Um….yes, to answer my sister’s question about whether nutritional yeast is what we feed the dog! When our 14-year-old beagle refused to eat for several days in a row, we were at our wits end to get her to snap out of it. Look how cute she is…
After sprinkling a small amount on her food, she not only snapped out of it but she now refuses to eat without it. And as a bonus, the hair on her tuchus, which due to allergies was once non-existent, has grown back!
So what on earth is nutritional yeast and why do we consume the same stuff as our dog??
Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast from a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, more commonly referred to as brewers yeast. Saccharomyces when translated means “sugar fungus”, which is what this yeast uses for food. They are found in the wild growing on the skins of grapes and other fruits and processed on sugarcane and beet molasses from manufacturers. Although nutritional yeast hails from the same strain as brewers yeast the two are different from one another and should not be confused.
Yellow in color and in the form of flakes or finely ground powder, most people describe this ingredient as having a nutty, cheesy or creamy flavor. Found in bulk at health food stores, it is often used as a substitution for cheese, sprinkled on popcorn as a condiment, placed in soups, dips and used as a salad dressing. It is a complete protein and low in calories, fat and sodium.
For vegetarians and vegans, this yeast is a good source of vitamin B-12, a vitamin difficult to obtain on a plant-based diet. Much, but not all, nutritional yeast is fortified with vitamin B-12 so make sure to check the label before making a purchase.
Nutritional yeast has a strong flavor and may best be introduced in small increments to the diet. The powder holds twice the amount of punch as the flakes so use accordingly (I found that out the hard way)! Although I don’t think it will cure male pattern baldness, before long you will be as addicted to it as we are and will want to use it in just about every dish as it is a lick-it-off-the-spoon taste sensation!