The Hemp Connection + [whey protein]

Food of the week: Ricotta Cheese

I'd venture to guess that the majority of you readers, at some point in your life, if not now, have had a love-hate relationship with cottage cheese. It's the dieter's food, and you have likely had more than your fair share. This week I've been hearing a lot about ricotta cheese on television, so it seemed like a natural choice for this feature.

I found a great little piece on the Organic Valley website about ricotta cheese:

Ricotta is a creamy white, mild, fresh cheese with a soft texture and a slightly sweet flavor. Traditional Italian cheese-makers originally produced Ricotta from whey left behind in the making of Mozzarella and Provolone (Ricotta translates to"re-cooked"). Organic Valley's Ricotta is made by heating whole and non-fat milk to a high temperature before we add organic vinegar and a touch of salt to form the curd. Good Ricotta is firm but not solid, and consists of a mass of fine, moist, delicate granules. Ounce for ounce, Ricotta has five times more calcium than the cottage cheese it closely resembles. Organic Valley Ricotta is the first organic Ricotta in nationwide distribution. Ricotta is like a fine-textured cottage cheese and can be eaten as is with a little salt, pepper and fresh herbs, although it is more commonly used in Italian pasta dishes and desserts. It is delicious in salads, dips, or with Prosciutto and melon. Ricotta is a favorite in Lasagne, Cannelloni, Manicotti, and in all filled pastas such as Ravioli and Tortellini. As a dessert cheese, Ricotta works well with honey, flavoring, fruit, or chocolate as in Cannoli, and makes an excellent low-fat addition to cheesecake recipes. Excellent accompaniments for Ricotta include berries, tangerines, melon, bagels, sweet rolls, and crusty Italian bread, and light crisp white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc.

This above italicized paragraph is really the nerdy food scientist's way of reciting Little Miss Muffet! When milk is heated and separated, one part becomes the curds (cottage cheese) and the other becomes the whey (ricotta).

Does whey protein sound familiar? It's big with body builders and athletes. But they all tend to do whey protein powder. I'm ok with that, but it seems like most options are flavored and sweetened, and I get bored with that.

The reason whey is so popular is because it seems to help stabilize blood sugar. It also may be one of those foods that helps reduce inflammation. And remember, PCOS is the four letter word for inflammation.

In addition to the ideas Organic Valley provides, consider that if you want pasta, a whole-grain or high protein version used to make cannelloni with ricotta cheese…may not really be all that bad for you. It's a way to tweak an old favorite to your benefit.

Ricotta cheese is usually right near the cottage cheese in the dairy case. If you don't see it, ask for it!