Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made from pulverized glutinous rice that is then stretched to form a shape. By adding other ingredients, people use mochi as a dessert, snack, cake, in a soup or a part of a dumpling. Mochi is a specialty enjoyed at New Year's and celebrations such as birthdays and weddings. Mochi ice cream, however, is an East-meets-West twist on the popular Japanese pastry.
Mochi ice cream is an adorable, bite-size dessert, often the size of a golf ball with a soft, slightly sticky, chewy, outer layer and an ice cream filling. Both the outer casing mochi and ice cream come in a variety of flavors from chocolate-coconut to a more Asian inspired flavor such as green tea-azuki (a sweet, red bean paste often found in Asian desserts). Unlike the traditional ice cream and cone, the clever outer mochi casing prevents the ice cream from melting quickly.
Mochi ice cream was created in 1981 by Lotte, a food grocery corporation based in South Korea and Japan. In 1993 it was introduced to the United States by Mikawaya. For years mochi ice cream has been enjoyed in places with a high Japanese population, like Hawaii, but it has recently become popular in the mainland states. You can find it in many Asian grocery stores, as well as, bigger franchises like Trader Joe's and Costco.
Generally two main ingredients go into mochi ice cream: sticky rice and dairy. Mochi ice cream provides very little vitamins or nutrients. It is mostly carbohydrate, sugar and fat. It does not contain trans fats. Calories depend upon the flavors of the mochi but generally, one piece of mochi ice cream averages 100 to 120 calories.
Unlike traditional American desserts, mochi ice creams are small. People on a diet can still enjoy a small piece of dessert without overindulging on sweets. Also, the sticky rice and milk are both gluten- and wheat-free, so those with celiac disease may be able to eat mochi ice cream.
People with diabetes or high blood sugar should not eat mochi ice cream. The outer layer is made of sticky rice, which is cooked and pounded until it is completely refined. Any sort of refined white rice is harmful for diabetics. The sugar content, as well, can be up to 30g per piece and will spike the glucose level in the body. Although there are a few soy mochi ice creams available, dairy ice cream is more common.
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