Cottage Cheese with Fruit – Great Snack for Athletes
Athletes looking for a high-protein snack to add to their day should consider trying cottage cheese with fruit. By mixing different types of fruits into your cottage cheese there are an abundance of ways this snack can be enjoyed.
Nutrition Benefits of Cottage Cheese with Fruit
Before looking at cottage cheese with fruit combinations, let’s take a look at the nutritional benefits of including cottage cheese and fruit in your sports nutrition meal plan.
Cottage cheese is a great source of protein, providing ~28 grams of protein per 1 cup serving (depending on the brand). It also contains riboflavin (Vitamin B2) and many brands are fortified with calcium1.
The process of making cottage cheese involves adding acid to milk. The acid causes the casein protein in the milk to coagulate and form curds. The whey protein in the milk does not coagulate and remains a liquid. The liquid whey protein is separated from the curds. The curds are further processed and used to produce cottage cheese1.
Based on the process for making cottage cheese, the majority of protein in cottage cheese is casein protein. Casein protein is more slowly absorbed by the body compared to other types of protein, including whey protein. Due to the slower absorption, casein protein is often recommended as an ideal protein source to consume prior to bed2. This makes cottage cheese an excellent, high-protein snack for athletes to enjoy as an evening snack.
Is Cottage Cheese Lactose Free?
Traditional cottage cheese made with cow’s milk is not lactose free. However, there are lactose-free products on the market. Lactaid® and Good Culture® both offer lactose-free cottage cheese products that are good options for those with lactose intolerance.
When you add fruit to cottage cheese you boost the carbohydrate content of your snack. Carbohydrates are important in the diet of athletes, as they provide the body with the energy needed to perform at it’s best. When planning snacks, I encourage athletes to pair a food containing a good source of carbohydrates with a food rich in protein. Cottage cheese with fruit is a great example of this type of snack combination.
In addition to carbohydrates, fruit provides fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Different types of fruit provide different nutritional benefits, thus choosing a variety of fruit options to mix into your cottage cheese is best.
Cottage Cheese with Fruit Combos
Now that we have looked at the nutritional benefits of cottage cheese and fruit, let’s explore ideas for adding fresh, dried, canned, and frozen fruit to your cottage cheese.
One small piece of fresh fruit (4 oz) contains ~15 grams of carbohydrates. When purchasing fresh fruit, it is best to buy fruit that is in-season. Fruit that is in-season will be less expensive and more flavorful than out-of-season produce. The USDA has a Seasonal Produce Guide available to help you determine which fruits and vegetables are currently in season.
Consider the following fresh fruits that will make delicious additions to your cottage cheese.
- Berries – Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, acai berries
- Melon – cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon
- Stone Fruit – Peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, cherries
- Tropical and Exotic Fruits – Pineapple, mango, papaya, guava, pomegranate, kiwi
- Citrus Fruits – Grapefruit, orange, mandarin, tangerine
- Pome Fruits – Apples and pears (leave the skin on when slicing to enjoy with your cottage cheese for added fiber)
Dried fruit provides a condensed source of carbohydrates with ~15 grams of carbohydrates per ¼ cup serving. In addition to carbohydrates, dried fruit contains vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber. Try mixing a variety of dried fruits into your cottage cheese, such as: raisins, prunes, dates, figs, cranberries, apricots, apples, pineapple, and mango.
For convenience, canned fruit can easily be mixed into cottage cheese for a quick and easy snack. When purchasing canned fruit, select fruits that are packed in natural juices rather than in heavy-syrups to limit the amount of added sugar.
Fruits such as diced peaches, pears, pineapples, and mandarin oranges all make great additions to cottage cheese. When you need a snack on-the-go, combining cottage cheese with canned fruit can be a great choice.
Frozen fruit is flash-frozen at the peak of ripeness so it maintains a high nutrient content. Easily thawed, frozen mixed berries, pineapple chunks, or sliced peaches can make for a delicious addition to your cottage cheese. Personally, I love the combination of blueberries, cottage cheese, and a dash of cinnamon.
Other Cottage Cheese with Fruit Mix-In Ideas
In addition to fruit, seeds and nuts can be another great way to boost the nutrient content of your cottage cheese. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sliced almonds, walnuts, or pistachios are all great additions.
If you want to further increase the carbohydrate content of your cottage cheese with fruit, consider stirring in a whole-grain breakfast cereal. Kashi Go® Honey Almond Flax Crunch is one of my favorites, made with whole grains, flax seeds, and sliced almonds. A ¾ cup serving provides 35 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of fiber, and 9 grams of protein making it a great addition to your cottage cheese with fruit snack.
Cottage Cheese with Fruit Smoothies or Protein Shakes
If you are not a fan of the texture of cottage cheese, using cottage cheese in a protein shake or smoothie is a great option. Since cottage cheese has a mild flavor, it will not alter the taste of your smoothie, but it will give it a creamy texture. Blending cottage cheese into a smoothie allows you to enjoy all of the nutritional benefits of cottage cheese without having to worry about the texture.
Time to Enjoy!
You are now set with a variety of ways to enjoy cottage cheese with fruit. This snack is a great way to add protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and mineral to your sports nutrition meal plan. Whether you enjoy cottage cheese with fruit at breakfast, in a smoothie, or as an evening snack it can help you meet your sports nutrition needs.
If you are looking for additional sports nutrition snack ideas to fuel performance, check-out my recent blog: Planning the Best Halftime Snacks for Athletes.
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About the Author
Mandy is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. Mandy believes the key to reaching one’s full potential, both in everyday life and in sports performance, relies on a healthy nutritional foundation. Learn more about the work Mandy does here.
- Cottage Cheese | The California Dairy Press Room & Resources. (n.d.). www.californiadairypressroom.com. https://www.californiadairypressroom.com/Products/Cottage_Cheese
- Karpinski, C., Rosenbloom, C., & And, N. (2017). Sports nutrition: A handbook for professionals. Academy Of Nutrition and Dietetics.