plant-based

Nutritional Yeast: What It Does For You and How to Cook With It

Nutritional Yeast 101

Nutritional yeast, “NOOCH” for short, is a deactivated yeast that. It is derived from a species of yeast know as Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, which is the same species that Brewer’s yeast and Baker’s yeast are derived from. They differ, HOWEVER, in that brewer’s yeast is grown only on hops and bakers yeast is active, whereas nutritional yeast can be grown on a variety of sources and it is put through a heating and drying process that renders it inactive.

Primarily, nutritional yeast is used as a supplement for those with dietary restrictions to add not only additional flavor to your meal, but also several health benefits along with it.

What’s In It?

It is dairy free, usually gluten free, low in fat and contains no sugar or soy. Nutritional yeast is an EXCELLENT source of vitamins, minerals and high-quality protein. Specifically (per 1/4 cup serving), there are only:

• 60 calories

• 8 grams of protein

• 3 grams of fiber

• Vitamin & minerals (including numerous B Vitamins, Potassium, Calcium and Iron)

Benefits

Nutritional yeast serves as a versatile source of supplementation for those in need of a little something extra in their food due to dietary restrictions.

• It is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that humans must get from food. One tablespoon contains 2 grams of protein, which makes for an easy solution for vegans needing to add protein to their meals.

• It contains many B vitamins. One tablespoon of nutritional yeast contains 30–180% of the RDI for B vitamins and when fortified, it is especially rich in thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.

• It contains up to 30% of the RDI for trace minerals, such as zinc, selenium, manganese and molybdenum. Trace minerals are involved in gene regulation, metabolism, growth and immunity.

Potential Side Effects

While nutritional yeast is highly beneficial for most, there are some individuals for whom nutritional yeast is NOT suitable for.

Those with IBD, glaucoma, hypertension or a higher risk of gout should avoid using nutritional yeast as it may worsen their symptoms. In large doses, it can cause digestive discomfort or facial flushing due to its high fiber and niacin content, and it may also contain tyramine and MSG, which can trigger headaches in some individuals (note that MSG is only present in nutritional yeast if it has been added during processing or manufacturing). In order to avoid these side effects, you should try adding nutritional yeast into your diet by introducing it slowly and sticking to lower doses to minimize unwanted side effects.

Where Can I Find It?

You can find nutritional yeast in most grocery stores, health food shops as well as online. It comes in the form of flakes or in the form of powder and there are two types of yeast:

• Unfortified: does not contain any added vitamins or minerals. It only contains the vitamins and minerals that are naturally produced by the yeast cells as they grow.
• Fortified: contains synthetic vitamins added during the manufacturing process to boost nutrient content. If vitamins have been added to the yeast, they will be included in the ingredients list.

How To Use It

Nutritional yeast’s flavor can be described as savory, umami or cheesy. It is often used as an ingredient in creamy, dairy-free cheese substitutes and as a topper for foods such as popcorn, pasta, and French fries!

Here are a few quick examples on how to incorporate/substitute it into meals:

• On popcorn as alternative to butter/salt
• In risotto instead of parmesan cheese
• Added to creamy soups
• Added to scrambled eggs or tofu scramble
• Mixed into nut roast or stuffing
• Vegan cheese sauce (recipe here) which can be used in Vegan Mac-N-Cheese!

Plant-Based Eating Tips and Recipes!

It’s no longer a secret that shifting towards plant-based/whole foods eating, which minimizes processed foods, is best for your overall health.

Plant-based eating limits, or eliminates, animal products and focuses on fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds/nuts, and whole grains which provides higher amounts of many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Many think of vegetarian’s when they think of plant-based eating, but there are numerous varieties of eating plant-based. This week we’ll look at the differences among them and maybe find a plant-based style that works for you!

But FIRST: To kick off your New Year, today’s mission for you is to go through your cupboards and toss, donate, or give away all those foods that do not fit your health and fitness goals – and start anew! Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with some healthy recipes too!

Which Plant-Based Diet is Right For You?

No matter who you are, we believe the majority of your diet should be plant-based. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t be healthy eating animal products, just that we should strive to allow plants to make up the majority of our calories and nutrition. Let’s discuss some varieties of primarily plant-based diets:

Vegetarian

Even within this meat-less category there are numerous forms:

Lacto-Vegetarian – Including dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.

Ovo-Vegetarian – Including eggs only

Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian – As you may have guessed, lacto-ovo-vegetarians exclude meat but allows for dairy and eggs.

Pescatarian

Essentially, vegetarians that exclude dairy and eggs but do include fish. Fatty-fish, like salmon area great way to get your omega-3’s in. For the most benefit, look for wild caught salmon vs farmed.

Not a big fish fan? Try Sea Cuisine which offers sustainably caught seafood with a variety of tasty flares like Mediterranean crusted salmon, tortilla crusted tilapia, and summer herb crusted cod. They also offer non-crusted fish like blacked Cajun salmon. Available in most grocery stores in the frozen fish area.

Flexitarian

Flexitarians are “casual” vegetarians that occasionally eat meat, fish, dairy and/or eggs. For many it is hard to make the switch altogether away from animal products and still adequately meet nutritional needs – at least until they figure out strategies and recipes that allow them to do so. Not everything has to be a clean break!

Vegan

While veganism and vegetarianism crossover much of the same territory – veganism tends to take things to another level by even excluding products from insects – like honey for instance – and in some cases branching beyond what goes in your mouth and abstaining from using non-dietary animal products like wool.

To cover all ends of the spectrum, on this extreme we have Raw Veganism, which also do not cook their foods above 104-118 degrees F, instead relying primarily on preparation methods of blending, dehydrating, soaking, and sprouting.

Recipes

Plant-based eating doesn’t mean you have to eat exotic flavors and try crazy new dishes if you don’t wish!

Try this “Burger” In A Bowl from our friends at Precision Nutrition! Squeeze a dollop of ketchup and mustard over a cup of warm, cooked, lentils and top with a chopped pickle and dash of hemp seeds. This 300 calorie dish serves up 25 grams of protein!

Chopped Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing:
This lacto-vegetarian dish includes some chickpeas with a healthy dose of cabbage, tomatoes, and cucumber along with some healthy fat to keep you full and satisfied!

The dressing blends an avocado with a small amount of plain Greek yogurt, and is a great dressing to keep on hand for any kind of salad!

Get the full recipe here!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos:

Interested in becoming plant-based but don’t know where to start? Try increasing the number of meatless meals you serve. Find ways to include more greens daily. Try substituting a more vegetarian take on already favorite dish like chili or Mexican dishes (sweet potato and black beans versus ground beef in this recipe).

Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad:

This vegan and vegetarian friendly dish includes a major dose of veggies – cabbage, carrots, green onion, snow or snap peas, and cilantro – plus quinoa for a protein boost! (Use maple syrup instead of honey to complete as a vegan dish).

Get it here!

Plant-based diets can tend to be deficient in specific micronutrients like vitamin B-12, calcium, omega-3’s, and vitamin D. You may want to consider getting tested for these nutrients and/or supplement for them if you become a plant-based eater or vegetarian/vegan. Good luck!