You might think of mochi as the neon-green or fluorescent pink-colored ice cream treat popular at Japanese restaurants, but mochi is a traditional Japanese food that has been eaten for hundreds of years. While once considered a "Food for the Gods," mochi remains a talisman of prosperity and luck in Japanese culture–especially during New Year's celebrations. While sweet mochi is delicious as a treat, the more traditional brown rice or glutinous rice mochi makes a satisfying and healthy snack. Here's why:
1. High in vitamins
Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Calcium and Iron, to be specific. Some traditional mochis are made using mugwort, then given to nursing mothers and those who are anemic. Add a topping like goat cheese with cucumbers, or banana and a drizzle of honey to boost the nutrition and the taste.
For those following a low cholesterol diet, mochi is low in fat and high in carbohydrates (and complex carbohydrates if made with sprouted brown rice). Additionally, mochi can be enjoyed by vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike. Try brands like Grainaissance or Eden Foods for organic alternatives to some of the sweeter, more processed varieties.
3. Low in calories
While ice cream mochi packs a punch of sugar, traditionally prepared mochi, or those made with sprouted brown rice, are low in calories (and sugar and fat!). A typical package contains 8 servings, with each serving only 100 calories. Keep in mind that mochi puffs up as it bakes, so you’ll get more than you bargained for.
4. Easy to make
Mochi isn't complicated to make. Many health food stores and specialty shops have mochi available in the refrigerated sections. Simply cut the mochi block into equal squares, bake for 10 minutes at 450 F, and enjoy. Mochi can be especially fun to make with children.
For breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a quick snack for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Mochi can be served alongside breakfast and garnished with sweet toppings like maple syrup or served savory with a spread of hummus or dip. There’s always the option of keeping mochi traditional by finding the circular balls filled with red or white bean paste at Japanese grocery stores.
Mochi comes in numerous options, and whether you prefer the more traditional route as an everyday staple or the ice cream-filled treat for special occasions, enjoy this tasty rice snack.