Nutritional yeast (aka “nooch”) has been a star in the health foods universe for generations. Rich in B vitamins, selenium, and zinc, this deactivated (nonrising) yeast boasts a delightfully cheesy flavor; it’s also gluten free, dairy free, and a complete protein. A boon for vegetarians: Nutritional yeast is often fortified with vitamin B12, typically lacking in plant foods. Look for the yellow flakes or powder prepackaged or in bulk sections. Don’t confuse it with brewer’s yeast, a beer-making byproduct with a less-appealing taste.
Breakfast. Sauté chopped spinach leaves in a little olive oil until wilted, top with a poached or scrambled egg, and sprinkle with nutritional yeast.
Lunch. In a blender, whirl 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, ¼ cup olive oil,
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon Italian herb seasoning. Drizzle over a Mediterranean salad of romaine lettuce, red bell pepper, black olives, and avocado (add flaked tuna or salmon if desired).
Dinner. Stir a tablespoon of nutritional yeast into any soup, stew, or casserole to boost flavor; fold into mashed potatoes or grain dishes, too.
Snack. Sprinkle nutritional yeast directly onto hot popcorn.
This vegan spread tastes outstanding in lasagna, spread on crackers, or tossed with hot pasta. Makes about 3½ cups.
1½ cups raw cashews
¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
¾ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup packed fresh basil leaves
1 (14-ounce) package firm (not silken) organic tofu, drained
2 cups grated vegan mozzarella cheese
1. Soak cashews in water for 2 hours or overnight; drain. Process garlic in a food processor until minced. Add drained cashews, nutritional yeast flakes, sea salt, lemon juice, basil, and tofu. Process until smooth, scraping down sides as needed, about 2 minutes.
2. Transfer to a bowl and stir in mozzarella.
PER SERVING (¼ cup): 142 cal, 7g fat (4g mono, 2g poly, 1g sat), 0mg chol, 6g protein, 11g carb, 1g fiber, 250mg sodium