My mom recently forwarded an article to me.
“Study finds vegetarians have smaller brains” screamed the headline with a link to this article in Neurology from 2008.
Gosh, do I need to bemoan how media misconstrues academic research? The article had nothing to do with vegetarian diets, rather it investigated the effect of vitamin B12 levels in the elderly and its association with brain volume. Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in the elderly due to many reasons, and can be a reversible cause of dementia.
However, I understand my mom’s concern. Vegans need to understand which nutrients are harder to come by without consuming meat and dairy. There are actually a few, but vitamin B12 deficiency can become problematic since you can only acquire it from meat and dairy, unless you obtain it from a fortified food.
A good source of vitamin B12 for vegans is nutritional yeast, which is fortified with vitamin B12. While I first used nutritional yeast to make a creamy zucchini and basil soup, I hadn’t really discovered its prowess until recently.
Nutritional yeast is not nearly as scary as it sounds. Its name is true though: it is a nutritional boon for B vitamins and it is an inactive yeast, harvested from beetroot and molasses. Known as a vegan source of vitamin B12, it is also a great source of protein and fiber. It has a distinctive cheesy flavour, that I have grown to love, although you may need to warm up to it. It has that kind of ‘health food’ flavour for the uninitiated but if paired well with other ingredients, it can really shine. You should be able to find it easily in any health food store.
While I love my breakfasts to feature all kinds of fruit, I have recently been smitten by savoury oats for breakfast. Playing around with different combinations with my big batch of weekly oats, this has been my recent favourite: steel-cut oats with soy sauce and nutritional yeast. Simple, quick, healthy and a nice change of pace for breakfast.
Savoury Oatmeal with Soy Sauce and Nutritional Yeast
1/4 cup steel cut oats
1 cup water (or vegetable broth)
dash of salt
1 tsp Japanese soy sauce (I prefer this to tamari)
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, toast steel cut oats until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Do not let it burn!
2. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil with the salt. I find the oats to be done toasting when my water begins to boil.
3. Add oats to boiling water. Cover and turn heat down to low; allow the oats to cook for 40 minutes.
4. When creamy and smooth, drizzle with soy sauce and top with nutritional yeast. Or mix it all together for some cheesy goodness.
Serves 1 – can easily be doubled, tripled, quadrupled!