Cottage cheese may not inspire much love, but the protein-packed ingredient is surprisingly one of the best recipe add-ins in your kitchen. Aside from being a budget-friendly ingredient, one half cup of low-fat cottage cheese contains only 90 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 16 grams of protein. That鈥檚 the equivalent of two ounces of cooked chicken and more than double what you鈥檒l find in an equal portion of low-fat plain yogurt.

Plus, cottage cheese, when incorporated correctly, has one of the most versatile textures you can imagine. It can add texture to dips or smooth them out when blended. Likewise, it can add lightness to recipes in surprising ways. Don鈥檛 believe it? Add cottage cheese to these four unexpected recipes and transform this overlooked dairy item into something gourmet.

Bread

Make bread that incorporates cottage cheese. Why? It needs no kneading. Simply mix all the ingredients with a sturdy spoon, portion it out into a loaf pan, let it rise, and then pop it into the oven. The combination of yeast and cheese makes for a hearty bread that slices thickly and has plenty of surface area to absorb butter. To really make this bread irresistible, try adding some dill into the mix.

鈥–heesecake

Don鈥檛 worry; when you use cottage cheese in cheesecake, it won鈥檛 have a lumpy texture. In fact, the end product is an ultra creamy cake that just happens to be much higher in protein than a classic cheesecake.

Frittata

Put cottage cheese in your frittatas. You鈥檙e adding cheese to your baked eggs anyway, so this isn鈥檛 a large leap to make (culinarily speaking). Cottage cheese is low in fat and isn鈥檛 melty like many other kinds of cheese. The resulting frittata won鈥檛 have the same texture that you鈥檙e accustomed to, but the denser consistency makes it easy to slice and transport. Cottage cheese pairs with salmon, dill, spinach, and olives.

Pancakes

You鈥檝e heard of ricotta pancakes, so it鈥檚 no surprise that cottage cheese pancakes exist too. Since cottage cheese is heavier than ricotta, don鈥檛 be surprised if your pancakes aren鈥檛 as fluffy as what you鈥檙e used to. That being said, they will be incredibly moist and tender.

Do you have any other secret ways you like to sneak cottage cheese into your diet? Tell us about it @BritandCo.

(Photo via The Worktop)