Greek yogurt gets all the glory for being a versatile concentrated source of protein that can be used in either sweet or savory dishes, but it comes at a price. We’ve all been so enamored by Greek yogurt that we’re overlooking its humble cousin, cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is far less expensive than Greek yogurt, has just as much protein, and can also be used in both savory and sweet dishes. It’s a powerhouse ingredient! My rediscovery of cottage cheese combined with a killer sale on pineapple led to this tropical Pineapple Protein Smoothie. It may seem a little strange, but stick with me, I promise it’s good!
I recently rediscovered my love for cottage cheese, thanks to Sarah Bond’s new book, For the Love of Popsicles (you can also catch Sarah’s amazing work over at her blog Live Eat Learn). In her book she has a protein popsicle that utilizes cottage cheese, which totally blew my mind.
The popsicle tasted like blueberry cheesecake and I immediately knew that I needed to make them in several more flavors. But since the popsicles were a little difficult for me to eat with braces on my teeth, I decided to just make smoothies instead. And since pineapples were on sale for $1.49 each this week, pineapple smoothies it is! (I have also made a strawberry flavor, which was awesome.)
Check out my tutorial on how to cut and freeze fresh pineapple, so you can take advantage of those sales, too.
Why Cottage Cheese?
Like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese is super high in protein (about 12 grams per half cup). Unlike Greek yogurt, cottage cheese is not very trendy, so the demand and price are much lower. Like half the price: $2.99 for Greek yogurt vs. $1.59 for cottage cheese at my local Aldi. So if you love to use Greek yogurt as a source of protein, but are finding it hard to make it work with your budget, give cottage cheese a try! While they can’t always be swapped in the same recipes, they’re both very versatile ingredients.
Cottage cheese does have a bit more salt than Greek yogurt, so if you’re watching your salt you should be aware of that. But it does go just as well with fruit and sweet recipes as it does in savory dishes. In this smoothie the cottage cheese gets blended up until smooth, so there is no noticeable curd or texture. It just taste creamy and tangy, just like Greek yogurt!
Of course if you’re still a bit freaked out by this or already have Greek yogurt in your fridge, you can totally substitute it for the cottage cheese. 😉
What Kind of Cottage Cheese is Best?
Cottage cheese comes with different fat content levels, like milk and yogurt. The higher fat content cottage cheese always tastes better, but I used a 1% fat cottage cheese for my smoothie and it was delish! Mine was also small curd, although I don’t think that matters much for this recipe since it’s getting blended until the curd is undetectable.
What Kind of Blender Should I Use?
I broke down and bought a fancy blender a couple of years ago (thanks Instagram influences ?), but I still use my super cheap Hamilton Beach single serving blender for most things, including this smoothie. My point is, you don’t need a powerful blender to make this smoothie. Any old $15 blender will work.
Pineapple Protein Smoothie
Cottage cheese is a surprisingly delicious and inexpensive source of protein in this sweet, tangy, and tropical Pineapple Protein Smoothie.
Servings: 1 16 oz.
- 1/2 cup cottage cheese ($0.27)
- 1/2 frozen banana ($0.10)
- 1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks ($0.19)
- 1/2 tsp brown sugar (optional)* ($0.01)
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract ($0.07)
- 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed (optional) ($0.03)
- 1 cup milk of choice (I used unsweetened almond milk) ($0.31)
*You can substitute with the sweetener of your choice, or leave out all together. I find that if your pineapple is a bit on the tart side, a little extra sugar is helpful.
I like to add flax to my smoothies because a little extra fiber never hurts, especially with higher protein foods. Plus, flax gives it an almost graham-like flavor and texture, which reminds me of pie crust. 🙂
Step by Step Photos
The protein base for this smoothie is cottage cheese! Creamy, tangy, and full of protein. I used a 1% fat cottage cheese, but you can go higher if you prefer. Add 1/2 cup cottage cheese to your blender first.
On top of the cottage cheese add 1/2 of a frozen banana, 1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks, 1/2 tsp brown sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, and 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed. Lastly, pour 1 cup of the milk of your choice over top. I used unsweetened almond milk because it’s neutral in flavor and not too heavy.
Then simply blend until smooth. You may need to stop and stir with a spoon on occasion to loosen any frozen chunks, but it shouldn’t take any more than a minute or two to blend.
Serve your Pineapple Protein Smoothie immediately while it’s still icy cold!