Ramen. Who doesn’t have a special place in their heart (and stomach) for this nostalgic noodle soup that has become a staple among college students and budget-conscious diners alike? But just because this popular, economical noodle dish tastes good doesn’t mean that it’s good for you.
You’re not giving up your quick and easy, go-to noodles anytime soon. We totally get it, and we’re here to help. The time has come to redefine ramen by ditching the traditional sodium-rich seasoning packets in favor of more nutritious and—dare we say it?!—delicious alternatives that will have you marveling that you started with just a hard hunk of humble noodles.
Following are some simple tips and tricks to elevate the nutrition and flavor of ramen noodles. Enjoy!
1. Choose a better ramen
Not all ramen noodles are created equal. Select a reduced-sodium variety that is made with organic noodles, such as Koyo Dry Ramen in Asian Vegetable or Tofu Miso flavor. In addition to boasting all-natural ingredients, the savory, flavorful broth is free of preservatives!
Steering clear of gluten? Try King Soba Organic Brown Rice Ramen Noodles instead. These delicate, handcrafted, wheat-free noodles have a subtle nutty flavor.
2. Make your own broth
Noodle on this: That “spice” packet that often accompanies ramen noodles can contain over three-quarters of your recommended daily intake of sodium. For a healthier noodle bowl, choose a reduced-sodium variety (see above) or ignore the included spice packet and make your own broth instead!
For an easy DIY broth, simply stir one-quarter cup Miso paste and one tablespoon soy sauce into two quarts (eight cups) of heated pork, chicken or vegetable broth. Then customize it with garlic, ginger, red chili flakes or whatever spices you prefer. Also squeeze in a little lemon or lime juice to brighten the flavor if desired.
3. Veg out
What better way to boost the flavor and nutrition of your ramen bowl than by tossing in some of your favorite fresh or frozen vegetables? Try adding bean sprouts, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, peppers, snap peas, mushrooms, zucchini and/or spinach. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different veggie combinations to help determine which mixture you prefer.
Bonus: If you’re all about quantity, this is a wonderful way to bulk up your meal without adding a lot of extra fat and calories!
4. Pile on the protein
Adding extra protein is another easy way to improve the taste and nutrient content of your noodle bowl. You can start by selecting a meat that matches the flavor of your ramen (e.g., adding chicken to Sesame Chicken Flavor Ramen), but we recommend also trying out other flavor combinations. Some additional proteins to consider include beef, turkey, tofu, pork, salmon and even eggs.
5. Get creative
Believe it or not, ramen noodles are actually very versatile. So, we encourage you to think outside the box when preparing them. For instance, boil your ramen noodles and toss them with three beaten eggs and salt and pepper (to taste). Then divide the mixture into muffin trays and chill for approximately 20 minutes.
Finally, pan fry the noodle mixture (using just a bit of healthy oil) until it’s golden brown and use it in lieu of buns for burgers, grilled chicken and more. Or, you can boil your ramen noodles and use them to top Shepherd’s pie instead of mashed potatoes!