Many people say they can’t “go vegan” because they’ll miss cheese too much. Trust me, I hear you–Parmesan and brie will always be in my heart. However, apart from your taste buds acquiring different cravings as your diet shifts, there are plenty of vegan alternatives to make your cheese-loving self happy.

One of which is nutritional yeast.

But wait. What actually is nutritional yeast?

Known to some as “nooch,” nutritional yeast is a dried, dairy-free, gluten-free deactivated fungus that is sold in canisters at health food stores, and jars in more traditional grocers. It looks like dry yellow flakes or fine breadcrumbs, and tastes like a nutty, salty cheese. It’s basically a healthy, salty cheese you can sprinkle on whatever you want (think dried canned Parmesan but vegetarian and vegan). It’s popular sprinkled over popcorn, or on roasted kale chips for easy snacks.

Bragg Premium Nutritional Yeast Seasoning 4.5 Ounce, $7.21 on Amazon

Keep a jar of nutritional yeast on hand for its many uses!
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One tablespoon of nutritional yeast (from Bragg’s, which is also kosher) will get you a heaping serving of protein, riboflavin (B2), pyridoxine (B6), vitamin B12, zinc, thiamine, niacin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, and selenium. A serving of nutritional yeast atop any dish will automatically amp up your nutrient intake and make it all the more flavorful and delicious. While nutritional yeast is certainly healthy (heck, it’s in the name), dairy-free and gluten-free eaters genuinely love it for its savory and cheesy flavor.

Added bonus: Nutritional yeast has a refrigerator or shelf life of two years.

Still unsure how to use nutritional yeast? Check out some recipes featuring it below.

Crispy Oil-Free Noochy Potatoes

Sweet Simple Vegan

Make this simple side dish featuring nutritional yeast, fresh dill, chives, garlic, and onion powder. Side note: A convection oven is recommended. Get the Crispy Oil-Free Noochy Potatoes recipe.

Paper Bag Popcorn

Chowhound

Save money and add flavor by making your own microwavable popcorn at home. Add olive oil, salt, and nutritional yeast, and you’re good to go. Get our Paper Bag Popcorn recipe.

Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese

From My Bowl

This gluten-free and nut-free dish won’t have you missing dairy one bit. Mix nutritional yeast into the cheesy sauce, along with the crumbled, crispy topping. Get the Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese recipe.

Versatile Vegan Quiche

Vegangela

This egg-less brunch dish uses tofu instead of the latter. Flavored with nutritional yeast, spinach, and tomatoes – feel free to fill with this version with  mushrooms, sun-dried tomato, basil, or wild mushroom with truffle oil and thyme instead. Get the Versatile Vegan Quiche recipe.

Vegan Lasagna

Chowhound

No, vegan lasagna is not an oxymoron. Cook this cheesy dish for dinner with star ingredients like nutritional yeast, eggplant, capers, and parsley. Get our Vegan Lasagna recipe.

Loaded Enchilada Pizza Pie

From My Bowl

It’s like a DIY for California Pizza Kitchen. This Mexican-inspired pizza is topped with a cheezy cashew cream sauce (with nutritional yeast), bell peppers, yellow onion, corn, and cilantro. Yum. Get the Loaded Enchilada Pizza Pie recipe.

Vegan Eggplant Meatballs

Sweet Simple Vegan

Get the meat-like texture you may enjoy by combining chickpeas, eggplant, and tempeh. Oh yeah, of course nutritional yeast is in there too. Get the Vegan Eggplant Meatballs recipe.

Nutritional Yeast Crackers

Macheesmo

Forget as topping or finishing ingredient, when you can make healthy and crave-able crackers out of the stuff for y0ur next vegan cocktail party spread.  Get the Nutritional Yeast Crackers recipe.

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Header image courtesy of Sweet Simple Vegan

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