Ricotta: the light and soft dairy product, good even if you are on a diet

Ricotta: the light and soft dairy product, good even if you are on a diet

According to experts from the New York University Food Lab, cottage cheese is ideal for anyone who is looking to build muscle while losing fat and weight.

Used mainly as an ingredient to fill fresh pasta or desserts, ricotta is born from the cooking of the whey obtained during the production of cheese. For this reason, to be picky, when it comes to ricotta it should not be defined as a cheese but a dairy product, at least by Italian law, which reserves the name “cheese” for products obtained directly from milk.

As the name implies, it is cooked twice (ricotta, in fact), first when the milk is heated to produce the cheese and then during the heating of the resulting whey. All dairy products produced in this way, with the whey of different animals, can be called ricotta, regardless of whether they are fresh or seasoned.

In recent years it has been re-evaluated not only as an ingredient, but also as a dish. And with good reason, because not only is it a tasty and light food, but it is capable of bringing – like all dairy products – countless health benefits. Even if you are on a diet.

Types of cottage cheese

Ricotta can be prepared using different types of milk. The best known one comes from cow’s milk, but there is also ricotta made from sheep’s milk, much fatter and with a more persistent and sweet aroma than the first. Some manufacturers prepare ricotta using both types of milk, and the resulting product is called mixed ricotta.

Very famous, especially in Campania, is buffalo ricotta. Finally, there is also that of goat, characteristic of the Valtellina area. These types of products are very particular, have a characteristic taste and an intense aroma.

Thing contains

100 g of cow’s milk ricotta provides only 146 calories, rising to 157 for that of sheep and 212 for that of buffalo. A product that has a good nutritional level as it contains:

  • A good percentage of protein (about 11 g per 100 grams of product).
  • A low level of carbohydrates, which stand at just 3 grams.
  • The quantities of fat, on the other hand, vary according to the type of milk used. It is possible to buy so-called “light” or low-fat products, prepared with semi-skimmed milk.
  • It is also rich in minerals and vitamins, excellent for the proper functioning of the body. In particular, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium are present in good quantities as regards minerals, while the vitamins in greater quantities are B2, B3 and B5, vitamin A and vitamin E.

Benefits for health

Whey protein is one of the most absorbable forms of protein and contains a very wide range of amino acids, making it “the best solution for anyone looking to build muscle, strength and lose fat and weight at the same time,” said Emily. Martorano, dietician of the New York University (Nyu) Food Lab weight management program, as it is less caloric and less rich in fat than other dairy products.

However, the main forms of fats brought by ricotta are saturated and cholesterol: if on the one hand, therefore, it is considered one of the most suitable dairy products in nutritional therapy for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia, it is good not to overdo the portions.

It should also be remembered that it is also rich in sodium – albeit to a lesser extent than other cheeses – whose daily intake should not exceed 2 g.

The ideal dose? 100-150 g no more than 2 times a week.


Ricotta is a fresh dairy product and, once the tray in which it is contained is opened, it must be consumed within 1-2 days at the most. In fact, it is a product that deteriorates very quickly and must be thrown away if a change in its organoleptic properties is observed, that is, if an acid aroma prevails instead of the classic milk flavor. Furthermore, it can no longer be consumed if a yellowish patina forms on the surface of the product, which means its deterioration.


Very good to spread on bread, perhaps with a veil of honey and a grain of freshly chopped pistachios, the best way to consume ricotta in all its goodness is, thus, natural. Also ideal, diluted with a little hot water, to season pasta.

But perhaps it is precisely because of its versatility that it is so loved in the kitchen. And here it becomes the ingredient of choice to prepare delicious meatballs mixed with ricotta to which is added breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, a pinch of salt, freshly ground black pepper and grated lemon zest. It also goes very well with courgettes, as in this baked version.

And in desserts it then reaches its highest peaks. As a filling for cannoli or pastiera or reduced in mousse and served with strawberries in Moscati d’Asti Docg.

Homemade ricotta

According to the experts of Assolatte (Italian Dairy Association), making ricotta at home is quick and easy. Just heat 1 liter of milk in a saucepan until it reaches 90 ° C. While the milk is on the fire, the juice of half a lemon is squeezed and filtered through a colander, and then added to the hot milk removed from the heat. Stir for a couple of minutes with a whisk and cover the pan with a lid, letting it rest. After about ten minutes the curd will be ready and will be broken using a wooden spoon. After a couple of minutes, the curd is passed in a colander placed on a container: the whey thus settles on the bottom while the solid part remains in the colander and is transferred to another perforated container (for example a colander) where it is can drain.

When the ricotta has dried, you can put it in another container, cover it with a cloth and transfer to the refrigerator. When it is solid, it will be ready to consume (usually 3 hours).

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