Nutritional yeast is great backpacker food

It definitely qualifies as a vegan/veggie/healthnut food. But I really love nutritional yeast, and many people have never heard of it. As a quick introduction, nutritional yeast is yeast, it’s yellow and flaky, and tastes vaguely cheesy. It also happens to be very high in nutrients (both natural and fortified)!

At home, the classic way to eat nutritional yeast is sprinkled liberally on popcorn. It’s also possible to use it in vegan cheese sauce or vegan mac and cheese. I enjoy it sprinkled on pasta, or just on toast with earth balance.

Two tablespoons of Red Star brand nutritional yeast contains eight grams of protein and four grams of fiber. It is also high in B vitamins, including B12, B6, B2, and B1. (Source and source)

It is incredibly lightweight and a little goes a long way. When I hike I carry a half-size sandwich bag full, and put a spoonful on every dinner as a way to increase flavor and boost vitamins.

Nutritional yeast is difficult to find in anywhere but natural food stores. It also is greatly more economical to purchase from a bulk section than in containers (In bulk, it should cost $7 to $9 a pound. If it’s more than that, look elsewhere). Due to it’s rarity, as a backpacking food it is best in maildrops or when packing from home. I never counted on finding it along the Appalachian Trail, but I did put some in every maildrop.

Have any of you taken nutritional yeast on your hikes? Or come up with creative recipes for it?

As an aside, here is an obligatory note making excuses for not posting more! Here it is: I recently started grad school, and I’m super busy. But this project is really important to me so I’ll be continuing to write! As always, if you have experience as a vegan hiker and are interested in writing a guest post, please contact me!



6 thoughts on “Nutritional yeast is great backpacker food

  1. Nutritional yeast is a staple in my home kitchen and in my backpacking kitchen. I use it pretty much as you said: a sprinkle to add flavour and nutrition, or as a base for cheese-like sauces. As an aside, my cats are insanely in love with it. As soon as I open the cabinet where the yeast lives they come charging into the kitchen, begging for a treat.

  2. After Lee became allergic to dairy, we started using a lot of it. It’s a pretty strong flavor, and certain of my family like a lot of it while other of us would prefer a dusting. The kid still doesn’t like mac-n-yeast, but Lee’s got a recipe even I’ll eat.

  3. Thru-hiked the long trail 2007. Took a bunch of nooch, made a great batch or two of “cheezy” grits. And it definitely rocks on pasta.

  4. I have never tried it before, but I am going to buys some! I recently decided to try vegetarian (not vegan yet…) and have been trying to figure out what in the world I am going to eat when I go backpacking now that chicken ramen noodles are out. ; )

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