You may or may not know this–or perhaps you might have guessed with my last name, “Scarlata” that I am married into an Italian family. My husband’s dad, Tony, is 100% Italian and I have so many fond memories with his parents and uncle over the years. My husband Russ’ grandmother (Nana Scarlata) was an amazing cook and she loved to see anyone eat her delicious home-cooked foods! I remember my first visit to Nana’s home included a very large Sunday dinner that was SO good–but so filling! I actually went straight home and fell fast asleep at 5 PM. Ha!
We love to incorporate Italian foods into our holiday menu. Antipasto is a must… and Russ’ brother Al is the king at making it for all of us. This year we will have raviolis and meatballs–Russ is on a mission to serve them this year. And, I thought I would try my hand at a low FODMAP ricotta cookie. Because, I am all about the holiday sweet treats!
And, I nailed it.
Yes, this cookie recipe contain one cup of ricotta cheese.
Is ricotta cheese low FODMAP?
It’s all in the portion size, just like most foods and FODMAPs!
This section contains some updates from the original post.
Although ricotta cheese is listed as a “yellow light” in the Monash app– this recipe contains 1 cup for 2 dozen cookies, which equates to a small (and acceptable) amount per serving (2 cookies).
Ricotta cheese can vary in the lactose content depending on the product, most range from 2- 3 grams per serving which is noted as 1/4 cup in the US.
When the ricotta cheese is strained well, there will be less lactose (the lactose is in the wet part of milk). The lactose in ricotta cheese should be noted on the sugar line of the nutrition fact panel. The ricotta cheese I selected had 0 grams of sugar per serving, which prompted me to think it was very low lactose, initially. US labeling laws can note that something has zero grams on the nutrition fact label but the product may still contain up to 0.5 grams of that nutrient. However, after doing a bit more research, the item I purchased likely has 3 grams of lactose per serving, this amount was noted in the carbohydrate line of the nutrition panel vs. the sugar line. Not sure why the manufacturer did that–but lactose is the primary carbohydrate in cheese.
So how does the ricotta in my recipe work for those on a low FODMAP diet? Let’s do some math!
1 cup of ricotta cheese in my recipe (depending on the product you use) would contain 8- 12 grams of lactose.
If you divided the 8 grams of lactose by the 24 cookies, this equates to 0.3 grams of lactose per cookie or 0.66 grams for 2 cookies, and you are below the Monash University FODMAP cut off for lactose (see info below).
If the entire recipe contains 12 grams of lactose (example: if you used a product with 3 grams of lactose per 1/4 cup serving), this would equate to 0.5 grams of lactose per 1 cookie or 1 gram of lactose per 2 cookies.. still okay for low FODMAP diet followers in my book!
So, again, I will come at you with my mantra, “please don’t over-restrict your diet unnecessarily!”
How much lactose is allowed in a food to be deemed low FODMAP per Monash U? < 1 gram of lactose per serving, reference here.
For my ricotta cheese cookies, I used Calabro Part Skim Ricotta cheese that I purchased at my local Whole Foods market. This product list zero grams of sugar but likely contains 3 grams of lactose as noted by the 3 grams of carbohydrate listed on the nutrition facts panel.
For those of you trying to find a very low lactose ricotta cheese, and can’t find one low enough in lactose for your personal tolerance, another option to try is Friendship Farmer Cheese. This cheese option is very low lactose and has a similar consistency and flavor –slightly drier–than ricotta cheese. If you choose to try this–I might cut back on the gluten free flour blend a bit and use 2 cups. Where can you friend Friendship Farmer cheese? This links to their store locator.
When reading a label for a food product made only of traditional cow’s milk (no fruit or other sweeteners added), such as many cheeses, plain yogurt, and plain milk, then the sugar column on the nutrition fact label will typically represent the amount of lactose in the product. Lactose is the sugar in milk products. When it comes to ricotta cheese ingredients–some products add other carbohydrates such as xanthan gum–I like prefer to use one with just milk and vinegar. The vinegar curdles the milk and when this happens most of the lactose is drained off with the liquid, leaving the final ricotta cheese low-ish in lactose.
So there is that. If my explanation is confusing to you–please just leave me a comment or question. I am happy to help you.
Now…for those interested, here are my yummy low FODMAP Italian Ricotta Cookies.
- Makes about 2 dozen cookies, serving size 2 cookies
- 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 1/4 cup gluten free flour blend (I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Flour blend 1 to 1)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (use gluten free, if following GF diet)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 tablespoons milk of choice
- Suitable sprinkles such as decorative sugar or nonpareils (use gluten free, if following GF diet)
- In stand alone mixer or medium bowl with electric beaters, cream butter and sugar together.
- Add ricotta cheese, egg, vanilla and orange zest.
- Slowly add in gluten free flour blend along with baking powder and baking soda, until all the dry ingredients are mixed in.
- Place dough in the refrigerator until slightly cooled, about 1-2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Roll dough into balls using about 1 1/2 tablespoon of dough per ball or use a 1 1/2 tablespoon scoop to form cookies. (I like using a scoop as it keeps all the cookies uniform in shape!)
- Place cookies about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
- Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes. They should be lightly browned on bottom and sides but not over baked. (you want a somewhat dough-y center)
- Let cookies cool and create glaze.
- Mix melted butter with confectioner's sugar, almond extract and milk until creamy. Glaze should be somewhat runny as you want to dip the cooled cookies into the glaze.
- When cookies are cooled, prepare your sprinkles and icing in your work area.
- Dip the cookie top side down into glaze. Rest on cooling rack top-side up, and sprinkle immediately with suitable sprinkles or nonpareils.