Andy and I spent about 2 years eating a 90% vegan diet (well, 100% at home anyway). We are now what we like to call flexitarians, but most of our meals are vegetarian or vegan and loaded with fruits and vegetables.
Oh, it has been so much fun learning new ways to cook, enhance flavors, and combine foods for maximal nutrient consumption and enjoyment through our meat limiting diet!
Early on, we discovered Isa Moskowitz and her amazing vegan cookbooks–she made the transition EASY. Well, with the exception of cutting way back on cheese, that was NOT easy! My hubby and I really dig cheese–hard, soft, stinky, earthy–doesn’t matter, to this day, we LOVE IT!
Thankfully, through Isa we learned about nutritional yeast and what a great replacement it is for cheese. This crazy mustard-colored flake has a nutty, smoky, flavor that, when sprinkled on food or mixed with a dairy free milk (and a few other ingredients), tastes remarkedly like CHEESE! Plus, it is low in calories, high in protein, and packed with micro and macro nutrients!
It is especially high in B vitamins which are responsible for lessening the cellular destruction caused by stress, treating anxiety and depression (synthesis of serotonin and norepinephrin), aiding memory and brain repair (synthesis of myelin), and many, many other critical functions in the body. In summary, 2 TBSP of nutritional yeast provide a whopping 640% RDI Thiamin (B1), 570% RDI Riboflavin (B2), 280% RDI Niacin (B3), 480% RDI B6 (myelin synthesis, 60% RDI folate (B9), 130% RDI B12 (check the label, this is an additive and will vary by product). Keep in mind that B vitamins are water soluble and not stored in the body (like A, D, E and K-our fat soluble vitamins), so unless your body can make them (like B5 and B7. which are made in the intestines), you NEED to eat them often (every day) to maintain levels that support good health.
More than likely, you can buy nutritional yeast at your local market or Whole Foods in the health foods or bulk foods section. It is not expensive and adds a ton of great flavor (even if you are still using cheese) to about any dish. Here at 488, we use nutritional yeast un-cheese sauce at every opportunity to replace cheese. It can be found in our lasagna, enchiladas, and casseroles. We sprinkle it in flake form over pasta, steamed, or roasted vegetables to add an smoky flavor. I haven’t tried it, but have read that it makes a nice topping for popcorn as well. It’s utility is really endless, so why not buy a bag and give it a try! I have a feeling you are going to love it!
Nutritional yeast un-cheese sauce:
- 1 c nutritional yeast flakes
- 1-1 1/2 c soy, almond or rice milk (adjust the liquid to your desired consistency)
- 1 t soy sauce
- 1-2 t dijon mustard
Combine all of the ingredients in a lidded bowl and shake well or in a regular bowl and stir
I never measure the ingredients for my sauce, so play around with the ingredient amounts to make the best sauce for your palate!
You can cook in a sauce pan on low for 5-10 minutes to get a nice thick cheese-like sauce.
You do not need to cook the sauce if you are using it in a baked dish–it will thicken in the oven as it cooks.