Woo! Done with exams! Now I can take a really long nap. Maybe one that will go until I wake up the next day haha. Those are soo good. You wake up and you still want to go back to sleep. My neighbor is the king of naps. His body is just scheduled to take a quick nap at 2pm every single day- without fail. I can't seem to take short naps. My naps turn into 3 hours and then I wake up and it's dark outside. Fail.
Cognitive Impairment due to Long Naps are worse than that due to Sleep Deprivation
So why am I ranting so much about sleeping? Well, I was reading this paper about the benefits of naps. Not just sleeping. Napping. We could really benefit from a afternoon snooze because it improves logical reasoning, reaction time in tests and increased vigor (duh). Research has really got down into trying to make our naps better, by looking at the duration, age, and the time of day. Essentially, taking longer naps (30mins plus) can produce sleep inertia. That's the groggy, confused feeling that's supposedly worse than the feeling from sleep deprivation. Sleep inertia is deadly. It impairs sensory motor and cognitive tasks, impairs accuracy and puts you in a stinky mood. It's worse when you're also sleep deprived.
You should aim for 10 to 20mins, and you'll feel super invigorated immediately after waking up. It improves with practice. For reals. Habitual nappers maintain a tonic level of alertness throughout the nap and can disperse sleep inertia more quickly. Postnap performance improvement right after waking up was true for seasoned nappers.
Holy. I need to jump on this napping band wagon and practice napping...like now! zzZZZZ
Red Bean Mochi
Adapted from veganyumyum
1 cup Glutinous Rice Flour (I used the Mochiko brand, see pic below)
3 tbsp sugar
2/3 cup water
Cornstarch, potato starch or tapioca starch for dusting
1 tsp matcha green tea powder (to make the green ones)
Red bean paste (I made some way back but you can buy them premade)
Strawberries if you like!
Home made recipe for red bean paste
1.5 cups adzuki beans
4 cups water
1 cup sugar (depends on how sweet/ or not sweet - I use a mix of brown and white)
1 tbs vegetable oil
1-2 pinches salt
Place beans and water in a pot, cover, bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 1.5 hours or until the beans are very soft.
Strain water from the beans, put back into the pot and on the fire at low heat. Add sugar and oil. Use a masher (I just used a fork) to smash all the beans. Of course you can use a blender and save you some elbow grease. This should turn into a nice thick paste. I like my paste chunky so I leave some whole ones in there.
Take off the heat and let it cool. You can adjust how sweet you want it too. This is a lot of red bean, enough for 3 batches of mochi. I save mine in the freezer and use it for later.
Making the Mochi
Add together the flour, sugar, water, matcha powder (if using) to a microwave safe bowl. Stir well until no lumps. Scrape down the side of the bowl so doesn't get all sticky on the sides too.
Cover lightly with plastic wrap and microwave for 2 mins on high. Remove and stir quickly. Put it back in the microwave for another 1 min. If you see the dough sinking as you open the door, it should be done! Don't overcook it or it'll be rock hard.
Have a dusted plate or countertop with cornstarch. Scoop up a little more than 1 tbsp of dough, dust your fingers and palm with starch too and flatten the dough while it's hot (you can use a rolling pin if you like). Put about 1-2 tsp of red bean paste and seal the opening with a pinch. I like a lot of filling and less mochi so adjust as you like!
To keep them fresh over the next few days, individually wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate. If you leave it out, they'll get dry and tough.
Make sesame seed covered ones by wetting the outside a little and rolling it on sesame seeds. Nom nom nom.
Some tips: You really want to dust your fingers thoroughly!