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Is Cottage Cheese Keto Friendly? What You Need to Know

By Fitoru | 23 December 2019
cottage cheese on a cracker dietary snack

If you’re following a ketogenic diet, you know it’s about a lot more than counting calories. In fact, if you’re doing it right, you shouldn’t really have to worry too much about your calorie intake. But for the keto diet to put you into that coveted fat-burning state of ketosis, you do have to drastically reduce the amount of carbs you’re taking in while increasing your fat intake. And with the wide variety of low-fat, no-fat, and high-fat dairy products on the market, this can get a little tricky, especially with something like cottage cheese, whose ingredient list can be all over the place. So if you love cottage cheese and are asking yourself, is cottage cheese keto friendly, we’ve got the answers you seek.

But first…

What Exactly Is Cottage Cheese?

Ever wonder what the writer of that old nursery rhyme meant by the curds and whey Little Miss Muffet was eating until that spider walked up and ruined her day? It was cottage cheese!

Unlike cheeses that lend themselves to aging—think Parmesan and cheddar cheese—cottage cheese is a fresh cheese, which means it’s produced without curing. This gives cottage cheese a much milder flavor than its aged counterparts. 

What’s more, cottage cheese is much easier and quicker to make than aged cheeses—so much so that it may even have been the first cheese produced in America. (The fact that it’s also a great way to ensure no milk goes to waste during the butter-making process was probably also a selling point to early settlers.)

Cottage cheese is traditionally made by adding lactic acid or vinegar to milk until it curdles. The milk is then heated and cooled and the curds that have formed cut into cubes so additional whey can drain out. The curds are then heated once more, drained, pressed, and rinsed, and additional salt (and sometimes heavy cream) added.

Health Benefits of Cottage Cheese

Like other types of cheeses, cottage cheese is gluten free and nutrient dense. Yet even full-fat cottage cheese manages to pack all that nutrition in about half the calories you’ll find in many other types of cheese. Just check out what you get in a cup:

  • 28 grams of protein
  • 22% of the RDA of riboflavin
  • 8% of the RDA of vitamin B6
  • 7% of the RDA of folate
  • 24% of the RDA of vitamin B12
  • 14% of the RDA of calcium
  • 29% of the RDA of selenium

Plus, if you choose cottage cheese that’s been produced with the aid of lactic acid bacteria, you’re also eating a fermented food that’s rich in gut-strengthening probiotics.

And the high protein content—more than that found in a comparable amount of plain Greek yogurt—helps keep you feeling fuller longer, which has been proven in studies to aid with weight-loss goals.

What’s more, the majority of the protein in cottage cheese—approximately 80%—is made up of a type of slowly absorbed milk protein called casein. This protein is also what makes cottage cheese a popular choice among athletes, as it’s been found in studies to be just as effective as whey protein at stimulating muscle growth and even more effective at blocking muscle breakdown.

And, like other dairy products, the protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats in cottage cheese have been found to contribute to a lower risk of metabolic syndrome—a group of conditions, including elevated blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, that’s associated with a higher risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Is Cottage Cheese Keto Friendly?

While cottage cheese is often made using low-fat milk—and some brands are high in sodium, sugar, and other additives—with so many different varieties to choose from, it’s really easy to find the fat content you’re looking for and still come away with as few as 4 grams of carbs per cup. 

Cottage cheese also makes a great low-carb, high-protein alternative to other dairy products, like cream cheese, which contains half the protein and a third more net carbs, and sour cream, which contains less than a fifth of the protein and almost a third more net carbs.

Is Cottage Cheese Keto-Friendly?

5 Ways to Include Cottage Cheese in Your Keto Diet Meal Plan

Because it pairs well with both sweet and savory ingredients, cottage cheese makes the perfect addition to any low-carb diet. In fact, it first became popular as a health and diet food in the 1950s.

While cottage cheese made a name for itself as an integral part of fruit salads and even traditionally high-carb foods like lasagna, its versatility means what you make with it is limited only by your imagination. 

So whether you’re in the mood for some healthy snacking or planning a main course, we’ve got some low-carb cottage cheese recipes that will perk up any keto diet meal plan.

1. Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowl

Unless you’re doing a little fasting, you just can’t start the day without breakfast. And with this keto-friendly, low-carb recipe from The Worktop, you can start your day with a healthy protein boost.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 teaspoon flaxseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup berries of choice (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries), frozen
  • 3 tablespoons nuts of choice (walnuts, pecans, cashews, macadamia nuts), chopped

Instructions:

  1. Spoon cottage cheese into a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Drizzle flaxseed oil and sprinkle chia seeds. 
  3. Top cottage cheese with berries and nuts.

2. Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Did someone say pancakes? Keto-friendly pancakes … with cottage cheese? Why, yes they did. And this recipe from Healthy Recipes will show you how it’s done!

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk cottage cheese
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon stevia or equivalent sweetener of choice
  • 6 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions:

  1. Whisk together cottage cheese, eggs, vanilla extract, and sweetener of choice.
  2. Mix in coconut flour and baking soda and whisk until combined well.
  3. Add cooking oil to a large skillet and warm over medium-low heat. 
  4. Add approximately 2 tablespoons of batter at a time, gently flatten, and cook until bottom is golden brown.
  5. Flip (carefully) and continue cooking until opposite side is also golden brown.

3. Avocado Egg Salad with Cottage Cheese

In the mood for a delicious low-carb, high-protein lunch? Then try this quick and easy recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen.

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup celery
  • 1/2 cup green onions
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

For dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed

Instructions:

  1. Boil, cool, and peel eggs.
  2. Place cottage cheese in a strainer with fine mesh, rinse with cold water, and drain.
  3. Whisk mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, celery seed, and dill weed.
  4. Slice onions and celery.
  5. Cut eggs into pieces.
  6. Dice avocados, place in a large bowl, and toss with salt to taste and half of lemon juice.
  7. Add eggs, cottage cheese, celery, and onions.
  8. Add dressing and combine all ingredients well.
  9. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Keto Cottage Cheese Sauce

If you’re looking for a keto-friendly sauce you can use as a topping for meat or veggies—or even as a dip—this recipe from Diet Doctor could be your new favorite go-to. And it’s super easy to make too!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3-1/2 ounces cottage cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon chives
  • 1/4 lemon for zest
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Puree all ingredients in your blender of choice until smooth—that’s it! 

You can also vary the recipe to suit your taste. So feel free to play with the seasonings or use sour cream or Greek yogurt in place of the mayonnaise.

5. Keto Broccoli Cottage Cheese Balls

We round out our five keto-friendly cottage cheese recipes with this offering from Delish Studio. With broccoli, flaxseeds, and savory spices, these cheese balls can help take your keto meal plan from boring to exciting in just 30 minutes!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups broccoli florets, chopped
  • 2-1/2 ounces cottage cheese
  • 3-1/2 ounces mozzarella, grated
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 egg
  • 2 green chilis, chopped (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Boil broccoli for 5 to 7 minutes, drain, chop, and place in a large bowl.
  2. Add cottage cheese, mozzarella, egg, garlic powder, black pepper, salt, paprika, oregano, and chilis and mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, add flaxseed meal and almond flour and combine well.
  4. Divide broccoli mixture into equal portions and roll into balls.
  5. Dip balls in flaxseed meal and almond flour mixture and coat well.
  6. Add olive oil or ghee to a large skillet or paniyaram pan and cook until golden brown.
  7. Drain and serve hot with dip of choice.

As you can see, cottage cheese is a healthy food that can make the perfect addition to the ketogenic diet. Just be sure to read the list of ingredients first so you know you’re getting all the fat you want and none of the carbs, fillers, or artificial ingredients you don’t.

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