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Get to Know Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast: not the prettiest thing ever

Article author photo. Lindsay Livingston, DTR, RD This featured post is by Lindsay Livingston, RD. You can follow this blogger @LeanGrnBeanBlog.

If you've spent any time perusing the bulk bins at your local grocery store lately, you may have noticed a product called nutritional yeast. Although the name sounds somewhat unappealing — and the appearance, as you can see in the photo above, is hardly any better — this product is a nutritional powerhouse. And it is something you definitely should know about.

What is Nutritional Yeast?
Nutritional yeast, also commonly called "nooch," is inactive yeast that is grown on molasses. It is yellow in color and typically comes in little flakes. Quite honestly, it looks like fish food. But don't let that scare you! It has a nutty, cheesy flavor and is often used to add that cheesy profile to vegan dishes.

Is it Good for Me?
Absolutely! Check out the nutritional info for just two tablespoons:

60 calories
1 gram of fat
5 milligrams of sodium
4 grams of fiber
Zero grams of sugar
9 grams of protein

Plus, it has tons of B vitamins and folate. Most brands of nutritional yeast also have Vitamin B12 added, which makes for a great option for vegans who aren't getting the B12 found in animal products. Nutritional yeast is also gluten-free and doesn't have any added sugars or preservatives. It can be found in the bulk bins at many grocery stores and is also sold online.

What Should I Do With It?
Nutritional yeast can be an acquired taste, so try easing into it by sprinkling it on things like popcorn and kale chips, adding it to pasta dishes, or simply mixing a couple tablespoons into whatever dish you're making to help enhance the flavor.

As you get used to it, you could use it to make a vegan "cheese" sauce, to replace breadcrumbs in homemade veggie burgers, to thicken sauces, or even to make things like salad dressings!

Nutritional yeast makes a great addition to any diet, whether you're a vegan, a carnivore or anything in between. Next time you're at the store, use the bulk bins to your advantage and buy a little bit to see if you like it.

Lindsay Livingston, RD, is a registered dietitian from Columbus, Ohio. She is an online nutrition coach and blogger at The Lean Green Bean. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

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