Diet Recipes

Cottage Cheese: Everything You Need to Know

Cottage Cheese
Written by HeiFoo

The return of cottage cheese

Until the advent of yogurt, milk was the dairy queen. In the early 1970s, the American population gorged on nearly five pounds of the stuff per year at the peak of its popularity. The popularity of cottage cheese in the United States began to wane as yogurt rose on the wings of clever marketing. The average person in the United States now consumes just 2 pounds of cottage cheese each year. However, this once-forgotten dairy product is making a comeback and is back on the rise. As a matter of fact, we produce about 700 million pounds of this kind of product every year in the United States alone. 

What Exactly Is Cottage Cheese?

What do you remember about Little Miss Muffet eating her curds and whey? These would have been the makings of cottage cheese. You might call it yogurt rather than cheddar or Swiss cheese. The milk is treated with acid or cultures in order to make yogurt. That is what makes it have a slight tart note to it. Thereafter, lumpy curds form, and a fluid, referred to as whey, remains behind. After that, salt and cream are added to the curds for flavor and texture. In contrast to brie or gruyere, this cheese is not aged while it is fresh. In your refrigerator, its shelf life is significantly shorter than that of all the other products.

Why Is It Called That?

Historically, cottage cheese began as a kind of cottage industry. People used this method to make fresh cheese at home in the 1800s, using milk that had soured naturally or had been left over from making butter. It’s likely that the name was derived from the type of homes in which they lived – cottages. World War I was the first time when the US government decided to use cheese as a protein source to reduce the meat consumption of the soldiers during World War I. The cheese is thought to be the first commercially manufactured cheese in the United States.

Cottage cheese’s appeal

This fresh cheese has a distinctive appearance due to those white lumps that are present in it. You can either buy small-curd or large-curd varieties of the product. There are a variety of small and larger nuggets of this product. Those that are the largest are about 3/8 of an inch in diameter. As far as cottage cheese production is concerned, it is the size of the knives used in the production of the curd that determines its size. Its nutritional profile remains the same, regardless of how it is produced. There is no right or wrong way. It is just a matter of personal preference or what your recipe calls for.

It’s a protein powerhouse

If you’re not aware of it, cottage cheese contains almost as much protein as Greek yogurt, which is a superfood that’s packed with protein. In one cup, there are 23 grams of protein, compared to the 24 grams in Greek yogurt. You should read labels, however, since the amount of protein can vary from brand to brand and from variety to variety. It is common for large curd to contain a few grams more than small curds, and low-fat curds to have a few grams less than full-fat curds. Even so, a serving of this product will meet about half of the protein requirement for a day. 

Cheese from a country cottage satisfies

In a study published in the journal Appetite, a research study found that cottage cheese is just as satisfying as an omelet (a dish with the same amount of protein). I’ve found that it is equally effective in suppressing hunger pangs, as well. Part of the reason for this could be the type of protein it contains — casein, in particular. It is digested much more slowly by the body than whey protein, so it can keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Facts about Fats and Calories

Cottage cheese comes in a variety of fat levels, such as full-fat, low-fat, and fat-free choices. In addition, consider that a lower fat diet means that more artificial ingredients must be added. Compared to saving just 50 calories or so, that might not be worth it. The average cup of full-fat coffee has around 220 calories. The average cup of one percent coffee has about 164 calories. Research indicates that dairy fats do not pose the same risk to your heart as saturated fat does in meat. Dairy fats may even help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes in the future. In addition, the richer version is usually more enjoyable as well.

Additives to beware

In order to make true cottage cheese, you only need four ingredients: milk, culture or acid, cream, and salt. There are a number of other additives found in both flavored and low-fat products, such as sweeteners, stabilizers, thickeners, and preservatives. If you are trying to avoid genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which may be found in milk from dairy cows, you should buy organic milk instead. You simply don’t know which additives you’ll find in organic milk. Can you be sure what you are going to get if you only have one way to find out? It is always a good idea to read the labels.

Gut health benefits

Cottage cheese has a new kind of variety that you might want to consider: the live and active cultures they contain, similar to the ones found in yogurt. Making cottage cheese does not necessitate the use of cultures unlike yogurt. However, these probiotic bacteria are also good for gut health, adding further to the healthy profile of this snack.

Calcium and the Connection

Cottage cheese does not have the highest calcium content of some dairy products. That’s because most of the natural calcium in milk goes into whey, not curds. Calcium content per cup is about 125 mg, less than half that of 8 ounces of milk, but check the label to be sure. Fat content contributes to the amount of calcium.

Nutrient Hits and a Miss

In one cup of full-fat cottage cheese, you get 40% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 plays a key role in maintaining both nerve and blood cell health. There is about a half of a day’s worth of phosphorus in it, which helps to build energy and protect bones, and 40% of a day’s value of selenium, which contributes to cardiovascular health and reproductive health. The other vitamins you will be getting such as the B vitamins, the vitamin A, and even some vitamin K. It does, however, have a lot of salt in it. If you eat more than one cup in a day, you might consume a third of your daily sodium limit.

Benefits of a Bedtime Snack

In a study by the British Journal of Nutrition, involving active women in their 20s, it was found that eating about a cup of cottage cheese within 30 to 60 minutes prior to going to bed could increase metabolism, promote muscle recovery and repair from exercise, and have a positive effect on overall health.

You can either go sweet or savory

Because cottage cheese has a neutral taste profile, it can be sweetened or spiced to your liking. For a dessert-like treat, top your serving with fruit slices or a fruit puree. Make your side dish into a light main dish by adding a scoop to a bowl of greens and garnishing with your favorite herbs. You can fill omelets, crepes, and peppers with it for a high-protein meal.  

Swapping superstrategically

You can use cottage cheese as a great alternative to yogurt when you are looking for a less acidic taste. It can be added to a smoothie or it can be layered with oatmeal and nuts to make a delicious and healthy snack. You can also use the ricotta cheese to trim the calories from a great number of pasta dishes – for instance, by substituting it for the ricotta cheese in some pasta dishes. You can blend the mixture until smooth in a blender and you will have a sour cream substitute for dips and dressings. Have fun!

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