"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.
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What type of quark should you try?
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."
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Any downsides to quark?
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.
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How do you eat quark?
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· 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