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Invest any time on social media in the last month, and regardless of what your For You Page typically looks like, you probably came across a plethora of cottage cheese recipes. It was the great equalizer — honored by intuitive eating nutritionists, protein-conscious bodybuilders, and weight loss accounts alike. If the concept of cottage cheese as a trend caused some of you to feel anxious with memories of growing up in the 80s and 90s when it was the crash diet food, you are not alone. (Does anyone else recall that episode of MTV True Life where the beauty queen consumed only bowls of plain cottage cheese, even at restaurants? *shudders*.) Listen to me: This version is a much less harmful one. In fact, the recipes appeared, dare I hope, delicious.
After perusing my saved videos and realizing a large majority of the recipes relied on the containers of curds, I was intrigued. What if I spent two weeks attempting as many recipes as I could and reporting back? A truthful account of which recipes were genuinely tasty, worth making, and didn’t make me feel deprived or like I was on a dangerous path to a 1,200-calorie diet. Here’s a glimpse into my cottage cheese journey.
Before we delve too deeply into this tale, I have a confession: I enjoy cottage cheese. I grew up consuming it on salads and one of my beloved childhood snacks (and current, to be honest) is cottage cheese and a drizzle of Western dressing. So while my taste buds may differ from yours, I made an effort to be impartial about whether or not I liked a recipe because I enjoy cottage cheese or if it was a good one and I couldn’t detect the ingredient.
The initial endeavor in this category was eggs. Combining cottage cheese in my scrambled eggs is a simple means to boost the protein (about 12 grams per half cup) and has a comparable texture and taste to incorporating shredded cheese. However, ‘comparable’ is the key word there, and if you’re not a fan of cottage cheese, this wouldn’t be the recipe I would suggest.
The finest technique I acquired from this challenge was blending cottage cheese. A few swift rotations in the blender and it whips the curds into a smooth, creamy consistency that sits between sour cream and yogurt. For many individuals, the off-putting aspect of cottage cheese is the texture and this eliminates that initial barrier to giving it another try. Once you have a blended container of cottage cheese, the kitchen is your playground: Mix it with parmesan, chicken broth, and seasoning to create a protein-rich sauce, emulate Moira and fold it into your burrito fillings, or even make a high-protein taco bowl.
The Italians won’t appreciate this tip, but my mom taught me to use cottage cheese in lasagna since full-fat ricotta was too rich tasting (an unpopular opinion, I’m aware). I’ve since evolved to prefer half cottage cheese and half ricotta in my lasagnas.
Stealth Health Life is a TikTok account I discovered that creates mouth-watering high-protein dishes and many of his creations rely on cottage cheese — but you’d never know it by looking at them.
I created his Queso Chicken and Rice and Green Chili Queso Mac N Cheese Bowls this month and they received a perfect score from me. Similar to incorporating additional vegetables into a child’s dinner, you are unable to taste or perceive any distinction.
In cottage cheese-mania, one trend that sparked the most discussion was cottage cheese and mustard. While I enjoy cottage cheese and mustard separately, this did not sound appetizing to me. And if I’m being completely honest: This was a cautious step into an unsafe-for-me diet mindset I wasn’t willing to take. I won’t assert to know everyone else’s motivation for it, but consuming something just because it was high-protein and low-calorie was not going to be my journey.
That being said, I am a dip girl. Perhaps it’s my Midwest roots showing or maybe it’s universally delightful, but sometimes I plan snacks purely as a vehicle for dip. One such recipe was combining our aforementioned blended cottage cheese with a packet of Hidden Valley ranch powder (my adoration for ranch is definitely a Midwest trait). This became my afternoon snack during the work week — baby carrots, bell pepper sticks, pita chips or pretzels, and a small bowl of my cottage cheese ranch. You absolutely cannot taste that it’s cottage cheese — I would recommend this recipe even to the cottage cheese haters among us — and the smooth texture is just like using Greek yogurt or sour cream. One tip: Look for the lower-sodium ranch packets (or the dressing packet, not the dip); cottage cheese is saltier than Greek yogurt and my initial attempt was much too salty.
The cottage cheese recipes that initially made me hesitate were dessert-themed. Yes, this cookie dough recipe has cottage cheese as an ingredient — a whole 1/2 cup worth. The substance is even making its way into people’s high-protein ice cream. But, I couldn’t find a recipe that lived up to the TikTok hype — the cookie dough was rather arid, crumbly, and lacked flavor. It didn’t taste unpleasant but I wasn’t thrilled by it either. If we’re judging solely based on cottage cheese, you couldn’t taste it at all (truly!). However, I would rather have a really good chocolate chip cookie or a spoonful of cookie dough and obtain my protein from another source than make this again.
There’s no obligation to test new recipes or enjoy cottage cheese. If you firmly belong in the ‘wincing at the mention of cottage cheese’ camp, feel free to skip this challenge. In terms of food trends, this one is quite nutritious — both in mindset and recipes. I liked cottage cheese before and am even more impressed by its adaptability after these recent weeks. While you won’t discover cottage cheese cookie dough, you’ll definitely find a large container of plain cottage cheese in my fridge at all times now.
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