Ingredient of the month 3: Nutritional Yeast
I think if yeasted bread and yeast extract are offerable to Krishna, then this should be too. Nutritional yeast is sometimes called "yeast flakes", "savoury yeast flakes", "Engevita", "Brufax", nooch or yeshi (Ethiopian for "for a thousand"). It is different from yeast extract, a strong-tasting brown paste, but can sometimes be used interchangeably. It also differs from brewers' yeast, which is truly impressive nutritionally but not very palatable. As well as being a great "cheesey" flavour, nutritional yeast is a very beneficial food- more about that later. It comes as either yellow flakes or powder, and is made from inactive ("dead") yeast, usually the same strain that is used in baking and brewing. I find that in the UK it's easiest to get hold of Engevita yeast flakes, which now come in a version with added vitamin B12 as well as the more familiar brown tub.
It is said that prisoners of war have grown their own yeast to prevent vitamin deficiency. Nutritional yeast is one of the richest sources of B-vitamins, especially when fortified with B-12. It is rich in protein, aminoacids (including glutamic acid- so be cautious of you are sensitive to monosodium glutamate), enzymes, minerals and trace elements and also low in sodium. A tablespoon and a half of nutritional yeast provides:
Thiamin – 640% RDA
Niacin – 280% RDA
Folic Acid – 60% RDA
Selenium – 32% RDA
Riboflavin – 565% RDA
Vitamin B6 – 480% RDA
Vitamin B12 – 133% RDA
Zinc – 21% RDA
I love to use nutritional yeast as a general condiment sprinkled on stuff like jacket potatoes, and also in mashed potato or toppings to baked savoury dishes, pasta and pizza. It makes a great "cheese" sauce with soya milk and a yummy salad dressing too. Apparently it tastes great with olive oil on popcorn, but I haven't tried that out yet. Nutritional yeast is such a versatile ingredient you are sure to have fun whatever savoury dish you're planning- go create!
PS: Anisha of Experiments! Life on the Road... and Flavours has won the first of the 3 cookbooks in my giveaway (see 27.11.11) All are excellent and interesting blogs, which I am now following; well worth a visit. If you would like a free copy of "Higher Taste" vegetarian cookbook, tell me in a comment, I will contact you and get your mailing address.