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

CANCELLED – Karma’s Book and Yarn Exchange, March 14 1130-330

In order to help keep our community healthy, we are cancelling this year’s book and yarn exchange. Saturday March 14, 1130 am to 330 pm

FREE

Bring in your space hogging books.

If your yarn is just sitting around, bring it in too.

Or come on in and grab some books or yarn.

No need to bring to take.

Hosted by the Social Events Committee

My Life as a Karma Zero-waster: Glass Containers

As a zero-waster, glass containers are a must-have. I was surprised at how much I missed my containers upon moving to Toronto. In France, my journey as a zero-waster had been a long one, and I had built up my container stock steadily year after year so that it matched my needs one step at the time. Of course, before leaving, I had to donate them all.

When I arrived in Toronto, I immediately looked for zero waste solutions, but I had no more containers! Before buying new ones, I wanted to look out for second hand solutions first.

And then I discovered Karma Food Co-op and the stock of glass containers you can find below the members’ table. My problem just disappeared! Perfect! Now I sometimes bring back some containers myself.

Once during a set-up shift, Talia asked me to sort the overflowing supply of containers to keep the best of them. Applying common sense and my own judgement, I used the following criteria to make sure that they would be of use to other members: They had to be clean, dry and odourless.

Clean and dry is important, because we should be able to use them immediately while shopping at Karma. Odourless, because as we do not know their story, it is actually the second test – after the visual – to check if they are clean. Also, some containers can absorb the previous contents’ smell, which could overwhelm the new food’s flavour. To avoid that, after washing, if there is a persistent smell, add a pinch of washing soda or baking soda with a bit of water in the jar, shake-shake-rinse et voilà! (Washing soda is available in the bulk cleaning section at Karma. It is completely safe and non-toxic.)

I know that some members also prefer containers to label free, but I do not feel it is mandatory to be of used at Karma. I sometimes keep the label like the one on Crofter spreads, especially if I plan to reuse it for my own self-made jam. They are just so cute.

But if you like to remove the labels, here are some helpful tips. Because I do not like to use much elbow grease myself, some brands have labels that come off quite easily with only an overnight soaking in the rinse water from my dish washing. The Bioitalia Organic strained tomatoes bottle is one of them. There are just so many kinds of glue. Hopefully, more brands will use the correct one to make our reuse easier.

Another effortless method I have is to reuse the water in which I have added some baking soda to soak my vegetables and fruits. Once I take out my produce, I soak my containers overnight in it. As you can see, being a zero-waster for me also means trying to save or reuse clean water as much as possible. We tend to forget it in Western countries, where clean water is even used to flush toilets. But water is really one essential resource of our planet we should respect and protect.

At last, when there are just a few traces of glue remaining, I use a paste made with half washing soda and half cooking oil (any kind will do), rub it on the glue, let it sit a few minutes and then scrub a bit to remove.

Thank you to all of you, members, who have contributed to the stock of containers, making my journey as a zero-waster at Toronto such an easy one.

Submitted by Sylvie Ng

Report from the Social Events Committee: Slow cooker

As Newfoundland was digging out from Snowmageddon on January 18, Toronto caught the tail end of that storm and ended up with a record snowfall for that date (up to 20 cm).
What better day to have a SEC (Social Events Committee) slow cooker hot soup event at Karma?
As members came in through the door, having stamped their feet to dump off excess snow from their boots, they were greeted with the offer of a hot cup of Stefani’s extravagantly delicious squash bean soup.
And if that wasn’t enough to get some members grinning widely from ear to ear, there was also Stefani’s fresh baked cornbread on a plate to go with the soup.
What a way to literally “break the ice”?
Conversation flowed as easily as the soup poured out of the ladle.
Stefani commented that she had intentionally prepared the 3 Sisters: corn, beans, and squash together.
Some people asked why they were called the 3 Sisters.
Corn, beans, and squash are native to the “New World” and have been grown together by First Nations peoples for 3,500 years.
The beans climb up the corn stalks while fixing nitrogen into the soil.
The squash acts like a mulch to keep the earth moist, and its prickly leaves discourage pests.
One big happy family.
For a frame of reference, Stonehenge was being built at about the same time on the other side of the pond.
The 3 Sisters together contain the amino acids needed to create a balanced protein.
Squash seeds provide oil.
So not only are corn, beans, and squash in a healthy cooperative relationship with each other, they are also in relationship with the Earth as they grow,
And then eaten together they are not only verrrry tasty, but nutritious as well!
The soil is a living, breathing community.
How the 3 Sisters could have gotten along so well for at least 3,500 years before the introduction of petro-chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, is beyond me.
But, then again, that’s the beauty and the mystery of Creation.
Together we are nurtured and kept healthy.

Submitted by Tom Smarda

Tom Smarda, Arel Agnew, Kristy van Beek, John Swaigen

Stefani Brown & Tom Smarda

DIY Hand Sanitizer – Tues, Sept 10 7-830pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nowadays, every school child, parent and health care worker is encouraged to use waterless hand sanitizer without regard to its effectiveness or safety. Antimicrobial chemicals, such as the soon-to-be-banned triclosan, are associated with various health issues and may actually be ineffective at combatting the viruses we are most concerned about. We’ll make a safe and effective, vegan hand sanitizer using essential oils for you to take home.

Suggested $10.00 donation

Please RSVP with manager@karmacoop.org or 416-534-1470

Vegan Banana Almond Chai Muffins

Photo and recipe courtesy of Emma Kula

These amazingly moist muffins contain no dairy or eggs, are lightly sweetened with the rich flavour of maple syrup, and contain a warming chai spice mix that complements the banana beautifully. If you can’t find a pre-made chai spice mix, feel free to replace it with ½ tsp. each of ginger + cinnamon, plus ¼ tsp each of nutmeg, cardamom, cloves + allspice (or any combination of those that you have in your cupboard – they will be delicious whether you have all of these or not!)

Ingredients:

2 ripe mashed bananas

¼ c. almond butter

¼ c. maple syrup

2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted

2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed + 6 tbsp water or coconut milk)

1 tsp vanilla

1 c. almond flour

¼ c. coconut flour

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp salt

2 tsp chai spice mix

Top w/ chopped almonds

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together mashed bananas, almond butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, flax eggs and vanilla until completely smooth.

Add in your almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and chai spice. Gently mix until everything is well combined.

Divide the batter between 9 muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Let cool completely and enjoy!


Non-GMO certification, explained

Non-GMO certification and product labelling can be confusing.

The leader in non-GMO certification is the Non-GMO Project. Developed by The Big Carrot in Toronto and The Natural Grocery Company in California, it has provided and continues to develop a standardized definition for non-GMO products in the North American and international food industry.

The Non-GMO Project initially partnered with the US-based company FoodChain ID for scientific and technical expertise in non-GMO testing and verification. Non-GMO testing has since expanded to a global industry for verification and certification, with a number of testing labs that comply with the requirements in the non-GMO Product Standard listed on the Non-GMO Project website. These labs perform third-party testing, detection, inspection and audit tracking.

Not all labs listed test all products, but all must adhere to the Non-GMO Project Standard requirements. These requirements, and EU regulations, are the foundation for the majority of other consultation companies that also provide third-party verification.

One company, US-based NSF International, a technical advisor to the Non-GMO Project, has created its own certification label ‘Non GMO/GE Certified by NSF’. They have recently come under criticism for certification of a sweetener produced by fermentation by genetically modified yeast. NSF has said that they exempt products produced by genetically engineered enzymes or microorganisms, if they are not present in the final product.

The Non-GMO Project continues to apply the most stringent and reliable verification for non-GMO status of products and companies.

Check out the Non-GMO Project website to find products and companies that carry the Non-GMO Project label.

submitted by Daria Love, on behalf of the Food Issues Committee

Summer Zucchini & Sweet Potato Soup

Although you may not think to eat soup in the summertime, it can actually be a perfect evening meal that utilized the best of the season’s produce. Zucchini is the star in this one, and when blended with sweet potato, it makes a silky concoction that is ideal for a light dinner. Don’t forget to top with tons of salt + pepper! 🙂

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato, chopped into small cubes
2 zucchini, chopped into small cubes
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. coconut or olive oil
2 cups vegetable broth
½ tsp. salt
Pepper to taste

Heat your oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add your onion and garlic to the pot, cooking until soft and translucent. Add your sweet potato and saute for a couple of minutes, then pour in your broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it boils, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add your zucchini and cook for another 10 minutes, then check if your veggies are soft by inserting a fork into one of the pieces. They should be very soft. At this point, use an immersion or stand up blender to blend the mixture until very smooth. Stir in your salt + pepper and serve!

Recipe and photo courtesy of Emma Kula.

 

Package Free Granola


Check out this delicious granola recipe from member Sophi Roberston. She gets her  ingredients package free from Karma. This light and crispy, oil free recipe has been adapted from @minimalistbaker

Ingredients:
-3 cups gluten-free rolled oats
-1 cup chopped raw nuts (pecans/walnuts and cashews)
-1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
-1 Tbsp chia seeds
-1/4 cup coconut sugar (or other dry sweetener of choice)
-1/2 tsp sea salt
-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
-1/4 cup aquafaba (chickpea brine)
-1/4 cup maple syrup, plus more to taste (or other liquid sweetener of choice)
-1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
-1/4 cup of dried fruit
~
METHOD
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (162 C) and lightly oil the cookie sheet

To a large mixing bowl, add the oats, nuts, coconut, chia seeds, coconut sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine.

In a separate bowl stir aquafaba with maple syrup and vanilla (optional). Pour the aquafaba mixture over the dry ingredients and mix. The original recipe calls for whipping the aquafaba but this method takes an extra 5-10min. It tastes great without the whipping.

Spread the mixture evenly onto lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake for 28-35 minutes (or until fragrant and deep golden brown). Stir a couple of times throughout and flip the pan around to ensure even baking.

Let cool completely. Then add dried fruit (optional) and toss. Place in a container that has an airtight seal and it should keep for 2-3 weeks at room temperature. Store in the freezer up to 3 months (sometimes longer).

Enjoy!

Cheapest organic groceries near the Annex

by Shawn Caza

Eight stores, 20 items. The mission: finding the cheapest organic groceries and bulk food from the Annex to Kensington Market. After scouting the shelves, I can confidently report that Karma Co-op comes out on top, with prices often significantly lower than other grocery and natural food stores in the area.

Price chart preview

Method

I picked a number of items that I purchase regularly at Karma, some of which I suspected were probably a good deal and some of which I had no idea how they would compare. My eating habits are strongly influenced by a preference for local, organic, and minimally packaged or bulk items. If a store carried only the conventional form of an item that was organic at Karma, I didn’t record a price. Beyond that, I tried my best to find the most comparable version of an item in each store. So if bulk dry black beans weren’t available, I recorded the store’s price on packaged dry black beans, but not on canned beans, as I deemed those to be significantly different. Fiesta Farm’s kale was not local and I wasn’t able to determine the origins of the produce at Essence of Life Organics, but I recorded these prices anyway. Karma was the only store to carry Ontario sunflower oil.

Karma's bulk sunflower oil

Challenges

When I attempted a price check at a No Frills store, I was there long enough to realize it had almost no organic options before I was informed that security wanted me to leave as I didn’t appear to be shopping.

The greatest challenge at all the other stores was in trying to locate comparable items. If I couldn’t find a matching brand, I subjectively opted for the item I’d be most likely to buy in each store. This was almost always the cheaper of the options if there were multiple brand choices. In some stores, a product was available in a variety of container sizes. I tried to choose sizes that would be manageable to carry if I was travelling by bike or foot. This means if you have the capacity to transport large quantities of groceries, you can get prices that are closer to Karma on some things. For example, organic olive oil at Essence of Life is about the same price as Karma’s bulk olive oil if you buy the three-litre container.

I always recorded the regular price of an item in order to capture the typical price. As there were a few items that were on sale, I believe that other stores might be more likely to run sales, and in the long run this would probably result in a slightly lower cost than is reflected in the table.

The final challenge was to convert all items to a common unit. Going from pounds to kilograms was easy enough, but converting kilograms to litres required some weight and measurement tests or a visit to the website convert-to.com.

Analysis

Visiting the different shops left me with a strong sense that Karma is a dynamic store, having more bulk options than the grocery stores and more grocery options than the bulk stores. This is evidenced in that only three of the seven stores had at least 70 per cent of the items on my list. I was also surprised to realize that the large grocery stores didn’t stock some of the produce items I thought would be fairly common. Further, in some cases a store would have an item but not necessarily in as many varieties as Karma. For example, many of the stores that carried L’Ancêtre cheddar did not have the mozzarella, and those that had bulk peanut butter did not necessarily provide both crunchy and smooth choices.

In the end, I was somewhat shocked to see how large the price differences are. Karma had the cheapest price on 75 per cent of the 20 items and wasn’t too far behind on the others. On average, Karma was 32.7 per cent cheaper, which is more than enough to cover Karma’s 10 per cent surcharge for percentage-rated members. For some members, I suspect what they might save on the cost of olive oil alone could easily cover their yearly membership fee. As a co-op, we may wish to continue to examine the competitiveness of our pricing on a wider spectrum of products, but it certainly appears as though there are some strong financial incentives for shopping at Karma.