Like many of you, I often find myself grabbing breakfast on the run. But this can lead to trouble: high fat, high-sugar trouble; muffins, egg and cheese sandwiches, sweet sugared rolls, bagel with cream cheese trouble. Thankfully, though, my latest food find is a quick and simple snack that’s high in protein, not in fat. Its cottage cheese and cut up fruit. I like mine with strawberries and pineapples. I dip the fruit in and use it to scoop up the cottage cheese, but I know many people who just mix it right in, and that’s tasty too.
Friendship Dairies makes a great tasting cottage cheese using skim milk, so it’s a non-fat product. To my surprise, it tastes just like other cottage cheese varieties made with more fat. There goes the myth that fat-free foods don’t taste good. Friendship Dairies even offers two varieties of cottage cheese mixed with fruit, one has pineapple and the other has peaches, but since I usually use the fruit for dipping, I stick with their plain cottage cheese.
A serving of non-fat cottage cheese will get you 80 calories; pretty light considering that 80 calories have 15 grams of protein, almost 30% of your daily-recommended intake. Truth be told, I usually eat two servings of this at a time, which doubles your protein intake and is still less than 200 calories. Not only is protein an important component in the growth and maintenance of all your body’s cells, it also takes longer to digest than carbohydrates, which means that you feel full longer, which is a good thing to know for anyone trying to shed some pounds. According to The United States Department of Energy, protein helps support our skin, our bones, our blood vessels, tendons, and ligaments since they are made of collagen, which is a fibrous protein. Also, fat is a big thing to look out for with cheese, which is why I’m so psyched that this fat-free cheese actually tastes good!
Strawberries give the snack its sweetness, not to mention they brighten up your plate and add some brilliant color. One cup of strawberries has just 49 calories and 149% of your recommended daily value of vitamin C, which certainly helps with your vitamin intake. A cup of cottage cheese really only needs ½ cup of strawberries (25 calories), keeping this snack still under 200 calories, I love getting a filling snack packed full of nutrients for just a few calories! Vitamin C has a wide range of benefits, including acting as an antioxidant and strengthening your immune system, but vitamin C is also involved in the production of collagen, the protein that I previously mentioned .
Add some pineapples and you’ll be adding even more vitamin C, along with their tart and sweet flavors that keep your mouth happy. Pineapples have a lovely, bright, sparkly taste, and since they can be found canned, are available all year round. Nothing beats fresh ripe pineapple, but if you are going to get it in a can, make sure it’s packed in juice, not syrup that has extra sugar. Dole offers canned pineapple chunks in %100 juice which are fat free, low in sodium (unlike cottage cheese – a point we’re coming up to soon), and only 60 calories for their two slice serving. They are a little high in sugar, but that’s from the sugar naturally present in the fruit. Also, when you eat pineapple with cottage cheese it is less likely to cause a sugar spike, because its digestion is slowed by the cottage cheese. I think the pineapple tastes great, plus I end up with some juice to drink as well.
And The Not-So-Good
Let’s discuss sodium. I don’t want to, but we must. There are 380 milligrams of sodium in a ½-cup serving of my non-fat cottage cheese, which means that when I double my serving (which I usually do) I’m taking in 760 milligrams of sodium, ahh! That is a lot considering that the Mayo Clinic recommends between 1,500 and 2,400 milligrams a day for healthy adults. They also say that too much sodium can cause high blood pressure and even lead to cardiovascular and kidney diseases.
I am happy to say, though, that Friendship Dairies does offer a low fat cottage cheese with no salt added. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any salt; it still has 50 milligrams per serving, but that’s a huge improvement to the 380 milligrams in their other varieties. This makes it a bit blander, but you’re mixing it with that delicious fruit, which renders the lack of salt pretty inconsequential.
How I Do It…
There is some prep work involved in this snack. So that it’s ready for me in the morning, I like to take care of the work ahead of time. I buy a 16-ounce container of cottage cheese, which has four servings. Then I put two servings of it in a Tupperware case that I will take to work the next morning, which leaves me with two servings in the original container for the following day. Then I cut up the fruit and mix it together in another in another container (but you can just add it to the cottage cheese if you’d like, then you only have one container to take to work).
So there you have it, a snack that manages to be sweet, salty, filling, and can wake-up your mouth and refresh your body. At first I thought, “No way this is going to fill me up”, but I stand corrected, and most happily so! Try it out and perk up your morning while indulging in a little sweetness.