Baby on (cheese)board
Announcing a baby "on board" is cause for celebration and these days it is common for friends and family want to congratulate the parents-to-be with a delicious cheeseboard! But what items are safe for mama and baby to eat?
With a generation of Coronials on the way, I've started to receive this question a lot, so I compiled a list of easy to follow guidelines, along with a pregnancy-safe shopping list, so you can gift or consume a pregnancy-safe cheeseboard with confidence. After all, cheese is an excellent source of calcium, fat and protein, as well as high in vitamins A and B12, so it always deserves a spot at the table.
1. Pasteurized cheese is OK to consume
Pasteurization is a form of food processing that kills off any pathogenic bacteria that could be potentially harmful. The cheeses listed below are usually pasteurized and safe to consume while pregnant.
Hard: Cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Manchego, Gouda, Gruyere, Pecorino, Lancashire, Harvarti
Soft: Ricotta, Mozzarella, Boursin, Goat cheese without the rind, Feta, Halloumi
2. Unpasteurized (or raw milk), soft mold-ripened or blue-veined cheese is NOT safe to consume
These types of cheeses can be contaminated with listeria - a harmful bacteria that can cause listeriosis - and should be avoided. Generally speaking, imported cheeses are more likely to be unpasteurized than domestic cheeses.
Avoid: Brie, Camembert, Gorgonzola, Chèvre, Roquefort, Goat cheese with the rind, Queso Fresco
Note: Technically, hard cheese made from unpasteurized milk is considered safe to eat (due to the low moisture content), but in my opinion it's better to play it safe and steer clear if the label lists unpasteurized milk as an ingredient.
3. ALWAYS check the label
Or ask the Cheesemonger behind the counter if you have questions. They are super knowledgeable and friendly and are there to guide you.
4. Leave the charcuterie for the "Dad-to-be"
Prosciutto, salami, pepperoni, soppressata, etc. are all cured meats, meaning they are not cooked, and can harbor parasites. I'm sure "Dad" would appreciate some meat though, so don't write these off completely!
Note: Deli meats and pâtés should also be avoided.
5. Load up on fruits and veggies
Not only are these items safe, but they are full of vitamins and nutrients beneficial to mom and baby.
6. Have fun with pairings
Nuts, olives, jams, honey, dried fruit, crackers, bread, etc. are all pregnancy approved items, so don't be afraid to be creative with your accoutrements.
My favorite "safe" pairings
Manchego + Grainy Mustard
Gouda + Smoked Almonds
Cheddar + Apple + Wildflower Honey
Whipped Ricotta + Berries
Cheddar + Dark Chocolate
Pregnancy-safe shopping list
Cheese: Manchego, Cheddar, Marinated Mozzarella balls, Aged Gouda
Charcuterie (for guests only): Calabrese, Prosciutto, Salami
Fresh Fruit: Blackberries, Apple, Blueberries, Grapes
Dried Fruit: Apricots, Cranberries, Dried Figs
Crunch: Marcona Almonds, Pickled Veggies, Olives, Cheese Straws, Crackers or Baguette
Spreads: Grainy Mustard, Flavored Honey
Sweet: Dark Chocolate
Garnish: Fresh Herbs or Edible Flowers
Post pregnancy shopping list
*All the cheese
*All the charcuterie
*All the wine