What the Heck Is Nooch and Why Is Everyone Talking About It?

Find out about this mysterious ingredient.

ByBeth Lipton
February 06, 2016, 12:13 AM
PHOTO: Nutritional yeast flakes lend a savory, cheesy flavor to a winter-friendly pumpkin and white bean soup with sourdough croutons as shown in Concord, N.H.
Nutritional yeast flakes lend a savory, cheesy flavor to a winter-friendly pumpkin and white bean soup with sourdough croutons as shown in Concord, N.H.
Matthew Mead/AP Photo

— -- Nooch may sound like the nickname of the dude who brings the beer pong ball to a frat party. But actually, nooch is short for nutritional yeast, which—along with bone broth and ancient grains—is enjoying an everything-old-is-new-again moment.

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What is it, exactly?

If you’ve spent any time in your supermarket’s baking aisle, you’ve no doubt seen active dry yeast. (This is the stuff used as a leavener in breads.) Nutritional yeast is deactivated. After it’s cultivated (often from beets or sugar cane), it’s heated and dried. So it doesn’t work as a leavener, but its savory, cheesy, umami flavor makes it a tasty ingredient. Plus, it’s true to its name and packed with nutrients, including fiber, B vitamins, minerals, and protein. Yes, protein! A tablespoon delivers 3 grams.

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How do you use it?

Vegans have long prized nutritional yeast as a cheese substitute, with its Parmesan-like texture and flavor. But you don’t have to be veggie to enjoy it. Sprinkle it on popcorn or kale chips, pasta or vegetables, whisk it into soups, sauces and dressings, or use it to top pizza and baked potatoes. (Check out GoDairyFree for recipes.)

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Where can you get it?

You should be able to find nutritional yeast in the bulk foods section of your grocery or health food store, or buy it online. I like an organic brand called From The Fields.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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