Nutritional yeast. Ever heard of it? Maybe you’ve heard it referenced as “nooch” or “yeshi”. What about “nature’s Cheeto dust” or maybe even “hippie dust”? If you’re like most of my friends, family and clients, maybe you have never heard of it at all. Don’t worry, neither had I until about five years ago. Now, I don’t care what you want to call it, I’m a huge fan of nutritional yeast and use it in my cooking all the time.

Yellow in color and flaky in texture, nutritional yeast is a dream come true for vegans and vegetarians. Grown mostly on beet sugar, nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast which means that it can be incorporated into a nutritional arsenal of a system that is often challenged by other active yeasts! Its taste is almost inexplicable. One of those, “you just have to try it”! It’s most used sprinkled over foods for a cheesy, salty (without the salt), nutty flavor. I personally love adding it to soups and stews to add tons of depth and flavor without all the unwanted sodium, fat and calories. I sprinkle it over popcorn to take a simple, healthy snack up a notch and recently I’ve been adding it to my low calorie zucchini quiche. Tons of flavor, none of the guilt. I love calling this dish a “free meal” when offering the recipe up to my clients. Free, meaning, you may as well be just consuming air it’s that low in calories and fat!

Here’s the other amazing thing about nutritional yeast. These tiny little flavorful flakes are hugely nutritious. Almost magical! Here is why you need to stock up and start sprinkling them into your life.

Vitamin B-12: B-12 is a crucial nutrient for the body in the production of red blood cells and for producing and maintaining myelin, the protective insulation around your nerves and just one tablespoon of nutritional yeast provides an adult with a full day’s supply! A crucial staple to the diet of vegans and vegetarians, national yeast provides ample B-12 (most readily found in meat) without comprising their beliefs, dietary restrictions, etc.

Protein: Nutritional yeast is a wonderful source of protein. Sprinkled over salads, added to soups and stews, just two tablespoons contains 9 grams of protein. That’s more protein than can be found in a large egg, 1 cup of whole milk, or an ounce of lean beef. Nutritional yeast is also a complete protein which means that out of the 18 amino acids it contains, 9 of them are essential ones that your body can’t produce.

Fiber: Back to my old favorite and one of the most important components of a healthy, well-balanced diet, nutritional yeast is a great source of fiber. Helping our systems to regulate blood sugar, aiding in our digestion, flushing our system of toxins and even helping us to store energy throughout the day at a higher level, nutritional yeast provides 3 grams of fiber per tiny serving.

Gluten-Free: Nutritional yeast is gluten-free. If you’ve joined the gluten free movement due to health issues, weight gain and/or gut health, nutritional yeast is an excellent way for you to add flavor and depth to your meals with an anti-inflammatory ease.

Folic Acid: We are all probably most aware of the positive benefits of folic acid to pregnant women. Not only can it help to prevent neutral tube defect during pregnancy but, it’s also beneficial to the rest of us as it aids in cell maintenance and production. Nutritional yeast is a great source of folic acid.

I find my nutritional yeast at Trader Joe’s but I’ve also seen it in the bulk food section of a lot of health food stores. You can even purchase it on amazon here:

I asked some of my friends and clients that have joined the nutritional yeast fan club as of late how they most enjoy using it. Here’s what they said:

“I use it however I would use parmesan cheese. I shake it over pasta, I sprinkle it on garlic bread and even over my pizza. It tastes remarkably similar to that of our favorite good ole shaker cheese.”

“My whole family loves nutritional yeast on our popcorn”. I sprinkle it all over a hot fresh popped bag and it’s salty, cheesy and delicious.”

“I’ve added it to basically everything lately. I add it to my green smoothies in the morning and I sprinkle it over my kale salad in the afternoon. The more the better!”

“I love sprinkling nutritional yeast on our eggs in the morning. I’ve put it in our omelets and incorporated it on our scrambled eggs for some healthy energy before work and school.”

“My husband and I are vegetarian so nutritional yeast is a huge staple in our house. I often make tofu stir-fry and vegetarian soups and I never forget to include nutritional yeast.”

It’s hard to put into words exactly how these little miracle flakes taste so I encourage you to run out and buy some now. They will add flavor to your meals from morning until night all while providing you some excellent nutrients and none of the guilt. If you try it and like it, report back. I love hearing from you. Xx Janine