Over Passover I tend to eat a lot of cottage cheese — more so than any other time of year. I like cottage cheese, but the rest of the year I don’t eat much of it because I base my breakfast and snacks around whole grain cereals, granola bars, and crackers and have nut butters, milk, string cheese, or yogurt for protein. Come Passover my routine changes because there are so many foods I cannot eat (bread, legumes, crackers, and anything else leavened). So for the past week I have been enjoying grapefruit and cottage cheese for breakfast pretty much every morning.
Cottage cheese is made in a similar way as other cheeses, by separating milk into solid curds and liquid whey. The difference between cottage cheese and other cheeses is that not all of the whey is drained, which leaves individual curds loose. There are different types of cottage cheese, including large-curd and small-curd varieties. Some people turn up their noses at cottage cheese because of the texture, in which case I recommend whipped cottage cheese, which isn’t as loose as regular cottage cheese and makes for a good spread.
Nutritionally, cottage cheese is a great choice for breakfast or a snack, especially if you choose nonfat or 1% low-fat varieties. Per half-cup serving, it’s high in satiating protein (12-16 grams) and low in fat (0-1 grams) and calories (80-90). It also contains about 10 percent of the Daily Value of calcium.
One nutrient of concern when it comes to cottage cheese is sodium. Surprisingly, cottage cheese is high in sodium, with about 350-400 mg per 1/2-cup serving. It’s important to take into account the amount of sodium you consume from hidden sources like this and be mindful of how much sodium you have the rest of the day (1500-2300 mg max). Some brands make cottage cheese with no salt added. This is a good option for people with high blood pressure. To add flavor you can add fresh fruit, honey, or herbs if you prefer a savory snack. It’s also best to limit consumption of cottage cheese with added fruit, as they tend to be higher in added sugar.
Do you like cottage cheese? If so, how do you make it a meal or snack?
*Amounts vary by brand. Check nutrition labels for accurate nutrition facts.