Is mochi gluten free?
Gluten is a natural protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. It can also be found in wheat berries, spelt, durum, emmer, semolina, farina, farro, graham, khorasan wheat, einkorn, and triticale (a blend of wheat and rye). Gluten is like a binder that holds foods together, it makes flour to have that stretchy texture. Gluten is also considered as a probiotic because it feeds in the good bacteria we have in our bodies.
Even with all these good sides and benefits, gluten can cause some people to have serious side effects as their body senses it as a toxin, causing their immune cells to overreact and attack it. As the gluten is continuously taken into the body, a battle ground is created and this can lead to inflammation. This is known as celiac disease and the common symptoms can be:
In extreme cases, the symptoms will be:
- Unexplainable weight loss
- Damage to the intestines
According to the statistics from Beyond Celiac in 2017, an estimated 1 in 133 Americans, or about 1% of the population, has celiac disease. However, recent screening studies point to a potentially higher prevalence than 1% in the United States, about 83% of them are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions.
A mass screening program of children in Italy found the prevalence of celiac disease to be 1.6%. In Finland, the prevalence of celiac disease has been estimated at 1.99% of the population. This celiac disease can lead to anemia, nerve disorder, infertility and cancer in rare cases.
To avoid these damages, they stay away from foods that contain gluten. A gluten-free diet is the only way to treat celiac as there are no other primary medical treatments. Some other conditions will demand that gluten consumption be reduced or eliminated, conditions like:
i. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance: Up to 6% of Americans have non-celiac gluten sensitivity (Beyond Celiac, 2017). People with this condition experience the mild symptoms like celiac disease but their intestines and antibodies are not harmed or damaged.
ii. Wheat allergy: Instead of only being intolerant to gluten, wheat allergy causes being allergic to one or more proteins like albumin, gliadin, globulin found in wheat. The symptoms can be itchy eyes, swelling of the mouth or throat, diarrhea, cramps, nausea, hives, and anaphylaxis.
To avoid all these conditions, it is best to stay away from products that have traces or contain gluten. One of the foods that people always try to confirm the presence of this protein is mochi, it may be because it is made from a grain.
IS MOCHI GLUTEN FREE?
Mochi is a traditional rice cake that originated from Japan but can be found in East Asia countries like Korea and China. It is made from a sweet glutinous rice flour known as mochigome. It is usually shaped into a round bun. Mochi is chewy, sweet and is mostly colored with matcha, green tea, powder. Other ingredients like water, sugar, and cornstarch are included.
Mochi is made with sticky rice, does it contain gluten? No, mochi does not have gluten. It is naturally gluten free even though the mochigome used in making it is called glutinous rice. However, cross contamination can occur during the manufacturing process, this is why it is important to get mochi that is precisely labeled as gluten-free.
Rice does not contain gluten like wheat, barley, rye and other grains. Mochi is naturally gluten free, it can be enjoyed from anyone including those with gluten intolerance.
IS MOCHI GLUTEN FREE AT COFFEE TRADER JOE’S
Getting mochi with sweet taste and ice cream filling is no longer difficult as trader joe’s have added varieties of this dessert. The different flavors does not contain gluten as the major ingredient which is the rice cake is not known to contain gluten. Even the new 35-Calorie Gluten-Free Mini Mochi that has a pint of cookie butter ice cream has no trace of gluten in it.
Also, The Crispy Crunchy Mochi Rice Nuggets by Trader joe’s have no gluten. However, they are not labelled as gluten-free on the package, this could mean there is a chance of cross contamination with wheat.
IS MOCHI GLUTEN FREE AT WHOLE FOODS
Whole Foods have varieties of flavor like red bean, green tea, vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate options, but also coffee and mango. Whole Foods stores also house packaged Mochi Ice Cream from different brands like This Spring, Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream & Desserts, Inc. It is worthy to note that all these different flavors can be eaten by anyone.
In spite of the major ingredient being called glutinous rice, mochigome rice is in fact naturally gluten-free. Bubbies for example, is gluten-free (certified by the Celiac Support Organization), kosher and is produced without ingredients that contain gluten.
IS MOCHI DAIRY FREE
People with diary intolerance cannot eat foods that are made with diary products to avoid having symptoms like diarrhea, bloating and abdominal cramps. Many people confuse all Mochi to contain diary products but not all do. Traditional Japanese mochi has anko (sweet red bean paste) as its filling. Nowadays, many manufacturers are bringing varieties of the fillings like ichigo (strawberry), mango, and ice cream.
If you have diary intolerance, you can avoid mochi with ice cream fillings and go for others.
Trader joe’s for example, have produced flavors like strawberry, coconut-milk, black sesame, mango, chocolate, coffee and green tea flavors.
IS MOCHI GOOD FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Many avoid mochi filled with ice cream so as not to gain more weight but Mochi may not help you put on weight. A bowl of ice cream might equate to over 350 calories while a mochi ball may have an average of about 100 calories. Mochi may not have loads of nutrients in it but for varieties that are made with ice cream, it is good for the body.
Ice cream has a good amount of protein which can help in avoiding weight gain and essential for building muscles. Whether Mochi makes you add weight or not depends largely on the quantity and the type of filling you consume at a time. Mochi can provide our body with benefits like:
- B vitamins that energizes the body
- Calcium which helps in strengthening bones and teeth
- Blood pressure lowering potassium.
IS MOCHI HARD TO DIGEST
Rice which is the major ingredient in Mochi does not take time to be digested by the body as it contains starch. However, after the rice goes through the whole Mochi making process, it becomes harder to digest. Mochi does not dissolve easily in hot water and it becomes sticky when it is cold. Mochi is not easily soluble because the key component of the rice cake which is amylopectin makes it indigestible as it goes through kneading process.
To avoid causing problems for the body due to indigestible foods, it is advised that the Mochi be properly chewed and swallowed.
HOW IS MOCHI MADE
To make Mochi, mochigome which is a short grain Japanese sticky rice is steamed and pounded with a wooden mallet. The pounded takes place during a ceremony called mochitsuki. The pounding supplies oxygen and air to the rice and also crush it completely giving it the smooth texture it has. Because of the labor and stress of pounding, many people nowadays use glutinous rice flour that is milled from the sweet mochigome rice, the glutinous attached to the name does not mean it contains gluten.
The rice cake is cooked with heat with sugar and sometimes coconut milk depending on the manufacturer. These ingredients are cooked till they doughy and pliable, the next step is rolling the dough. To prevent the dough sticking to your hands, you may want to have plenty cornstarch near you for dusting your hands. This will make it easier for you to knead and roll the dough into balls. You can decide to fry the plain dough or fill the insides with anything of your choice, after filling, you coat the back sugar and soy powder.
HOW TO STORE MOCHI
Mochi is best to be enjoyed fresh but if you do not want to go through the process of making it every time you need to enjoy the delicious dessert, you can actually store them. You should not store your Mochi in a fridge, this will make it become dry and gets hard. It is best to store in a freezer.
If you do not want your Mochi to get sticky, you should freeze it for a short time before putting in a storage container or wrapping in balls. The container for storage should be airtight and keep in the freezer, if it is properly stored, it can stay for two weeks without getting spoilt.
There are many traditional Japanese cuisines and Mochi is definitely one of them. It has no gluten for those who are sensitive to gluten intake. Also, there are many varieties of deliciousness to choose from. Just make sure you choose mochi that has no diary product as its filling if you are diary intolerant.
Store your Mochi properly and it can stay up to two weeks. Enjoy the tasty and traditional dessert but be mindful of the quantity you consume if you are trying not to gain weight.