Western Dairy-01We all know that living a healthy lifestyle goes beyond only what we do in the gym. Western Dairy Association’s healthy lifestype tips of the month are designed to help our University of Denver students, faculty/staff, Alumni and Ritchie Center community members live a healthy lifestyle through education of health and wellness related information. This month’s content comes to you courtesy of Western Dairy Association.

Creamy Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a wonderful nutritious food that is sometimes forgotten due to its bland taste. It is unique because it is low in carbohydrates and high in protein, which is optimal for post workout recovery and to fuel your active lifestyle.

Cottage cheese contains all the essential amino acids needed for it to qualify as a complete protein. Your body breaks this protein down into its individual amino acids, and then re-assembles those amino acids into new proteins needed to maintain healthy tissues. During a workout that places demands on your muscles, it’s normal to experience tiny tears in the muscle tissue. This minor damage to muscles and the repair process result in the muscles becoming stronger. Carbohydrates replace the muscles’ fuel, glycogen. Protein helps to build muscle. One amino acid, glutamine, is particularly valuable in helping the body recover after a heavy workout, and endurance athletes may deplete glutamine. Cottage cheese as well as milk and yogurt does supply glutamine because they are all a complete protein.

Ninety-nine percent of the calcium in your body exists in bones, but the other 1% fills vital roles, soa specific amount must be maintained in the blood. If blood levels drop, the mineral is taken from your bones. Calcium is needed for muscle contractions, including the heart, and normal nerve functioning. It’s also essential for the process of blood clotting.

Cottage cheese also provides phosphorus – phosphorus combines with calcium to become the primary mineral used for building bones, but like calcium, it fills other functions. Many chemical reactions in the body rely on phosphate, which is a form of phosphorus. These reactions are responsible for energy creation and maintaining a normal acid-base environment within the body. Some enzymes and hormones aren’t activated unless phosphate is available.

Cottage Cheese is versatile – it can be sweet or savory – so choose your favorite! It pairs well with sliced scallions, avocados and tomatoes, or apples, raisins and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Create a pasta sauce by blending cottage cheese with some low-fat milk or yogurt and Parmesan cheese.

Don’t like the texture of cottage cheese, but still want the nutrition? Blend some into your favorite smoothie!

Mixing fruit into cottage cheese adds sweetness without sugar, healthy fiber, more vitamins and minerals and can turn plain cottage cheese into a treat. You could also try these cottage cheese ideas from one of our local Colorado bloggers – What’s for Dinner Gena. She has recipes for a Breakfast SundaeLasagna Cups and Lemon Bars – all made with cottage cheese!

Incorporating cottage cheese into your post-exercise regimen (within 30-60 minutes) could enhance your performance. Please visit Western Dairy Association for more information.