Women say they have never felt better swapping their lunches out for this highly unsexy meal, but is it actually healthy?
If you’ve spent any time on the wellness internet, you know influencers are constantly sharing health concoctions—some new, some rediscovered—that promise results ranging from better sleep to increased stamina. Some of us have been influenced to scour Whole Foods in search of chia seeds and spirulina to blend into smoothies, to chug lemon water and bone broth, and to sample a vast array of allegedly gut-fixing probiotics.
To participate in the latest TikTok wellness trend, though, you just need a few very unsexy ingredients: cottage cheese, yellow mustard, and as many raw veggies as you can stomach.
Known alternatively as the cottage cheese and mustard diet, the mustard and cottage cheese plate, or just the viral healthy meal, this latest health trend is sweeping the internet, with millions of views on TikTok and tons of people trying it for themselves.
Unlike other wellness trends, though, this meal is absurdly simple and decidedly lowbrow. It consists of placing each item on a plate, usually alongside a chicken sausage for some form of protein, and dipping the uncooked veggies (popular choices are broccoli, carrots, hearts of palm, and brussels sprouts) in both the mustard and the cottage cheese. No cooking, blending, or juicing required.
It may look unappetizing to some of us (hi, it’s me, I’m some of us), but thousands of women on the app are swearing it’s not only delicious but has health benefits as well.
“I genuinely feel much better, less bloated. I have more energy and have noticed less sugar cravings in just as little as four days, which is insane to me,” one fan of the meal, Analisa Pizarro, tells Glamour. She’d posted a video to TikTok of herself trying it for the first time after being caught in what she called TikTok’s “chokehold” and says she has eaten it multiple times since.
“The combination of mustard and cottage cheese is surprisingly good. The veggies dipped in both are my favorite,” she says.
The viral concoction is the brainchild of Tiffany Magee, the self-proclaimed Mustard Queen of TikTok. (Glamour was unable to speak with Magee for this article.) Magee started sharing her weight-loss journey on Instagram in 2016 and has since lost approximately 80 pounds and gained more than 1 million followers on TikTok and Instagram combined.
@tiffanyymagee Cottage cheese and mustard #lunch #weightloss #eatlunchwithme #mustard #applesausage #veggieswithmustard #asmr #crunchy #crunchylunch #healthyrecipes #healthylifestyle #chickensausage #applechickensausage #mukbang ♬ original sound - TiffanyElizabeth | Weight Loss
Magee frequently posts videos of herself eating the meal to her TikTok account. Part mukbang (a Korean online video trend in which people film themselves eating), part ASMR, and part fitspo, her videos have exploded on the app, racking up millions and millions of views. The effect is hypnotic; she announces each item one by one (chicken sausage with mustard, carrot with mustard, heart of palm with mustard) before dragging it through the yellow-white mixture and crunching it loudly.
She also posts many videos of herself eating other things, though the frequency of yellow mustard in every meal is a constant (she says she has sold 2,000 copies and counting of her e-book Live Laugh Mustard).
While her diet may seem strange to some, and may cause others’ stomachs to cramp with fear from looking at all those raw vegetables, Magee says online that she delights each day in her mustard feast.
“You guys keep asking if I get sick of this, but honestly I was waiting until lunch time so that I could eat it again,” she said in a recent video.
Magee’s concoction has coincided with the rise of cottage cheese as a trendy health food staple on the app, which is how the meal caught the eye of content creator Jordan Turner.
“I honestly forgot cottage cheese even existed until it had its glow-up on TikTok recently, so I’ve been very vested in trying new, creative ways to eat it,” Turner tells Glamour. “This combination of hearts of palm, cottage cheese, and mustard sounded so weird, but it was everywhere. Let’s just say I’m easily influenced.”
@myhealthydish Cottage cheese with mustard @TiffanyElizabeth | Weight Loss #cottagecheeseandmustard ♬ original sound - My Nguyen
Like Pizarro, Turner did a live video reacting to her first taste test of the meal, although her bites were a bit more hesitant than Magee’s enthusiastic chomps. She says the lunch was “surprisingly good.”
“There’s a lot of different textures going on between the hearts of palm and cottage cheese, but somehow it works,” she says. “Don’t knock it ’til you try it.”
Many fans of the meal tout it as a “healthy” or “clean” meal specifically for weight loss, or at least for maintaining a healthy diet. So we asked Serena Poon, a certified nutritionist and Le Cordon Bleu–trained chef who runs her own wellness and lifestyle brand, Serena Loves, to weigh in on the health benefits of the meal. She tells Glamour that several of the components are indeed extremely nutritious, perhaps most obviously the wide array of raw veggies.
“The incorporation of a variety of raw vegetables in this diet is commendable. Raw vegetables in particular are high in fiber, which promotes healthy digestion, feelings of fullness, and gut health,” she says.
Poon also approves of cottage cheese as a “valuable source of protein and calcium,” though she notes it’s worth not going overboard on the trend.
@thatcheeseplate TASTE TEST: the viral mustard and cottage cheese plate with a ✨ that cheese plate ✨ twist! Influenced by @@TiffanyElizabeth | Weight Loss #mustard #mustardtok ♬ Wes Anderson-esque Cute Acoustic - Kenji Ueda
“The rise of the cottage cheese trend on TikTok should not lead people to believe it’s the single healthiest way to nourish their bodies,” she says. “Dairy-free calcium options abound, such as leafy greens, like spinach and collard greens, and tofu. Varying your diet day by day is key to ensuring a wide range of nutrient intake.”
She’s less enthusiastic about the chicken sausage, because processed meats have been linked with an increase of certain types of cancer. As for the mustard, she says, “consuming mustard daily won’t unlock miraculous health benefits, [but] incorporating it into a balanced, plant-forward diet can contribute positively to overall health.”
In general, Poon says, we should all seek to eat a wide array of foods that provide several different nutrients, rather than fixate on one meal or one ingredient as the be-all and end-all to wellness.
“Remember: Variety and balance in your diet, rather than an exclusive focus on individual foods, play the most significant role in achieving and maintaining good health,” she says.
But even if TikTok’s cottage cheese and mustard meal with veggies goes out of style soon, it seems the cottage cheese and mustard renaissance is here to stay. Just ask Turner, who’s already dreaming up new things to dip in the mixture.
“I always have cottage cheese on hand, so I think I’ll continue to try other veggies dipped in the creamy-mustard mixture too,” she says. “But next on my list is scrambled eggs, cottage cheese and mustard—TikTok tells me that’s incredible.”
This article was originally published on Glamour US.