You want cheese? Try Nutritional Yeast Flakes!

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Everybody loves cheese – unless you are lactose intolerant – you must love all the cheesy varieties, the melted gooey cheeses, the stinky blue cheeses, the mild swiss cheeses – they are all to die for. Just talking about cheese makes me want to fix myself a cheese melt! But we also know that eating cheese comes at a price – the fat can quickly add up in calories and sometimes it’s just not worth eating a slice of cheese that can pack up so much calories for not much food. So, you can opt for low-fat or no-fat if you can find it. But those leave much to be desired in terms of flavour and they come at a different cost – added crap to make them palatable since the yummy fat is gone. So, what do I do? I reach for Nutritional Yeast Flakes instead of cheese and get all sorts of benefits without the fat and calories!

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The only similarity between cheese and Nutritional Yeast is the slight, very mild cheesy, nutty flavour of NYF. Other than the flavour, and I have to highlight that it’s very mild, in case you find it off-putting, the use of NYF is nothing like what you would do with cheese. So what exactly is it?

Wikipedia gives this generic definition:

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast, often a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is sold commercially as a food product. It is sold in the form of flakes or as a yellow powder and can be found in the bulk aisle of most natural food stores. It is popular with vegans and vegetarians and may be used as an ingredient in recipes or as a condiment.

Don’t let the word “yeast” scare you – I assure you it is nothing like yeast in the way it tastes or behaves when used in cooking! In fact, I wish the name did not contain the word “yeast” because I think most people who are unfamiliar with this product will never in a million years reach for it due to its funky name! And that’s a shame because it’s very versatile and its macronutrient break down makes it a great choice: 7g of the flakes (2tbs) give you 20 calories, 3g carbs of which 2g are fibre and 3g of protein and 0g of fat! That’s pretty darn good in my books.

So, how do I use it? I use it as a condiment – same as any other spice. You can add it in your salads, but I find that it gets soggy with the addition of any dressing and that’s just not fun. Mostly, you will find it on my meat and fish. When you sprinkle it on top of the protein of your choice and then pan fry it in some coconut oil it will create a nice little crispy coating on your meat. And this is what my tonight’s cod looked like, pre and post cooking:

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Sprinkle it ever so slightly on your fish or other meats together with other spices of choice. I usually season with salt and pepper and any other spices and then cover with NYF. But as I type this I’m thinking next time I might mix the spices with NYF and sprinkle the mix on top. I have never tried dredging with NYF and egg wash, using NYF instead of flour, but it could be another use. Maybe next time!

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And here is my finished product. The NYF give it not only a nice crispy coating, similar to what you would get from breadcrumbs, but also a nice colour, if you can avoid burning your fish 😉

And here you have it! Nutritional Yeast Flakes at its best! I will also use NYF in place of flour in savoury dishes as binder. For example, you have seen me use them when flavouring my red meat. I would also use it when I’m making meatballs, when wet ingredients are added to minced meat – to make it stick back together I would certainly use NYF instead of flour that packs on unnecessary carbs that I want to avoid my meat balls. Now, if I could only stop munching on NYF that would be great! Yes, I am known for simply eating it straight from the container with a spoon! Shocking, I know, but I have an affinity to anything that comes in powder form – if you know me well enough, I have told you the story of powdered milk! There are a few exceptions to my obsession with powder, however, NYF is not one of the exceptions, I could sit there and slowly make my way through a full 180g container 🙂