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"Nutritional Yeast". It sounds almost like a medical supply doesn't it? The sort of thing you'd get advised to incorporate into your diet in order to keep the bowels moving live a nicely flowing woodland river. Either that or perhaps the sort of ingredient you would here being listed off in an advert for fancy yoghurts full of loads of stuff to aid digestion and good health, none of which you will have heard of. Particularly 'good bacteria', whatever that is!
However, you would be very much wrong. In fact, Nutritional Yeast is a particularly versatile and snazzy little addition to a vibrant vegan diet, packed full of potential uses and nutritional benefits (the clue is cleverly hidden in the name you see!).
Coming in the form of flakes, Nutritional Yeast is actually an inactive form of a yeast strain that is mostly used by bakers to leaven bread and goes by the name of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. If you don't fancy having to remember such a complicated title, it's also often referred to as 'Nooch', which is far easier to remember, as well as being far pleasant to roll off of the tongue.
Before we get into the uses of this wonderful product, it's important to look into what the benefits of adding Nutritional Yeast into your diet actually are. Many studies suggest that it may well help to lower your cholesterol, give your immune system a boost and potentially even protect you against oxidative damage.
Nutritional Yeast is also a probiotic, so despite our jokes about fancy yoghurt in the opening paragraph, will assist with keeping the digestion in tip-top shape, as well as being shown to have helped with upset stomachs, diarrhoea and lactose intolerance. However, if you're on your vegan journey, you probably don't have to worry about that last one!
Not only have you got all of the above benefits, but Nutritional Yeast is also sugar-free, fat-free, gluten-free, vegan, suitable for those following a ketogenic diet (containing plenty of that all-important protein every non-vegan always seems so concerned about vegans not getting enough of) and, certainly not flavour free! In fact, one of its main uses is as a replacement for cheese in your favourite dishes and sauces! Vegan Mac & Cheese anyone?
The obvious answer to the above question is yes, of course, you want vegan Mac & Cheese because it's delicious and simple to make. A double whammy of tasty convenience!
In order to use Nutritional Yeast as a replacement for your favourite cheese is nice and simple. Simply treat your flakes in the same way that you would have treated grated cheese of all kinds, with it's delicious, wholesome cheesy flavour, with a subtle nuttiness to go alongside it.
You don't even necessarily have to even cook it into a sauce or as part of a recipe. Go right on ahead and sprinkle some over your salads or into your homemade loaves for some extra layers of flavour. It's important to never fear the flavours. However, it is worth noting that despite coming from the same yeast that is used to bake a lovely loaf, Nutritional Yeast can't be used to bake bread. That's not to say it can't be added to your baking process though, but only as a flavouring and not as a main ingredient.
Could Nutritional Yeast be the next part of your vegan journey? Replacing another part of the dairy in your diet with a delicious, versatile and highly beneficial new product is an exciting step to take. Although, it is important to make sure that you bring it into your diet in moderation, to begin with (we know how tempting it is to add a cheesy equivalent to everything you can). Despite all its great benefits, moderation is key to begin with, as what with its excellent digestion based benefits, a little too much can make the digestion process work a little too well, which is less than desirable. Plus, for those with a yeast intolerance, then this may not be so great for you, but fear not, for there is more than one delicious vegan cheese flavoured replacement.
However, in moderation and as part of a well-balanced, plant-based diet, this could well be another exciting new addition to your culinary collection.