Cottage cheese has a reputation as a sad diet food. Maybe someone you know is trying the keto diet and eats tubs of it each day. If cottage cheese were a person, it would qualify as a victim of cyberbullying, and I refuse to stand idly by while my most beloved dairy product is ridiculed.
I’ve heard all the reasons why people (read: millennials) hate cottage cheese: “Just look at it!” or “It tastes like nothing.” Or, most commonly: “It’s a texture thing.” As someone who is philosophically opposed to applesauce on the basis of texture, I understand. But, I promise there are plenty of reasons to love cottage cheese.
First of all, cottage cheese has never betrayed me like cream cheese or cheddar have. I’ve never ingested it and then worried about how my intestines would punish me. Whenever I eat cottage cheese, I always feel as though I’m doing my body a favor, eating something calcium and protein-rich that propels me through the day without clogging my arteries. Especially as someone who keeps tabs on her high cholesterol, I appreciate any low-cholesterol dairy.
I’ve loved cottage cheese since childhood. I grew up a super picky eater, living off mac n’ cheese and peanut butter sandwiches. My mom looked for any protein-dense food that I’d eat, and cottage cheese was among my chosen few. As a result, she unintentionally created the dish that is synonymous with comfort in our family: noodles and cottage cheese. That’s what my childhood tasted like. If you gagged or grimaced, you fit right in with the typical response I get when I bring up the dish I was essentially raised on.
If noodles and cottage cheese is too weird for you, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy cottage cheese. If you want to talk about flavor, it has everything going on that cream cheese and sour cream have--that tanginess that makes it a perfect complement to hotter flavors or a solid base for a sauce or dressing. I love mixing it with vine tomatoes, cucumbers, and freshly ground black pepper. It’s great in pancakes. If your baking recipe calls for sour cream or cream cheese, you can usually substitute cottage cheese.
I’ve heard cottage cheese compared to yogurt--blasphemy! Though they may both be great sources of protein-rich dairy, to me, yogurt and cottage cheese aren’t even on the same spectrum. Cottage cheese is substantial and can sustain me for hours. A yogurt? I’m good for an hour max. For me, yogurt is a light breakfast or snack. And, bonus, cottage cheese usually doesn’t have added sugar in it. Not that sweetness is bad, but certain flavored-yogurt-brands-which-shall-not-be-named tend to have an awful lot of sugar per serving.
And yes, there is lactose-free cottage cheese.
Cottage cheese doesn’t have sex appeal the way brie does, for example. It’s chunky, and the vocabulary used to describe it includes words like “curds,” “curdle,” and “whey.” But cottage cheese is humble and quaint, much like a cottage, and the reputation it has garnered belies its versatility and holistic goodness. I choose to eat cottage cheese because I enjoy it. Whether you need a quick hit of protein or a good side dish, cottage cheese will do you right.
Curious? Convinced? Try this: