If you are trying a vegan diet, everyone will tell you that you need to try nooch. But what is it and how do you use it? We tell you all you need to know about this vital and versatile ingredient in vegan cookery.
About Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional Yeast (‘nooch’) is made from yeast that has been dried into flakes, which are a pale yellow in colour. It has a cheesy, nutty flavour so it’s extremely useful in vegan cookery and a great substitute in cooked dishes that would normally contain cheese. As you will see from the list below, it can be used in many different ways to replace cheese. It also helps to boost the flavour in savoury dishes. In addition, nooch contains essential nutrients that are tricky for vegans to consume, so it’s a very good thing to include in your diet.
The most common brand of nutritional yeast in the UK is Engevita, made by Marigold Health Foods. They have four varieties available: Original Engevita, Engevita fortified with B12, ‘Super’ Engevita fortified with vitamins D and B12, and Organic Engevita. They come in big cardboard containers that seem to weigh nothing but they are well worth the price. There are other brands available though be careful if you are gluten intolerant as some of them contain wheat (Engevita is gluten free).
It sounds amazing, where can I buy it?
What makes it so nutritious?
Nooch is a good source of protein. Protein is made from various types of amino acids and there are nine amino acids that are essential in the diet. Nooch contains all nine of these. Nooch also contains a substantial amount of iron and vitamins B1 and B2. Some varieties of nutritional yeast are fortified with Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is essential in the diet and difficult to obtain from vegan food so eating fortified nooch is a great way to make sure you are getting enough. Vitamin B12 can survive high temperatures so there’s no need to worry that you will destroy it when cooking with nutritional yeast. Super Engevita is fortified with vitamin D as well as B12.
If you are interested in vegan nutrition, or concerned about your diet, we recommend a thorough read of the Vegan Society’s nutritional information pages. The Internet is full of wild, unproven theories and poor quality health information but The Vegan Society provides reliable, complete, easy to understand, evidence-based advice.
How do I use nooch?
Nutritional Yeast is very versatile. It’s can be used as a substitute for cheese when cooking sauces. It’s not a complete replacement for cheese, though: if you are making a pizza when we recommend trying a vegan cheese such as Violife.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Toast bread slices on both sides under a hot grill, then spread one side with vegan margarine and sprinkle nooch on top. Put them back under the grill until the nooch starts to brown.
Make pasta with tomatoey sauce and sprinkle nutritional yeast flakes over the top as a substitute for Parmesan. Tastes much nicer than the real thing (not hard to be fair). You can also use it in risotto.
We also love to use Grattugiato as an alternative to Parmesan.
Use nooch as a substitute for Parmesan in fresh pesto. Follow our vegan pesto recipe.
Make a white sauce by frying some flour in a little oil and then slowly stirring in soya milk until you have a smooth mixture. Add salt and pepper and then some nooch to give it a cheesy flavour. You can use the sauce when making lasagna.
If you don’t have time to make your own cheese sauce, try the Free & Easy Cheese Sauce Mix. It’s very tasty and gluten free too.
Spread hummus over bread slices, sprinkle on some nutritional yeast and add cress or any salad veg of your choice.
If you want a really cheesy sandwich, we recommend Violife slices.
Add nooch to your dough when making seitan to boost the flavour. Check out our seitan recipe to see how it’s done. We sell a seitan making starter kit that includes some nooch so you don’t have to buy a whole jar.
Scrambled tofu is another dish where nooch is a great flavour enhancer.
Once you start using nooch, you will use it on everything!
Other kitchen essentials
While we have your attention, here are some other kitchen essentials we think you should try.
A great way to give savoury dishes a smokey, meaty, barbecue-y flavour.
Regular Worcestershire sauce contains fish but the vegan alternatives are just as good. Or, try some Henderson’s Relish.
Another great all-purpose flavour enhancer, similar to soy sauce.
Another brilliant product from Marigold, the makers of Engevita. Just mix with hot water to make a really tasty stock for use in any savoury dish.
Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds. It’s used in making hummus but it’s also great as a sandwich spread and a thickener for sauces. Light tahini is most commonly used but whole dark tahini has a richer flavour and is more nutritious.
We hope you enjoyed this article and that you have been inspired to try some nutritional yeast flakes in your cooking at home. If you have any questions, the friendly, knowledgeable staff at The V Spot are happy to help – just pop in for a chat.
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