Plain low-fat Greek yogurt gets much of the glory when it comes to incorporating healthful foods into our diets and for good reason: it’s rich in protein, low in sugary carbs, and a good source of calcium. However, not everyone is wild about its tart flavor. Fortunately, cottage cheese has a nutritional profile that’s similar to Greek yogurt, without the distinctive tartness. A cup of lowfat cottage cheese packs as much protein as four eggs, or about four ounces of lean meat. It’s a good source of calcium, as well as vitamin B12 and the antioxidant, selenium. Cottage cheese is also relatively low in lactose, making it a good option even for people with lactose intolerance. If the very mention of cottage cheese conjures up images of boring, lumpy white stuff, think again. Cottage cheese is an incredibly versatile ingredient, making it easy to boost protein and cut calories, effortlessly. Here are seven easy ways to sneak cottage cheese into your favorite recipes without even noticing.
- Smoothies. Trust us. Once you blend cottage cheese with fresh or frozen fruit, lowfat milk, and ice, you would never know that your smoothie had cottage cheese in it. The lumps are gone; all that you’ll notice is a creamy richness added to your fruit smoothie.
- Guacamole. Ounce-for-ounce, cottage cheese has six times more protein and less than half the calories of avocado. Try substituting cottage cheese for up to half of the avocados called for in your favorite guacamole recipe.
- Creamy dips. Instead of sour cream or mayonnaise, use pureed cottage cheese to make your favorite dips (think ranch, French onion, or crabmeat dip). Serve with fresh veggies or whole grain crackers.
- Lasagna. Use lowfat cottage cheese in place of ricotta cheese, cup-for-cup, for more protein and less saturated fat. Tip: Small-curd cottage cheese works best for a smoother texture.
- White-bean hummus. Blend 2/3 of a cup of cottage cheese with a can of white beans (drained and rinsed), along with a dash of lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and paprika and serve with fresh veggies.
Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD is a registered dietitian, nutrition, and weekly columnist for The Times-Picayune newspaper, covering the latest trends in the nutrition and the fitness industry. Check out MollyKimball.com.