Some people sprinkle deactivated yeast on their popcorn, yet there are many others who have heard about it but haven’t tried it. If you’re among them, you won’t resist trying it after you’ll witness the magical power of this “hippie dust”.
Deactivated yeast, also called inactivated or nutritional yeast is ‘dead’ yeast, which doesn’t work as a leavening agent in baking anymore. That’s why it isn’t interchangeable with other yeast types. Instead, it’s a powerful reducing agent used to increase the extensibility of a dough. That means you mix the dough less and it will still be very elastic and extensible.
You may be wondering why you should use it if spending less time kneading the dough is not a big deal for you. Another incentive is that it enhances the nutrition of your baked goods and also of other foods.
Most of the people who eat it are vegetarians or vegans. But things shouldn’t be that way because deactivated yeast has many benefits for all of us. It’s a good source of protein, folic acid, vitamin B 12, and amino acids, it’s gluten-free, and it’s very versatile.
5 ways to use deactivated yeast in your meals
Deactivated yeast is sold as flakes or as a yellow powder and you can find it in natural food stores. It has a strong nutty and cheesy flavor. Some vegans use it as a substitute in ‘cheese’ dishes.
If you don’t add it to your dough, just sprinkle the magical powder (or fine flakes) over your foods for a nice flavor. Thanks to its benefits and special taste, it’s also called ‘hippie dust’. But you don’t have to be a hippie or a vegan to eat it! Here’s how you can use it:
1. Sprinkled on almost anything
You can improve the taste and enhance the nutritional profile of your dishes just by sprinkling this dust on them. Think of it as a condiment and add it to mashed, fried, or baked potatoes, over your homemade chips, on your scrambled eggs, or your favorite salad for extra flavor.
If you don’t have parmesan or you’re a vegan, sprinkle deactivated yeast flakes on top of your pasta or rice, because it will make your meal especially good and taste cheesier.
2. As an ‘alternative’ to dairy products
To many of us, cheese is cheese and nothing can replace it. But if you’re a vegan or you have a special diet, you can replace cheese with nutritional yeast in many recipes. It not only has a cheesy taste, but it also works as a thickener. For example, you can use it in a vegan cashew cheesecake and will have a creamy texture.
Replace melted cheese or grated parmesan in a basic recipe to make a vegan and more nutritious version of a meal. Let’s say you want to eat mac and cheese: mix deactivated yeast with warm water, some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and pour this sauce over a plate of warm pasta.
Also, instead of cream cheese, make a cashew yeast cheese spread, add it to scrambled tofu, or use it to replace eggs in vegan baked goods.
3. To thicken sauces
If you can make ‘cheese’ sauce with it, like the one for mac and cheese (there are other versions though), you can make all kinds of sauces using deactivated yeast! Stir it into salsa to make it thicker, or make vegan queso sauce by replacing cheese with yeast. Plus, you can thicken and enrich the flavor of your salad dressings in just a few seconds!
4. Just for flavor
In some countries, it’s common to use nutritional yeast as a topping for popcorn. If you haven’t tried it already, you should! It will not only make it tastier and with a nice cheese flavor, but you’ll have a more nutritious snack.
You can go further and sprinkle this ‘dust’ on anything! Think of fresh avocado slices, sundried tomatoes, pizza, salads, sandwiches, French toast, and so on.
You can also make vegan parmesan flakes. Soak some blanched almonds, then throw them in a food processor along with sunflower seeds, deactivated yeast, salt, soy sauce, and lemon juice, and blend until smooth. Spread the mixture as thinly as possible on a parchment paper, bake until it’s dry and firm, but not brown, let it cool completely, then break it into flakes. Use them in salads or as a snack!
5. In dough
Deactivated yeast is a food ingredient that can be used in all kinds of doughs, as long as you don’t expect it to ferment and rise. Its compounds smooth the dough faster. Plus, it reduces the risk that you tear the dough while molding it because it’s more flexible. Nutritional yeast is good when you make pizza, wafers, and biscuits.