April 14, 2024

Cottage cheese: A nutritional powerhouse

Buffalo Chicken Dip.

March is National Nutrition Month, an annual campaign by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that promotes the importance of making informed food choices and healthy eating habits. Established in 1973, this initiative raises awareness about the significance of proper nutrition for individuals of all ages.

As part of this campaign, St. Louis District Dairy Council celebrates cottage cheese for its growing popularity as a powerhouse superfood. Social media influencers have played a significant role in highlighting cottage cheese’s versatility in recipes, nutritional benefits and alignment with current health and wellness trends

Versatile Ingredient

The rising popularity of cottage cheese stems from its versatility in the culinary world. From savory to sweet, this dairy product has become a staple in various recipes. Its mild flavor and creamy texture enhance a wide range of recipes. Use cottage cheese for a light and creamy alternative to cream cheese, ricotta or Greek yogurt. The neutral taste allows for a sweet or savory flavor, depending on what ingredients are added.

Cottage cheese enhances both traditional and innovative recipes for creative cooks and the health conscious. With a quick online search, this star ingredient is found in a variety of dishes, including salads, smoothie bowls, sandwiches, dips, ice cream and baked goods.

Remarkable Nutrition Profile

Beyond its culinary flexibility, cottage cheese boasts a remarkable nutritional profile. Packed with high-quality protein and essential vitamins and minerals, it aligns with the demands of health-conscious consumers. The high protein-to-calorie ratio keeps you full longer. A half cup of low-fat cottage cheese has around 12 grams of protein.

Cottage cheese also provides healthy fats, calcium, B vitamins and phosphorus. These nutrients support the immune system; energy metabolism; kidney function; nerve function; and healthy skin, bones and cells. Cottage cheese is also more digestible for people with mild lactose intolerance due to a lower lactose content.

Health and Wellness Trends

As individuals prioritize fitness and overall wellness, the demand for foods supporting these goals has increased. Cottage cheese, with its protein-rich content and versatility, seamlessly fits into various meal plans, including high-protein, low-carb and balanced eating meal plans. Cottage cheese, like all dairy foods, pairs well with other food groups and is a nutritious option for snacks and meals. The dairy case has something for everyone, no matter what health goals are in place. Cottage cheese is a great example of that with different calorie versions, large package options and also flavored individual servings.

For more information on National Nutrition Month, visit www.eatright.org. To download a tip sheet on cottage cheese or for more information on dairy’s benefits, visit www.stldairycouncil.org or contact Monica Nyman at 309-681-4629 or mnyman@STLDairyCouncil.org.

Cottage Cheese Buffalo Chicken Dip

This twist on traditional buffalo chicken dip includes blended cottage cheese for a higher protein, lower fat dip that is packed with flavor. Serve it up with veggies, crackers or tortilla chips.

Ingredients

2 cups low-fat cottage cheese

1/2 cup hot sauce

2 cups chicken breast cooked, shredded and chopped

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup green onions, chopped

1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles (optional)

Procedure

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add the cottage cheese and hot sauce to a blender or food processor. Blend on high speed until the cottage cheese is completely smooth. Scrape the sides if needed.

Transfer the cottage cheese mixture to a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the shredded chicken, shredded cheddar cheese and garlic powder. Mix until well combined.

Transfer the mixture to a greased 8 x 8-inch baking dish or 9-inch pie plate. Bake the mixture in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the dip is heated through.

Stir well. Top with sliced green onions and blue cheese (optional). Serve hot with your choice of veggies, crackers or tortilla chips.

Monica Nyman

Monica Nyman

Monica Nyman is a senior educator and registered dietitian with the St Louis District Dairy Council. For more information on the health benefits of dairy, visit www.stldairycouncil.org.