What the Heck is Nooch?
By Becca DiCenso
Nooch has been a cornerstone of the vegan diet for decades, but its recent appearance on more and more menus has the non-vegans wondering what it is.
We’ll get right to it: This Nooch we speak of is actually just the street name for nutritional yeast, a.k.a. a yeast grown on molasses and harvested and dried with heat to deactivate it (so don’t go trying to make bread with it). The recent uprise in trendy, plant-based diets has led to the current stardom for this staple health food ingredient. With an umami flavor profile, nooch brings both savory and salty flavors to foods that are mild in taste. It resembles a nutty, cheesy taste that’s similar to parmesan and comes in flakey and powdery forms that makes it easy to sprinkle on pretty much anything.
So, when can you use this stuff? Whether it be a diet restriction or you’re just not feeling like dairy, nutritional yeast is a perfect alternative to cheese. Yes, really. But nooch is also a great addition in any savory dish, no special diet required. Because of its taste and texture that’s so similar to parmesan cheese, some of the most popular ways to incorporate it are with pasta, rice, and vegetable dishes. Make a vegan mac-and-cheese, sprinkle it on your popcorn, or whip up a cheesy soup...the possibilities of nooch are endless.
But if you use dairy on the reg, you may be wondering why skip the cheese and use nutritional yeast. Well, along with its taste profile, nooch brings a ton of nutritional benefits to the table. With very little fat and sodium, nooch has about 9 grams of complete protein and 4 grams of fiber in just two tablespoons. It’s also a good source of B vitamins, which are important in maintaining a healthy metabolism. Nutritional yeast was originally used to boost nutrition in vegetarian diets, but it grabbed everyone's attention when its bold flavor stood out as the perfect substitute for cheese while still providing a dense amount of nutrients.
Bottom line: It looks like the nooch is here and it’s only getting more popular! Try it out—and while you’re making over your pantry staples, check out what else you need from these 40 Things Healthy Cooks Always Have in Their Kitchen.