The surprising ingredient that makes favorite recipes tastier and healthier
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Feb 24, 2013 | 17510 views | 0 0 comments | 238 238 recommendations | email to a friend | print
(BPT) - Modern or current may not be the word that comes to mind when you think of cottage cheese but this dairy case classic is experiencing a resurgence that is taking it beyond the diet plate to a starring role in how consumers eat today.

Low-fat cottage cheese is high in protein, low in calories and fat and minimally processed. Its versatility, price and nutritional profile make it a must have in any healthy kitchen and its popularity is on the rise. In fact, Health magazine named it one of the “flashback foods of the year.”

Today, cottage cheese is anything but plain. With its light flavor and creamy texture, cottage cheese makes a delicious and healthy base for a host of dishes. Have a favorite high-fat dip? Swap out the mayo for low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese. You’ll add calcium and protein without compromising flavor. In the mood for a creamy dressing? Blend cottage cheese, herbs and spices for a rich-tasting, low calorie dressing for salads from greens to pasta.

It’s also a perfect addition to your morning pancake mix. Mild, creamy cottage cheese mixed with lightly sweetened batter forms tender, delicious California Cottage Cheese Pancakes with the added bonus of a healthy dose of protein. While people tend to add fruit and other “sweet” additions to cottage cheese, don’t overlook savory ingredients like chopped artichoke hearts, olives, nuts or even salsa.

The dairy experts at the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) have developed two Mediterranean-inspired modern cottage cheese plate recipes that will suit any palate or occasion. Go Greek with fresh, flavorful ingredients like cucumbers, red peppers, herbs and olives. And, when you’re craving the rich flavors of Italy, look no further than the Modern Italian Cottage Cheese Plate. Dried tomatoes, basil, garlic, lemon and pine nuts mixed with cottage cheese combine for a guest-worthy salad or dip when served with baguette slices or multi-grain crackers.

The Modern Cottage Cheese Plate: Italian

Ingredients:

1 cup California low-fat cottage cheese

1 tablespoon finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh basil

1/4 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 cups baby arugula

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

3/4 cup red and yellow grape tomatoes

1/2 cup mixed olives

6 whole grain baguette slices

3 teaspoons Real California butter

Directions:

Spread butter lightly on baguette slices and toast. Stir together cottage cheese, tomatoes, basil, garlic and lemon zest in a small bowl. Place arugula onto two plates and top with cottage cheese. Sprinkle with pine nuts and surround with tomatoes, olives and baguette slices. Makes two servings.  

A cup of cottage cheese is a high protein choice that provides calcium and is available in low-fat and fat-free varieties. It’s an excellent source of satiating protein, which means it keeps you full and may prevent you from overeating. Which is why putting cottage cheese or other dairy products on that “diet” plate or any plate isn’t off the mark. According to registered dietitians with Dairy Council of California  people who consume more calcium and dairy foods as part of a balanced diet tend to weigh less and/or have less body fat than those who consume less dairy. Plus, this dairy original is convenient, versatile and readily-available. Try mixing cottage cheese with fresh fruit or cucumber for a refreshing snack.

Real California milk is used in a variety of quality dairy products from cottage cheese to yogurt. Make sure to look for the Real California Milk and Cheese seals to guarantee you’re getting products made with 100 percent California milk from California dairy farmers. For more recipes and entertaining ideas, visit RealCaliforniaMilk.com, like RCM at Facebook.com/RealCalifMilk or follow at Twitter.com/RealCalifMilk and Pinterest at Pinterest.com/RealCalifMilk.

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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