"Cheezy" AlmondsThis is the snack your parents longed for when you came home starving after school – a healthy snack basically disguised as Cheetos. However, back then it’s unlikely your parents knew about nutritional yeast. But you do. You know all about culturing yeast in beet molasses to create the flavor profile of cheese. You started to notice your friends putting these magical flakes on their popcorn. You inquired and wanted to hear more about this strange substance. You learned it’s high in energizing B-vitamins and contains all nine essential ammino acids. And it provides key minerals such as iron, zinc, and selenium that support healthy immunity.  But the word “yeast” still throws you. Where’s the bread? 

Time to get technical. 

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast, also referred to as brewer’s yeast or baker’s yeast. It’s made from yeast called Saccharomyces Cerevisiae and is a slightly different process from Brewer’s yeast. Brewer’s yeast is collected during the process of brewing beer, whereas nutritional yeast is grown on molasses or cane sugar. When the yeast is ready for harvest, it’s deactivated with heat, so the yeast stops growing. The final product is crumbled and ready to consume. 

Now that you understand what you’re consuming when you eat nutritional yeast, you’re feeling good about it because it has something to do with beer, so it must be legit. You’re ready to try it on your popcorn, and dang, you already polished off a bag of Cheezy Almonds, so you get the whole “it tastes amazing” now. 

Nights are getting longer. You’re excited for evening ride. You stash another bag of Cheezy Almonds in your Camelback and know your post-work ride will be fueled by dairy-free yeast. I know, it makes you chuckle, but you now know, the flavor and energizing boost it provides is no lie. Off into the sunset you go.

March 25, 2022 — Shanna Koenig Camuso