Nutritional Yeast badge from allglamournoguts.co.uk

Nutritional Yeast badge from allglamournoguts.co.uk

You may or may not have heard of nutritional yeast, lovingly known in vegan and vegetarian circles as “nooch”…

While exploring the topic I also came across the term “hippie-dust” which made me laugh out loud. It does hit the nail on the head though, as this stuff is pretty darn addictive!

A good few months after going vegan, I hadn’t devoted much time to thinking about nutrition or health. I didn’t spend endless nights worrying about whether I was getting enough protein and I certainly hadn’t given a second thought to vitamin B12!

No…I was too busy obsessing with all the things I missed and couldn’t have. I’m not proud to say I even had one or two little “mini-miss” tantrums at pubs or restaurants when it became obvious the only thing on the menu for me was the house side-salad and fries.

 

 

Vitamin B12 is considered to be an essential supplement to the vegan diet

Seems like such a long time ago now (only 3 years!) that I discovered nooch. It was thoughts on nutrition which first led me to find out more about nutritional yeast. I had seen it on the shelves of Wholefoods in NYC previously, hidden between a few other obtuse dried goods. The first thought that came to mind when I spotted it was “who wants to eat yellow sawdust, man that it going to be dry”.

But after a bit of searching on the internet it became obvious that I needed to try nutritional yeast, primarily for two reasons:

  1. Nutritional yeast is brimming full of healthy nutrients (the name kinda gives it away!) including vitamin B12 in fortified varieties
  2. Nutritional yeast has a strong cheese-like or nutty taste (something similar to “umami”)

Spurred on by the lust for better health, I dove into the first tin of nooch with only a tiny bit of hesitation – I have never looked back!

 

Engevita nutritional yeast with portable potA Brief History of Nutritional Yeast

Amazingly yeast dates back as far as the ancient Egyptians. When I think yeast, the first thought to spring to mind is bread baking but nutritional yeast is different as it’s already been heated, making it inactive.

Don’t get them mixed up – brewers yeast is a by-product of brewing beer and has a different, more bitter flavour than nooch. Nutritional yeast is grown from sugar cane, beet molasses or wood pulp, and has far better nutritional value.

The invention of the microscope and studies by Louis Pasteur allowed for a better understanding of yeast as a living organism in 1857.

Commercial production of nutritional yeast started around the 20th century. The production process is really interesting, and was far more simple than I expected. A yeast is cultured in a nutrient medium (sugarcane, beet molasses) for several days. It’s then deactivated with heat and harvested, washed, dried and packaged.

Here’s a link to a fascinating (if quite long!) interview with Dr Seymour Pomper which contains a lot of interesting information about nutritional yeast.

How do you use Nutritional Yeast as a Food?

The possibilities are endless and I’ve recently received a few interesting ideas…even a porridge topping! The list below is not exhaustive, and I’d encourage everyone to think outside the box and not just see this as a vegan staple:

  • salad dressing
  • popcorn topping
  • scrambled “veggs”
  • sprinkled on top of soup
  • sprinkled on pasta (similar to parmesan)
  • mix into mashed potatoes
  • PB&N sandwich (my personal favourite, and a lot more nutritious than the usual PB&J sandwich that makes it into lots of kids lunch boxes)

Check out these fresh ideas on our Instagram feed too, and keep checking back for new ideas:

VeganAge portable nutritional yeast

Give it a chance…and believe me by the third or fourth attempt you’re going to want to make your nooch portable. Ignore the looks when you whip your little pot out at the dinner table… Go on, offer it round the table!

 

The Nutritional Value of Nooch

5g of Nutritional Yeast contains:

  • 2.3mg Vitamin B1
  • 0.9m Vitamin B2
  • 17.1mg Vitamin B3
  • 7mg Vitamin B5
  • 1.7mg Vitamin B6
  • 2.2mcg Vitamin B12
  • 1.1g of Fibre
  • 2.6g Protein
  • 220mcg Folic Acid
  • 6mg Zinc
  • 0.3mg Iron

So not only does nooch contain a full suite of B vitamins, but has a superb protein content too and contains selenium.  It’s also low in sodium and fat, and it’s gluten-free. Research has been conducted into it’s immune-boosting properties too, here’s a great video to watch on the topic.

Given the wide spectrum of nutrition you can easily see how nooch promotes healthy hair, skin and nails as well as aiding a healthy pregnancy.

Why is Vitamin B12 Important?

Vegans have been getting a lot of bad press lately, and I even saw a news alert this week stating a child had to be hospitalised with an extreme vitamin B12 deficiency. There are no plant-based sources of vitamin B12 so it’s really important for vegans, young and old, to supplement their diets to ensure they’re getting enough.

The amount of B12 that you need depends on your life stage, and we found a great reference guide. According to this I should be getting 2.4mcg per day. That means by sprinkling approximately 2 TBSP of nutritional yeast onto my food every day, I am MORE than covered!

We’ll be taking a deeper look into vitamin B12 in a future post, and exploring alternative ways to tick this vegan nutrition box.

 

Happy Nooching! Simplifying Happy Choices

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About Michelle

Michelle grew up in a culture where it was normal to eat meat at every meal. Watching close family suffer multiple health problems drove her to learn more about eating for health. After watching Food Inc Michelle took the plunge into veganism and hasn’t looked back since. She is now on a mission to bring vegan inspiration to everyone!