Are you a cheese aficionado who just can’t do without her daily slice of ricotta cheese? Are you pregnant and unsure whether you can indulge in the creaminess of cheese during your special time? If these questions have been swimming in your head, let’s haul you ashore now. Read our post below and learn how safe is it to eat ricotta cheese while pregnant.
What Is Ricotta?
Ricotta is a type of whey cheese from Italy. Ricotta cheese is made mainly from the milk whey of sheep that remains after it has been used to produce cheese. It is also made with the help of the milk whey that is left from the milk of goat, cow or even the Italian water buffalo. Ricotta cheese is made in almost the same process as any other type of whey cheese. To make ricotta cheese, a coagulation process occurs that uses the proteins left behind after the casein has been used. The cheese, in this case, is globulin and albumin.
The term ricotta means something that has been re-cooked. In its original form, ricotta cheese was made with whey and only a small amount of milk was added. In recent times, ricotta cheese is also being made with the help of whole milk. It is mostly popular in the US where the ricotta cheese is called Ricottone (1).
Is It Safe To Eat Ricotta Cheese While Pregnant?
Cheese is a healthy ingredient that you should include in your everyday diet, but while you are pregnant, there can be various limitations and safety concerns. While it is safe to eat some cheeses while you are pregnant, there are others that may pose some or the other risk to you or your unborn baby. Such types of cheese are unsafe as they have the risk of letting the bacteria grow in them that can further lead to various types of infections and health risks. Listeria is one such form of bacteria that is often found in cheese and that can, cause harm to your unborn baby.
There are certain types of cheese that you should avoid when you are pregnant. Soft cheese and mold ripened cheese such as chevre (which is a type of goat cheese); brie and camembert are not safe for consumption while you are pregnant. Some other cheeses that are unsafe while you are pregnant are the various blue-veined cheeses such as Roquefort and Danish blue cheese.
[ Read: Eating Brie Cheese While Pregnant ]
Some types of cheeses that you can try and eat while you are pregnant are the hard and blue veined types of cheeses. Cheese such as stilton will have a lesser risk of containing the listeria bacteria as compared to the soft and mold ripened cheeses.
Soft, mold ripened as well as blue-veined cheeses are made with the use of pasteurized milk, but they still have the chance of having some bacteria in them. It is why you should try and avoid all these types of cheeses while you are pregnant so that you can be on the safe side and enjoy a happy pregnancy.
Ricotta is a soft processed cheese, and it is considered safe to have while you are pregnant. To be safe, make sure you speak to your doctor, and only when she says yes, should you include ricotta cheese during pregnancy diet.
[ Read: Symptoms Of Listeriosis In Pregnancy ]
Health Benefits Of Eating Ricotta Cheese While Pregnant:
Eating ricotta cheese has many health benefits but as we mention above, speak to your doctor first before you eat it during your pregnancy. Here are some of the health benefits of eating ricotta cheese.
Ricotta cheese is a type of soft cheese. Here is a quick look at its nutritional factors:
One serving has a total Calorie count of 339 Calories. This breaks down as 175 Calories from Fat, 51 Calories from Carbohydrate, and 112 Calories from Protein. See the calorie chart below.
One cup of ricotta cheese, which is approximately 246 g contains the following nutrients in the respective ratios mentioned below: (2)
- Calories: 339
- Saturated fat: 61 percent
- Total fat: 30 percent
- Cholesterol: 25 percent
- Sodium: 13 percent
- Potassium: 9 percent
- Total Carbohydrate: 4 percent
- Dietary fiber: 0 percent
- Vitamin A: 19 percent
- Vitamin C: 0 percent
- Calcium: 67 percent
- Iron: 6 percent
[ Read: Calories Required In Pregnancy ]
Half a cup of whole milk ricotta cheese contains about 14 g of protein. It serves for about 28 percent of the daily amount of protein that you should take, and which will help in building your muscles and keeping them healthy. While you are pregnant, the protein you get from ricotta cheese will help your body build new tissues as well as new cells. It will also help your body to produce the required hormones during pregnancy as well as certain other very important chemicals.
[ Read: Protein Rich Foods During Pregnancy ]
Half a cup of whole milk ricotta cheese contains about 257 mg of calcium. It serves for about 26 percent of the daily amount of calcium that you should take, and which will help to make your bones strong and help maintain their health. The calcium you get from ricotta cheese during pregnancy will preserve the health of your bones and your overall skeleton, and will also help to build your unborn baby’s bones.
4. Omega Fatty Acids:
Half a cup of whole milk ricotta cheese contains about 139 mg of omega-3 fatty acids as well as about 339 mg of omega-6 fatty acids. Both the omega-3 fatty acids as well as the omega-6 fatty acids will help in keeping your heart healthy and will help to prevent heart diseases as well as various types of cancer.
Half a cup of whole milk ricotta cheese contains about 20 percent of your phosphorus requirement, 10 percent of your zinc requirement and 26 percent of your selenium requirement for the day.
One full serving of whole milk ricotta cheese contains about 11 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin A, 14 percent of your daily requirement of Riboflavin and close to 7 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin B12.
Side Effects Of Eating Ricotta Cheese While You Are Pregnant:
While it is safe to eat ricotta cheese during pregnancy, there are certain health concerns of eating ricotta cheese while pregnant. Keep the following in mind before you decide to eat some ricotta cheese during your pregnancy:
- Ricotta cheese boasts of extremely dense energy content. Just half a cup of ricotta cheese made from partly skimmed milk contains about 170 calories. Make sure you do not eat too much of the same, as it can be highly dangerous for the health of both your unborn baby and you.
- When you want to eat ricotta cheese while you are pregnant, make sure you avoid eating ricotta cheese that is made out of whole milk as it will have a very high content of fat.
- In case, your doctor has asked you to be on a diet that is low in salt, make sure you have less of ricotta cheese.
Delicious And Easy Recipes Containing Ricotta Cheese:
Once your doctor tells you it is safe to eat ricotta cheese while you are pregnant, try some of the recipes we mention here. If there are certain ingredients that you cannot eat during your pregnancy, make sure to substitute them with something else.
1. Lighter Simple Lasagna Roll-Ups:
You Will Need:
- 8 whole wheat lasagna noodles
- ½ pound of ground turkey or meat of choice
- 6 cloves of crushed garlic
- 1 package of frozen, thawed and drained chopped spinach
- ½ a cup of chopped fresh chives
- ½ a tsp of dried oregano
- ½ a tsp of dried parsley
- ¼thtsp dried basil
- 2 egg whites
- 1 container of reduced fat ricotta cheese
- 2 tbsp. of crumbled low fat feta cheese
- 2 tbsp. of grated parmesan cheese
- ½ tsp of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 jar of low fat tomato pasta sauce
- ½ cup of shredded low fat cheddar cheese
- Salt as per taste
- Water to boil the lasagna noodles
- Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C.
- Pour the water into a large pan and add a bit of salt to it. Place it over high heat and let it start to boil. Cook the lasagna noodles in the water, and as they boil, keep stirring them continuously.
- Keep doing this for about eight minutes or till the lasagna noodles are almost cooked. Once it is done, drain the excess water from the lasagna.
- Add the turkey or your choice of meat on a non-stick skillet and place it over a medium heat. Add the garlic and stir until the meat turns a nice brown color. As the turkey cooks, break it into smaller pieces until it is no longer pink at any spot. It may take up to ten minutes but keep doing it till all the pink is gone, and it is completely brown.
- Now add the spinach and give it all a nice stir. Add the chives, the oregano, the parsley and the basil and keep cooking it till it starts to get heated up and starts to release the aroma. Once you can feel that it is done, remove it from the heat.
- In a separate bowl add the egg whites and beat them slightly. Now add the ricotta cheese, the feta cheese, and the Parmesan cheese to the bowl of egg whites. Add the black pepper to season the egg mix. Next, add the ground turkey mixture to the cheese and egg mix.
- On a sheet of waxed paper place the cooked lasagna noodles and make sure they are all flat. Divide the filling equally into portions and roll it up into balls. Now place a ball of filling on one end of the noodle and roll the pasta in such a way that it goes all up around the filling part. Keep repeating the same steps with all the remaining filling and the noodles.
- Next, spread a thin layer of the pasta sauce on the bottom of a baking dish and place the rolls in the dish, so that the sides of the seams are facing downwards. Add the remaining pasta sauce over the rolls and sprinkle some cheddar cheese on the top. Cover the dish with the help of some aluminum foil.
- Place the dish in the oven and bake it for about 40 minutes or till the topping of cheese has started to melt and the sauce has started to bubble over.
2. Ricotta Cheese Pancake:
You Will Need:
- 3 tbsp. of all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp of granular sugar
- 1 tsp of baking powder
- ¼thcup of egg substitute
- ½ cup of non-fat ricotta cheese
- 2 ounces of fresh blueberries
- In a bowl mix the flour, the granular sugar, and the baking powder and toss it till everything is completely covered.
- Now add in the egg substitute as well as the ricotta cheese and keep stirring it till everything is mixed properly.
- Once it is all done add in the blueberries.
- Place a girdle over medium heat and once it is hot pour a ¼thcup of the batter onto the center of the same. Keep cooking till you can see the bubbles forming on the top. Once you see the bubbles gently flip the pancake over and let it cook on the other side till it turns brown.
- Get the pancake from the heat and serve with more cheese or honey.
3. Fast And Easy Ricotta Cheese Pizza With Mushrooms, Broccoli, And Chicken:
You Will Need:
- 1 tbsp. of butter
- 1 skinless and boneless breast part of chicken cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 container of ricotta cheese
- 1 tsp of garlic powder
- 1 tsp of dried oregano
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper as per taste
- 1 pre-baked pizza crust
- 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup of freshly chopped broccoli
- 1 can of drained and sliced mushrooms
- Preheat the oven to 165 degrees C
- Place a skillet over medium heat and once it starts to get hot, place a tbsp. of butter in the center.
- Once the butter starts to melt, add the chicken and keep cooking it till the chicken does not remain pink any longer and its juices start to run clear. It may take up to seven to ten minutes but in case you still see any pink bits, make sure to keep cooking till all the pink is gone. Now remove the chicken from the heat and place it aside.
- In a separate microwave-safe bowl, add the ricotta cheese, one tbsp. of butter, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper and mix it all up nicely till everything is covered in the mix.
- Place the bowl in the microwave and heat it for about a minute. Mix it well again so that it all combines.
- Now take out the mix and spread it over the pizza crust. Evenly spread the mozzarella cheese over the pizza and next, add the chicken pieces, the broccoli and the mushrooms on top.
- Place the pizza back in the oven and bake it for about 20 minutes or till the cheese has completely melted.
[ Read: Effects Of Eating Pizza During Pregnancy ]
4. Chicken Alfredo With Fettuccini Noodles:
You Will Need:
- 1 pound of fettuccini pasta
- 1 ½ cups of butter
- 1 pound of skinless and boneless halved chicken breasts cut up into cubes
- 2 containers of whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 pint of heavy cream
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
- Salt as per taste
- Add the water in a pan and add some salt. Place it on heat and bring it to a boil.
- Once the water begins to boil, add the fettuccini and cook it for about eight to ten minutes, or till it starts to turn tender. Once it does turn tender, drain it from the water and set it aside.
- In the meanwhile, put a large skillet on the heat and once it becomes hot, add the butter in the center. As the butter starts to melt add the chicken and keep cooking it on medium heat. Keep cooking the chicken till it is no longer pink and its juices start to run clear. If you notice any pink spots on the chicken cook it a little more till all the pink has turned to brown.
- In another big pan add the ricotta cheese, the cream, the salt, the Parmesan cheese and the remaining amount of butter. Keep cooking this over medium heat for about ten minutes or till all the ingredients inside are properly mixed. Now add in the cooked fettuccini and the chicken and keep cooking it till it heats up properly.
5. Ricotta Cake:
You Will Need:
- 1 package of yellow cake mix
- 2 pounds of ricotta cheese
- ¾thcup of white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- Butter for greasing the pan
- Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C
- Take a baking pan and grease it using some butter. Now read the directions on the package of the cake and make the cake accordingly.
- In another bowl, add the ricotta cheese, the sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Keep stirring it all together till all the ingredients are coated in properly. Make sure you keep whisking it all till the mix turns into a smooth batter. Now slowly drop the mix using a spoon on top of the cake that you have just prepared. Make sure you do it slowly and use a spoon to drop the mix as small portions.
- Place the cake in the oven and bake it for about 1 and ½ hours at a temperature of 175 degrees C. Keep cooking it till the center of the cake is properly set. You can try to insert a toothpick inside the cake and see if it comes out clean and without any mix in it.
- Once the cake is completely ready get it out of the oven and place it outside to cool. Now add some of the confectioners’ sugar on top of the cake once it has turned cool. Keep the cake in the fridge and let it set.
6. Ricotta Cheese Cookies:
You Will Need:
- 2 cups of white sugar
- 1 cup of softened butter
- 2 tsp of vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 4 cups of all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp. of baking powder
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1 ½ cups of confectioners’ sugar
- 3 tbsp. of milk
- Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C
- In a big bowl mix the sugar and the butter till it is properly combined. Keep whisking for about five minutes or till the mix turns fluffy. Next add in the ricotta cheese, the vanilla and the eggs and beat everything again till it is all smooth and has mixed well.
- Now add the flour, the baking powder, and the salt. Keep mixing and stirring till the mix turns into a kind of soft dough.
- Line the baking sheets with parchment paper. Now take the mix and add the dough on the baking sheet. Make sure that you place the lumps of dough at least two inches apart.
- Bake it for about 15 minutes at a temperature of 175 degrees C. Take the cookies out of the rack using a spatula and keep them aside to cool.
- Spread the icing on the cookies once they are cool and sprinkle some decoration if you wish.
[ Read: Bocconcini Cheese During Pregnancy ]
When you are pregnant, it is important to be extremely sure of what you are eating, so that both your baby and you are safe and healthy. Speak to your doctor about eating ricotta cheese and follow all medical directions carefully.
Did you ask your doctor about eating ricotta cheese while you were pregnant? What did your doctor tell you about it? Did she ask you to continue eating it or did she ask you to avoid it? Tell us your story in the comment section below.
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