March 13, 2018

Throughout their coursework, culinary students will use a variety of ingredients, some common and some they may have never heard of before. One highly versatile yet often underappreciated ingredient is nutritional yeast.

Nutritional yeast is made by pasteurizing and drying out Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the yeast strain used to bake bread, Bon Appetit explained. The drying process deactivates the yeast (which means it won’t be any use to you when baking), extracts the nutrients and breaks down the yeast into flakes reminiscent of fish food.

This food is rich in B vitamins, supports a healthy immune system, is a good source of fiber and can lower cholesterol levels, according to Livestrong. It’s a dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan option that fits into many strict diets.

Nutritional yeast has a creamy texture and a cheesy, nutty flavor. It’s an ideal substitute for cheese or a perfect addition to dish to make it a little more decadent.

Vegan cheddar jalapeno biscuits

Though nutritional yeast won’t help a batch of biscuits rise, it can add a cheesy flavor for a tasty side to your meal. The Minimalist Baker’s vegan cheddar jalapeno biscuit recipe shows how even a dairy-free biscuit can be light, fluffy and of course, cheesy.

Nutritional yeast's cheesy flavor is perfect for making vegan biscuits.

Nutritional yeast’s cheesy flavor is perfect for making vegan biscuits.

To begin, mix almond milk with lemon juice. This will curdle the milk, creating a sort of dairy-free buttermilk. Next, combine flour, nutritional yeast, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix in cold non-dairy butter or coconut oil until it creates a crumbly texture. Toss in sliced jalapenos, then slowly add your curdled almond milk. Aim for a sticky, not runny, texture.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently knead it before forming it into a one-inch-thick disc. Cut out one-inch biscuits and place on a baking sheet. Don’t space them out too far – in fact, let the sides gently touch to encourage even rising.

Brush the tops of the biscuits with non-dairy butter, then push a dent into the center of each biscuit to prevent the middle from forming a bulge. Bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Cheesy vegan kale chips

A bowl of chips traditionally isn’t the healthiest appetizer around, but these cheesy kale chips from PopSugar aren’t traditional chips. They taste addictively good but are nutrient packed, unlike your favorite bag of store-bought cheesy chips.

Begin by making a cashew butter by processing cashews with coconut oil. Once creamy, add garlic, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, soy sauce and a juiced half of a lemon.

Remove stems from your kale, then tear up the leaves into two-inch pieces. Put into a bowl, then drizzle with your nutritional yeast mixture and toss to coat evenly. Spread out on a baking sheet and put into a 200-degree Fahrenheit oven for about an hour. The chips are done when they’re completely dry.

Vegan chocolate peanut butter cups

Though nutritional yeast can be a fantastic cheese substitute, there are plenty of other flavors and textures it can create. According to Running on Real Food, nutritional yeast adds a salty, creamy texture to the peanut butter in this vegan chocolate peanut butter cup recipe.

To make, begin by mixing melted coconut oil, maple syrup and cocoa powder. Pour spoonfuls of the mixture into muffin tins to create the bottom layer of the treats, then freeze for 10 minutes. While the chocolate is in the freezer, combine peanut butter, coconut oil, maple syrup, salt and nutritional yeast.

Remove the chocolate and scoop peanut butter into each muffin tin. Let set in the freezer for about a half hour. When it’s hardened, mix together another batch of the chocolate and top each peanut butter round with another layer. Finalize by placing the cups into the freezer for another 10 minutes.