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Don’t Forget the Nutritional Yeast!

Those were my husband’s words to me as we were packing the car for our recent family vacation to Chincoteague Island, VA, a rather secluded and isolated place.  We rent a home each summer and do lots of cooking during our seven-day stay.  If you are Plant-Strong, forgetting the nutritional yeast on vacation, is as big as forgetting your bathing suit.  But, there is a difference:  Everyone knows what a bathing suit is, AND, they can tell you where to find one, if needed.  The words nutritional yeast only create a quizzical facial expression when you say, “Do you carry nutritional yeast?”  We visited health food stores, grocery stores and the like, but few had even heard of nutritional yeast.  I was even so bold as to leave the island and travel to a conventional grocery store some 30 miles away on the mainland.

Often referred as nooch, or hippie dust, nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast product known in the form of flakes or powder. Some describe it as having a “grated cheese-like” flavor, and I think that is rather close to a good definition.  Many times, it is fortified with vitamin B-12, but on its own, is a significant source of some B-complex vitamins.  What I love best about using nutritional yeast are two things…it is a flavor enhancer, and it changes the texture of what you’re eating by creating a creamy texture to any dish.

But what happens if you forget the nooch and you are literally in the middle of an island?? Oh, and wait, I actually thought about having it shipped from a mail-order health food store, but decided to rough it without the nooch.

Five Things to Do When You Forget the Nutritional Yeast

1- First, do not panic.  Think of it as a way to create new dishes for your plant-strong arsenal.

2- Rely on using fresh herbs.  Sometimes, herbs are used as a garnish, but the reality is that they pack an armful of flavor.  So, create some new flavor profiles for your favorite meals.

3- Hello, Garlic! I roasted bulbs of garlic, then scooped out the garlic pulp–it added a sweetness to my mashed potatoes AND added some creaminess.  It’s hard to recreate creaminess without nutritional yeast, but the garlic was a great addition.

4-Looking for more creaminess in a dish?  Puree some vegetables, and add them to the dish you are making.  There’s a very flavorful creaminess awaiting your taste buds.  From pureed carrots, potatoes, and squashes, there is a plethora textures awaiting.

5- Nutritional yeast is the perfect coating for oven-fried vegetables.  But, there I was, stranded on an island with no nooch in my immediate future. I had a bottle of dried Italian herbs.  And what better thing to do with them than to use them as a coating for “oven-fried” zucchini coins?  They weren’t as creamy as I like them, but the herbs, again, created an entirely new flavor.

I survived my vacation.  The beach was wonderful.  Hard to imagine that my angst was caused because I forgot the nutritional yeast. But, it was smooth sailing.

Make sure that your nutritional yeast is stored in an airtight container.  Suggested storage is for the refrigerator. And, most importantly, make sure that the product is fortified with B-12.  Not all nutritional yeasts are.

When we got back to our home, the first thing I did was make a delicious bowl of steamed Brussels sprouts–schmered in nutritional yeast.  They were the creamiest dish of vegetables I had ever eaten.

Next year I will hand carry the nooch on a silver platter to our vacation spot.  I’ll never forget it, again, but, I think being resourceful was a huge help and still made my plant-strong dishes super delicious.

Just because you might forget the nutritional yeast doesn’t mean that you still can’t enjoy delicious, plant-strong food.

Happy Trails!