Posted by: thehungryrunner | January 26, 2010

Oh, the Delectable (and Surprising) Ways With Cottage Cheese!

I have to wonder what kind of reaction such a heading might elicit.  I imagine it depends on what you think of cottage cheese.  If you don’t care for it, some eye-rolling isn’t inconceivable.  But if you’re like me — I have loved cottage cheese ever since I was a wee child (Mom would often serve a scoop on my dinner plate, alongside, say, baked chicken and cooked green beans.  I remember calling it “snow” 🙂 ), I hope it’s piqued your interest enough to read my latest discoveries with this versatile food.  Although I still enjoy eating it plain, I never tire of experimenting and finding new cottage cheese-based combinations and recipes.

It’s probably not surprising I should find myself feeling a refreshed interest in cottage cheese as a central menu item at this time; coming off the holidays, I often seek a return to equilibrium by focusing on my tried-and-true basics.  If anything, doing so is a great comfort to me.  It’s as though my body “craves” those foods that leave me satisfied, but spare me the wild sugar surges or digestive roller coasters that marked the month of December.

Having said that, it might surprise you that I neither hone in solely on “low calorie” or “light” uses of cottage cheese (though certainly this is one of its advantages), nor do I always stick with the fat-free or low-fat variety.  Sometimes, for me there’s just no substitute for the creaminess of “full fat” cottage cheese, particularly one with large curds (a texture thing, I think).  No, my primary objectives are taste and nutrition, as I find that it’s quite easy to keep portion sizes well within whatever goals one may have, given the satiety inherent in cottage cheese.

With all that said, here are my latest “Cottage Cheese Discoveries” — from the sweet to the savory.  Give ’em a try and see if you don’t agree with me!

  • Cottage Cheese with flavored yogurt:  I discovered this on a day that I felt like I wanted something sweet, like yogurt, but a bit more subtantial to appease my appetite.  Curious, I scooped some low-fat cottage cheese into a bowl, topped it with a few spoonfuls of banana-flavored yogurt, and eureka!  Found a delightful combination.  Since then, I have found the following yogurt flavors particularly compatable with the cottage cheese:  apricot, honey nut, vanilla, cherry, pineapple, apple cinnamon.
  • Cottage Cheese with warmed peanut butter and honey or fruit preserves mixed in:  Best with “natural” peanut butter — the kind that comes with oil floating on top in the jar, as the consistency makes it easier to mix into the cottage cheese.  I have also experimented with microwaving the peanut butter for a SHORT period of time — just a few seconds — to help it soften to a warm, oozy consistency.  The honey or preserves (I prefer cherry or apricot) add a nice sweetness.  Option:  top with toasted wheat germ (usually found in the cereal aisle at the grocery store).
  • Cottage cheese with crumbled granola bar:  I discovered a long time ago that I don’t do well with those teeny little single-wrapped granola bars.  Eating one all by itself just doesn’t satiate me, which is strange because I don’t have that same problem with, say, eating a small orange or a container of yogurt.  This bums me out because I in fact LOVE granola bars (hmmm….dya think this might be a clue to the puzzle? 🙂 ).  Furthermore, I have to be wary about bringing home a whole box of granola cereal; I find it difficult to confine a serving to a meager 1/2 cup (for those of you who can, you have my awe).  So this is the best of both worlds:  A single-wrapped granola bar creates a no-brainer serving size for me, and somehow having it broken into pieces and sprinkled into a bowl of cottage cheese slows down my eating and helps me enjoy it in a relaxed manner.  Hooray for creative solutions!
  • Cottage Cheese Toast:  I will bet this one dates back loosely to some diet recipe I had when I was a teenager.  But what can I say, it’s tasty and low-cal and has good protein!  Cut a generous slice of crusty artisan bread, and toast.  I actually do this in the broiler, since we don’t own a toaster (I know, sacrilege).  Meanwhile, take a small amount of cottage cheese — you can drain it if you’d like, that’s optional — and mix in a little sweetener, be it Splenda or stevia or a bit of sugar, and some cinnamon.  Top the toast while it’s still warm with the cottage cheese mixture.  Mmmmm.
  • Cottage cheese and trail mix:  Can you see I’m a texture girl?  There’s something about the creaminess of the cottage cheese, the saltiness of the nuts, and the chewiness of the dried fruit that I find very pleasing.  Of course, you don’t have to have trail mix on hand to make this work; all you need are a few varieties of nuts, seeds and dry fruit and you can pick and choose what you’d like.  Especially tasty for me are roasted (out of the shell) sunflower seeds, dry roasted almonds, dried cherries, apricots (cut into pieces before adding), golden raisins, and flax seeds.  Yes, flax seeds!  The cottage cheese is the perfect “carrier” for these tiny seeds!
  • “Full fat” cottage cheese with warmed maple syrup:  Maybe I have too active an imagination, but I swear this helps satisfy a passing craving for pancakes.  Not always, mind you — sometimes the only way out is through (“through” in this case being a good ol’ stack of Bisquick-based deliciousness), but for those smaller radar “blips” of hunger, a bowl of full-fat cottage cheese with a drizzle of warmed syrup (real maple or, guilty as charged, those light “pretend maple syrups” that dominate the pancake mix area at the grocery store)  is creamy-sweet comfort-food heaven for me.
  • Cottage cheese, canned fruit and frozen (thawed/warmed) cherries:  So here’s a spin on the classic cottage cheese-and-canned fruit combo:  Take out some frozen, unsweetened cherries and place briefly in the microwave to thaw/warm slightly.  Top a dish of cottage cheese with the cherries, and then top that with spoonfuls of canned (light, not the heavy syrup kind) fruit of your choice, including some of the juice.  The canned fruit and its juices will add a sweet, soft texture to the slightly tart, chewy cherries.  I especially like canned peaches or mandarin oranges in this instance.
  • Cottage cheese and sliced bananas:  I NEVER get tired of this one!  Optional:  Sprinkle with chopped walnuts to add a nice crunch and healthy omega-3’s.
  • Cottage cheese, sardines, and chives.  Um, yeah, clearly this isn’t for those who don’t like sardines.  But being one who does, I have found a very satisfying, light lunch of mixing cottage cheese with a tin of sardines — either the plain or those packed in olive oil or a sauce (mustard, for example), and stirring in (if available) some fresh chopped green onion.  Or, you can buy the cottage cheese with chives aleardy mixed in.  I’ll often add a couple of slices of very ripe, juicy tomato (and some fresh ground pepper), and/or serve it atop a slice of dark rye bread.
  • Cottage cheese, salsa, and low-carb tortilla:  Quick, light, and filling.  What more can you ask for?
  • Cottage cheese with a Splash of Tobasco Sauce:  Honest!  Try it before you dis it.  I eat this plain, but you could also use it as a dip for baked tortilla chips.
  • Cottage cheese/Salmon Salad:  In a bowl, mix cottage cheese, drained canned salmon, a little low-fat or fat-free sour cream, and a sprinkling of dried dill.  Serve atop sliced cucumber.
  • Cottage cheese with chopped olives (black or green, I use both), chopped roasted (from a jar) red peppers, grape tomatoes, fresh ground pepper, and a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the top:  Eat as is or serve atop a bed of baby greens.
  • Cottage cheese on prepared couscous:  I love coucous (yes, even those near-instant pre-prepared boxes from the grocery store, sorry!) and often turn to it as my main meal.  But this sometimes means I’m skimping a bit on my protein, so I solve this by topping the couscouse with a scoop of cottage cheese.  It adds substance to the meal and even a creaminess that cuts through the spicyness of the flavor packet that was mixed into the couscous. 
  • Cottage cheese, steamed broccoli and macaroni and cheese:  To cut calories and add nutrition AND still allow for a nice, large-bowl serving, to a batch of prepared macaroni and cheese I do the following:  steam some frozen broccoli in the microwave; spoon up the serving of macaroni and cheese desired in my dish; top with the broccoli; top the broccoli with some cottage cheese.  If desired (and provided it’s an oven-proof dish), place the dish in the oven for a few minutes to warm the cottage cheese (or, in a pinch, microwave for 30 seconds to take the “cool edge” off the cottage cheese.

Well I hope these ideas have your own creative juices flowing!  Please feel free to add your own contributions and reviews in the comments.

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Responses

  1. Welcome to the Society.

    • Haha, well who knew? 🙂 And here I thought I’d seen it all after that trip to the Mustard Museum. Thank you for the link!

  2. I love Cottage Cheese with peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe. Especially in the summer it satisfies the sweet tooth as well as a cooling effect. Plus it does fill you up.

  3. Great ideas, didn’t like cottage cheese but am gaga over it now with honey and cinnamon…YUMMY! Will definitely be trying out all other suggestions


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