5 Ways To Add More Calcium Into Your Meals With One Simple Ingredient: Cottage Cheese
Jenna Mueller, Nutrition & Exercise Physiology Graduate Student
Cottage Cheese Pancakes
Are you in the habit of reaching for your pre-made pancake mix every Sunday morning? While those pancakes might seem like the easiest way to feed the entire family, they often lack the protein and fiber needed to energize and fuel your body. But fear not! You can maintain that delightful pancake taste while elevating your breakfast with this high-protein cottage cheese pancake recipe. With its creamy texture, this recipe offers a great source of protein and calcium to support energy and strong bones, so you can fuel and live your day to the fullest.
Servings: 8 medium-sized pancakes
1 cup cottage cheese (I use Good Culture 2%)
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons maple syrup
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Olive oil, avocado oil, or butter for cooking
In a mixing bowl, combine the cottage cheese and eggs. Mix well until the mixture is smooth and well combined.
Add the whole wheat flour, maple syrup, vanilla extract, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon to the cottage cheese and egg mixture. Stir until all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat and lightly grease it with olive oil, avocado oil, or butter.
Using a ladle or measuring cup, pour the pancake batter onto the skillet to form pancakes of your desired size. Cook until bubbles form on the surface, about 2-3 minutes.
Carefully flip the pancakes using a spatula and cook the other side until it's golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
Remove the pancakes from the skillet and repeat the cooking process with the remaining batter.
Serve the cottage cheese pancakes warm with your favorite toppings such as additional maple syrup, fresh fruit, or a dollop of greek yogurt.
Creamy Pesto Pasta Sauce
Searching for a simple method to boost the protein content in your pasta meals, especially for those weeknight vegetarian dinners? Look no further than incorporating cottage cheese into your homemade pesto pasta sauce! This quick and simple recipe not only gets you a satisfying meal in no time, but you can also stash away any extra pasta sauce in the refrigerator for upcoming lunches or dinners during the week. Personally, I favor this pesto pasta sauce for its creamy texture and rich flavor compared to the standard store-bought alternatives. The best part? This meatless dish requires no additional cooking beyond preparing the pasta itself!
Servings: 8 cups of pasta
Pasta of your choice (e.g., spaghetti, penne, fettuccine)
1 cup cottage cheese (I use Good Culture 2%)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (packed)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
*Cherry tomatoes, extra Parmesan cheese, chopped fresh basil for garnish
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
In a food processor or blender, combine the cottage cheese, fresh basil leaves, grated Parmesan cheese, pine nuts or walnuts, and garlic cloves. Blend until you get a smooth and creamy mixture.
While the processor is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the pesto is well combined and has a creamy consistency. You can adjust the amount of olive oil based on your desired thickness.
Taste the pesto and season with salt and pepper as needed.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta with the cottage cheese pesto. Toss until the pasta is well coated with the pesto sauce.
If desired, add halved cherry tomatoes and extra grated Parmesan cheese to the pasta.
Garnished with chopped fresh basil and more grated Parmesan cheese if you like.
Extra Cheese-y Omelet
I love a simple breakfast – a two-egg omelet with some veggies. Lately, I've joined the TikTok trend of adding cottage cheese to my eggs. To make it even cheesier, I mixed Parmesan cheese and some Trader Joe's chili onion crunch oil. Omelets are versatile, and this addition of cottage cheese turns a basic two-egg omelet into a creamy, protein-packed breakfast to keep you going all day.
Servings: 1 omelet
Two medium eggs
~1/3 cup of cottage cheese (I use Good Culture 2%)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
~ 1 tablespoon of Trader Joes' Chili Onion Crunch oil (amount depends on your individual spice tolerance)
salt & pepper to taste
veggies of choice: chopped broccoli, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, spinach, onions, etc.
In a bowl, whisk the eggs until well beaten. Mix in the cottage cheese and combine until the mixture is smooth and well incorporated.
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat.
Add your chosen veggies to the skillet and sauté until they're slightly softened. This should take around 3-4 minutes.
Season the veggies with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Pour the egg and cottage cheese mixture over the sautéed veggies in the skillet. Allow the mixture to spread evenly.
Add the parmesan cheese to the mixture.
Let the omelet cook for a few minutes, gently lifting the edges with a spatula to allow the uncooked egg to flow to the sides.
Once the omelet is mostly set but still slightly runny on top, carefully fold it in half using the spatula.
Continue cooking for another minute or so until the omelet is cooked through but still moist inside.
You can optionally garnish the omelet with extra Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of Trader Joe's Chili Onion Crunch oil for added flavor.
Whipped Cottage Cheese & Berry Bedtime Parfait
In a recent study looking into the influence of consuming protein before sleep on the adaptive response of skeletal muscles to exercise, researchers observed that this practice effectively heightened protein synthesis rates during sleep, contributing to the recovery of skeletal muscles engaged in resistance-type training (1). This discovery has led me to emphasize protein intake in my post-dinner evening snack routine. Therefore, my go-to option was creating a whipped cottage cheese and berry bedtime parfait. Whipping the cottage cheese results in a smoother consistency, particularly appealing to those who enjoy the yogurt-like texture. Adding berries with sweet honey makes this snack craveable throughout the day. And the cherry on top? Each serving contains about 20 grams of protein and 140 mg of calcium!
Servings: 1 parfait
1 cup cottage cheese (I use Good Culture 2%)
1/2 cup of frozen mixed berries
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon honey (or maple syrup)
* 1 tablespoon chocolate chips
* 1/4 cup granola of choice
In a saucepan, combine the frozen mixed berries, chia seeds, and honey. If necessary, add a bit of water and allow the berries to thaw and the chia seeds to absorb the berry-infused liquid. This process will result in a chia jam or compote-like consistency.
In a blender or food processor, blend the cottage cheese until it's creamy and smooth.
Layer the parfait in serving glasses or bowls. Start with a layer of the cottage cheese, followed by a layer of the chia berry compote.
Repeat the layers until the glasses or bowls are filled to your liking.
Add a layer of granola and chocolate chips for crunch and texture.
Finish off with an extra drizzle of honey (or maple syrup) and a few chocolate chips on top.
High-Protein Cookie Dough
Do you often experience a sweet tooth after dinner? I'm in the same boat and certainly don't pass up on dessert! Nevertheless, I aim to include a source of protein and healthy fats in my evening treat to ensure lasting satisfaction, steering clear of the tendency to rummage through the pantry after just snacking on a small piece of fruit, which, let's be honest, doesn't do much to curb cravings. This cottage cheese cookie dough has been my go-to for addressing my sweet tooth and cookie dough cravings while also assisting me in achieving my daily protein target. While this recipe is one of those “don’t knock it ’till you try it” snacks, I am certain you will love it as much as I do!
Servings: 12 (small cookie edible cookie dough balls that can be refrigerated and eaten throughout the week)
1 16 oz. container of cottage cheese or around 2 cups (I use Good Culture 2%)
1/4 cup maple syrup (or liquid sweetener of choice, like honey)
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup vanilla protein powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
In a food processor or blender, combine the cottage cheese, maple syrup, almond flour, vanilla protein powder, vanilla extract, and salt. Blend until the mixture is smooth and well combined.
Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and fold in the chocolate chips. You can reserve a few chocolate chips for topping if desired.
The cookie dough might be slightly wet due to the cottage cheese, but it will firm up a bit as it chills. If it's too wet, you can add a bit more almond flour to achieve the desired consistency.
Cover the mixing bowl and refrigerate the cookie dough for at least 30 minutes to allow it to firm up.
Once chilled, the cookie dough is ready to be enjoyed! You can portion it into individual servings, roll it into balls, or simply scoop it with a spoon.
Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to several days.
Jenna Mueller is a graduate student at San Diego State University pursuing her dual master's degrees in exercise physiology and nutritional sciences. "My goal is to become a Registered Dietitian after completing my master's from San Diego State. I am passionate about all things health, wellness, and fitness-related, and I hope to one day work in Sports Nutrition. Growing up as a dancer, I know how critical proper fueling is. Through my education and research, I understand the personalization and unique precision of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients – and how important it is to get these nutrients from our food. And I love to help others discover this as well."