Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Healthy Ramen: Not An Oxymoron and Not Just For College Students

We've all done it.

We've all had a time in our lives when we lived on ramen noodles.

We knew it wasn't healthy, but it was CHEAP, quick and filling.

Well, it's time to break out the ramen you have hiding in your cabinets for a healthy new twist on an old standby.

In case you haven't surmised, I enjoy taking ordinary dishes and making them healthier. I also enjoy doing this with a budget in mind and in ways that just about anyone could mimic using what they like or have on hand.

Taking ordinary ramen and making it into a healthy meal is a prime example of this concept.

All you have to do is make the ramen on the stove top like you normally would, but add some "stuff" to the pot to add vitamins, minerals and protein and to stretch out the calories. True, it will still have a lot of sodium and it IS processed. But not every meal can be perfect and I think this is a great option for a quick meal every now and then.

When I make my healthy ramen, I put the water, seasoning and noodles into a pot on the stove top. Before bringing it to a boil I also add such things as (but not all at the same time):
  • carrot matchsticks
  • baby spinach
  • bean sprouts
  • shredded cabbage
  • sliced pepper
  • snow peas
  • etc
My favorite veggies to add are those that taste good lightly cooked and that have a little crunch. In this dish I prefer the first three on the list, but I have used the others, and probably other veggies I can't think of right now. Last night I also added a few leftover shrimp from my summer rolls.

You could also add fresh, sliced chicken breast to the pot. Make sure to cut it into small pieces so that it cooks quickly. And make sure it is fully cooked before you eat the soup.

Once the soup is boiling, I reduce it to a simmer and crack an egg into the soup. If you do it very gently, it will cook relatively whole. This adds just a bit of creaminess to the soup and some protein. You can eat the whole egg, or do what I do and just eat the white. Or you can leave the egg out.

I allow the soup to simmer until the egg, chicken, etc are cooked through. Don't allow to simmer for toooooo long or the noodles get a little soggy.

By adding the extra stuff, it makes an ordinary packet of ramen enough for a meal for two people (or one really hungry person.) If you want more, you can just add enough water and an extra packet of ramen to the pot.

Go ahead, you know you want to try this.

Ignore the stigma and give an old favorite a healthy makeover.


  1. I really have to watch my sodium, so, just as a suggestion, I usually only use half of the seasoning packet. Also, if you cook ramen noodles as usual and then put them into a wok for a few seconds with veggies, chicken or whatever, it is truly scrumptious. That way too, you don't even have to use the seasoning packet if you don't want to. You can add whatever seasoning and herbs you like.

  2. That is a great suggestion! Ramen is high in sodium, as are most packaged/convenience items. So I suggest using them sparingly and infrequently, or doing what you mentioned and only using half of the seasoning.