This summer, I’ve started on a mission to eat more fruits and vegetables each day. Here’s one way to meet that goal. This recipe features cottage cheese — which was a staple in our meals when I was growing up — and pairs it with fresh summer vegetables. I’d forgotten how tasty this combination was –cottage cheese and garden vegetables. It is one way to meet my goal.
When I was growing up, cottage cheese was a staple food and it was always found in our refrigerator. Cottage cheese and peaches or applesauce (these were often home canned) or some combination was served almost every Saturday lunch. And when visiting my grandmother who lived in Ohio (she hailed from an old-fashioned farm background), Sunday dinner was a huge feast which included cottage and fruit as one of the courses. Wonder if anyone else had that meal experience? As much as I used to eat cottage cheese; I’ve sort of forgotten about it.
Garden Fresh Vegetables
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables makes for a healthy diet and this is part of many heart-healthy meal plans. Vegetables which are in season in the summer are ideal for meeting this goal. Radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers and green onions are some vegetables that ripen in summer. They tend to be less expensive and taste better when fresh from the garden. Chop or slice them up; add to cottage cheese for a very nutritious salad. Chilling the combination for several hours helps the flavors blend together.
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is one heart healthy diet which includes an abundance of fruits and vegetables. It’s hard to find an exact number of recommended servings for this diet for vegetables and fruits and I believe that the diet actually varies depending on what part of the Mediterranean region is being considered. I found one article where the Mayo Clinic gives a number of 7 to 9 daily servings of fruits and vegetables. That’s alot of servings, if you really count. For me, a number helps me know what I’m striving for and so I am counting.
As a side note, the Mediterranean Diet involves much more than just increasing fruits and vegetables — it involves using whole grains, legumes, nuts, plant based foods, olive oil, too, rather than a dependence on meat and saturated-fat fried foods. Here’s the source of my information.
Garden-Fresh Cottage Cheese Salad
Is this recipe a main course or a salad? It really depends on how much cottage cheese you add and what else is being served. I love the flavor and texture of the vegetables along with the cottage cheese and am calling this a salad. It would be easy to double the cottage cheese, too. The sour cream just seems to make the salad a little smoother. Of course, the vegetables can be varied depending on what is available — these are the ones typically associated with the salad. And I added dill seed which is from dill plants in my garden. Salt are optional (really not needed). A little course ground pepper is a nice touch.
Cottage Cheese and Lactose Intolerance
It’s healthy to include dairy products in meals. How does this recipe fit in with folks who are lactose intolerant? After the recipe, I’ve given a short discussion about lactose.
Garden-Fresh Cottage Cheese Salad
- 2 cups creamed cottage cheese (4% milk fat)*
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp dill seed (optional)
- 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
- 1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 medium cucumber, diced (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 average green bell pepper diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 6 radishes, thinly sliced (about 1 loose cup)
- 4 green onions, sliced, white and part of green (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 large tomato, cut in wedges
Instructions and Steps:
- In large bowl, combine creamed cottage cheese, sour cream, dill seed and salt (optional), and fresh cracked pepper.
- Wash and drain vegetables, dice and slice as listed above. Add all the vegetables except the tomato to the cottage cheese mixture and gently fold in.
- Chill salad several hours prior to serving.
- When ready to serve, transfer to serving plate and place tomato wedges around.
*Note: Cottage cheese can be increased to 4 cups, if desired. Low-fat cottage can be substituted for creamed cottage cheese for a lower fat version.
A Note About Lactose Intolerance
I have lactose-intolerance, as do other members of my family. I wondered about eating cottage cheese with lactose intolerance. The nutritional panel of the cottage cheese container lists 4 grams of sugar/lactose (the sugar in cottage cheese is lactose) for an 8 oz serving. This is a relatively small amount compared to milk with about 12 grams lactose per 8 oz.serving. Milk products provide calcium, vitamin D, protein and other nutrients which are essential to a good diet and it is important to include dairy foods in meal plans. Most folks can tolerate some lactose; I tolerated the cottage cheese just fine.
What is Lactose Intolerance? Milk sugar, or lactose, is made up of two individual sugars hooked together — glucose and galactose. The combination sugar can’t be absorbed through the small intestine digestive tract’s intestinal lining into the body. There is no transport carrier for lactose across the digestive tract. People who are lactose intolerant have lost some or all of the enzyme — lactase — that breaks the two sugars apart so it can be transported into the body. The result is that the lactose moves on down the digestive tract to the large intestine where bacteria consume it causing alot of gas, cramping and bloating. The sugar itself can pull water into the large intestine resulting in diarrhea. No fun. This is generally harmless, but rather annoying to experience.
There are three types of lactose intolerance:
- Primary lactose intolerance. A person has plenty of the enzyme, lactase, as an infant but the production falls off by the time the individual reaches adulthood. This type of intolerance seems to be genetically determined and is more common in people with African, Asian or Hispanic ancestry. The condition is also common among those of Mediterranean or Southern European descent.
- Secondary lactose intolerance. This occurs after some sort of injury or disease that affects and damages the lining of the small intestinal tract. Common diseases include celiac disease, bacterial overgrowth after antibiotic usage and Crohn’s disease, also radiation treatment for cancers in this area. In these diseases, lactase can be restored as the underlying problem is treated.
- Congenital lactose intolerance. The infant is born without lactase. The condition is rare and is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, meaning that both the mother and the father must pass on the same gene variant for a child to be born with it.
Most people have some degree of the enzyme, lactase, and can manage their symptoms without completely giving up dairy products. Dairy products vary in the amounts of lactose they contain, with many cheeses containing very little lactose to milk containing the most. And there are many products on the market which are geared for lactose-intolerant people such as lactose-reduced milk and dairy products, lactase enzyme pills, yogurt with active culture.
Living with lactose intolerance can be a challenge; it takes some effort to determine what dairy foods and how much a person can tolerate. Read the labels. Unless other sugars have been added (such as to yogurt, chocolate milk) then the carbohydrate/sugar listed on the nutritional panel should represent the lactose content of the product.
Garden-Fresh Cottage Cheese is a delicious recipe. I’m giving cottage cheese another chance.