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weird ingredient wednesday

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Weird Ingredient Wednesday: Nutritional Yeast!

Happy Humpday!

After a big day of teaching little kiddies (which included an epic, exhausting and disturbingly well strategized game of capture the flag) I was seriously starving when I got home. So I whipped up a quick meal and paired it with an old classic: Broccoli & Cheeze sauce…using one of my favourite “weird” ingredients…NUTRITIONAL YEAST (aka. nooch).

Find the recipe for this tasty sauce at the bottom of this post.

Weird Ingredient FAQ:

1) What is it?

Nutritional yeast also known as “nooch” (since those other words sound pretty gross) comes in the form of yellow flakes and is bright yellow in colour of. It is different from the yeast you use in baking because it is totally inactive and will not raise or leaven breads. Instead you eat it on its own and treat it much like you would treat any other spice in your cabinet.

2) What does it taste like? 

Nooch tastes very savoury & goes into that taste category that many refer to as “umami” (other tastes that fall into this category include fermented flavours like mushrooms, soy sauce, wine, tempeh & cheese).    flavour of buckwhat is bold – a savoury and strong, nutty and earthy taste – it varies greatly depending on what form you buy it in. Raw groats are not nearly as strong tasting as roasted kasha. And buckwheat flour ranges depending on the brand you buy.

3) Is it good for you?

Its good for everyone, but ESPECIALLY vegetarians because it contains high levels of B12, a vitamin that does not occur naturally in a vegetarian diet. B12 is essential for maintaining a healthy nervous system, plays an integral role in the production of blood cells & the absorption of other nutrients into the bloodstream. This is a biggie, folks. A B12 deficiency = Neurological Damage, Anemia, etc. = No fun!

4) Why am I such a fan? 

I could go on about the protein content or lecture you more about getting your vitamins…but honestly I mainly enjoy nooch for its cheesy savoury flavour. Simple as that.

5) Ways to use it: 

Use it as a topping on popcorn, pasta or salads – anywhere you’d usually use parmesan cheese is a good indicator that nooch would be deeelish.

I heart a seriously nooched up salad!

Or you could always whip up a batch of …

Broccoli “Cheeze” Sauce

  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp of salsa
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • a palmful of salt (around a tsp)
  • teeny pinch of cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water

Directions: 

Heat all ingredients except cornstarch over medium high heat. Once the mix has reached a simmer, add in cornstarch and water mix and continue simmering until mixture has thickened. Serve immediately.

Quick Note: There are loads of recipes like this that use a mix of flour & earth balance as the base of a nutritional yeast sauce. This will result in a much thicker sauce which would be great for dipping/nachos/etc. But I used this version since I wanted something I could pour, with a similar texture to the kind I liked growing up.

How would you incorporate “nooch” into your favourite recipes? 
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Weird Ingredient Wednesday: BUCKWHEAT!

Okay so buckwheat may not seem like a weird ingredient right off the bat, since you’ve definitely heard of it, probably tasted it and maybe even keep it around your house in some form. BUT…there are so many ways and reasons to use buckwheat that I just had to dedicate a post to it.

Weird Ingredient FAQ:

  1. What is it?
    Buckwheat is actually a fruit seed, not a grain, which makes it naturally gluten free. It is sold in raw form as “buckwheat groats” which can be soaked and eaten as is, roasted and sold as “kasha” (very popular in eastern europe) or ground into flour and turned into bread, pancakes, etc.
  2.  What does it taste like?
    While the flavour of buckwhat is bold – a savoury and strong, nutty and earthy taste – it varies greatly depending on what form you buy it in. Raw groats are not nearly as strong tasting as roasted kasha. And buckwheat flour ranges depending on the brand you buy.
  3. Is it good for you?
    Holygoodness YES. Not only is it a hearty whole grain (aka. slow digesting, energy giving, blood sugar regulating heaven) but its also a POWERHOUSE source of nutrients like magnesium, an uber metabolism booster  and manganese which is good for bonezz. Plus LOADS of fibre. Which is …well…good fer yer gut! 😉
  4. Why am I such a fan? It is a complete protein! Just like quinoa, but WAY cheaper and less trendy. Also easier on the digestive system…jussayin. GREAT for da veganz, veggiefolk + flexitarian/pescatarian folk like moi!
  5. Ways to use it: swap out a lil’ buckwheat flour for regular in baked goods, cook it up instead of rice as a side dish, throw it in soups or stews, whatevz.
Now you may DROOL over this epic buckwheat crepe filled spinach, tomato and vegan pesto from one of my favourite healthy hipster hangouts: Kensington Market’s Hibiscus Restaurant.
For even more ideas check out my other buckwheat recipes on the blogginz:
And stay tuned cause there’s more where that came from…
So whaddya think? Have you ever used buckwheat in your recipes? Would you consider it?
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Weird Ingredient Wednesday: CAROB


I love preparing meals for my friends. It gives me the opportunity to combine all the things I love into one epic event. Namely music blasting, kitchen dance-partying, wine sipping, gossip sessioning & of course some SERIOUS snacking. But one thing I notice every time I make a meal for a crowd is that…well…I cook weird.

I know this because of how many times I have had the following conversation:

“Do you have any __________?”
“No, but I have ____________!”
Oh.”
[crickets. tumbleweeds. dead air.]
“What’s that?”

I forget that not everyone grew up on a hippie organic farm. Not everyone has a family history of diabetes. Not everyone has friends with gluten intolerances. Or a vegan big sis.  So what seems pretty darn normal to me is actually SUPER DUPER obscure and downright weird to the rest of the universe!

So here’s a new feature I’m going to try on for size where I put a spotlight on some of the more “specialty” ingredients I use in my cooking.

THINK: 

(healthy hipster edition)

On to today’s weird ingredient….

CAROB!

That's not cocoa powder in my breakfast bowl, that's toasty tasty CAROB powder!

Weird Ingredient FAQ:

  1. What is it?
    Carob is a tropical pod just like cocoa, so it comes in the exact same forms as chocolate! You can get it powdered for cooking and baking or in the form of carob chips which you would use just like chocolate.
  2.  What does it taste like?
    Sweet and toasty, just a little bit bitter…like a caramelized coffee & chocolate combo.
  3. Is it good for you?
    Yup! High in fiber and calcium, lower in saturated fat than chocolate.
  4. Why am I such a fan? I love that unlike cocoa powder, you don’t need to add sugar to carob because its naturally sweet!
  5. Ways to use it: I love blending it in smoothies or substituting carob for chocolate in my favourite desserts to change things up a little! I also use carob powder on its own or mixed with cinnamon as a topping on yogurt, cereal or oats.
Carob n’ Yogurt Breakfast Bowl
  • 1/2 cup plain soy yogurt
  • 1/4 cup cherries
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1 cup puffed wheat
  • 1/4 cup millet flakes cereal
  • handful of soynuts & pepitas
  • sprinkle of shredded coconut
  • 2 big tablespoons toasted carob powder
  • a lil’ cinnamon
Have you ever tried carob? Do you think you would give it a try?