Since You Asked: Yeast supplements taste different

I've been searching for vegetarian recipes online and occasionally notice that they call for nutritional yeast. Is this the same as brewer's yeast? Is it near the other kinds of yeast in stores?

— Christian R., via email

Nutritional yeast is used in many vegetarian and vegan recipes because it's a source of protein and B vitamins and also imparts a nutty, cheesy flavor to dishes with creamy sauces, such as casseroles and gratins. Fans also sprinkle the yeast on popcorn and cooked vegetables instead of adding lots of butter or salt.

Nutritional yeast is yellowish in color and sold in flake or powder forms. Look for it in bulk sections of many mainstream grocery stores or health-food stores.

It also comes prepackaged under several brand names and in several sizes, from 4 ounces to 16 ounces. Find it in natural-foods sections.

Because it's also a nutritional supplement, brewer's yeast can be purchased in health-food stores. But don't try to substitute it for nutritional yeast, although they come from the same strain of yeast. A byproduct of beer-making, brewer's yeast tastes bitter, according to the Cook's Thesaurus.

And certainly don't confuse nutritional yeast with yeast used for baking. Nutritional yeast is not active, so it is non-leavening. It's also pasteurized, which deactivates it. However, once yeast is deactivated, it becomes a good source of nutrients, the thesaurus says.

Find several uses for nutritional yeast in our online Recipe Box by typing "nutritional" in the ingredients field at Among the dishes are Mac-and-Cheese-Style Cauliflower and Heavenly Sauce, developed by columnist Jan Roberts-Dominguez for rice bowls like Cafe Yumm!'s.

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