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It has been a hard journey trying to give up cheese. If I had to list one favourite food, that would be it. For me, everything tastes better with cheese. If the meal is not too great, add some cheese. I used to cut slices of cheese and just nibble away like a happy mouse. That’s how much I loved cheese. Hard cheese, runny, drippy cheese… I loved them all. Alas, I am now convinced that cheese is not the healthiest thing to eat hence my journey to give it up.
I think my meals have been getting a bit boring. No Mac and Cheese, no scalloped potatoes, no casserole. I mean, what’s a casserole without delicious melted cheese all over it? But joy, great joy! All that is about to change. Have you heard of Nutritional Yeast? It is the new cheese on the block.
Well it’s not really cheese, but it is the main ingredient in some delicious non-dairy cheese and cheese sauces.
The normal cheese making process is a long and complicated procedure. You start with whole dairy milk which you pour in a big tub and you add some bacteria to ferment the sugars in the milk. You also add an enzyme called rennet. You drain out the whey, squeeze out the extra water and add large quantities of salt to kill the bacteria or stop it from continuing its fermentation process.
That of course, is a very simplified version of the process. It is 10 times more complicated and takes hours. In contrast, the non-dairy, nutritional yeast version is simple and takes only minutes.
How to make cheese sauce using nutritional yeast
You are going to be amazed at how simple it is.
First of all, there are many ways to make your cheese sauces, but they are all quick and easy.
For example, put 2 potatoes, 1 carrot, 1 onion and 3 cloves of garlic in a pot and cook . (If you cut up the potatoes and the carrot, they will cook in no time). Add that to the blender along with 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast. Add a cup of water and blend until smooth.
Voila! Cheese sauce. How easy is that.
Add to your blender 1 cup soaked (raw) cashew, 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast, 1 clove garlic, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper, 1/2 cup water. Blend until smooth.
Yep! Another delicious cheese sauce.
Use a block of silken tofu instead of the cashew and some non-dairy milk instead of the water and you have another quick and easy non-dairy cheese sauce.
There are many different recipes but the key ingredient in all of them is the nutritional yeast.
So what is Nutritional Yeast?
The first time I heard about nutritional yeast, I thought about bread. I know yeast is used to make bread. Well not this type. Nutritional yeast is different from baker’s/brewers yeast. It is the same species of yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) used to make beer or bread, but it is a different end product.
One major difference is that, for the most part, people use baker’s or brewer’s yeast in their active form. Nutritional yeast is a deactivated form of yeast which is sold in the form of flakes or as a yellow powder It is a very popular ingredient in lots of vegan and vegetarian recipes mainly due to its distinct nutty, cheesy flavour. It is sometimes used in a recipe and at other times it is just sprinkled on top of various foods.
Nutritional yeast is made by growing Saccharomyces cerevisiae on a sugar-rich molasses medium. Then, it is deactivated with heat, washed, pasteurized, dried, and crumbled into the flakes or powder that we buy in the store. It is considered an Ancient Egyptian Superfood.
Nutritional yeast is high in vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber while low in fat and calories. Just 2 tablespoons contain 8 grams protein (16% RDA), 4 grams fiber (14% RDA), and a host of other vitamins and minerals. It is a significant source of many of the B-complex vitamins and is high in minerals such as phosphorus, zinc, selenium and molybdenum.
B vitamins are involved in important bodily processes, such as metabolism, energy production, DNA synthesis, brain function, hormone regulation, and making blood cells.
Fortified or non-fortified
Most of the brands of nutritional yeast found on the market are fortified. This type contains synthetic vitamins added during the manufacturing process to boost nutrient content. The ingredient list will include these added vitamins.
I know some of you are concerned that synthetic, man-made vitamins can be harmful to the body, causing nutrient imbalance and forcing our liver and kidneys to work overtime. If this is your concern, you will be happy to know that non-fortified nutritional yeast is also available. This type 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.
Although the non-fortified nutritional yeast is lacking in vitamin B12, it still has significant amounts of other B-vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. One non-fortified brand, Sari Foods, boasts 170% Recommended Daily Allowance of Thiamin, 90% Niacin, 560% vitamin B6, 50% biotin and 700% vitamin B5. It really is a power house of nutrition.
Such a nutrient rich food is sure to have many health benefits, wouldn’t you think?
It sure does.
Nutritional yeast has lots of health benefits, including boosting energy, protecting against cell damage, lowering cholesterol and promoting the growth of red blood cells. It also supports healthy brain function, good digestion and proper nerve function.
The vitamin B complex promotes hormone and cholesterol production and supports cardiovascular health.
B vitamins are especially important for women who are pregnant and breastfeeding. These vitamins aid in fetal brain development as well as reduce the risk of birth defects. It may also boost energy levels in expectant mothers as well as ease nausea and lower the risk of developing preeclampsia.
Please take into consideration that some of the vitamins (e.g. folate, which plays a major role for example in fetal brain development), are not present in the unfortified nutritional yeast.
Mac and Cheese is back
I am so happy I have found a solution to my cheese problem. I can slather my pasta or vegetables with my new cheese sauce and have no guilt when I am eating it because guess what, it is 100% super healthy.
Instead of trying to cut back, you can actually be encouraged to eat more. After all, I have never heard anybody say “This food is too healthy and nutritious. I should cut back”.
I am sure you haven’t heard that either, so get on board and add some healthy and easy to use Nutritional Yeast to your pantry today.
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