If you’re tired of Greek yogurt for breakfast, there are other options out there. Cottage cheese is an easy, budget-friendly alternative that’s been around forever. But if you want to shake things up, try quark — a tangy, soft cheese made by warming soured milk until it curdles and saving the protein-rich curds that form at the top. (Don’t worry, the milk is soured on purpose with naturally occurring acid.)
While quark is gaining popularity in the United States, it’s been a staple in several European cuisines for years, and is used to make things like German Käsekuchen (a kind of cheesecake) and Polish pierogies (a ravioli-like filled dough traditionally stuffed with quark and mashed potatoes). Because of the way it’s made, it’s considered an acid-set cheese, along with other mild soft cheeses like cottage cheese, queso blanco and paneer.
Although it’s technically a cheese, the quark sold in the U.S. is more similar to yogurt and labneh. It’s thicker than regular yogurt, but still spoonable. And while it’s got some tang, it’s relatively mild overall. You can find it in grocery stores across the country, sold in large containers and individual ones.
Although the exact nutrition information varies by brand, a 6-ounce container of plain quark from Elli Quark clocks in at 90 calories, 6g carbs, 0g fat, 17g protein and 60mg sodium per serving. Since it’s relatively low in calories and sodium and high in protein, it’s a satiating, healthy choice. It’s also low in saturated fat, which is good news for heart health.
- Use it to thicken fruit smoothies or as a base for parfaits. If you want to add some protein to a fruit smoothie but don’t like the taste of protein powder, quark is a much milder alternative. It’ll also add creamy thickness. You can also try layering spoonfuls of quark with nuts, granola and fruit.
- Use it as a mayo substitute. If you’re looking for a lower fat, higher protein alternative to mayo, quark fits the bill. Use it as the creamy base for chicken or tuna salad or as a spread on BLTs and other deli sandwiches. You can also mix it with some olive oil, vinegar and seasoning for a simple DIY salad dressing.
- Use it in place of sour cream. Taco Tuesday isn’t the same without a creamy garnish, so go ahead and try quark as a sour cream substitute. It’s lower in fat and has a milder flavor, so it won’t overpower or take away from whatever else is on your plate.
- Add it to pasta or casseroles. If you love casserole dishes but don’t love the amount of butter, heavy cream or sour cream they often call for, you can swap quark for half (and sometimes all) of the high-fat dairy the recipe calls for. The same goes for creamy pasta dishes — go a little lighter on the heavy cream and add a few spoonfuls of quark instead.
- Turn it into a decadent dessert. Bake your favorite fruit pie and top it with a couple of spoonfuls of quark instead of whipped cream.
Discover hundreds of healthy recipes — from high protein to low carb — via “Recipe Discovery” in the MyFitnessPal app. Save your favorites and log directly to your diary.