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Friday, June 22, 2012

Nutrition Spotlight: Nutritional Yeast

One of my all-time favorite snacks to enjoy in the evenings has always been popcorn.  We used to make it with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray, but when we began to get educated about the health concerns of artificial ingredients and chemical additives, things really began to change about the way we make our popcorn.  One of the main ingredients that we have come to LOVE on our popcorn is something called "Nutritional Yeast".  It is delicious!  If you have never heard of it before, don't even worry about it.  I had never heard about it either.  We got wind of it when I began learning more about vegan eating, and what I found just astounded me, which is why I wanted to share it with you!

First of all, as you may or may not know, most vegans tend to supplement their food choices in order to ensure adequate intake of certain nutrients that they will likely not take in without meat, eggs, and dairy.  One of the biggest potential areas of concern rests with the B-vitamins.  B vitamins are typically found in your meat, egg, and dairy products and are essential for cell metabolism, which in turn helps to provide a stable mental and emotional well-being.  Since vegans tend to be deficient in their B vitamins, I made it my job to find out more about what other options I had, since I did not want to take a ton of supplements.  This is when I learned about nutritional yeast.

Nutritional yeast is a powerhouse for B vitamins.  It boasts of multiple hundreds of percent for several of the B vitamins, including a significant source of several other nutrients, both macro and micro.  Also, it only takes a little to get a lot with this wonder powder, which is incredible.  For only 1 tablespoon of the yeast, you get 8g of protein and 4g fiber, which alone is insane!  Check out the rest of this nutritional profile though (taken from Red Star Nutritional yeast's label; other brands may vary slightly):

Nutrients                           Per 1 heaping tablespoon
Calories                               60
Total Fat                              1 gram
Carbohydrate                       7 grams
Fiber                                    4 grams
Protein                                 8 grams
Sodium                                5 milligrams
Vitamin B1 (thiamin)            640% Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)         560% DV
Vitamin B3 (niacin)              280% DV
Vitamin B6                          480% DV
Folic Acid                             60% DV
Vitamin B12                         130% DV
Selenium                               30% DV
Zinc                                      20% DV

The best part about this product, though, is that it tastes great!  It has a cheesy edge to it that is absolutely delicious on popcorn, but we also enjoy it on top of savory dishes as much as we can.  We put it on spaghetti, lasagna, chili, casseroles, in dishes as a pseudo-mac & cheese, etc.  There are a ton of different ways to use this awesome condiment!  If you are looking for a new product to help clean out the bad for you stuff, but keep the delicious taste and value, try some Nutritional Yeast, and definitely share your thoughts and experiences =0)

Question of the Day:  What have you found to be a staple that you like to add to foods for flavor enhancement?

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