When I was in high school a ball of cottage cheese on a ring of canned pineapple was the ultimate diet meal. Former President Nixon made headlines when he shared that his favorite lunch was cottege cheese topped with ketchup. For years these slightly sour milk curds were the ultimate symbol of weight control. Over the years, cottage cheese has fallen out of favor — a loss for easy healthy meal plans.
Cottage cheese is made from the separation of solids and liquid in milk. The whey is poured off and the cuds are rinsed, but not pressed into true cheese. ( and yes, this is where the nursery rhyme “curds and whey” came from). Cottage cheese is a wonderful source of protein and vitamin B12. One half cup of full fat ( 4%) cottage cheese delivers 14 grams of protein and just 3 grams of crbs for a cost of only 100 calories. However because the mineral- rich whey is poured off during production, cottage cheese is pretty low in calcium. Your half cup serving has just 70 grams of calcium while the same amount of yogurt has 250 grams of the bone building mineral. And for reasons I really don’t understand, cottage cheese is heavily salted– that half cup serving clocks in at 500 mg of sodium.
Cottage cheese can be used in recipes that call for ricotta and is much more affordable. My favorite brunch features cottage cheese pancakes topped with yogurt for additionall calcium.
Cottage Cheese Pancakes ( adapted from Martha Stewart )
3/4 cup of flour, 1 tablespoon Splenda, 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 cup low fat cottage cheese, 2/3 cup milk, 2 egg whites, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, Pam cooking spray, 2 teaspoons corn oil, 1 cup yogurt, raspberries or strawberries
Mix together flour, Splenda, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in cottage cheese, milk, egg whites and vanilla. Spray a flat grill pan with Pam and sprinkle with a few drops of corn oil. Heat pan and drop on spoonfuls of cottage cheese mixture. Cook until small bubbles form on the surface and the bottom is lightly brown. Turn panckaes and cook until the center is firm about 1-3 minutes.
Serve topped with a dollop of fat-free Greek yogurt and a few fresh raspberries or sliced strawberries.