Seven Ways to Use Nutritional Yeast, Whether You Eat Plant-Based or Not

By special request, this month’s article is about nutritional yeast. If you’re experimenting with plant-based cooking, eating vegan meals one day a week, want to add flavour to your recipes, or are just trying to get more vitamin B12, this article is for you.
Nutritional yeast is best known as a great source of B12, which is something everyone eating plant-based needs to supplement with since it’s mostly found in animal products. The bonus is that it’s also full of umami, which means it adds rich, complex flavour to just about anything you add it to. And because you’ve read this far, I’ll let you in on a secret: those of us who are familiar with it call it ‘nooch’ for short (because nutritional yeast is a terrible name).

Tofu scramble with nutritional yeast

Since nooch comes as a flaky dry good, whatever quantity you buy will last a while in your cupboard. It’s so handy and universal that when it was suggested I write about it, I couldn’t even think about what to include. It’s like someone asking you to write about broth: what is there to even say? Then I did some googling and remembered past meals where nooch featured prominently, like the brunch when the restaurant literally sprinkled a tablespoon of nooch on my roasted potatoes (which was surprisingly delicious). But I quickly came up with some ideas, probably more than you need. So, here are seven ways to incorporate nooch into your cooking, for delicious results.
Add to Broth and Soup
Whether you’re making broth from scratch or using something from the store, adding nutritional yeast will boost the flavour. Try half a tablespoon per cup of broth and heat a bit until the flakes have dissolved.
Use in From-Scratch Salad Dressing
A couple months ago I wrote about making your own salad dressing. It might sound impossibly ridiculous, but it only takes a few minutes and yields incredibly tasty results. You can customize to your exact preference without unnecessary preservatives or mystery ingredients. Add nutritional yeast when you add the spices. Crush the nooch between your fingers a bit, like you would to get oregano bits a little smaller, and try adding a teaspoon per cup of dressing.
If you would like a creamy dressing instead, this Caesar dressing recipe is from Isa Chandra Moskowitz, writer of most of the cookbooks on my shelf. I have not tried this specific recipe, but I have no doubt it’s a winner.
Add to Breadcrumb Coating
If you’re trying plant-based foods, you’re probably familiar with one recipe that has been trendy for a couple of years: cauliflower wings. Cauliflower is cut into bite-size pieces, coated with breadcrumbs, baked until crispy, and eaten with your favourite sauce. At the bread crumb stage, add about a tablespoon of nooch for each cup of breadcrumbs, and continue as usual. It also works for other recipes requiring a breadcrumb coating, like baked zucchini, or even stuffed mushroom, which are instead stuffed with a flavourful breadcrumb mixture (and now with nutritional yeast).
Roasted Vegetables
I make a sweet potato wedges recipe that goes like this: add a bit of oil and selected spices to a bowl, add raw sweet potatoes cut into wedges, toss to coat, then roast wedges in the oven until tender inside and crispy on the edges. You probably do something similar for roast potatoes or other vegetables; just add some nutritional yeast to the oil when you add the other spices, and continue with the recipe as usual for added umami in your roasted veg. For advanced-level nooch consumption, sprinkle some directly on the cooked wedges (like below).
Add to Dough for Crackers and Soup Dumplings
Are you one of those insufferable people making sourdough? So am I. I’ve been trying new recipes in an effort to use up my sourdough “discard”. (For those who are unfamiliar, if you have more starter ready than you can use to make bread, you can either use the extra in another recipe or discard it, hence the name.) I’ve been gravitating to easier, low-fuss recipes, since who likes having something complicated on the go when I’m already babying my sourdough? Sourdough crackers are an easy, delicious way to use up excess starter and are also delicious with nutritional yeast. Try a half-tablespoon to one tablespoon of nooch per cup of dough and see how you like it—it probably won’t add a specific ‘noochy’ taste but it will seem more generally flavourful. If you’re making soup dumplings, add nutritional yeast here, too: about a tablespoon for every cup of flour.
Plant-Based Gravy
Making vegan gravy from scratch is all about adding flavour, since we don’t usually start with umami-filled pan drippings the way my dad did when he made gravy at Thanksgiving. My favourite recipe involves a lot of mushrooms and a bit of balsamic vinegar, since I like the zingy richness it brings. Add nooch when you add the broth, at about half a tablespoon per cup of broth. If you prefer a recipe, try this one, again from Isa Chandra Moskowitz.
Heads up: the following are advanced uses of nooch! In these, the nutritional yeast flavour plays a more prominent role. If you’re still getting used to the taste of nooch, go easy on these until your taste buds welcome the taste.
Sprinkle Like Parmesan
Wherever you can sprinkle Parmesan, I’d sprinkle nooch: on pasta, roasted potatoes (like the vegan brunch mentioned above), baked potatoes, roasted cauliflower, broccoli, squash and Brussels sprouts.

Avocado toast sprinkled with nutritional yeast

Basic low-stress comfort pasta: Cook pasta until al dente, drain. In a bowl add cooked pasta, margarine, salt, pepper, fresh grated garlic to taste (go easy, especially if you’re around other people!), perhaps a pinch of onion powder, and a half-teaspoon to one teaspoon of nooch. Stir and serve.
Garlic Bread
Make your garlic bread like usual—bread, butter, garlic, put in the oven to get toasty–then sprinkle a bit of nooch on top. Mmmmm.
And last but not least…
Popcorn
Popcorn is THE BEST way to eat nooch. Make your regular popcorn (popcorn, melted margarine, a bit of salt) then sprinkle nooch on top. I can’t speak for all vegans, but if you eat nooch on popcorn, you’ll be granted honorary vegan status at movie nights.

Submitted by Kyla Winchester

Discovering Karma

Everyone at Karma has their “How did you find Karma?” story. As a new member and, now, head of the new Marketing & Communications Committee, I would like to share mine. I think my story provides some potentially useful insights into how we can create a bright future for the Co-op. But I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

I grew up in Toronto but was a bit disillusioned working here, so I moved to Europe, where I lived for 15 years. When I came back home about 13 years ago, I bought a house on Manning at Harbord. I love the area and was often at the Bill Bolton hockey rink and St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club with my son, so I certainly walked by the Karma sign. But, in all that time, I never walked down Karma Lane or the walkway from Palmerston Ave. and didn’t discover the Co-op.

For me, the signs and walkway did not communicate anything. And if it did, it was not anything particularly positive. I never imagined there was a full grocery store hidden away. I did not even think about it for years as it just seemed to be something like a vaguely cult-like club. This is a bit curious because in London, England there are many of these types of hidden places, but I never imagined this in Toronto. In fact, a friend even recommended Karma to me a few years ago, but I still did not get over my reluctance to visit. It seemed complicated, and I am quite shy. But then my friend Greta Thunberg (well, she is not really my friend but the boldest teenager I have ever seen) called out to treat this climate emergency for what it is a – a crisis! I was pushed to really think about what else I could do to reduce my carbon footprint. Environmental awareness has stuck with me since my days at university where I majored in geography. I started shopping at Bulk Barn, but I realized that was not enough. I had to take more action in my buying habits — no more plastic dishwashing soap bottles! I needed to see if Karma could help me reduce my environmental impact. And, of course, it did, but now I feel guilty that I did not get here sooner!

How can I learn from this experience and help others find Karma sooner? How many other shy, disorganized, busy, overwhelmed people are searching for this store but don’t know how to find it?

When I heard that a marketing committee was being formed to help spread the word about Karma to the community and Toronto as a whole, I thought, “I understand this challenge.”  Many people don’t know about the store. It is heralded as an “undiscovered gem,” but is that good enough? I think we may now have an obligation to let people know that there is an option and that it is close at hand. Near the subway! In these days when everyone needs help to reduce their environmental impact, I feel it is a mission. I will never be Greta but I can help. We have to increase the awareness of Karma and let more people know about the store — for the environment and especially when ethically sourced food is now on so many people’s minds!

I am happy to lead the brand new Marketing & Communications Committee and am looking for all your great ideas to help people find Karma. We hope that our first initiative will be a gift card so that people can, for example, give new neighbours a membership for a year as a welcome gift. We have a number of other initiatives especially as we head into our 50th anniversary — what a birthday to celebrate in 2022!

Do you have other ideas on how we can reach a wider audience? How did you find Karma? Please share your stories with the e-Chronicle, and we will publish them over the next few months. I welcome others to join the committee as well — we need your help (membership hours will be earned of course!). Contact us.

Act local, think global.

submitted by Mary Bredin

Report from the Board

 

It has already been seven months since our Annual General Meeting, when our new board began to meet, and quickly got to work. It has been a very busy seven months!

Here is a snap shot of a few of the things we’ve been working on:

2020 Karma Shopper Survey
One big project which has been underway was developing the 2020 Karma Shopper Survey. We need your help! By sharing your Karma experience, we will have access to data that will inform our decisions, policy updates, and marketing plans. Ultimately, we hope to implement changes to improve the overall shopping experience in preparation for future membership campaigns. We look forward to receiving your feedback. If you have not yet done so, please take the survey here.

Health & Safety Manual
The board recently passed a worker Health & Safety Manual, an impressive 81 page document, to be implemented at Karma. I want to give tremendous thanks to our newly formed Health & Safety Working Group – Andrea Dawber, Mandy Hindle, and Jim O’Reilly. I’m sure we’ll see more great things from this group in the months ahead.

Building Condition Assessment
The board is finalizing plans to conduct a comprehensive Building Condition Assessment to assess the state of Karma’s long-standing home. With this in hand, the board will be in a better position to recommend a capital repair schedule, and/or make other recommendations for the future of our Karma home.

Member Labour Redeployment
When COVID-19 was initially announced, a quick decision was made to temporarily suspend in-store member labour while changes were implemented to ensure everyone’s safety. Now that things seem to have settled into a new normal, the board hopes to safely redeploy our member labour teams back into the store by July 1st. We also anticipate creating special assignments for folks who have the skills and capacity to help us with projects we hope to complete throughout the rest of the year. Please stay tuned for postings about special projects.

As of June member hours will resume accumulating, and we ask our member labourers (and everyone else reading this) to please take the 2020 Karma Shopper Survey to earn work hours in June. Hurry – the survey closes June 13th!

Marketing & Communications Committee
We’re thrilled to announce the creation of a new Marketing & Communications Committee. This committee will be dedicated to helping to grow brand awareness, and to support all branches of Karma with coordinated, and integrated marketing and communications initiatives. We hope to be able to share details of these initiatives in the coming months. A big thanks to Mary Bredin for her efforts thus far in getting this committee off the ground.

Annual General Meeting (AGM) Minutes
The AGM Minutes for both the 2018 and 2019 meetings are available for members to review. These minutes will appear again at the 2020 AGM for your approval. To those in attendance at these meetings, kindly submit proposed changes to us at board@karmacoop.org.
Click here for 2018 Minutes. (Link: to follow)
Click here for 2019 Minutes. (Link: to follow)

If you ever wish to contact the board, we can be reached at board@karmacoop.org. We love hearing from members, so please do not hesitate to be in touch.

Thank you all for your continued engagement in our wonderful co-op. Wishing you and your family good health!

In co-operation,
Kristy van Beek
President, Board of Directors

Pandemic Bonuses for Karma Staff

Since COVID-19 arrived in Canada, many of us have reconsidered the meaning of essential work. We have watched our governments struggle to maintain our economies and communities through this crisis only with the help of frontline workers. Food is, of course, essential—and our staff continue to be engaged in providing us all with this necessity.

Karma has really come together during this pandemic. Staff put in many, many hours during the first two months to develop and implement new procedures to keep Karma open and all of us safe. In recognition of Karma’s staff team’s efforts, the board is providing meaningful bonuses to all staff members who contributed to our pandemic response. Many members have contacted the Board to express their appreciation of our staff’s key role as frontline workers. A significant number of members wish to demonstrate their support with donations, contributions or tips.

Moving forward, Karma members and shoppers will have the option to show their support of Karma’s staff when checking out by making a donation, tip, or contribution towards a staff appreciation fund, as of Tuesday, June 2, 2020. At the end of each month, the funds will be reconciled by our bookkeeper, who will then disburse the funds proportionally among all staff, based on the number of hours each person worked that month.

At this time I would also like to recognize that an enormous volume of work has also been performed during COVID-19 by our dedicated and hard-working volunteers who’ve provided essential support for store operations at the door, for set up and clean up each business day, delivering groceries to fellow members, and engaged in committee or board work to keep our community informed. Karma has continued to function well during COVID because our staff and members care about the store and each other.

Food has the power to bring people together and create community. I look forward to when it is safe for us all to gather, share a meal, and socialize as a community once more.

Andrea Dawber
Vice President, Board of Directors

From the archives: Yes, it’s finally done: a good end to the members’ room saga

First published in The Chronicle (Spring 2012)

Members' room
A program taking place in Karma’s members’ room

In line with its purpose, the members’ room was built entirely by members, who brought their creative and professional expertise with them to build a hub for meetings, having lunch, hanging out, and building the Karma community. 

Mark Tholen (t-yyz.ca) and I worked on the overall concept and design of the room and helped build some of it. Kai Krueger (kaileather.com) put an enormous amount of effort into the early renovations of the room (together with Brad Wong and Jason Moore). He also designed and built the focal piece of the room: the gorgeous and comfortable wall-to-wall bench, which is made of oiled oak and set against a microsuede backsplash.

Dennis Hale (Eco Carpentry Innovation) helped design and build the beautiful and highly functional cabinetry along the south and west walls of the room. Lastly, the table was donated by our neighbours across the alleyway (Yuillbuilt & North On Sixty). It has been great to hear the positive feedback from members and even better to see members, staff, and committees actively use the room. We are all still in the process of moving in, filling the space with community life. A small housewarming party was held on February 12.

For other projects that the Building Committee has undertaken over the past year, please see my article in the summer 2011 issue of The Chronicle. Bigger projects remain on our mind, but for the next few months, we are focusing on working with Amy [Andre, general manager at the time] and the other staff members to improve the store in many small ways. Our first two Sunday afternoon work parties to tackle a bunch of projects were held on December 11 and February 5. The next one will take place in April.

by Joerg Wittenbrinck

Report from the board

Dear Karma Community, 

I hope this message finds each of you in good health and good spirits amidst these unprecedented times. The board of directors wishes to sincerely thank you for your continued displays of support, and for sharing your ideas and feedback. Your notes of thanks to staff, offers to deliver groceries to our vulnerable seniors and members in quarantine, and so much more, have been beautiful reminders of how special our Karma community is, and I’m immensely grateful to be part of it. 

To our staff — thank you! We recognize the extraordinary efforts you are making to keep Karma operational, and we hope that we are doing our part in helping you feel safe each time you come to work. 

The board of directors met last night and reviewed our COVID protocols and response, and we want to share a few reminders and updates. 

We know that many of you are eager to help the co-op, and member labour has been temporarily paused. We have created a task force to review the needs of the co-op throughout COVID, and we hope to have member labour creatively redeployed in June. Once the task force has had the opportunity to review our member labour system, members will have the option to take on member labour or move to percentage mark-up or flat fee.

The board of directors, in cooperation with our newly formed Marketing & Communications Committee and the Food Issues Committee, are seeking member input to help update co-op policies, and create a vision for the future of our store. We hope that each of you will take time to provide us with feedback so that we can adapt and improve for you. Please watch for an email with the survey later this month. 

Finally, a quick update on the store’s COVID-19 protocols.Here is what we are doing for you:

  • Sanitizing the check out between each transaction
  • Washing scoops after each use so that we can continue to offer dry bulk
  • Cleaning all high-use surfaces frequently, including door handles, scales, bulk feed handles, registers, etc
  • Vulnerable shoppers’ hour at the start of each day for seniors and immunocompromised members, 11 am to noon
  • Phone/E-mail orders for members who are not able to come into the store 

We are asking you to:

  • Wash your hands before entering the store
  • Practice physical distancing while in the store
  • Wear a mask to reduce the risk of unknowingly transmitting the virus to anyone in our small community

Thank you for your continued support of Karma, and we look forward to meeting or speaking with you soon. 

Sincerely,
Kristy van Beek, Karma President

From the GM—May 2020

Dear members,

Thank you to everyone for your support, gratitude, and concern during these unprecedented times. The staff and I are so grateful for all the kind words and acts of support you have extended to us. Most of all, we are grateful for all of your help in keeping our store a safe place to work and shop. Thank you, thank you, for helping us in our efforts. 

Sales continue to be up.  We’re doing our best to keep on top of orders, keeping the store stocked and pristine. We appreciate all of your understanding and flexibility as we adapt to our new situation. Thank you all, for your patience. 

Many of you have reached out to me personally to let me know how you find Karma a safe place to shop these days, commending us in our efforts. It gives me great pride to know that you place so much trust in us and it fulfills me greatly to be able to offer a safe place and great food to our community during this time. ???? 

You may have noticed some new faces at the store! Staffing has changed since the last time I wrote an update. In March, we said goodbye to Laura. We greatly miss Laura’s bubbly spirit and contagious laugh. Recently, Kevin moved on from Karma as well. Kevin has a wealth of knowledge about co-ops, politics and food (all the things we are passionate about at Karma). We miss chatting with him about our favourite topics! Thank you both for all your hard work and best of luck to you both. We miss you.

We’re happy to welcome Eden and Daniel to the Karma team! Eden comes to us with a BA in Environmental Studies.  She loves food and community, so Karma is a natural fit! Daniel is a Karma member in the midst of a PhD in microbiology. What store can say they have a microbiologist on their team? We feel pretty lucky to have his expertise right about now! Welcome Eden and Daniel! We are looking forward to working with you both. 

I’ll leave you with a highlight from my week. Earlier this week, I was thrilled to receive a note from my good friend Loretta McHenry at the London Food Co-op (LFC), who shared with me an article written about the LFC, their response to COVID, and their recent 50th birthday (Happy Birthday LFC!!! ????). While they are practicing social distancing, they are also practicing “distant dancing”. I think this is a great practice that we will have to implement and formalize at Karma, though some Karma members are already practicing this. With all the extra shopping space, some of you have been spotted getting down in the aisles. We want you to know that we fully support this. Staff may even join you! We encourage you to practice distant dancing anytime you are at the store and the feeling strikes. ???? Don’t be shy to get down! ????????????????

Speaking of birthdays, Karma will be 48 on May 16! Happy birthday Karma!!❤️️

Be well, stay safe, stay fed! 

Talia 

General Manager
Karma Co-operative 

Fun Food Fact: The drying action of salt on food

Amongst its many properties, a key aspect of salt is that it draws water out of cells. In the presence of salt, water moves across a cell membrane to try to equalize the concentration of salt on both sides of the membrane — this process is called osmosis. So when you add salt to a food, water moves towards the salt and the food dehydrates. This is why salt has been so useful historically as a food preservative. Once a certain stage of dehydration has been reached, the activity of the bacteria responsible for the rotting within the food is stopped. 

Interestingly, this drying property of salt could jeopardize some of your dishes. Let’s take beans for instance: never add salt to your beans before cooking. Salt reacts with the seed coat, which forms a barrier that prevents absorption of liquids. For this reason, if you add salt to the soaking water or to the cooking liquid, the beans will never get softer, no matter how long you cook them.

On the other hand, adding salt to your beans once they have reached their best texture can be very useful: it will prevent them from disintegrating due to overcooking. During the cooking, you can test beans for doneness by pressing a few of them under a fork on a flat surface to see how easily they mash. Once the texture of the beans is just right for your taste, adding salt will allow you to re-heat them or cook them further with other ingredients without any change to their texture. 

In fact, beans will react in the same way as with salt in the presence of any acid ingredient such as tomatoes, vinegar, lemon juice, or molasses, at any stage of the cooking process — the seed coat will toughen and they will resist further tenderization. Acid ingredients are a good alternative to salt in case your doctor recommends a low-salt diet. 

submitted by N. Rémond, on behalf of the Food Issues Committee

 

Fun Food-storage Fact

Did you know that some produce can spoil much faster than you would expect just because they are stored next to the wrong neighbours in your refrigerator or pantry? This is because many crops release ethylene as they ripen, a plant hormone that can cause nearby fruit and vegetables to decay faster. The biggest ethylene producers are apples, avocados, bananas, some melons, strawberries, mangos, pears, peaches and plums, tomatoes and potatoes. On the other end, among the most ethylene-sensitive species are asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce and leafy greens, garlic, onions, and squash.

Carrots, for example, can keep all of its food value for weeks if properly stored in a dark, cool, and humid place. But if it is too close to big ethylene producers, such as apples or avocados, the gas released by these neighbours will lead to the formation of bitter compounds in the carrots. To protect them, keep them in a sealed plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.

Try to store big ethylene producers together and away from ethylene-sensitive fruit and vegetables and you will be able to enjoy their food value much longer than you would otherwise.

 

Nathalie Rémond, on behalf of the Food Issues Committee.

 

Report from the Board

On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I would like to express our thanks and appreciation to our incredible staff team whose flexibility, creativity, commitment and hard work have kept our doors open during these incredibly challenging times. We are so very proud of you!

We are also very proud of our General Manager, Talia, whose leadership throughout this crisis has protected our health and safety. Our sanitizing and cleaning protocols exceed the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Guidelines for Food Premises. We continue to assess risks, and to improve and refine our best practices to ensure that we are protecting staff and members to the best of our ability.

In March, our sales were 40% higher than usual, which was great financially; however, staff became overwhelmed trying to keep pace with additional ordering, deliveries, and restocking while also implementing the many new and necessary cleaning protocols. To create a more manageable work environment for staff and to ensure the store is safe for members, our opening hours have now been reduced by one hour per day:
Tues-Sun vulnerable members’ shopping: 11am – 12 Noon
Tues-Sun regular members’ shopping: 12 Noon – 6pm

Our new schedule will provide staff with more time to attend to store operations. For these same reasons, we are also temporarily suspending new memberships and trial shopping. Non-members can still shop at Karma, paying a 15% surcharge as usual. We hope to welcome new members and trial shoppers back in the near future.

~~~

Karma members love to socialize in the store and are actively engaged in our community. However, at this time, it is absolutely critical to practice physical distancing. When shopping, let’s do our best to protect ourselves, our family and community by following these simple practices:

  • wash our hands before we enter 
  • wear a mask while shopping
  • do not socialize in the store 
  • maintain physical distancing of 2 metres
  • come with a list to limit our shopping time and exposure to others
  • inform staff if we or someone we have been in contact with has or suspects having COVID-19. Staff will share the date and time of exposure with one another and with any members that may have been present at that time, emphasizing the need for self-isolation as per the City of Toronto orders. Members communicating a possible COVID exposure can rest assured that their identity will be kept in the strictest confidence, and will not be communicated in any manner.

If you can help with grocery deliveries to members who are vulnerable or self-isolating, please email Talia manager@karmacoop.org.

~~~

Outside of COVID-related news, there have been a few changes to our 2019–2020 Board members and officers. Here is our updated Board complement, including our new Treasurer:

  • Kristy van Beek, President
  • Andrea Dawber, Vice President
  • Jim O’Reilly, Secretary
  • Mike Paduada, Treasurer
  • Reece Steinberg
  • Lindsey Shorser
  • Mandy Hindle
  • Lev Jaeger
  • Tristan Laing

We would like to thank our past Secretary and Board member Brayden Lowery, as well as Jocelynn Rodrigues, for their many contributions. We welcome your suggestions and feedback at board@karmacoop.org.

In May, we will improve Board transparency by sharing Board minutes on the website. Unfortunately, because the Board was under capacity last year, there have been many tasks required to institute a series of standard practices to support the Board’s functioning and improve Board transitions in the future. As you might imagine, there has also been much work behind the scenes to support Karma staff and operations during these unprecedented times of COVID-19.

Let’s continue to do our part to #flattenthecurve, support our vulnerable community members and encourage one another to do the same.

Submitted by Andrea Dawber for the Board of Directors