Feeding hungry kids healthy food is always a challenge. It requires improvisation, patience for trial and error, and oftentimes a bit of luck. Inspiration comes unexpectedly sometimes.

Japanese New Year all year round

Mochi is a Japanese rice cake made from a sticky sweet rice that has been cooked then pounded together, then shaped and baked. Sometimes ice cream is placed in the middle. Mochi is part of the Japanese New Year tradition, but it’s enjoyed throughout the year as a snack or an addition to soups.

I was recently introduced to the traditional snack at a friend’s house. Not only was it delicious, but I also loved how a hard slab of rice pulled right from the fridge puffed up into a crispy and very tasty snack food. The kids really enjoyed watching it, too.Mochi 1of6

Make more and store

My friend said that she makes a big batch and then stores it in her fridge for a couple of weeks. Perfect! It can be so difficult to find a healthful snack that matches the preparation ease of sugary or salt-laden convenience snacks. When she or her kids come home from school, they’ll take one of the pre-cut squares and heat it in the oven for a few minutes. They wrap seaweed around it and serve it up with soy sauce for dipping. I find a few pieces of pickled ginger make a nice, sweet counterpoint to the soy sauce.

Health benefits of mochi

When you combine rice and seaweed, mochi is low in saturated fat and very low in cholesterol. It is also a good source of Vitamins A, C, E (Alpha Tocopherol), and K, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, and Phosphorus. It’s also a very good source of Riboflavin, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, and Manganese.



  • 1 cup short- or medium-grain Japanese rice
  • 2 tablespoon potato starch
  • 1 package of nori (seaweed)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup pickled ginger


  1. Cook one cup of rice in a rice cooker or boil on the stove.
  2. Let cool for five minutes.
  3. Knead with a blender until smooth.
  4. Sprinkle with potato starch and flatten.
  5. Cut into squares, wrap in plastic, keep in the fridge.
  6. When you want to prepare a mochi snack, put a square in a warm toaster oven at 325°F (163°C) for 5 to 10 minutes. They will puff up.
  7. Wrap in nori and dip in soy sauce. Add pickled ginger for some sweetness.