Looking for a little Valentine’s Day treat that won’t blow the macros? I got you, boo boo. But before I give you the recipe, I’m going to tell you the truth about it: this recipe kind of sucks. Um, what? Why would I post a recipe to my blog if it sucks? Well, I didn’t say it totally sucks, I said it just kind of sucks. Okay, it’s actually pretty good if you’re looking for an alternative to a chocolate pudding that’s higher in protein. I use sugar-free pudding blended with cottage cheese and top it with Tru Fru frozen chocolate-covered strawberries to make a pudding-like treat that’s admittedly quite tasty.
So why mention that it kind of sucks? Well, it sucks for me because I spent about three months eating this for dessert almost every day trying to convince myself I liked this far more than ice cream or cookies. And guess what? It’s good, but it ain’t a cookie. When I was actively trying to cut calories and hit my macros, this was my holy grail. If I craved dessert, I would force myself to make sure it was a high-protein snack that hit my goals. Regardless of if I wanted a cookie or a piece of chocolate after dinner, I was getting some kind of blended cottage cheese protein bowl and I was going to like it.
Again, these protein bowls were not icky. They were actually pretty tasty and I did have fun creating different varieties of them. But after a while, calorie/macro counting began to completely suck the joy out of eating and I fell back into some really damaging disordered eating behaviors. There is only so much you can do with a high-protein cottage cheese or yogurt bowl when what you really want is a piece of chocolate. Sometimes, I would want nothing at all but would force myself to eat one of these to “hit my protein macro”. Ergo, macro/calorie counting made these high-protein bowls suck for me.
I’ve had sort of an epiphany in the last two months that is changing my life. I’ve been working with a dietician to correct my disordered eating behaviors. For the last four years, I’ve been hopelessly addicted to dieting. I’ve been on an on-and-off cycle of restricting and binging that has completely wreaked havoc on my sanity. While it’s gotten really bad in the last four years, I’ve actually been fixated on changing how my body looks for the last decade.
There were times when I was trying to bulk up and there were times when I was trying to slim down. But at any given point, I was trying to change my body in some way. I didn’t realize that by continuously overfeeding or restricting myself, I was eroding my natural queues of hunger and satiety. I also became fearful of food and felt like my love of good-tasting food was something I should be ashamed of. I thought that should be fuel and nothing more. By demonizing food groups, counting calories, and implementing endless food rules I totally sucked all the joy out of eating.
Doing this left me in a place where I had no idea how to feed myself without calorie counting. Early in January, when I first started this process, I cried while making pasta because I was afraid to eat it without weighing it. I know, ridiculously dramatic! But I didn’t trust myself to eat. Allowing myself to feed myself freely had a lot of fear attached to it. I felt like if I allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted, I would gain a bunch of weight and never stop eating. Honestly, that did happen for the first month or two. I ate a lot of cookies and even more cookie dough. One day, I ate cookies AND cookie dough for lunch. It was wacky, but I had created a lot of mental deprivation around food. My body’s natural response was to feed itself the things I had forbidden.
But eventually, that honeymoon phase runs its course. Once I realized that cookies and cookie dough for lunch made me feel like a slug the rest of the day, I began to crave other things. But it was, I feel, crucial for me to allow myself this time to make peace with food. I’m about two months into this thing and I’m really starting to view all food as the same. My heart doesn’t palpitate anymore at the sight of a cookie or sweet. The anxiety around eating is dissipating and the freedom of eating is becoming more exciting than scary. I’m beginning to feel myself returning to the way I used to eat as a kid.
Of course, I’m still really new to this process. I am on the right track, for sure, but I still have some ways to go. The urge to restrict is high, especially in this fluffier version of my body. I want to restrict my intake to make it smaller. But I know that if I just trust God with this process and really hone in to pay attention at meal times, my body will settle to the place he designed it. I just need to be patient. Right now I’m trying to focus on enjoying moving my body and feeding it good meals.
These protein bowls could eventually be one of those good meals again. But for now, I need a break from force-feeding myself protein. In the meantime, try this out if you’re in the mood for chocolate pudding and want to try a higher-protein alternative. But if you’re really in the mood for an actual chocolate-covered strawberry…eat the strawberry.
High Protein Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Pudding
- 150 grams Cottage Cheese 2% or 4% works best
- 1/4 carton Sugar Free Jello Pudding Mix chocolate or chocolate fudge
- 1 tbsp Cocoa Powder optional, but creates a richer flavor
- 1/4 tsp Vanilla optional
- 1/2 scoop Protein Powder of Choice optional, can add more or less if desired
- 2 Tru Fru Chocolate Covered Strawberries see notes for substitution
- Okay hold onto your butts because this one's a doozy.
- Dump all ingredients (except your choclate covered strawberry toppings) into a food proxessor.
- Blend until the cottage cheese is no longer lumpy and you have a pudding-like consistency. If you're adding protein powder, it may become quiet dry and thick. Just add your choice of milk to the mix little by little (I'd go like a couple teaspoons at a time) until you've reached a smooth consistency.
- Totally optional – set your mix in the fridge to let it cool, set and thicken up even more. About 30 minutes.
- Chop up your chocolate covered strawberries (or strawverries and chocoalte chips), mix 'em in, and enjoy!
- I find the Tru Fru chocolate-covered strawberries in the freezer aisle at Costco. I’ve also seen them at Sam’s Club, Target and Walmart.
- If you can’t find those bad boys – no worries! Cut up 2 fresh or frozen strawberries and add in milk (or semi-sweet) chocolate chips and white chocolate chips. You’ll get the same effect!