While yogurt is a mainstay in so many modern diets, cottage cheese seems somehow old-fashioned--a throwback to your grandmother's diet. But, not anymore. Cottage cheese just got a much needed facelift and it’s worth taking a second look (and taste).
What Exactly is Cottage Cheese?
NPR reported that cottage cheese used to be the darling of the dairy industry until it was overtaken by the yogurts of the world.
Its name comes from its origins in the 1800s when it was made, you guessed it, in cottages, using milk curds and whey leftover from the butter-making process. Think "Little Miss Muffet."
Today, the remaining curd is usually washed and drained, and in some cases, turned into other products like farm cheese or queso. It’s made with milk and bacteria and from that a semi solid, albeit delicate, cheese forms. The cheese is then cooked and washed, and in some cases, cream is added.
Cottage cheese had a boom between the 1950s and 1970s but lost popularity after that. According to the USDA, Americans used to eat around five pounds per person per year but once cottage cheese was replaced by yogurt that number fell to around two pounds annually. It has lost even more popularity in recent years because making cottage cheese is a somewhat delicate process, and with all appetites turned toward yogurt, there's little room for it on the supermarket dairy shelves.
The Best Ways to Eat Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese can be eaten on its own or mixed with fruit. Remember the canned pineapples and sliced peaches of yesteryear? Your mom or grandmother may have topped cottage cheese with those options. While that's still a choice, you're probably better to opt for fresh fruit without the added sugar syrup. It turns a snack into a meal with the addition of high quality protein. But there are many other delicious ways to enjoy cottage cheese, like in these baked fruit bars. Make a healthy banana split with cottage cheese and granola. You can also purée it with honey and vanilla and turn it into a yummy spread. Or, make paneer instead, a mainstay of Indian cooking that can be added to any number of traditional dishes.
Choosing a Good Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese, like yogurt, is healthy depending on the product that you buy. And it should be said, that unlike yogurt, it's harder to come by a non-dairy version. The key is to choose organic, small producers whenever possible. Cottage cheese isn’t usually plagued with added sugars like so many of the yogurts on the market today. Some of which contain as much as 40 grams of sugar per serving. (You might as well be eating a candy bar instead.)
A cottage cheese company creating a buzz today is Good Culture. This new company is shaking up a sleepy industry. Its organic cottage cheese is made from grass fed dairy, salt, organic cream, and live cultures. You heard it right, just like yogurt, this cottage cheese contains live cultures, which are great for your digestive and immune health. Flavors like strawberry with chia and blueberry acai chia are so incredibly delicious you won’t believe it. Although the flavored varieties do have some added sugar, it’s only around 9 grams, which is much better than most yogurts on the market. Other new flavors like pineapple and olive (sounds crazy but oddly delicious) are also worth trying. What’s more, after you remove the outside label and rinse it out, the container can be recycled.
The Health Benefits of Cottage Cheese
Some of the health benefits are noted above, but there are many. These include:
- Tons of high quality protein
- Calcium and other minerals like magnesium, potassium, zinc, and selenium
- Live active cultures (in some brands)
- Low calorie
- B complex vitamins
- Healthy fats
- Low processing
- It's a really good food for pregnant women because it contains phosphorus, an important element for the bones crucial during pregnancy.
- Reduces constipation
- Reduces anxiety. It contains potassium, a fluid balancing nutrient in the body that balances neural activities in the brain and the muscles making it helpful at reducing stress and anxiety.
How to Make Your Own Cottage Cheese
Likely the healthiest cottage cheese that you could eat would be one that you made at home. It’s easier than you think and the end product is so darn tasty. Why not give it a try?
Homemade Cottage Cheese
1 gallon organic skim milk
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1. Heat the skim milk up over medium heat until it reaches 120 degrees F. Then, take it off the burner and add in the white vinegar. Stir constantly with a whisk for three minutes.
2. This is when the curd will starting separating. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and set aside for 40 minutes.
3. Drain the cheese using a colander for five minutes and then wrap in a tea towel for a few minutes.
4. Rinse for three minutes until the cheese is completely cooled.
5. Squeeze to dry the mixture and then add to a mixing bowl. As you go, break it up with your hands. Add in salt and combine completely. Break up into bite-sized pieces. If you're ready to eat, add in the heavy cream. If not, cover the mixture and refrigerate. Add the cream just before serving.
Do you eat cottage cheese? What are your favorite ways to enjoy it? If not, why have you been disregarding it? Drop us a line via Twitter @OrganicAuthorit and let us know.