Tuesday, January 13, 2015


OK, for anyone not "in the know" on these things, "Nooch" is the word vegan foodies use for nutritional yeast.

Seriously, I'm not making this up. I have no idea who comes up with these things, but it sounds vaguely elicit doesn't it? Look out folks, Grampa's out in the shed whippin' up another batch of nooch!

I was first introduced to this stuff about 5 years ago when I was having a really bad time with mosquito bites. A friend suggested I try eating nutritional yeast because, in theory, it's supposed to make your blood less attractive to the little buggers (apologies to anyone of the British persuasion - I was well into my 30's before I knew that the word "bugger" had any connotation other than an annoying insect, and I haven't quite been able to alter my vocabulary accordingly.)

At any rate, I picked some up at the health food store, but at that point I didn't really grock how one was supposed to consume the stuff, so I just tried to down a big spoonful of it... and promptly decided that I'd rather get eaten alive by mosquitoes!

But a few years later I was at a party and someone brought a big bowl of the most delicious popcorn I'd ever tasted. It had the most wonderful cheezy flavor, so I asked for the recipe and was informed much to my surprise that it was flavored with nutritional yeast. Hmm.... perhaps the stuff wasn't so terrible after all...

So this past summer, which was a very wet one here in Colorado, I started having trouble with insect bites again - this time it was the biting flies - and let me tell you those things are vicious! Seriously, they'd bite me straight through my Lycra bike shorts, and the welt those things leave make mosquito bites pale by comparison!

Since the flies apparently only found my blood irresistible (CatMan never got bitten even once) I decided to give the old nooch another try - but this time on popcorn.

But then I ran into another roadblock. I'd whip up a big bowl of popcorn thoroughly doused with nooch, gobble the stuff down and within a half hour or so I'd get the strangest prickly rash. Given the fact that I am the world's most allergic person, and that I did once test positive for a yeast allergy on a skin test, I decided that perhaps I shouldn't push it.

But here's the thing... the rash didn't really feel like any allergic reaction I'd ever had before.... In fact, it felt strangely familiar...

So I hit the interwebs and did myself a bit of research. Turns out that nutritional yeast is packed with B vitamins - this is the reason it's so popular with vegans, and probably where the "nutritional" part comes from!

Then suddenly it dawned on me... B vitamins - niacin - niacin flush!! Now, if you're not up on your B vitamins, niacin (vitamin B3) has in interesting property that dilates blood vessels, and if you take enough of it you can experience the "flush" which is basically a warm red colored rash. Many years ago I experimented with using niacin to abort migraine headaches (didn't work for me) but that explains why the sensation was familiar.

OK... so at least I wasn't having an allergic reaction to the stuff, but I still obviously hadn't figured it out completely.

Then new motivation arrived in the form of broken fingernails.

I've always had really terrible nails - I think it's genetic since my mother had the same issue. They're flimsy and tear easily, but lately the problem had gotten really bad. I think it may be that with all of the kitty issues we've had in recent years I've been washing my hands a ridiculous amount, and this can apparently dry out your nails as well as your skin.

Anyhow, the situation was starting to get completely out of control as I had numerous nails torn down into the quick and had tried nearly everything I could think of. I had finally resorted to using those glue-on fake nails just to protect them while the broken parts grew out, but the glue seemed to be creating as many problems as the fake nails were solving.

Sooo, once again I took to the interwebs and discovered that B vitamins, especially biotin (vitamin B7) are supposed to help you grow stronger nails.

I started taking a biotin supplement, but you need to be careful when supplementing B vitamins because they work together, and if you take a whopping amount of one you can end up causing deficiencies in others. And not being a fan of huge dose supplements, I was trying to come up with foods that are rich in B vitamins, and suddenly I remembered the nooch!

So I've been experimenting with the stuff for the past 2 months or so and I'm quite pleased with the results. I think it will take a while to fully see the results in terms of my nails because it takes about 6 months for the new growth to reach the ends of your nails, but for the first time in years I'm fake-nail free!

But I've also discovered an unexpected fringe benefit of the extra B vitamins... my sugar cravings have completely disappeared! Seriously, like I'm hardly interested in sweet stuff at all, and this is totally NOT like me. And I'm hopeful that if I keep this up, perhaps I won't be quite so delicious to the insects next summer.

Anyhow, so far I've been using the nooch like a seasoning, sprinkling about a quarter teaspoon on dishes where a cheezy flavor would be appropriate - but I'm sure there are more ways to use the stuff.

So has anybody else out there tried nutritional yeast? I'd love to hear how you use it and what benefits, if any, you've seen.


  1. If it tastes like cheese, it sounds like it needs a look. :) When I was taking extra B vitamins, the doctor told me to divide the dose up into a couple times a day. He said the body can only absorb so much at once and you would just end up peeing it out. Apparently, B's are more sensitive than some other vitamins for this.

    1. Well... I wouldn't say it tastes exactly like cheese, but it does have a similar flavor. I knew that B vitamins were water soluble, but I didn't realize it worked quite like that. I guess using the yeast as a seasoning on meals, by default I end up spreading it out over the course of a day.

  2. I have never tried it though I think I did buy it once. I never thought of just sprinkling it on things or mixing it with things without having a recipe. Great idea!

    That is fascinating about the sugar cravings, too.

    1. Well, in general recipes are a great source of frustration for me because I'm always allergic to at least a few of the ingredients - so I tend to cook with the "toss it together" method more often than not!

  3. A quarter teaspoon? Really? I'd not take the lid off for less than a tablespoon, and I think ours are bigger than yours. :)
    I use it sporadically, mainly in sauces or maybe a savoury crumble topping. How do you get it to stick to popcorn?
    I don't think it tastes remotely like cheese though.

    1. Hmmm... well, I'm talking about using that much on a single serving, not for a whole batch of something. It was when I'd put several tablespoons on the popcorn that I got the niacin flush, so perhaps I'm being overly conservative.

      Getting it to stick to the popcorn was a little challenging. I got OK results by tossing the popcorn in olive oil first and then putting the nooch on, but you can also mix the yeast with the olive oil or butter and then dump the whole mixture on the popcorn. The latter method sticks better but you do end up with some clumps of yeast.

  4. But do I WANT to give up my sugar cravings???? I know I should ... I really really should ...

    I've never heard of nooch and I'm always interested in new things you teach me. :) Where do you buy it, anyway?

    1. I got mine in the bulk food section of Whole Paycheck, but I think you can get it at any health food store - BTW, I'd ask for "nutritional yeast" rather than "nooch" - not sure how widespread that nickname is!

      And seriously, you LIKE having sugar cravings?!? You must be crazier than I am! :-)

    2. I also am crazy. Or at least I feel like a part of me would be sad if I didn't want [very long list of delicious sugary things] much anymore. (At least until I am diabetic--then I will gladly welcome any help in this area!) I have so many carefully perfected recipes. It's hard to explain--the idea of less yumminess in my life makes me sad.

    3. Hmmm... but in my experience there's a massive difference between yumminess and cravings. It's not like I'm not enjoying the occasional piece of chocolate or something like that - in fact, I think I may be getting more enjoyment out of the few sweets that I am eating. What's different is that the "I want sugar and it doesn't matter how much I get I will never feel satisfied" feeling is gone.

  5. I bought this stuff some time ago for a popcorn recipe! Here in the Netherlands, popcorn is eaten just salty or sweet, so I when I saw some popcorn recipes at Soulemama I really wanted to try it. And it was delicious (nutritional yeast, dill, butter and parmesan cheese). I sprinkle it on my pasta sometimes as well,or put it in savoury dishes when I don't want to use cheese. If it works against sugar cravings I'll try to eat it more often! I'd be really glad to get rid of those.


    1. Oooo... I'll have to try it on pasta. I put some on a "personal pizza" tonite (pizza made on a tortilla instead of a real crust) and it was delicious!

  6. It has taken me a while to warm up to nooch but now I love it. I put it on popcorn after spraying with Bragg's amino acid (that's how I get it to stick). Lately, I've been putting in in grits (probably making my Southern ancestors turn over in their graves) along with Braggs. I'm a savory kind of person. :)

    1. Oooo... I LOVE Braggs Aminos - but how do you spray them? Do they come in a spray bottle or do you just put them in some sort of re-purposed one?


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