I've had a long love affair with cottage cheese ever since I used it one summer as a primary ingredient in achieving my weight loss goals. I was in junior high school and tired of being fat so I spent the better part of June, July and August eating mostly big salads, cottage cheese snacks and fruit.
It worked. I returned to school feeling healthy, strong and slim.
I've eaten a lot of cottage cheese since then because including small amounts of it in my daily diet has been one of the easiest ways ever to stay on track with my health and weight goals. Through the years I have learned more about what it is, its qualities, how long it will last after opening, how to spot when it is spoiled, what to eat it with, and how to use it in all kinds of recipes.
Is cottage cheese good for weight loss?
Did you know that cottage cheese is good source of protein and calcium, both of which have been associated with weight loss?
The best type of cottage cheese for weight loss? Non fat or low fat varieties. Soon Weight Watchers will include non fat cottage cheese on its approved list of Zero Points Foods.
It’s tasty straight out of the container, and it’s an excellent low-fat, low calorie swap for ricotta cheese in Italian dishes like lasagna, for cream cheese in cheesecake or for sour cream in casseroles, dips and lightened up comfort foods like these skinny twice baked potatoes.
A vintage Weight Watchers recipe I've loved for decades is this "danish" which substitutes cottage cheese for its more fattening cousin, cream cheese.
Is eating cottage cheese healthy or fattening?
If you're looking to lose weight or build muscle, fresh cottage cheese, one of the healthiest soft cheeses, with a mild flavor is among the most beneficial foods you can eat. It's high in many nutrients, including casein protein, B vitamins, and minerals like calcium, selenium, and phosphorus. Casein is slowly absorbed, promotes muscle gain, and helps prevent muscle breakdown making it a favorite food item for athletes and dieters alike.
A cup of low fat cottage cheese has about 170 calories.
What Is Cottage Cheese?
Cottage cheese is soft, white, and creamy. A curd cheese, it is made by adding an acid to milk which causes the milk to curdle. The curd is then drained and crumbled to make the final product.
Considered a fresh cheese, it does not undergo an aging or ripening process to develop flavor the way hard cheeses do. As a result, it has a very mild flavor compared with aged harder cheeses.
Cottage cheese comes in three basic versions; non-fat, low-fat and full fat. You may also find it with large curds or small curds. Inexpensive and easy to find, a large tube is usually only a few dollars at your local grocery store.
One of my favorite cottage cheeses is Daisy Brand. It is creamy with a fresh buttery flavor and tender medium-size curds. Made with just four ingredients, this cheese has enough natural sweetness to pair well with fruit.
If you find the texture of cottage cheese off putting you may find creamy cottage cheese more acceptable. If you can also create a creamier texture by giving your cottage cheese a quick pulse with your blender or food processor .
You can enjoy this versatile cheese by itself or as an ingredient in recipes.
Which Is Healthier Yogurt or Cottage Cheese?
Yogurt and cottage cheese are both healthy food products perfect for Weight Watchers. Greek yogurt has fewer calories and less sodium than cottage cheese. Because it is a fermented food, it also has probiotics.
However nonfat cottage cheese has slightly more protein, 24g per cup compared to Greek yogurt's 20 grams. Both plain low fat Greek yogurt and low fat cottage cheese have about 170 calories per cup. If sodium is a concern yogurt is the better choice.
How long does cottage cheese last after opening?
The shelf life of cottage cheese depends on many factors besides its sell-by date. An open cottage cheese container should stay good in the fridge for up to two weeks after opening.
For best results cottage cheese is meant to be stored in the refrigerator, not at room temperature, so don't leave it sitting out on your counter for extended periods of time. It is also best to keep the cottage cheese in its original packaging or an air-tight container once it is opened.
Because of the perishable nature of cottage cheese, it is best to consume within 2 weeks of opening even if the “Best By” date is in the future. and to keep it in the fridge to maximize its shelf-life.
The date stamped on your airtight container of cottage cheese is often not an actual expiration date, but rather a "sell-by" or "best-by date. If the cheese is stored under recommended conditions and exhibits no off odors or visible mold, it should be safe to consume past the date on the container.
Most cottage cheese is sold in plastic containers. Many say that the best way to extend the shelf life of an airtight container of unopened cottage cheese or opened cottage cheese is to store it upside down. It is believed that the plastic tub will form a kind of vacuum seal, which can hinder bacteria growth.
There are several more ways to help preserve the freshness and quality of the cottage cheese, including, but not limited to, the following stay-fresh tips:
- Refrigerate as soon as possible after purchasing.
- Always use a clean utensil and avoid touching the inside of the container’s plastic lid to help maintain the quality of cottage cheese.
- After spooning out what you need, promptly return the remaining portion of leftover cottage cheese to the refrigerator.
- To prevent the separation of whey from the product, smooth the surface of the cottage cheese flat with a spoon just prior to placing it back in the refrigerator.
- After initial opening, remove the aluminum foil seal completely from the top of the container and use the plastic lid to reseal.
- If natural separation occurs between uses, simply stir gently to blend it back together.
If the cottage cheese container has been refrigerated and sealed, it is generally safe to consume past the "Best By" date on the package unless there are signs of spoilage.
By smelling, tasting, and looking at the appearance, you can use your best judgment to ensure freshness. If the cottage cheese has an off odor such as a sour smell or visible mold, it should be discarded and not consumed.
Can you freeze cottage cheese?
For best quality you should avoid freezing cottage cheese because it can adversely affect its creamy texture and flavor. Although thawed cottage cheese loses its creamy texture when defrosted, some people find that frozen cottage cheese is perfectly acceptable to use in smoothies or for baking. So ultimately this comes down to personal choice.
It is also fine to use cottage cheese in a pre-prepared dish and then freeze the prepared item.
How Do You Know if Cottage Cheese Is Spoiled?
As explained above, if stored under optimal conditions in the refrigerator it should take a couple of weeks for cottage cheese to go bad. When checking whether your cottage cheese is bad or not, do the following:
- Smell it. Sour smelling cottage cheese is past its prime, and it's probably best to discard it.
- Look for mold or any other signs of discoloration on the surface.
- Consider how long it has been in the refrigerator. Because of the perishable nature of cottage cheese, it is best to consume within 2 weeks of opening even if the “Best By” date is in the future.
What do you eat cottage cheese with?
Cottage cheese’s mild flavor and soft texture make it easy to include in your meals and recipes. Here are some delicious ways to enjoy cottage cheese:
- Pancakes or waffles. Mix it into the batter as a substitute for milk. Here's a recipe for Cottage Cheese Power Pancakes.
- Salads. Add it to your favorite salads for extra protein. I love this orange delight salad.
- Fruit. Mix it with fruits like pineapple chunks, berries, sliced bananas, sliced peaches, mandarin orange sections, and melon chunks. Here's a fun recipe Banana Split Breakfast Plate.
- Smoothies. Blend it with some milk and fruits for a fruit smoothie like this Skinny Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie.
- Toast. It makes a creamy, protein-rich spread like in this classic "WW Danish."
- Sour cream substitute. It works well as a sour cream substitution in recipes like this one for Twice Baked Potatoes.
- Scrambled eggs. It’ll give your eggs an extra creamy texture.
- Lasagna. Use it as a substitute for ricotta cheese in your favorite lasagna or baked pasta recipe.
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