Monday, April 18, 2011

Let’s Flake Out

"Just a spoon full of nutritional yeast can make the vitamins go down...I'll show you the most delightful way!"

I thought channeling Mary Poppins might help you read on and not shy away from what I am about to suggest you add to your food.Yellow in color and with a nutty cheesy flavor, nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast that is a favorite amongst many vegans because of its unique flavor and similarity to cheese when added to foods. A lot of people I know like to sprinkle it on hot popcorn, garlic bread, or create a “cheesy” pasta sauce.

Nutritional yeast is also a reliable food source of vitamin B12, so if you're vegan, it's a good idea to add some to your food regularly. They say to not add more than 3 tablespoons a day. Nutritional yeast can be found in the bulk foods or supplement section of your health food store. I bought the big jar of the whole foods brand. You can look for either nutritional yeast flakes or powder, but be sure you don't get brewer's yeast by mistake, as it's quite similar in appearance.

I am not going to lie to you dear readers, I was a little scared of the flakes and it wasn't because of the flake in the name. It was the yeast part. Yeast?? Oh a word that had such a negative connotation in my vocab. Why do I need to be eating yeast? I had all sorts of thoughts and worries about if it was something I needed to add to my diet. So I read. And researched. And read some more. And I figured, hey it couldn't hurt to try right? That's what this blog is about! I would like to share a little about what I found out.

Soooo…What IS it?

“Nutritional yeast is a tasty product you can find in natural foods markets. These yellow flakes are a pure strain of yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In the same family as edible mushrooms, yeast has been used in food and beverage production for more than 5,000 years. Today, the same strain is used to brew beer, make wine, and leaven breads as well as develop the nutritionally-rich food called nutritional yeast .

Each batch of nutritional yeast is grown on a mixture of cane and beet molasses for a period of seven days. B-vitamins are added during the process to provide the yeast with the nutrients it needs to grow. When harvested, the yeast is washed, pasteurized, and dried on roller drum dryers before it is ready for market. It is then used by food manufacturers in food products, added to boost the nutrient levels in pet foods, and simply packaged for sale in natural foods stores.

Vegans (strict vegetarians) have used it for years as a source of vitamin B-12, an essential nutrient found primarily in animal products. Health seekers who strive to eat primarily a whole foods diet use nutritional yeast because it tastes really good with certain foods and adds extra nutrients to their diet. It can be added when you cook quinoa in quinoa recipes, in salad dressings made with flax seed oil, or even sprinkled on top of free range chicken.

Unlike active baking yeast, nutritional yeast is grown solely for its nutritional value. It should not be confused with brewer’s yeast, a by-product of breweries and distilleries. nutritional yeast is a low-fat, low-sodium, kosher, non-GMO food that contains no added sugars or preservatives. The cane and beet molasses used in the growing process does not make nutritional yeast sweet and is not a source of simple sugars.”

Soooo...What do I DO with it?

Well, my husband jumped the gun and stirred it right into his soy milk. Just writing that makes my stomach turn. He won't touch the stuff now and quite frankly I don't blame him. I may not have if I had a bad first experience either. Patience is both a virtue and a food experience saver. I warned him to not dive head first into these flakes if you haven’t had them before. Men. Maybe I will sneak them in when he isn't looking a tell him after.

These are meant to be mixed in with food but I wouldn’t just dump it immediately into my drink. I added it to my sautéed veggie sandwich the other day and I LOVED it! It really does give a cheesy flavor and helps thicken your dish.

I have a macaroni and “cheese” recipe that I cannot wait to try out and share with you. Will these flakes flake out on their tasty goodness when starring in my dish? Stay tuned…

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