The Adventures of Kitchen Girl

April 3, 2012

Breakfast and Homemade Cottage Cheese

You know how they say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? I believe that to be totally true, these days. I had always made sure my family ate a good breakfast each morning but when it came to myself... usually a couple cups of coffee was the only thing that found it's way into my stomach until lunch time. Over the last few months, since my pre-diabetes diagnosis, I've been making sure to eat something substantial within an hour or so of waking up in the morning. I cannot tell you just what a HUGE difference it's made in my days. I have so much more energy. I feel so much better and I find that I snack less and that the cravings that I used to have for the "bad stuff" have virtually disappeared! I think all in all I eat less in general now that I am making time to eat 3 or 4 times each day instead of twice, like I had fallen habit to.

When I stop to really think about it, it makes sense. Your body NEEDS fuel to run... just like your car needs gas to go. If you've had your last meal at 6pm the night before, you're expecting a lot from your body to go until 12 or 1pm without a "fill up." Not to mention, if you're trying to lose weight and cut calories and think that skipping breakfast will spare you some calories... the only thing you're doing is making your body think that you're starving it and your metabolism will eventually slow down. When I was actively trying to lose weight I would hit these plateaus where the losses would just flat out stop. Now, looking back, I wonder if the fact that I was only fueling my body once or twice a day was why. Did it think I was trying to starve it? Certainly "fuel" for though...

Breakfast doesn't have to be complicated or high calorie to be beneficial. I am the mother of 3 kids and have an extremely busy household. Sometimes I don't want to take the time to make eggs and toast or cook oatmeal. Breakfast for me needs to be fast, something that appeals to me first thing in the morning, and be healthy. Sometimes it's just a cup of Greek or homemade yogurt with some fresh fruit and chia seeds mixed in, sometimes I make crock-pot steel cut oatmeal the night before and mix in some stavia, berries and nuts in the morning. Lately I've been on a homemade cottage cheese kick. The past 4 or 5 days I've eaten the bowlful you see in the picture above and I absolutely LOVE it. A huge fresh tomato cut up, 1 cup of homemade cottage cheese, 1/4 cup of unsalted sunflower kernels and a bunch of fresh ground black pepper. It takes all of 10 minutes to prepare, if I have the cottage cheese already made, and gives my body all the fuel it needs to get my through my busy mornings. Protein, some veg, some dairy, a little bit of fat. Everything you need in a simple, quick and delicious bowl. It fills me up and is good for me. Perfection.

What do you eat for breakfast? Do you make sure to nourish your body after fasting all night long? If you don't eat breakfast already, I would challenge you to try eating something good for you, every morning, for just for a week... and see if it doesn't make you feel better. Try it, your body will thank you for it... I promise.

Below are my "go to" homemade cottage cheese recipes. They are not mine and you can click the links under the recipe titles to go to the sites the recipes originate from to see step by step photos! Both authors have gone to great lengths to write these recipes and beautifully photograph them for you... so I would encourage you to visit their sites and say hello. The cottage cheese you see in my picture above is homemade using David Lebovitz recipe... and it is delicious. The Alchemist's recipe is amazing too, doesn't use rennet (in case you have trouble finding it) and is a good bit simpler and faster. Rennet can be bought at Whole Foods and at some natural food stores. I usually buy mine from a local farm co-op. If you have a local dairy or farmers market, those might be a good places to ask, too

Homemade Cottage Cheese
From: David Lebovitz

All utensils should be cleaned very well before beginning.

1 quart whole milk (I use raw when I can get it)
4 drops liquid rennet
1/2 teaspoon of salt, plus more to taste
6 tablespoons buttermilk (you could use heavy cream or half-and-half)

Heat the milk very slowly in a medium-sized, non-reactive saucepan. Use the lowest heat possible and if you have a flame-tamer for underneath the saucepan, now’s a good excuse to use it.

Insert a thermometer into the milk (I use a chocolate thermometer, which is easy to read) and heat until the milk reaches 85ยบ F.

Turn off heat and stir in rennet. Stir gently for 2 minutes.

Cover the saucepan with a clean tea towel draped over the top and put the lid on. Let stand at room temperature for 4 hours.

After 4 hours, the mixture will be very softly set and marvelously jiggly. Take a sharp knife and cut the mixture diagonally 5 or 6 times, then do the same in the opposite direction.

Sprinkle in the salt then set the pan over extremely low heat and cook, stirring gently, until the curds separate from the whey. It will take just a few minutes.

Do not overcook it at this point or your cottage cheese curds will be tough.

Line a strainer with cheesecloth, and set it inside a large bowl. Pour the mixture into the cloth and stir it gently to drain off the copious amount of whey. (You can use it in bread making or in soups in place of water.)

Fold the ends of the cheesecloth over the cheese and chill the strainer (keeping the bowl underneath) in the refrigerator. Let drain for about 1 hour, stirring once or twice.

Spoon the cottage cheese from the cloth into a bowl and stir in the buttermilk. Taste, and add more salt if necessary.


Homemade Cottage Cheese
From: The Alchemist

1/2 gallon milk (8 cups) (2,000 ml, or 2 liters) skim (nonfat) or 2% or whole raw milk
1/3 cup (100 ml) white vinegar
a pinch or 2 of salt
a few tablespoons of milk or cream to add at the end to each serving

Heat the milk in a large non reactive (not aluminum) saucepan over medium heat. Stir it often and don't turn up the heat too much because milk likes to stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

Heat until it reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit, 49 degrees Celsius. Turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner. Add the vinegar and give it a good stir, at this point you will start to see the curds separating from the whey. The whey is the greenish liquid. The riboflavin or vitamin B2 gives it that green hue.

Let it sit for 30 minutes undisturbed.

Line a colander with a thin clean tea towel or cheesecloth set over a large bowl. Pour the curds over the colander to strain the whey. Let it sit for 5 minutes.

Now rinse the curds by holding the towel or cheesecloth with the curds in it over cold water. Rinse it for a few minutes, until the curds are cold. While you are rinsing it, break up the curds with your fingers.

Squeeze most of the moisture out of it. Transfer it to a bowl. Add a few pinches of salt and stir. If you will be eating it now, go ahead and mix in a few tablespoons per serving of milk or cream, or yogurt for a creamy texture. If you aren't eating it now, store the curds without anything added in the fridge for a few days.