Paneer or cottage cheese as it is popularly known is the non-melting farmer cheese prepared by curdling of milk usually with lemon juice or vinegar. Paneer is a common ingredient in many Asian dishes, especially in the Indian sub-continent. But pregnancy diet is very different as it requires to avoid some of the most common foods and include some of the rarest foods for healthy growth and development of the baby. So is it safe to eat paneer during pregnancy? And if yes then in what quantity. Let us analyse it here.
Is it safe to eat paneer during pregnancy?
If this is the question that is bothering you, then the answer is yes. It is very much safe to eat paneer while pregnant. The following are the various health benefits of including cottage cheese in your daily diet as well as the precautions one should take while consuming paneer in pregnancy.
Benefits of Paneer during Pregnancy:
Paneer, among other dairy products, is an important staple diet for many of us. It is also referred to as ‘chenna’ or ‘cottage cheese’. Paneer is known to be an extremely good source of essential nutrients that are essential for healthy growth and development of your baby. During pregnancy, it is always advisable to eat 2-3 snacks between your regular meals. Paneer makes excellent food to satiate your hunger cravings during the odd hours. Cook a few pieces of paneer with some spices or add it to your salad. Learn more about the fantastic health benefits of eating paneer while you are expecting:
1. Boosts the stamina:
Protein provides the extra energy required to ward off pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, morning sickness, anaemia and fatigue. 100 g of paneer can give as much as 265Kcal of energy.
2. Lowers the chances of congenital disabilities:
Paneer is rich in Amino acids, namely Omega-3, which reduces the possibilities of any congenital disabilities or preterm labour.
3. Meets Your Protein Requirement:
Protein is essential for the right development and growth of the muscles and tissues of your baby, in the earlier stages. Paneer being a powerhouse of protein is therefore enormously beneficial for the expectant mothers during pregnancy.
4. Helps In Bone and Teeth Formation:
Paneer is loaded with phosphorous and calcium that is essential for the healthy development of teeth and bones of the foetus. Besides eating paneer during pregnancy, it also helps to prevent demineralisation of bones in pregnant women. The calcium in paneer also aids the functioning of the circulatory and nervous systems.
5. Assists in Weight Management:
Eating paneer during pregnancy is also associated with monitoring body weight during pregnancy. It is known to an excellent snack that is very filling and does not provide unwanted calories.
6. Anti-Inflammatory Properties:
Paneer has excellent anti-inflammatory properties that help to overcome some of the common problems occurring in pregnant such as joint pains and swelling.
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Side-effects of paneer in pregnancy:
Anything in excess needs to be avoided as it can do more harm than good, and the same holds true for excess consumption of paneer during pregnancy. The following are the harmful effects of overeating paneer for a pregnant lady.
- Over-consumption of paneer may trigger some digestive issues and also cause food poisoning.
- Overeating of paneer may raise the sodium level in the body, which in turn will interfere with the blood pressure.
- Too much paneer products may result in weight gain.
Precautions to take before eating paneer during pregnancy:
The listeria infection that is caused by eating cheese is the only reason why expectant mothers become hesitant in consuming paneer. However, it should be noted that only paneer made from unpasteurized milk is most likely to cause listeria infection. Therefore to safely enjoy eating paneer during your pregnancy period, make sure that you are only eating the ones prepared from pasteurised milk.
Also never give in to your urge to eat raw or uncooked paneer while you are pregnant. Paneer made from either pasteurised or unpasteurized milk should be avoided in the uncooked form. This is because raw paneer from either of the sources is more susceptible to bacterial infection. However, when you cook cottage cheese, it eliminates the bacteria present in it, thereby rendering it safe to be eaten during pregnancy.
In a nutshell, following are the precautions that need to be taken while consuming paneer during pregnancy:
- The paneer consumed during pregnancy must have been prepared from pasteurised milk only to avoid any chances of getting infected with listeria.
- Before purchasing the paneer, check the label to ensure that it’s made from only high-quality ingredients.
- Eat only fresh paneer. Paneer beyond one week should never be consumed.
- Do not eat paneer if its colour changes to yellow or it becomes sticky.
- Always check with your doctor for the inclusion of paneer in your pregnant diet and its safe quantity.
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How to make paneer at home?
Here is the simple recipe to prepare fresh and healthy paneer at home.
Ingredients you will need:
- Vinegar or lemon juice for curdling
- Take half a litre of milk and put it on the medium-high flame to bring it to a boil.
- Once the milk starts boiling slowly add vinegar or lemon juice (approximately 1tsp) while stirring it continuously.
- You will observe that the milk has begun curdling and the paneer and water have separated.
- Turn off the flame and remove the contents on a muslin cloth.
- Hang the muslin cloth till all the water is removed.
- Fresh and healthy paneer is ready waiting to be made into your favourite dish.
Some easy recipes from the paneer made above to be included in your pregnancy diet.
1. Palak Paneer:
This is a very healthy and a tasty way of adding paneer in your pregnancy diet as you get the dual benefits of spinach as well as cottage cheese with the mouth-watering recipe.
Preparation time – 15 minutes
Cooking time – 25 minutes
Serves – 2
- 100g paneer cubes
- 4 bowl washed and chopped spinach
- Garlic paste 1tsp
- Ginger paste 1tsp
- Kasuri methi 1tsp
- Punjabi garam masala 1tsp
- Sugar 1tsp
- cream ¼ cup
- ¼ cup finely chopped tomatoes
- Black salt ¼ tsp
- 2tsp oil
- 1tsp butter
- Salt to taste
- white gravy
- 1 cup sliced onions
- 3tbsp cashew nuts
- 1tbsp melon seeds
- 2 green chillies
For the white gravy
- Mix all the ingredients with 1 cup of water and simmer on low flame for about 15 minutes.
- Blend the ingredients to make a smooth paste and keep aside.
Preparing palak paneer:
- Boil 4 cups of water with 1tsp of water and cook the spinach leaves till tender. Make sure you don’t lose the colour of the spinach by overcooking them.
- Strain them and blend into a smooth puree.
- Now heat oil and butter in a frying pan and add ginger and garlic paste to it. Also, add tomatoes.
- When the tomatoes get a little tender to add the white gravy, spinach puree, black salt and salt and stir for about a minute.
- Add the paneer cubes, fenugreek leaves, Punjabi garam masala, sugar and cream and bring it to a boil.
- Garnish with cream and serve hot.
2. Aloo paneer chat:
This lip-smacking starter is a great mid-day snack to munch around.
Preparation time – 10 minutes
Cooking time – 15 minutes
Serves – 2
- ¾ cup boiled potato cubes
- 1 ½ cup fried paneer cubes
- 5tbsp oil
- ¾ cup boiled green peas
- ½ tsp crushed ginger
- 2 tsp finely chopped green chillies
- Salt to taste
- 1 ½ tsp chaat masala
- 1 ½ tsp lemon juice
- Coriander for garnishing
- Heat the oil in a non-stick cooking pan and cook the potatoes for about 8 minutes occasionally stirring till it changes colour to a golden brown.
- Slide the potatoes to the slide of the frying pan and add green paste and ginger and garlic to the centre of the same pan. Cook it on a medium flame for about 2 minutes.
- Add fried paneer cubes, chaat masala, salt and lemon juice and mix everything well and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Slide the potatoes to the centre again and toss and mix everything well.
- Serve immediately and garnish with coriander.
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We hope the aforesaid lip-smacking recipes have managed to raise your daily protein intake and will form a part of your pregnancy diet. Do share with us how you like the recipes and also other similar recipes that you have prepared using paneer. Eating paneer during pregnancy is good as it is a very good source for protein and other nutrients. It must be included in your pregnancy diet.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q1. Can you eat raw paneer during pregnancy?
Ans: If you are a paneer lover, then eating it in any form may tempt you, but you need to be extra cautious while consuming raw cottage cheese during pregnancy. This is because raw paneer may have invited bacteria to it and can make you very sick in pregnant and that would be the last thing on this earth that you would want to happen during your pregnancy period.
Q2. Difference between cheese and paneer?
Ans: Paneer and cheese are not the same. The basic difference between the 2 is that cheese melts on heating while paneer will not. Cheese is prepared by the acidification process by the bacteria and is factory-made while paneer is the form of Indian cheese, and it can be easily prepared at home by curdling the milk.
Q3. Is paneer cheese pasteurised?
Ans: Paneer is also known as cottage cheese and is a healthy form of Indian cheese. However, to include paneer in the pregnant diet, care must be taken that it is made from pasteurised milk only to avoid any type of infection.