Ode to Nutritional Yeast

Posted By O2 Yoga on Jun 29, 2014 in Blogs, O2 Vegan Blog | 4 comments


Okay, so to the uninitiated, nutritional yeast sounds and probably looks disgusting. If you haven’t seen it, it is yellowish, almost American cheese color, and is powdering and flaky. I will not make any analogies to the flakiness because, again, I can’t think of something that sounds appetizing or appealing.  However, as a card-carrying vegan, I must say that it is an absolute staple in my and many other kitchens.

Why Eat Nutritional Yeast??

1. Because it can make almost anything taste cheesy. My husband loves to remind me that I haven’t actually had cheese in a long time so how would I know? I guess it doesn’t matter as long as it satifies that same taste that cheese once did.

2. It takes care of that annoying and clever question that many non-vegans want to throw at you; “Yes, you think you are so healthy miss/mister vegan but you are really completed depleted of B12. How do you get your B12?”  Now, you can say confidently, “I eat plenty of nutritional yeast which is very high in B12.” They then say, “yuck, that sounds gross”, or, “isn’t yeast an animal?”

Below you can find the nutritional content of B vitamins for 2 Tablespoons which is about the amount I put on on little nugget of chicken fried tofu.  (By the way, you can not overdose on food based water soluble vitamins or I would not still be living)

3.  It is a flavor enhancer like salt. I love salt but nutritional yeast is much better for you.

4.  Somehow, it makes many comfort foods from my childhood that were either dairy or meat laden taste more like I remember them tasting. Some examples are tofu pot pie, Artichoke spinach dip, Caesar salad dressing, chicken fried tofu, just to name a few.

5. It has become readily available at most stores. Bob’s Red Mill is a company I love. When Bob retired, he left the company to all of his loyal workers. They make all kinds of great products including nutritional yeast. I have been seeing whole sections of Bob’s Red Mill Products in supermarkets all over the country.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes using nutritional yeast:

Artichoke Spinach Dip

variation on artichoke spinach dip with Asparagus on top and toasted onions

This recipe is incredibly simple and really delicious. vegans and omnivores alike love it!

  • 1 can artichoke hearts
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2-3/4 cup veganaise (in the refrigerator section)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • handful of fresh parsley
  • 1-2 cups fresh spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until combined and almost smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. This can be served fresh or baked with bread crumbs sprinkled on top. It is really good with crusty bread or crackers.

As always, the amounts are pure guesses on my part. Experiment with different quatities. Enjoy!

Mimi’s Famous Vegan Ceasar Salad Dressing

Many people have asked me for the recipe to here it is. Just be aware that I still never measure anything so please adjust amounts for your taste. This dressing is so good! I hope you love it too.  I usually put chicken-fried tofu in the salad as croutons but you can put traditional croutons too.

    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1/3 cup walnuts
    • 2 Tbls capers
    • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
    • 1 Tbls dijon mustard
    • juice of 1/2 lemon
    • 1/2-2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • Salt to taste; fresh ground pepper should be added to the whole salad

Chicken Fried Tofu

the elusive fried tofu

I cook this recipe at least once a week either as a snack or to throw into a salad or something. My kids absolutely love it. It rarely makes it out of the pan before being eaten. And it really does taste like chicken. Some vegetarians are offended by the idea of eating something that tastes like meat. I grew up eating roast beef sandwiches in the delis of New Jersey. I am all for things that taste like what I miss but without the cruelty and killing and stuff!

      • 1 pound fresh tofu (that is the kind that you get out of the bucket in asian markets) If you can’t find it get extra firm tofu in supermarket or health food store
      • 3 T. olive oil
      • Tamari
      • Nutritional Yeast (can find it in bulk in some supermarkets and healthfood stores)

Heat a non-stick pan or well seasoned cast iron pan on med high with the olive oil in it.  This is absolutely critical. Tofu sticks like crazy in a regular pan and you will be cursing me and the tofu gods as you try to scrape it off your pan.

While oil is heating chop up tofu into bitesized chunks.

When pan is hot throw in a piece of tofu. It should sizzle on contact. Throw the rest in and stir occasionally until all the tofu is well browned. this can take up to 20 minutes. Another critical step is to IGNORE IT, go vacuum your living room or something. Not that you don’t stir every once it a while but not all the time. You kind of have to sneak up on it.   When tofu is well browned turn off heat and coat tofu with tamari. Stir it around and make sure it is well coated. Then toss in up to a cup or nutritional yeast. Stir it around until all the tofu is well coated. Taste and add more of what you need. You can also add garlic powder or savory spices. When tofu is cooled down, start shoveling it into your mouth before your kids eat it all! This is great as a snack or on a veggie ceasar salad,or a tofu salad sandwich. yum! Kids and carnivores seem to really like this recipe.

Tofu Pot Pie

Well, the verdict is in. This pie tastes very much like a chicken pot pie! I guess that is good. It is definitely yummy and might even fool your non-vegetarian friends.

  • 1/2 pound extra-firm tofu, cut in small chunks
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 T flour
  • 3 T nutritional yeast
  • 2 cups veggie or “un-chicken” broth
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 T basil
  • 1 T parsley
  • 1 t thyme
  • 1 t salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 bag frozen mixed organic veggies (I use corn, carrots, peas, and string beans)
  • Homemade or store-bought pie crust (homemade is best, but store-bought is probably easier. Just make sure the pie crust is not made with lard or hydrogenated fat— yuck!)
  1. Saute tofu in olive oil in a nonstick pan for about 10 minutes or until pretty browned.
  2. Add onion and garlic; cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until translucent.
  3. Add flour and yeast and stir to coat everything in the pan for about it minute; it should make a paste.
  4. Add broth, slowly stirring as you go. This is the gravy, so you want to make sure there are no lumps.
  5. Add potatoes, spices, and veggies. Cook for about 30 minutes on low, or until potatoes are cooked through.
  6. Pour into prepared pie crust; cover with top crust. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes, or until top crust is golden brown.
  7. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then wolf if down!

Warning: My husband says that this is like crack for him. He ate 2/3 of one right out of the fridge. It is pretty good cold!

Confession: I hardly ever measure anything except when I bake. These are close approximations of everything. Feel free to experiment with other veggies like sweet potatoes or brocoli or whatever. Just don’t blame me if it’s not as good as the one above.

I brought this to Thanksgiving dinner. It is great on a holiday table or on a cold winter night!

Thiamin (B1)
9.6 mg
640%
Riboflavin (B2)
9.6 mg
565%
Niacin
56 mg
280%
Vitamin B6
9.6 mg
480%
Folic Acid
240 mcg
60%
Vitamin B12
8 mcg
133%
Biotin
20.8 mcg
7%
Pantothenic Acid
1.04 mg
10%