I missed the whole nutritional yeast phenomenon. You know, that staple in the kitchens of vegetarians and vegans used to supplement their diets.
Heralding back 50 years ago, it was the darling of the hippie generation and the many caught up in the massive back to the land movement that followed. Nutritional yeast was a natural for those rejecting establishment commodities. It was emblematic of the value placed on nutrition and simplified living.
Nutritional yeast is a dried condiment of sorts. Its taste is often described as cheesy; it is fairly low in sodium and has only 60 calories in two tablespoons. It can also be used as a thickener or a binder, like bread crumbs.
Best news, it is considered a complete protein and rich in fiber, and it is high in magnesium, iron, phosphorus, biotin, vitamin B-12, folic acid, and other minerals. Nutritional yeast is described as a dead yeast, in that it is inactive and often fortified with B1, B2, B6, B12 and more.
On a recent visit to Life Source Market, our local hangout for first rate natural foods, I was wandering the bulk food section with eyes glazed over, when approached by one of the staff. I explained I was in search of ‘nutrition yeast’. He nodded and pointed out 2 lower bins, explaining that they offer two varieties of nutritional yeast, a flaked and a powdered one, depending on preference. His voice softened as he praised its health benefits and cheesy flavor. ‘It’s a must on popcorn,’ he murmured, and left me to ponder alone. I theorized that larger flakes would be more of the same, so I cautiously opted for a small amount of the powdered variety, and moved on to the tea bins.
Nutritional yeast is fascinating, no doubt I’ll find plenty of uses for it. For now, I am happy to report I have gotten serious about popcorn again. Here is my current take on an easy popcorn, based on low butter bags of microwaveable on hand. I use a good quality coconut oil which lends a toasted perfume of coconut, a nice change from butter. The dusting of nutritional yeast clings to the popcorn and helps other ingredients to adhere as well. Korean red pepper, or gochugara, is milder than cayenne-style with a slightly smoky-sweet flavor. Season to taste with a good quality sea salt.
Yes I am hooked on this mixture; it’s reassuring to know that I can dive into popcorn and get heathy too! I suspect I will return to the popcorn-in-a-bag concept, mastered a couple of years ago, and give up on the packaged goods. Winter or summer, popcorn is always in season.
1 medium bag microwaveable popcorn, popped
2-3 teaspoons coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoon nutritional yeast, or to taste
1-2 teaspoons Korean red pepper flakes
Sea salt to taste
- Empty the popped corn into a bowl. Drizzle with coconut oil and toss well.
- Sprinkle with the nutritional yeast and red pepper flakes and toss to distribute.
- Season with salt to taste. Serves 2.
Note: This popcorn is even good the next day!