Summary

When a cheesy craving strikes, reach for nutritional yeast, a dairy-free, plant-based, must-have ingredient. We’re here to tell you what nutritional yeast is, what makes it so healthy, and how to use it in the kitchen.


Nutritional yeast is the secret ingredient to lots of standout plant-based and dairy-free dishes. It’s a delicious and nutritious must-have for the plant-based pantry. Let’s get to know nutritional yeast.

What is Nutritional Yeast?

Affectionately called “nooch” by its biggest fans, nutritional yeast is derived from the same species of yeast – Saccharomyces cerevisiae – that’s used to bake bread and brew beer. Nutritional yeast has a richy savory flavor often described as cheesy or nutty. It’s fortified with vitamins and minerals and is naturally vegan, gluten-free, fat-free, and sugar-free. It’s also low in sodium and calories. Nutritional yeast is golden yellow with a flakey texture. The sunny-hued flakes smell earthy and yeasty. 

You can find nutritional yeast at natural food stores and well-stocked supermarkets. Check the bulk section or supplement aisle. Tip: Don’t confuse nutritional yeast with brewer’s yeast. While both are made from the same yeast species, brewer’s yeast has a bitter flavor that’s nothing like nutritional yeast’s cheesy flavor.

Nutritional Yeast Benefits

Why is this vegan pantry staple called nutritional yeast? Simply put: because it’s so nutritious! It’s full of protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In particular, nutritional yeast is a vitamin B and protein powerhouse.

The protein in nutritional yeast is especially praise-worthy because it’s every plant-based eater’s dream: a complete protein! One tablespoon of nutritional yeast contains five grams of complete protein; no need to combine it with foods like whole grains in order to make it a complete plant-based (technically fungi-based!) protein. All nine essential amino acids are there for your benefit.

As for B vitamins, fortified varieties of nutritional yeast (which happen to be the easiest to source) contain a TON. One serving provides the following daily values: 

  • Thiamin: 465%
  • Riboflavin: 436%
  • Niacin: 197%
  • Vitamin B6: 381%
  • Vitamin B12: 563%

B vitamins benefit mood, mental health, and energy levels. Since plant-based diets are sometimes lacking in B vitamins, adding delicious fortified nutritional yeast to your diet is an easy way to make up for any deficit.

Other nutritional yeast benefits include:

  • Fiber: Two tablespoons of nutritional yeast contain 5 grams of fiber, or 20% of your RDI
  • Trace minerals: Get up to 30% of your RDI
  • Antioxidants: Nutritional yeast contains glutathione and selenomethionine, which prevent cell damage and help eliminate toxins from the body
  • Immunity boost: Animal studies suggest the carbohydrates found in nutritional yeast may fight infection
  • Lower cholesterol: Nutritional yeast contains beta-glucan, which has cholesterol-lowering properties

Cooking with Nutritional Yeast

While it’s often found in the supplement aisle – thus giving it vitamin vibes – nutritional yeast really shines on the culinary front; it’s a superstar in the plant-based kitchen. If you’re craving something cheesy, this weirdly-named food is your go-to plant-based ingredient.

The simplest approach is to treat nutritional yeast as you would salt and pepper. Always have a little dish, shaker, or salt cellar of nutritional yeast on hand so you can sprinkle some low-sodium umami seasoning over virtually any savory (and often carb-y) dish. Think: popcorn, pasta, rice, pizza, salad, etc.

For a sneaky nutrition boost, add a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast to baked goods. You’ll get some extra protein and vitamin B, but you won’t notice nutritional yeast’s savory flavor in sweet treats like chocolate chip cookies, quick breads, scones, and muffins. And even though nutritional yeast won’t act as a leavening agent the way active yeast does, it’s a savory and welcome addition to baked goods like sandwich bread and biscuits.

Next up: some simple recipes. To experience nutritional yeast in all of its magically cheesy glory and take your plant-based cooking up a “nooch,” give the following recipes a whirl.

Nutritional Yeast in Thistle Meals

If you’ve been enjoying our meals, chances are, you may already have tried nutritional yeast. Here are some of our meals that include “nooch”: 

  • Kale Quinoa Caesar Salad - this is almost always available as a weekly side salad
  • Tofu Scrambles - we have different types, but they all contain nutritional yeast
  • Tofu Feta - if you see this on the menu, it includes “nooch”
  • Spinach Artichoke Dip - that’s where it gets its cheesy texture
  • Cheeses - Smoky or Cashew Pub Cheese, Sundried Tomato Cheese, Black Bean & Cheese Dip, and Tricolor Pesto Goat Cheese, to name a few

Nutritional Yeast Recipes

Nutritional Yeast Popcorn Seasoning

Adapted from: The Spruce Eats

A plant-based way to get your cheesy popcorn fix! Feel free to experiment with different spice combos, like everything bagel, Za’atar, taco, and Italian.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 8 cups popcorn

Steps:

  1. In a small bowl combine nutritional yeast, salt, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  2. Add 4 cups of the popped popcorn to a large bowl. Sprinkle with half of the nooch seasoning. Toss to coat evenly.
  3. Add the remaining 4 cups of popped popcorn to the same bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining nooch seasoning. Toss again to coat. Incorporate the popcorn from the first layer into the second addition.

Nooch-o Cheese Sauce

Adapted from: Minimalist Baker

Cashews and nutritional yeast combine to make a delicious vegan queso. It’s ready in minutes and pairs perfectly with chips or any Tex-Mex spread.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 – 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon hot salsa, hot sauce, Ro-Tel, or 1 chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, plus more for garnish

Steps:

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender (starting with the lesser amount of water) and blend until creamy, adding more water as needed. Add just enough water to achieve a creamy, pourable queso. If too thin, thicken with additional raw cashews.
  2. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more nutritional yeast, garlic, or seasoning.

Plant-Based Bouillon Powder

Adapted from: Plant Power Couple

This is your plant-based solution to every recipe that calls for chicken broth. Thanks again, nutritional yeast! You make all things savory possible.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup sea salt (or less for a low-sodium version)
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Steps:

  1. Add ingredients to small blender or food processor and pulse until combined and powder-y.
  2. Store in an air-tight container.
  3. To make broth, use 1 tablespoon bouillon powder per 1 cup of hot water. Mix until powder is completely dissolved. 

For more nutritional yeast recipes, search our recipes and meal hacks. Some of our favorites include Smoky Pub Cheese (goes great with seedy crackers!) and these Pasta Chips served with Sundried Tomato “Cheese” Dip (soon to be your new favorite appetizer!).

Nutritional yeast knowledge? Check. Health benefits of nutritional yeast? Check. Try it in some of your Thistle meals? Check. How to cook with nutritional yeast? Check. Get some today and start enjoying this delicious plant-based cheesy wonder of an ingredient.


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We believe eating delicious is crucial to a healthy diet. Each week, our team of chefs design a new menu for what's in season, fresh and flavorful.
TRY THISTLE
Posted 
Feb 4, 2022
 in 
Nutrition
 category.
Summary

When a cheesy craving strikes, reach for nutritional yeast, a dairy-free, plant-based, must-have ingredient. We’re here to tell you what nutritional yeast is, what makes it so healthy, and how to use it in the kitchen.


Nutritional yeast is the secret ingredient to lots of standout plant-based and dairy-free dishes. It’s a delicious and nutritious must-have for the plant-based pantry. Let’s get to know nutritional yeast.

What is Nutritional Yeast?

Affectionately called “nooch” by its biggest fans, nutritional yeast is derived from the same species of yeast – Saccharomyces cerevisiae – that’s used to bake bread and brew beer. Nutritional yeast has a richy savory flavor often described as cheesy or nutty. It’s fortified with vitamins and minerals and is naturally vegan, gluten-free, fat-free, and sugar-free. It’s also low in sodium and calories. Nutritional yeast is golden yellow with a flakey texture. The sunny-hued flakes smell earthy and yeasty. 

You can find nutritional yeast at natural food stores and well-stocked supermarkets. Check the bulk section or supplement aisle. Tip: Don’t confuse nutritional yeast with brewer’s yeast. While both are made from the same yeast species, brewer’s yeast has a bitter flavor that’s nothing like nutritional yeast’s cheesy flavor.

Nutritional Yeast Benefits

Why is this vegan pantry staple called nutritional yeast? Simply put: because it’s so nutritious! It’s full of protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In particular, nutritional yeast is a vitamin B and protein powerhouse.

The protein in nutritional yeast is especially praise-worthy because it’s every plant-based eater’s dream: a complete protein! One tablespoon of nutritional yeast contains five grams of complete protein; no need to combine it with foods like whole grains in order to make it a complete plant-based (technically fungi-based!) protein. All nine essential amino acids are there for your benefit.

As for B vitamins, fortified varieties of nutritional yeast (which happen to be the easiest to source) contain a TON. One serving provides the following daily values: 

  • Thiamin: 465%
  • Riboflavin: 436%
  • Niacin: 197%
  • Vitamin B6: 381%
  • Vitamin B12: 563%

B vitamins benefit mood, mental health, and energy levels. Since plant-based diets are sometimes lacking in B vitamins, adding delicious fortified nutritional yeast to your diet is an easy way to make up for any deficit.

Other nutritional yeast benefits include:

  • Fiber: Two tablespoons of nutritional yeast contain 5 grams of fiber, or 20% of your RDI
  • Trace minerals: Get up to 30% of your RDI
  • Antioxidants: Nutritional yeast contains glutathione and selenomethionine, which prevent cell damage and help eliminate toxins from the body
  • Immunity boost: Animal studies suggest the carbohydrates found in nutritional yeast may fight infection
  • Lower cholesterol: Nutritional yeast contains beta-glucan, which has cholesterol-lowering properties

Cooking with Nutritional Yeast

While it’s often found in the supplement aisle – thus giving it vitamin vibes – nutritional yeast really shines on the culinary front; it’s a superstar in the plant-based kitchen. If you’re craving something cheesy, this weirdly-named food is your go-to plant-based ingredient.

The simplest approach is to treat nutritional yeast as you would salt and pepper. Always have a little dish, shaker, or salt cellar of nutritional yeast on hand so you can sprinkle some low-sodium umami seasoning over virtually any savory (and often carb-y) dish. Think: popcorn, pasta, rice, pizza, salad, etc.

For a sneaky nutrition boost, add a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast to baked goods. You’ll get some extra protein and vitamin B, but you won’t notice nutritional yeast’s savory flavor in sweet treats like chocolate chip cookies, quick breads, scones, and muffins. And even though nutritional yeast won’t act as a leavening agent the way active yeast does, it’s a savory and welcome addition to baked goods like sandwich bread and biscuits.

Next up: some simple recipes. To experience nutritional yeast in all of its magically cheesy glory and take your plant-based cooking up a “nooch,” give the following recipes a whirl.

Nutritional Yeast in Thistle Meals

If you’ve been enjoying our meals, chances are, you may already have tried nutritional yeast. Here are some of our meals that include “nooch”: 

  • Kale Quinoa Caesar Salad - this is almost always available as a weekly side salad
  • Tofu Scrambles - we have different types, but they all contain nutritional yeast
  • Tofu Feta - if you see this on the menu, it includes “nooch”
  • Spinach Artichoke Dip - that’s where it gets its cheesy texture
  • Cheeses - Smoky or Cashew Pub Cheese, Sundried Tomato Cheese, Black Bean & Cheese Dip, and Tricolor Pesto Goat Cheese, to name a few

Nutritional Yeast Recipes

Nutritional Yeast Popcorn Seasoning

Adapted from: The Spruce Eats

A plant-based way to get your cheesy popcorn fix! Feel free to experiment with different spice combos, like everything bagel, Za’atar, taco, and Italian.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 8 cups popcorn

Steps:

  1. In a small bowl combine nutritional yeast, salt, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  2. Add 4 cups of the popped popcorn to a large bowl. Sprinkle with half of the nooch seasoning. Toss to coat evenly.
  3. Add the remaining 4 cups of popped popcorn to the same bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining nooch seasoning. Toss again to coat. Incorporate the popcorn from the first layer into the second addition.

Nooch-o Cheese Sauce

Adapted from: Minimalist Baker

Cashews and nutritional yeast combine to make a delicious vegan queso. It’s ready in minutes and pairs perfectly with chips or any Tex-Mex spread.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 – 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon hot salsa, hot sauce, Ro-Tel, or 1 chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, plus more for garnish

Steps:

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender (starting with the lesser amount of water) and blend until creamy, adding more water as needed. Add just enough water to achieve a creamy, pourable queso. If too thin, thicken with additional raw cashews.
  2. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more nutritional yeast, garlic, or seasoning.

Plant-Based Bouillon Powder

Adapted from: Plant Power Couple

This is your plant-based solution to every recipe that calls for chicken broth. Thanks again, nutritional yeast! You make all things savory possible.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup sea salt (or less for a low-sodium version)
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Steps:

  1. Add ingredients to small blender or food processor and pulse until combined and powder-y.
  2. Store in an air-tight container.
  3. To make broth, use 1 tablespoon bouillon powder per 1 cup of hot water. Mix until powder is completely dissolved. 

For more nutritional yeast recipes, search our recipes and meal hacks. Some of our favorites include Smoky Pub Cheese (goes great with seedy crackers!) and these Pasta Chips served with Sundried Tomato “Cheese” Dip (soon to be your new favorite appetizer!).

Nutritional yeast knowledge? Check. Health benefits of nutritional yeast? Check. Try it in some of your Thistle meals? Check. How to cook with nutritional yeast? Check. Get some today and start enjoying this delicious plant-based cheesy wonder of an ingredient.


Get meals delivered to your door
We believe eating delicious is crucial to a healthy diet. Each week, our team of chefs design a new menu for what's in season, fresh and flavorful.
TRY THISTLE
Posted 
Feb 4, 2022
 in 
Nutrition
 category.