This article is sponsored by Daisy Cottage Cheese.
You’ve probably heard a million “simple swaps” that promise to make your meals healthier, only to find out they aren’t so simple after all. “I just need to swap out my mac and cheese for kale or add flaxseeds to my cupcakes?” No, thanks. But here’s a healthy cooking swap we swear is actually easy: cottage cheese. Don’t believe us? Hear us out.
Cottage cheese has the same creamy texture as standard ingredients such as heavy cream, butter, cream cheese, and ricotta. But with less fat and 13 grams of protein in a half-cup serving, it can transform your favorite morning muffins into energizing pre-workout fuel.
Whether this is news to you or you’re already a cottage cheese aficionado, these 10 surprising swaps will show you just how easy it is to add it to any sweet or savory meal.
There are so many ways to make pancakes, but almost every recipe calls for milk. If you want to add some extra fluff, sub in cottage cheese for half the milk in any standard recipe. It’ll also add some protein to your favorite brunch staple, so you won’t need a snack an hour later.
2. Toast Topper
Serious question. Do you like sweet or savory toast? Either way, cottage cheese is the perfect toast topper. Just slather some cottage cheese on your favorite bread and drizzle with honey, chopped mint, and nuts for a sweet treat. Or go the savory route and try olive oil, cherry tomatoes, and cracked pepper for a snack reminiscent of a fancy tartine.
There’s nothing more comforting than a bowl of creamy soup. But it usually calls for heavy cream. To lighten it up, use cottage cheese in place of the heavy cream in a 1-to-1 ratio. Just make sure you blend the cottage cheese first for that nice, creamy consistency.
4. Avocado Spread
Avocados are one of the best fruits to have for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snacks… OK, we’ll stop there. Only problem is they can be an expensive habit. Stretch that dollar by adding cottage cheese to your mashed avocado. So if you normally go for a whole half on your toast, use just one quarter and see how far the combo can take you. It not only has the same creamy consistency, but it’ll also add a hefty portion of protein for a well-balanced meal.
5. Tzatziki Dip
If you’ve ever made homemade tzatziki, you know it’s as simple as mixing yogurt, cucumbers, onions, lemon juice, and dill. But did you know you can sub in small-curd cottage cheese for yogurt for the same taste and a thicker consistency?
Yep, you read that right. You can use cottage cheese to create a cheesecake that tastes just as decadent at a fraction of the calories. While all cheesecake recipes are slightly different, try replacing half the cream cheese for cottage cheese in your favorite recipe. Opt for the small-curd variety and drain the cottage cheese in a strainer for at least 30 minutes before adding to the cake mix. The final product will have a lighter texture, but it’s also lighter in general, so we say, go ahead and have that second slice.
7. Tuna/Chicken/Chickpea Salad
Some of you may find this as a surprise, but not everyone is on Team Mayo. Whether people pass on it because it can add up quickly in the calorie department or the consistency just isn’t your thing, you can exchange all the mayo in your favorite tuna, chicken, or chickpea salad sandwich for cottage cheese. The saltiness of the cottage cheese will pair nicely with whatever protein you choose.
8. White Pizza
We know you don’t like anyone messing with your pizza, but what if we told you cottage cheese can make it a bit healthier (so eating the whole pie in one sitting won’t leave you in a food coma). By using it in place of ricotta, you can do just that. Top the ‘za with your favorite veggies and a sprinkle of mozzarella, and ladies and gents, you have yourself a protein-rich pizza.
9. Mac and Cheese
Everyone makes mac and cheese a little differently, but one thing is for certain—it’s almost always a super-heavy side dish (that we can’t get enough of). Swap in cottage cheese for half the regular cheese in a traditional recipe to lighten things up. The result will have more protein and fewer calories, and no one will know the difference. Not even picky Uncle Pete.
If you don’t know gratin, let us get you acquainted: Gratin is a dish that has cheese and butter and is topped with browned breadcrumbs. Sounds like heaven, right? Rather than making a gratin that puts you to sleep, transform it into a protein-packed, creamy miracle by swapping out the butter and heavy cream for cottage cheese.