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Meet Quark, Your New Favorite Superfood

It's like Greek yogurt and cream cheese had a super healthy baby
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Have you heard of quark? Nope, we're not talking subatomic particles here — we're talking superfoods. Though quark is widely available, it's not as trendy as, say Greek yogurt, so not everyone is familiar with the stuff. But you know what? It's well-worth getting to know.

"Quark is a high protein, fat-free, fresh soft cheese that has a similar creamy texture to sour cream without all the fat and calories," explains nutritionist Janine Whiteson, MS. "While it draws similarities to cream cheese, cottage cheese and Greek yogurt, it's much healthier!" She notes that it's higher in protein and calcium and much lower in fat than cream cheese, lower in salt than cottage cheese and much lower in sugar than yogurt. It has twice the protein than Greek yogurt while also including the gut-friendly probiotics that yogurt does. "Quark is also a great source of vitamin K, which is essential to healthy living, but not talked about often enough — it helps keep calcium in the bones where it's needed and out of the blood vessels where it can cause stiffness."

And in addition to all those benefits, quark is quite the versatile ingredient: "Being similar in texture to yogurt and cream cheese, quark can be mixed with fresh fruits, granola, nuts and honey, salads, spreads, dips and more and many recipes can substitute regular cheese or sour cream for quark," says Dr. Luiza Petre, a weight loss and management specialist and cardiologist.

Image via Westend61/Getty

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What type of quark should you try?
Popular in Scandinavian, German and Eastern European countries, Dr. Petre notes that quark originally was equivalent to homemade additive-free cheese, but as it has infiltrated the U.S. market, different brands have popped up with sweetened and "flavors added" versions. That said, quark should have no added sugars or salts and Dr. Petre recommends only buying brands that are using organic or grass-fed cows with little to no additives.

Whiteson singles out Vermont Creamery as one of her favorite brands. "If you're looking for flavored, no sugar added quark, a company that you can trust is Elli Quark; their products are sweetened with stevia, which is very rare to find in the U.S. diary market today."

Image via Aleksandra Baranova/Getty

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Any downsides to quark?
"I really see no downsides at all," says Whiteson. "I guess if you're lactose intolerant or for someone that finds that dairy bothers them, they should stay away from quark. Also, vegans of course, because they can't eat dairy."

That said, according to Dr. Petre, quark is considered a low lactose and low FODMAP (aka Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols), which means it's easy to digest and safe to eat for anyone who suffers from irritable or sensitive bowels. And since it has less lactose than yogurt or milk, some lactose intolerants may be able to give it a try.

Image via milanfoto/Getty

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How do you eat quark?
With all that in mind, we turned to none other than the The Queen of Quark and asked her to share four of her favorite quark-based recipes. Born and raised in Bavaria, Germany, she has made it her mission to introduce this superfood to the rest of the world and teach people about its benefits.

Image via Yulia-Images/Getty

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Herb Quark
Serves 2

· 1 cup quark
· 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
· 4 tablespoons seasonal herbs
· 1 clove of garlic
· Salt and pepper
· Fresh basil, for garnish

Peel the garlic and crush finely. Mix all ingredients, season to taste with salt and pepper and let it sit for a while. Use herb quark as a fresh dip for vegetables, meat or with boiled potatoes.

Image and recipe via Queen of Quark

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