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I have several recipes for seitan which call for nutritional yeast. I've never used it before and am curious about its purpose.

Is it for flavor, texture, nutritional value?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

This product is new to me, but it looks interesting.

The flavour of nutritional yeast is described in Wikipedia:

Nutritional yeast has a strong flavor that is described as nutty, cheesy, or creamy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes. It is often used by vegans in place of parmesan cheese.

Nutritional yeast is a so called complete protein.

A complete protein (or whole protein) is a source of protein that contains an adequate proportion of all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for the dietary needs of humans or other animals.

This also explains why it is popular among vegans, that needs to replace the amino acids in meat with alternative food sources.

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To be a little more precise, the flavor has a lot of umami, which is useful not just for cheese substitutes but also meat substitutes. (Of course, seitan needn't try to taste like meat, and adding umami doesn't necessarily mean you want it to taste like meat, but I expect that's one of the reasons.) –  Jefromi Nov 3 '11 at 19:28
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It's a flavour booster like Marmite (or Vegimite if you are an Ozzie)

Not to everyone likes, but it sure does has an interesting taste

Usually made from fermented barley

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hmm... so I could theoretically save my trub from my batch of beer and just eat that? It's basically fermented barley (and should taste like a belgian tripel) =D –  STW Nov 4 '11 at 1:03
    
Yeah go for it! Brewers yeast is another one of those interesting tastes, more similar to Marmite and probably better tasting than traditional "nutritional yeast" –  TFD Nov 4 '11 at 3:04
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I use nutritional yeast for the taste. I think comparing it to a milder form of Marmite flavour, or even miso is apropos - it has a similar tanginess - in my opinion. When I choose something low caloric for a good flavour enhancer, this is a good thing to keep around.

A good introduction for you to try nutritional yeast might be to sprinkle it on popcorn, or add it to a tomato sauce, or even on buttery toast. Use it like a flaky spice.

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let's not forget the masses of B vitamins it contains too.

A paste applied to the cheeks will result in a flush due to the B rush. Not that I recommend trying it (old beauty tip from a health mag)

Salads use a sprinkle of flakes instead of nuts: lower in Cals

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For the tine amount you use per serving, I suspect that there are not masses of B vitamins. Many commercial yeast preparations are fortified, so maybe they are then considered good sources of B vitamins –  TFD Nov 9 '11 at 1:37
    
Fortified or not, nutritional yeast is often consumed by vegans and lactose intolerant folks for its B vitamin content. –  sourd'oh Aug 15 '13 at 20:55
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