Saturday, May 28, 2016

Nooch Me Again!

A Half-Assed Vegan Post

Since I'm not supposed to eat dairy, I'm not supposed to eat cheese. (BOO! HISS!) I love cheese and it has been the toughest thing to give up in the dairy group.  Every now and then I go off the reservation and have some. And every time I pay dearly for it with rashes and acne, and lately even with some facial puffiness and horrible itching.

You'd think that would be enough to get me to stop fudging on it, wouldn't you?

Let's just say I'm pretty smart, but I've never claimed to be all that bright.

In the past two years, I've become well acquainted with nutritional yeast. It's used by a lot of vegans and vegan chefs and it really does lend a "cheesiness" to dishes.

Nutritional Yeast - now isn't that a sexy name, huh?

How about "Nooch?"  Does that do it for ya? Just so ya know, nooch is the nickname for nutritional yeast.

So, you ask, what in the hell is this stuff?

Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast made from sugar cane and beet molasses. It comes in flake or powder form. No, it is NOT the same as the active yeasts used in making bread. It's also quite healthy for you. Low in calories, fat, and salt, nooch is full of fiber and protein and super packed with vitamin B.

It can be found in health food stores or at Whole Foods, but can be expensive in those markets. I buy mine from Amazon and get a lot more for about the same price. 

Here's a great article about it on the Huffington Post.

Okay, so now you know what it is, let's see what you can do with it.

Pretty much any vegan dish that needs a cheesiness spin to it will call for some nooch. It can be added to cashew cream, which I talked about in an earlier post, to make a great "cheese" sauce.

Add it to a basic tomato pasta sauce to give it a cheesy boost.

You can mix it with baked tofu to make a yummy "cheese" sandwich spread or dip. Here is my recipe for that:

1 package of pre-baked tofu, teriyaki flavor works best
1/4-1/3 cup vegan mayo (start with less and add a bit at a time to get your desired consistency)
2 tbsp nooch
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Toss the ingredients into a food processor and pulse, and you have a protein packed "cheese" spread. I love it on toast or crackers or even grilled with slices of tomatoes. It's also great with celery. And go wild with adding your own favorites to the blend such as pimentos, cilantro, fresh basil, or diced chilies,

Yes, this golden goodness is "cheeseless"!
Another favorite thing I do with nooch is make vegan "Parmesan cheese."  I love this stuff! I use it on cooked veggies, pasta, anywhere I'd use regular Parmesan cheese. Last night I added it to risotto. I always have a batch of this in my fridge. It's super easy to make and only takes 5 minutes.  Here is the recipe I use, which I got from Minimalist Baker.

And don't miss these 3 ways to make Mexican cheese - yes, I'm talking queso!  Also from Minimalist Baker and perfect on chips, nachos and dips.

I've even used nooch in omelettes, both egg and tofu based, and in vegan quiches.

Some nooch enthusiasts sprinkle it on popcorn and cheeseless pizza, and mix it into rice, mashed potatoes and mashed cauliflower. It's uses are endless.

So if for any reason you must give up cheese, don't despair, just buy some nooch and learn how to use it!

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