By Ali Lopez
Cottage Cheese doesn’t always get the love that it deserves. It’s one of those foods that was always on the salad bar or thought of as “diet food.” I remember seeing it on menus stuffed into half of an “out of season” cantaloupe, or on the side with a burger, instead of the bun. It was viewed almost as punishment. But I have always loved cottage cheese … call me crazy! One of my favorite snacks growing up was a scoop of cottage cheese mixed with chunks of canned pineapple. So I am here today to sing the praises of cottage cheese. It is creamy, tangy, yummy, so versatile as well as nutritious and satisfying. And it’s great for runners to keep as part of their runner pantry!
Nutritionally, cottage cheese scores big. One 1/2 cup serving contains about 100 calories and has around 15 grams of protein. It is also a great source of calcium, B vitamins, as well as being low in sugar. Most brands of cottage cheese also contain “live probiotic cultures,” just like the ones in yogurt, which promote a healthy digestive system. Probiotics are the “good bacteria” that our bodies need to keep us healthy. Besides all the nutritional goodness, cottage cheese is also relatively inexpensive for all of its benefits.
For runners, pairing cottage cheese with some healthy whole grain carbs makes for a great recovery snack or meal. You can use it straight out of the container or whip it for an even creamier texture. Here are a few ways that I get my cottage cheese fix:
- Spread it on toast, a bagel or a rice cake (sometimes I also add nut butter, jam or fruit)
- Top it with some granola or mix it into your oatmeal
- Add it to your favorite smoothie recipe
- Mix it with your favorite fruits (I LOVE it with pineapple!) and/or nuts and seeds
- Add it to your scrambled eggs for extra creaminess and added protein
- Add to your salads, or make a creamy salad dressing with it
- Top a baked potato or sweet potato with it. You can add some fresh chives or scallions for savory version or some cinnamon and maple or honey for a sweeter version
- Makes a great topper for avocado toast
And here are two quick recipes:
Protein Packed Pancakes
This is such a great way to add staying power to your pancakes. I love pancakes, but most pancakes really don’t keep me full for more than 15 minutes. But add some cottage cheese and you have a protein packed breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack.
The recipe (serves one):
1/2 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
sprinkle of cinnamon
Mix-in ideas: nuts, raisins, berries, banana, coconut flake, nut butter, chocolate chips…
Combine all ingredients (except mix-ins) in a blender and blend until smooth (a little texture is okay.) Add the mix-ins, if desired. Pour batter onto a heated, oiled pan and cook and flip like regular pancakes. Top with your favorite toppings.
- Honey or Maple syrup
- Fresh fruit or jam
- Nut butter
- Hot Sauce (if you like savory!)
Creamy Protein Packed Salad Dressing
Here is a great way to add protein to a delicious creamy dressing. This is yummy on greens or you can add to hard boiled eggs for a creamy egg salad! Also makes a yummy dip for vegetables.
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, crushed
Juice from 1/2 lemon (or more to taste)
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Blend all ingredients together and use on your favorite salad!
Have a fueling question for Ali? Post it below in the comments section or email MRG with your healthy-eating questions at heather [at] michiganrunnergirl [dot] com
Ali will answer your questions in upcoming columns here on MRG. You can read her post about the Power of Smoothies, here » She’s also written about superfoods and shares a great recipe for kale salad here »
You can listen to a conversation about running and eating between Ali and Heather on a recent MRG podcast episode here »