September 20, 2023

Cottage cheese is trending on TikTok for ice cream. is it good?

What you need to know about the cottage cheese trend.  (Illustration by Jay Sprogell for Yahoo / Photo: Getty Images)

What you need to know about the cottage cheese trend. (Illustration by Jay Sprogell for Yahoo / Photo: Getty Images)

The latest eating trend may seem like a throwback — or possibly your grandma’s favorite snack.

Cottage cheese has taken over, with food makers experimenting with different ways to eat the often controversial dairy product. One advantage of cottage cheese, according to those who praise it, is the food’s high protein content.

First, what is cottage cheese?

“Cottage cheese is a type of cheese known for its lumpy or curd-like texture,” explains registered dietitian Jordan Hill of Top Nutrition Coaching. “It is made by curdling milk with an acidic substance, such as lemon juice or vinegar, and then separating the curd from the whey. The curds are the solid parts of the milk that clump together, while the whey is the liquid part that is drained.”

Between 1950 and 1975 there was cottage cheese all the rage, according to a 2015 NPR segment titled “The Fall Of A Dairy Darling: How Cottage Cheese Got Eclipsed By Yogurt.” At that time, cottage cheese was often used as a base for fruits such as pineapple or peaches, and eaten for breakfast. In 1970, Americans ate as much as five pounds of cottage cheese a year — but despite its initial popularity, the product was eventually eclipsed by its dairy cousin yogurt.

No one knows the exact reasons for this shift, but one possible explanation is that it’s hard to get consistent quality when it comes to cottage cheese, while another suggests that cottage cheese simply seems too “old-fashioned” for marketers to invest in, per NPR . Of course, that was before the TikTok crowd discovered it and made it cool again.

Meet cottage cheese, 2.0

While there have been scattered cottage cheese recipes over the years, the cottage cheese trend seemed to really take off around March 2023.

The popularity of cottage cheese today seems to be related to the rise of high protein diets. While social media did not get started the high protein trend, high protein recipes trend regularly on social media platforms, and cottage cheese is a macro winner for that matter. A one-cup serving of low-fat cottage cheese has 185 calories and 25 grams of protein.

“Cottage cheese has a higher protein content compared to other cheeses because of the way it’s made,” says Hill. “During the coagulation process, the proteins in milk, mainly casein, form the curd. This curd is retained in cottage cheese, providing a higher protein concentration compared to other cheeses where the curd is often removed. It’s worth noting that the specific nutritional content of cottage cheese can vary depending on the brand and variety. Cottage cheese is similar to milk in that it is sold in 0%, 1%, 2%, and full-fat options.

How do people use cottage cheese?

There are dozens of ways people use cottage cheese, proving it to be quite a versatile snack. Bethenny Frankel, who calls herself an “expert” of cottage cheese, shared on TikTok that she likes her cottage cheese on a salt and pepper cracker. She also mixes it in marinara sauce.

Katie Couric also recognized the trend and took to her website in May to share her own recipe for avocado toast with a cottage cheese base.

If the consistency of cottage cheese doesn’t sound very appealing to you, you’re not alone. Many of the more popular cottage cheese recipes of 2023 have cottage cheese mixed in first, making it more like a cheese sauce, so anyone with cottage cheese phobia can enjoy the cheese.

Other ways fans use cottage cheese include:

Healthy diet with cottage cheese

While cottage cheese certainly has fans for its taste, many people Also love it because it’s seen as a way to make favorite foods healthier.

Lainie Kates, from California, has been a longtime cottage cheese lover but really loves it now thanks to certain brands hitting the market that “have better ingredients, are organic, and add probiotics to cottage cheese, which I really love.”

Kates shares cottage cheese recipes on social media and uses the product in everything from pizza toast to scrambled eggs — but her favorite is “cottage cheese ice cream and cottage cheese McFlurrys.”

Danny Fix, a Colorado entrepreneur, uses social media to share high-protein, low-calorie recipes that are both “healthy and delicious,” he explains. Cottage cheese is a base for several recipes, including Oreo cheesecake, ice cream, and even pancakes.

“In March 2023, I noticed that cottage cheese was gaining popularity as a healthy food option,” he tells Yahoo Life. “Intrigued by the high protein-to-calorie ratio, I decided to experiment with a cottage cheese ice cream recipe and shared it on my Instagram and TikTok accounts. To my surprise, the recipe was a hit, with 40g of protein per serving. While I wouldn’t make it a nightly ritual, it’s a great way to enjoy a sweet treat while still meeting my daily protein goals.”

Fix adds that he’s lost 45 pounds on his diet and he always has cottage cheese on hand.

California resident Elisa Snyder also recently saw cottage cheese popping up online. As a big ice cream lover, she thought she would experiment with making ice cream with cottage cheese. The basic recipe involves mixing cottage cheese, combining it with a sweetener and flavoring of your choice, and putting it in the freezer for several hours until it takes on an ice-cream consistency.

“I focus on including high-protein foods in my diet, but I don’t follow a strict high-protein diet,” she explains. “I loved it because it seemed like a healthier alternative to ice cream. And since I always have dessert after dinner, I thought I’d give it a shot. I was skeptical at first, but it’s so good. The perfect alternative to ice cream and makes you feel full! Just make sure you don’t leave it in the freezer for too long (or just let it thaw for an hour!) so it doesn’t get too frosty.”

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