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Diet Foods That are Worth Eating Because They Can Taste Good: How to Prepare Rice Cakes, Cottage Cheese, and Cabbage

Diet Culture and Diet Food

Over the years, diet trends bring foods to the center of diet culture. Rice cakes, cottage cheese, and cabbage are often called diet foods. These foods are low in calories for a relatively large volume of food. Rice cakes, cottage cheese, and cabbage are sometimes eaten on mono-diets--that is, a diet that only allows one food. Other times, these foods are centerpieces of diets of varying degrees of restrictiveness.

In diet culture, dieting is understood to be suffering, and praise is placed on those who can withstand the misery of the diet and triumphantly stick to it for as long as they can. Minimal if any emphasis is placed on eating for hedonics, and good taste is usually associated with "bad" food and guilt.

Along with their identity as a diet food, rice cakes, cottage cheese, and cabbage have also have gained a reputation of tasting bad. Diet foods have historically been the paradox of tasting good, so if it is a diet food, it just can't taste good.

Before going further, I think it is important to give a nod to how humans perceive food and the normal hedonics of eating. Humans have a natural tendency to prefer and crave foods that are salty, sweet, or high in fat. Those foods have an extra boost of pleasure. This does not mean that other foods must taste bad. They are just unlikely to reach the same level of physiological crave as the salty, sweet, or high in fat foods. With foods that are naturally craved less, more attention must be placed on preparation to ensure that the food does incite hedonic desire.

This brings me back to the topic. Rice cakes, cottage cheese, and cabbage are not diet foods. They are just foods. They can taste bad, or they can taste good. Here is how to make rice cakes, cottage cheese, and cabbage taste good.

Cottage cheese with fruit

Rice Cakes

  • Rice cakes with nut butter and fruit. Rice cakes make a great vehicle. Top with almond butter, peanut butter, or a mixed nut butter. Then layer on sliced bananas, blueberries, or strawberries. This gives you decadence from the salty peanut butter along with the sweet fruit. The varied textures also add to the experience.

  • Rice cakes with tuna and tomato. Try chunk light or albacore tuna mixed with enough mayo to make the tuna easily spreadable. Add black pepper or garlic powder for more flavor, and dice in scallions or pickles for a zing. After spreading on your rice cake, top with a thinly sliced beefsteak tomato. Make sure you add your toppings right before eating so your rice cake won't get soggy.

  • Rice cakes with turkey. First add guacamole or hummus as a spread. Then top with a slice or two of turkey lunchmeat. You can add thinly sliced cucumbers and microgreens for added crunch and freshness. Sprinkle with everything bagel seasoning for more flavor and texture.

Cottage Cheese

  • Cottage cheese parfait. Layer your cottage cheese in a bowl with fresh berries or stone fruit. If you want softer mix-ins, use defrosted frozen fruit. Top with some crunchy cereal to add in textural complexity to your dish.

  • Cottage cheese pancakes. These are yummy and comforting. If the texture of cottage cheese is not appealing to you, this is a good way to introduce the flavor without the mouthfeel becoming off-putting. Top your cottage cheese pancakes with syrup and berries like you would top any other pancake.

  • Pasta with cottage cheese. Using cottage cheese as the cheesy component of a pasta recipe can add filling power to your meal while enjoying easy comfort food. Cottage cheese won't melt like your mozzarella, but is does get somewhat melty. Combine with other cheese for a fully melty experience.


  • Cabbage and meat. These foods are combined in the traditional dish of stuffed cabbage, but the flavors are equally delicious when you make it "unstuffed." Add shredded cabbage, seasoned ground beef, and tomato sauce to your pot. As it cooks, it will turn into a stew consistency that serves wonderfully over mashed potatoes or rice.

  • Marinated cabbage salad. Start with a bag of shredded cole slaw mix. Add in some chopped scallion and dress with oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and some sugar. After letting the salad marinate, top with chopped salted almonds. This salad has a pleasant mixture of flavors and textures. Eat it as a side or stuff into a sandwich.

  • Roasted cabbage wedges. This preparation method brings out the natural sweetness that is hidden in cabbage. Slice a head of cabbage into wedges trying to keep the core intact so the slices remain mostly as single pieces. Spread flat on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and rub both surfaces with oil. Roast on both sides until the wedges are browning. Once out of the oven, drizzle with tahini paste.

Eating Diet Food Because it Tastes Good

Remember that food is just food. You do not have to choose between diet food that tastes bad and unhealthy food that tastes good. All food you eat can taste good. If you want to revisit rice cakes, cottage cheese, or cabbage, try them because they are good foods, not because they are diet foods.

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