Cottage cheese doesn’t have the intense flavor of blue cheese or the wonderful stretchiness of mozzarella. It’s not as luscious as whipped cream or as rich as butter.
Cottage cheese doesn’t dazzle your taste buds. And it doesn’t look particularly appealing.
According to a focus group run by the California Milk Advisory Board in the 1990s, people find it “boring and lacking in flavor.”
And some people associate cottage cheese with dieting, which hasn’t helped its image over the years.
Still, though it's among the least mind-blowing dairy products, cottage cheese has recently made big waves on social media.
Is cottage cheese experiencing a renaissance? Maybe. And we think it deserves a little time in the limelight.
In this feature, we’ll ask whether cottage cheese is healthy and investigate the new trend of making cottage cheese cookie dough. Yes, you read that right.
We’ll also give you some delicious ways to include more cottage cheese in your diet.
First, let’s ask an obvious question. We’ve all seen it in stores, and most of us have probably eaten it, but …
What is cottage cheese?
Cottage cheese is made from skim milk that’s been curdled by acid. Manufacturers drain the curds and keep some of the whey.
Curd is coagulated milk, and whey is the liquid left over after milk has been curdled. Sounds yum, right?
In some cases, they add cream and salt.
Although the texture of cottage cheese isn’t for everyone, the delicate flavor makes it popular with some people.
And because the flavor is fairly neutral, this cheese can work in savory and sweet dishes, as we’ll see shortly.
Is cottage cheese healthy?
To answer this question, we recruited one of ZOE’s nutrition coaches, Isobel Hartnoll.
“Cottage cheese is a great source of protein, high-quality fats, and micronutrients — like calcium, selenium, and phosphorus,” she explains, “all of which are important for bone health.”
Also, cottage cheese contains all the essential amino acids your body needs.
This, Isobel tells us, “can aid muscle and tissue repair and maintenance, help with weight management and hunger, and help you balance your blood sugar response when you pair it with high-carb foods.”
Cottage cheese “is also a source of unsaturated fats, which have a positive effect on cholesterol levels, heart health, and inflammation. It’s also relatively low in saturated fats.”
Cottage cheese cookie dough
Recently, a TikTok post by Jake Cohen, the author of a New York Times-bestselling cookbook, went viral. In it, he describes how to make edible cookie dough using cottage cheese.
Although it might not sound like something you’d want to put in your mouth, maybe there’s something to it.
Jake explains that he needs a “steady stream of sweets throughout the day and lots of protein.” And this recipe hits the spot. He just warns us not to bake it.
Here’s Jake's recipe:
1 pound (450 grams) of low-fat cottage cheese
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) of maple syrup
2 cups (250 g) of almond flour
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/2 cup (60 g) of vanilla-flavored protein powder
1 cup (200 g) of dark chocolate chips
Put the cottage cheese, vanilla, and maple syrup in a blender, and blend until smooth.
Put the mixture in a bowl, and stir in the protein powder and almond flour until it’s well-mixed.
Fold in the chocolate chips.
Store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
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Is this recipe good for you?
According to Isobel, “Cottage cheese is a great base for a healthy snack” thanks to its nutrient profile.
In the ZOE app, cottage cheese cookie dough scores around 60 out of a possible 100.
Though the score for you will vary depending on how your body responds, this is a fairly decent average score for a sweet treat.
Isobel provides some tips to boost the score by 20 points or more:
Add mixed seeds, like chia, flax, and pumpkin seeds.
Add mixed chopped nuts, like almonds, walnuts, and pecans, to boost the amount of fiber and high-quality fat.
Some protein powders can be highly processed and contain added sugar. Opting for hemp protein, which is usually less processed, may increase this recipe’s score.
Swap out the maple syrup for fruit to reduce the amount of added sugar. Or, keep the syrup and add sweetness plus extra nutrients by dropping in raspberries, blueberries, or pomegranate.
Make sure you're really getting dark chocolate, which is at least 70% cocoa. Dark chocolate provides around 10 g of fiber per 100 g, and it also contains polyphenols. Plus, there’s some evidence that it’s good for your gut microbiome.
Other healthy cottage cheese ideas
If the cookie dough recipe doesn’t float your boat, Isobel recommends trying these tasty and healthy ways to eat cottage cheese:
For a snack, pair it with fruit, such as peach, melon, and berries.
Add it as a topper to a chia pudding with a mix of fruit and nuts.
Have it on sourdough with cucumber and tomato slices.
Make a delicious dip by mixing cottage cheese with garlic, lemon juice, oregano, and dill.
For a snack bowl, combine cottage cheese with Greek yogurt, kefir, or both. Add nuts, seeds, and fruit.
If you’re ready to pick up some cottage cheese at the store, Isobel has this advice: “Opt for low-processed options, as some brands may have added sugar and a high sodium content.”
“Also, some cottage cheese contains gut-boosting probiotics, but make sure it says ‘live cultures’ on the label.”
Renaissance: Yes or no?
We've mentioned one new and unusual recipe, but cottage cheese has been available for awhile, and it has helped the United States through tough times.
Also, cottage cheese was one of the first cheeses to be made in the U.S. That’s got to be worth something.
Overall, cottage cheese can be a healthy part of your diet. It’s rich in “good” fats, protein, and nutrients. And it works in both sweet and savory dishes.
So, even if some people think it’s a bit lumpy and bland, it deserves our respect.
Comparison of two methods to explore consumer preferences for cottage cheese. Journal of Dairy Science. (2009). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022030209713062
Cottage cheese. (n.d.). https://www.californiadairypressroom.com/Products/Cottage_Cheese
Effects of regularly consuming dietary fibre rich soluble cocoa products on bowel habits in healthy subjects: a free-living, two-stage, randomized, crossover, single-blind intervention. Nutrition and Metabolism. (2012). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3369210/
Recipes from World War I (Part 1) - Meatless. (n.d.). https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/news/special-collections/recipes-from-world-war-i-%28part-1%29--meatless
World War Wednesday: Eat more cottage cheese. (n.d.). https://www.thefoodhistorian.com/blog/world-war-wednesday-eat-more-cottage-cheese