Friday, July 19, 2013

Cottage Cheese: A Bum Rap as Just a Diet Food

my favorite brand and type
Cottage cheese has a bad reputation, and I hope to change that. For some reason, it is seen primarily as a tasteless food eaten by long-suffering dieters. It is a good food for dieters, since it is high in nutrition and low in calories, but it is also a great staple for everyone else. Its blandness makes it extremely versatile: cottage cheese can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert.

Cottage cheese is a protein powerhouse, offering twice the protein of yogurt. A single serving of cottage cheese provides half of an adult's daily protein requirement. People on budgets should remember this.

Cottage cheese is the original curds and whey enjoyed by Little Miss Muffet of nursery rhyme fame. It is essentially just milk components and salt, and today the salt is negotiable. Cottage cheese can be bought in many different forms: small curd, large curd, low sodium, low fat, nonfat, and flavored with sweet (pineapple, jam) or savory(chives, garden vegetables) items. I buy mine plain, adding flavors depending on how I use it. I'm not a fan of the low-fat varieties, but you may feel differently.

In hot weather, I often add a glob of cottage cheese to a tossed green salad. It turns it into a complete meal without making it appreciably heavy. I also eat this cheese on toast, bagels, or English muffins in the morning. (Richard Nixon ate cottage cheese for breakfast every morning, but he put ketchup on his.) In winter, I usually add a dollop of cottage cheese to a baked potato. If I'm in need of comfort food, I enjoy it in noodle kugel, a dish unknown to most of my friends but luckily not to my children. (Noodle kugel is a slightly sweet noodle pudding familiar to most Jewish kids of Ashkenazi descent.)

Cottage cheese is also an ingredient in one of my favorite summer desserts, a light and refreshing cheese cake--more accurately a cheese pie, I guess. It's easy to make and is lighter and more custardy than typical cheesecakes.

Graham Cracker Crust--make or buy.
Preheat oven to 350.
Blend the following ingredients or beat well at high speed

  • 1 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 oz. cottage cheese
  • 6 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

When thoroughly blended, pour into the crust and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes while you raise the oven temperature to 475.

Now mix 1 1/2 cups sour cream, 2 TBSP sugar, and 1/2 tsp vanilla together. Spread on pie and then bake in the hot oven for 5 minutes.

Chill thoroughly before eating.

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