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Cheezy Garlicky Air-Popped Popcorn [Vegan]

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Nutritional yeast is the first in our new Superfood of the Month series! Look for great information, tips and recipes for a new superfood during the second week of each month.

Overview and Health Benefits:

There are three varieties of edible yeast - baker's yeast, brewer's yeast, and nutritional yeast. Baker's yeast and brewer's yeast are relatively well-known, due to their roles in helping baked goods rise and for brewing beer. Unlike the other two types, nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast, and is consumed for its nutritional value and flavor.

Most brands of nutritional yeast sold in health food stores are considered primary-grown. Primary-grown nutritional yeast is cultivated specifically for its nutritional components, rather than being the by-product of another process. This type of yeast is typically grown on a mixture of cane and beet sugar, then fermented, harvested, washed, pasteurized, and dried at high temperatures.

Due to this production method (i.e. because it is inactive), nutritional yeast is typically Candida-free, and is often safe for consumption by individuals who have sensitivities to other types of yeast. However, as always, if you have a food allergy, intolerance, or specific medical condition, be sure to do your homework about different brands and food sources!

Nutritional yeast is an excellent source of fiber, complete protein, and several B vitamins, and some brands are fortified with additional vitamin B12. While exact nutrition information will vary by brand, a 1/4 cup serving typically contains about 45 calories, less than half a gram of fat, 3 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of protein.

Incorporating Nutritional Yeast in your Diet:

In addition to its health benefits, using nutritional yeast is a great way to add flavor and creaminess to sauces, spreads and toppings. It also adds a salty/cheesy flavor and richness to casseroles and other entrees. Here are a few tips on making this healthy and tasty addition to your diet:

As a Topping: Nutritional yeast makes an awesome vegan substitute for parmesan cheese. Try spinkling it on top of pizza, pasta, casseroles, and other dishes for added flavor and nutrition. It is also amazing tossed with air-popped popcorn (get the easy recipe below)!

Cheezy Garlicky Air-Popped Popcorn [Vegan]


  • 1/2 cup plain popcorn (pops up to about 4 cups when air-popped)
  • Olive oil or other vegetable oil for spraying
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-3 T nutritional yeast


  1. Combine nutritional yeast, salt and garlic powder in a small bowl.
  2. Pulsing the mixture briefly in a blender or coffee grinder is optional, but will make a finer powder that sticks to the popcorn a bit better.
  3. Pop the popcorn according to machine or package directions.
  4. Spray lightly with olive or other vegetable oil (the Misto works great!)
  5. Sprinkle with yeast mixture and toss to ensure even coating.
  6. Repeat spraying and sprinkling until you reach desired level of coating.
  7. Enjoy immediately or store in an air-tight container for up to a couple of days.





Jennifer is on the Editorial Team at One Green Planet. She earned her Masters Degree in City and Regional Planning from UNC Chapel Hill before moving to Boulder, Colorado in 2006. During the first part of her career, Jennifer worked as a pedestrian and bicycle planner and project manager. As a long-time vegan and competitive distance runner, Jennifer strives to provide a positive example of healthy and sustainable living.



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7 comments on “Cheezy Garlicky Air-Popped Popcorn [Vegan]”

Click to add comment
Jeannette Gravett
3 Years Ago

Thank you for this very useful and invaluable information!

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4 Years Ago

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5 Years Ago

Thank you for the information and the recipes! I just heard about nutritional yeast the other day and I have to admit that I am jazzed that I will be able to eat something cheese like that is actually good for me!

5 Years Ago

Hi will you please recommend some brands that are not fortified with any additional synthetic vitamin B's? Every brand I have found is! Also, Brewer's Nutritional Yeast by Lewis Labs is a primary grown nutritional yeast with no sythetics added, and the only nutritional yeast I've found that is certified not to be grown on GMO sugar beets, no other brand promises this. I dont know what the difference is between the "nutritional yeast" you are talking about and the yeast I mention, maybe a different type of yeast? But I do not want to consume synthetic vitamins or something that's been grown on a GMO plant. I would appreciate links to a product that can promise both! Thanks!

5 Years Ago

Your article did not comment on the baker's yeast and the brewer's yeast. So what happens with the others?

6 Years Ago

Bookmarked! Ever since my wife's diet has gone vegan, we keep a constant supply stocked on the shelf.

6 Years Ago

So can you use Brewer's yeast just like nutritional yeast?!?

Jennifer Valentine: Editorial Manager, OneGreenPlanet.Org
20 Mar 2012

No, brewer's yeast is very different! Make sure the container says nutritional yeast :)

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