Cheese sauce. For some people- myself included- these two words conjure up images childhood pasta dishes, enjoyed messily much to our parents chagrin; to others this is a revolting thought, that bears the hashtag #DirtyDairy. Who knew that something seemingly so harmless could be so polarizing?
As my cleanse draws to a close, and I reflect on the experience, I have to say that I didn’t realize how much I enjoy cheese; barring the first two days, where in which I craved everything, the craving that almost got the best of me many times was my craving for cheese. It isn’t until now that I realize how deep my love for cheese runs.
I worked tirelessly to prepare meals that could satiate my cheese tooth; and I shared one of my valiant efforts on JoyousHealth with my Thyme Almond Cheese Beet Stacks– but I will admit that I grew tired of nut cheese, while still craving something cheesy. Enter Nutritional Yeast recipes or ‘Nooch as I heard the lovely Michelle from SolGloWellnesscall it.
Nutritional Yeast is a deactivated yeast product that comes in flake form. Now before you turn up your nose at the thought of yeasty cheese, hold tight, I’ll explain.
The flavor of nutritional yeast recipes is cheesy, salty and creamy, which is perfect when craving cheese; but the best parts of ‘nooch are the health benefits. Nutritional yeast recipes provide a complete protein, are low in fat and 100% dairy, gluten and sugar free; and for those who eat a vegan or vegetarian diet, you have a friend in nutritional yeast recipes, as they are a great source of B12 vitamins, which are often deficient in both of those dietary lifestyles. On average, 2 tablespoons of ‘nooch provides 60 calories with 5 g of carbohydrates (4 of which is fiber); while one serving provides 9 g of protein and is a complete protein, providing all nine amino acids the human body cannot produce. It is also a source of selenium and potassium. Not bad for yeast, huh?!
I’m gearing up for a number of gluten free cooking classes, and the one thing that people kept asking me for was gluten free Mac and Cheese; and while there are many gluten free cheese sauces thickened with GF flour, I wanted to create a sauce that was vegetable based.
Now, celery root is often overlooked due to its bulbous outer appearance, but it is a pleasure in this sauce! Celery root has a slightly sweet aroma and when blended it becomes effortlessly creamy, without being heavy. By blending nutritional yeast and boiled celery root, a light, creamy and flourless cheese sauce is achieved; no foolin’! I fed this sauce to a card carrying carnivore and was told this was one of the best cheese sauces they’d ever tasted. The way you enjoy your cheese sauce is completely up to you, I served this over organic corn pasta, which has a very similar mouth feel to real pasta- but MUST be purchase organic; but it would also adorn quinoa or brown rice pasta very nicely. And for an extra flavor twist, whisk some into your eggs scramble in the morning, for a delicious flavor and nutrition boost.
‘Nooch- check. Celery root- check. Gluten free, dairy free and protein rich cheese sauce- CHECK!
1 medium celery root, peeled and cubed
1 small sweet onion, diced
½ tbsp coconut oil
½ tbsp ghee
½ tsp + ½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 ¼ cup vegetable stock
2 heaping tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
In a pot heated to medium heat, melt the ghee and coconut oil; add the onion and cook 5 minutes until it becomes fragrant and transparent. Add ½ tsp salt, stir and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add the celery root, DO NOT STIR for 2 minutes; then stir and season with the remaining salt and pepper. Cook an additional 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the vegetable stock, just enough to cover the celery root. Bring to a low simmer and cook 20 minutes, until the liquid is almost gone and the celery root is falling apart. Place in a food processor, add the nutritional yeast and blend until smooth.
Have you ever worked with ‘nooch? If so, please share one of your favorite nutritional yeast recipes in the comments below!