Is Ramen Bad For You? | How to Make It Healthy
Kids often feel a sense of relief when they finally go away to college or move out of the house.
Here’s one big reason: their parents aren’t around to constantly nag them.
“Clean your room and then do your homework!”
“Come home and go to bed. It’s a school night!”
And of course, “Put that ramen back in the cabinet. It’s bad for you!”
College students, and those living on their own, decide when to clean their room, do their homework and go to bed – and they get to eat ramen whenever they want. In fact, it may be almost all they can afford for a while.
Sooner or later, though, we realize that our parents were usually right more than they were wrong. And they were definitely right about those 25-50¢ packages of instant ramen like Maruchan and Top Ramen.
Is there anything you can do to make this addictive, inexpensive meal any healthier?
Finding the Healthiest Instant Ramen
You have to do some searching to find healthier instant ramen – and there are a few good choices. The best may be the Original Ramen Noodles sold by Public Goods.
Compared to the other brands we’ve mentioned, Public Goods ramen is much lower in calories (290), fat (3 grams), and saturated fat (0.4 grams). It does contain a lot of sodium, but less than the Maruchan and Top Ramen brands. And just as importantly, this ramen doesn’t contain tBHQ (or other preservatives), MSG, or the laundry list of other additives or artificial flavors commonly found in instant ramen. It’s made from just five ingredients: wheat flour, salt, water, soy sauce and white sesame oil.
You won’t find this instant ramen at the supermarket or on Amazon; it’s only sold on their website.
So we’ve gotten to healthier ramen. How do we get to healthiest?
The best way is to emulate the approach taken in the thousands of ramen shops around the world, including a growing number throughout the United States: add healthy ingredients to the soup.
Most “authentic” ramen contains a nice assortment of fresh veggies. Adding them to your instant ramen will immediately boost its nutritional value while elevating its flavor.
Green onions (scallions) and bean sprouts are the ones most commonly added to ramen noodles, but you can use your imagination to create a ramen soup to your specific tastes. Seaweed, pea pods, bok choy, mushrooms and thinly sliced cabbage will add a definite Asian flair to your ramen, but there’s no reason you can’t add spinach, lettuce, carrots, bell peppers, eggplant, Brussels sprouts or anything else you may have in your refrigerator.
You can take the same approach to proteins. Adding tofu cubes, tempeh or edamame may make you feel like you’re dining in an Asian restaurant, but chicken, beef, pork or shellfish can work just as well. They’ll contribute a valuable and essential nutrient – protein – while also filling you up and making instant ramen more of a meal than a quick snack.
Unless you purchase pre-cut veggies or pre-cooked proteins, you’ll have to spend a little more time preparing healthy ramen than you would just heating up some water and stirring it into your noodles and seasonings.
But turning instant ramen into a much healthier meal is worth that small investment of time and energy.
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