Cottage cheese has acquired somewhat of a bad rap over the years. Many think of it as the begrudged diet food their mom would snack on with canned fruit back in the 80’s. Always taking a back seat to Greek yogurt, it wasn’t until recently that we started noticing an unforeseen comeback of the curds. In a society that is now starting to embrace dairy fat, we can look to brands like Good Culture for thick and creamy cottage cheese made from grass-fed cows—whose taste and texture is a far cry from the watered-down, fat-free, highly processed curds responsible for our initial distaste for cottage cheese.
The thing that most people may not realize is that cottage cheese is actually quite the nutrition powerhouse. It contains more protein per ounce than Greek yogurt (14g per ½ cup), and is made of about 90% casein and 10% whey. In terms of milk proteins, whey is digested faster and causes a quick release of circulating amino acids; whereas casein is digested more slowly and provides a more consistent release. The slow release of amino acids can help promote satiety and control appetite, hence why cottage cheese was stamped with the “diet food” star.
Cottage cheese is also low in sugar, containing about 3 to 5g of natural milk sugars per serving. Although it contains calcium, much of it is lost in the separation of whey. Some brands fortify their product with calcium, so you can expect most varieties to offer between 10-20% DV calcium. Although cottage cheese does not inherently contain probiotics, some brands add active cultures to their curds to offer some gut health appeal.
Use whole-milk cottage cheese as a substitute in recipes calling for plain Greek yogurt or ricotta cheese. Dips, casseroles, smoothies, lasagna, egg salad, and even stuffed shells are all suitable options. Its subtly sweet flavor and soft, creamy texture make it the ultimate blank canvas for both sweet and savory combinations.
We love it in a whole-grain breakfast bowl with farro, radish, cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, and a soft-boiled egg for a nutrient-packed breakfast that will keep you satisfied till noon. It’s also lovely as a toast topper with grilled cantaloupe speckled with sea salt, honey, hazelnuts, and fresh basil.
Whether pairing it with fruit, vegetables, or a spoonful of nut butter, just make sure you opt for the 4% milk-fat varieties. The reduced-fat versions have a drier curd and a gummy consistency that lacks the richness of the extra-dairy fat—not to mention the additives and stabilizers that are used in attempt to achieve the same rich texture as full fat.
So now that we can fully embrace the return of the curd, let’s just start thinking of it as the little black dress of the dairy aisle.