Way back in the day, people looking for a healthy option while dining out had to endure the “dieter’s plate” — an inexplicable combination of naked hamburger patty resting on iceberg lettuce and a canned peach half, or maybe a lone pineapple ring topped with a dollop of runny cottage cheese.
The glory days for cottage cheese were the the early 1970s, when the average American ate about 5 pounds of it per year, according to stats from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, yogurt started sneaking on the charts with Americans eating 2 pounds per person.
Yogurt was added to the dairy case with more regularity, and with the popularity of high-protein Greek yogurt, it left our old friend cottage cheese in the dust.
In the latest “cottage cheese vs. yogurt wars” stats, Americans ate 15 pounds of yogurt vs. a paltry 2 pounds of cottage cheese.
But cottage cheese is having a moment, with two attributes making it more popular — it has more protein and less sugar by volume than plain Greek yogurt.
Plus? This is not your Grandma’s cottage cheese.
The latest trend in cottage cheese couture is cultured cottage cheese because we just can’t get enough probiotics. Nancy’s has been selling plain and flavored versions of organic cultured cottage cheese for a few years, and the venerable Breakstone’s has a Live Active cultured cottage cheese that comes in 4-ounce snack-size containers.
But if you’re looking for some seriously cutting-edge cottage cheese action, Good Culture is the new guy on the cheese block. General Mills thinks so highly of them that it’s investing heavily in the California company. In addition to its classic cottage cheese with an impressively short list of ingredients (organic skim milk, organic whole milk, organic cream, celtic sea salt, live and active cultures), it also sells 5.3-ounce cups — going toe to toe with yogurt cups — with flavors such as pineapple, strawberry chia, blueberry acai chia, and kalamata olive.
Being lactose intolerant, cottage cheese was off limits for me until recently, because as many lactose warriors know, cultured dairy is easier to digest since the probiotics “eat” a lot of the lactose to make lactic acid, which gives fermented dairy its tart taste.
Ever put cottage cheese in a smoothie? If you’re looking to skip protein powders, cottage cheese is a great protein-rich addition. It lends body and a slightly tart cheesecake flavor, so fruits such as strawberries and blueberries are a good addition. Between the cottage cheese and the milk, this smoothie has around 20 grams of protein. I used a Nutri Ninja Nutri Bowl Duo, because you want to get the smoothie super smooth to get the cheesecake consistency. Plus, the food processing bowl is good for taking ordinary cottage cheese and whipping it into a smooth, creamy consistency, which you can then use in place of ricotta cheese, sour cream or yogurt.
Serves: 1 smoothie
- 1 cup frozen strawberries, slightly thawed
- ½ frozen banana
- ½ cup cottage cheese
- ½ cup reduced-fat milk
- 1 teaspoon honey or agave (or a packet of stevia if you want to cut down on sugar)
- ½ cup crushed ice
- Process in a high-powered blender until smooth.
Have you bought cottage cheese lately? How do you like to eat it? —Gail