  • 2 cups packed basil (could also use arugula if desired)
  • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  •  ½ tsp salt
  • 1 package organic silken tofu, drained
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Boil potato rounds in a medium saucepan of water for 8-10 minutes, until Al-dente. Drain and season with salt and pepper.
3. While potatoes are cooking, warm oil over medium heat in a large skillet and sauté onions for 10 minutes or until browned. Add water 1-2 Tbs at a time if they are sticking to the pan excessively.
4. Combine all basil pesto ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth and creamy.
4. In a glass 9×13 pan, place a layer of zucchini evenly on the bottom. Season with salt and pepper and spread a dollop of basil pesto on top. Add a layer of yellow squash, season with salt and pepper and spread a dollop of basil pesto on top. Add a layer of potato rounds and spread a dollop of basil pesto on top. Repeat until veggies are used up in layers. Top with tomato slices and then onions. Season once more with salt, pepper, or other fresh herbs from the garden such as basil or thyme.
5. Bake casserole for 30 minutes. Let set for 10 minutes before serving.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking about writing a very comparable post over the last couple of weeks, I’ll probably keep it short and sweet and link to this instead if thats cool. Thanks.
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