Nutritional Yeast is a deactivated yeast, and like mushrooms is actually a fungus.
It is a source of protein and vitamins, especially the B-Complex. It is naturally low in fat and sodium and is sugar, dairy and gluten free. Vegans make use of it frequently as a protein source or cheese substitute. It has a strong flavour that most people seem to describe as nutty, cheesy or creamy. Can be used in the place of parmesan cheese, or used as a topping for popcorn.
Now, I am not a vegan, nor do I ever see myself becoming one, so why do I have this? I saw a recipe on weelicious, and it looked like a quick and easy substitute for KD, so I thought I would try it. My toddler has started turning his nose up at KD in preference for real food. I'm not a huge fan of KD, but it is an easy rush thing to put together!
I ordered from Well.ca and eagerly awaited it's arrival! The day it arrived I promptly made the recipe. Ugh. It was the worst tasting, most vile thing I have eaten in a long time! I ate some of it, and then proceeded to be nauseous for the rest of the day :( I had no choice but to find some use for it since I ordered 360g of the stuff! So back to the drawing board...
I found a 'cheese' sauce recipe on VegWeb and decided to give it a try...it's not that bad! I was going to dip tortilla chips into it, but I went to the cupboard and the cupboard was bare! So I poured it over macaroni and added a little salsa for zest and it's actually quite tasty!
I know making real cheese sauce if pretty simple, but it does take some time to grate the cheese etc. This took less then 5 minutes from start to finish :) I think I will see if my toddler will eat it for supper.
Because I am not a vegan, I changed the recipe to include milk. If you are a vegan just substitute soy milk (make sure it's unsweetened), or water and use vegan margarine :)
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast Flakes
Pinch of Salt
1/4 Cup Unbleached Flour
1/4 Tsp. Garlic Powder
1/8 Tsp. Mustard Powder
Sprinkle of Cumin
1 Cup Milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. Margarine
Mix dry ingredients together in a small pot. Add milk and whisk until clumps are gone. Add margarine and cook over medium heat until it thickens. If it thickens more then you want it to, just add extra milk (or whatever liquid you are using). It is meant to be a fairly thick sauce though.
This seems to be one of the better recipes out there. There are some recipes that even hardcore vegans are reviewing as awful!
Cheese is always something I seem to run out of before grocery day. Now I can make mac 'n cheese from ingredients I will most likely have on hand. The nutritional yeast was $7.67 for 180g. Because it's so flakey and light you get a lot in that container (which I didn't realize when I ordered 2 of them!), so it's actually quite an economical, healthy alternative for some recipes :)
Update: My 2 year old loves it :) He looked suspiciously at the macaroni for a minute and I convinced him to try some. His eyes lit up and I asked him if it was yummy, and his response was 'Yeah!'. I think I will make up little baggies of pre-measured dry ingredients, and then all I have to do is add milk and margarine to the sauce. Not much harder then KD!