Those who know me know that I’m a big fan of a movie night. Snuggling up on the couch with some snacks and a good movie (or bad action movie—I like those too) is my kind of night.
So when I came across “Nooch popcorn” on various food blogs, I was intrigued. I had heard of nutritional yeast before as a vegan alternative to cheese in health food recipes and was, naturally, uninterested. But the opportunity to turn it into a movie night snack sold me on giving it a chance.
But let’s back up. WTF is nutritional yeast? My good friend, Wikipedia, has informed me that nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast (meaning your stomach won’t rise after “proofing” in bed for 8 hours). It’s sold as both flakes and powders and can be used as seasoning in sauces, casseroles, and obviously, popcorn. If you’re thinking that “deactivated yeast” isn’t exactly making your mouth water, same.
In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was this apprehensive about trying something new. I dove right into trying salmon and kale like the Brave Little Toaster my mom loves to tell me I am. But nutritional yeast took a little more self-discipline (the blog must go on!).
Now before I get into my review, let me preface this by saying that despite my misgivings, I really wanted to love this! You have to believe me! I know I have a history of writing new foods off before giving them a chance, but nervous as I was, I was actually excited to add a new movie night snack to my repertoire. It’s hard to tell from the picture above, but I bought a pretty sizable container of what essentially looks like fish food. Who does that if they don’t hope to eat it again?
Alas. ‘Twas not meant to be.
Opening the container of nutritional yeast, I found that it does, in fact, have a faintly cheesy smell, as advertised. Nothing off-putting so far! But as I took a few bites of my newly-yeasted popcorn, I realized something important: yes, nutritional yeast does have a cheesy flavor. But I have never once desired cheesy popcorn in my life.
I probably should’ve seen this coming. Nutritional yeast came exactly as advertised and yet, for some reason, I was surprised by the fact that vegan cheesy popcorn wasn’t whetting my whistle.
It’s not that it tasted bad, per se. I actually ate several handfuls before even deciding if I liked it or not. It just didn’t do anything to improve the popcorn, in my oh-so-humble opinion. You know what improves popcorn? Butter. Yes, nutritional yeast has, as the name would suggest, a lot of nutritional benefits. But if I wanted to be healthy, I wouldn’t be diving head-first into a bowl of popcorn while watching Netflix. So the buttery popcorn wins out in the end.
I could (maybe) get into nutritional yeast as a cheese replacement in cooking (maybe, maybe). Of course, I’m not vegan, so I don’t know why I’d be replacing cheese in anything. Maybe the next time I run out of parmesan, I’ll throw some “nooch” into my pasta (Lord knows I need to find something to do with all this yeast!).
I’m disappointed that I didn’t love this popcorn as much as I had hoped, but don’t feel too bad for me—this isn’t this picky eater’s first rodeo. I saved half the popcorn, pre-seasoning, and am currently enjoying a buttery, yeast-free snack as we speak. Picky eater pro tip: always have a back-up!
Want to change my mind about nutritional yeast? Give me another recipe to try in the comments below or on Instagram at @thepickyeaterchronicles. It’s either that or I hold a giveaway for a lucky someone to take home the rest of this container!