Ah, Ramen Noodles. These little bags or cups of dried noodles with soup-flavored powders are cheap and easy to prepare, making them a favorite must-have for most college students. Ramen is an ideal food for the dorm room because you just add hot water and have an instant meal in three minutes. Around 94 billion serving of Ramen Noodles are consumed, worldwide, every year. Unfortunately, these little packages contain around 400 calories, 14 grams of fat (mostly the bad kind) and very little fiber. The average American should consume around 2,300-2,400 mg of salt a day. Ramen clocks in at a whopping 1000 per serving, or 2000 per package. Even though there are two serving per package or cup. Most people eat the whole package. There is not a lot of nutritional bang for your buck.
Given the amount we consume each year, I would venture to say that Ramen Noodles are here to stay. So how can we give them a nutritional makeover? First, skipping the seasoning package will reduce the sodium, however all other nutrients will remain the same and you would get plain tasteless noodles. If you must use the seasoning bag, I recommend only using half. Here are some other creative ways to enhance your Ramen.
Makeover 1-Stir Fry Ramen: Add some frozen California Blend vegetables and a little chicken or tofu and you have an instant stir fry.
Makeover 2-Asian Ramen: Add some shrimp or cooked fish for healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids. Enhance the flavor with sesame oil, mushrooms, bean sprouts, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots.
Makeover 3-Pizza Ramen: Add some Italian pizazz to your noodles by tossing in a bit of spaghetti sauce, mozzarella cheese, Italian seasonings (I love fresh basil) and any other pizza topping stuff you have around, like sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, onions, or whatever. If using meat, be sure to brown it well before tossing it into your pizza noodles.
Makeover 4-Corn Chowder Ramen: Add a can of creamed corn on a package of Ramen noodles and lightly sprinkled with black pepper for chowder-like meal. Now you have a full serving of vegetables with your noodles, but remember this is a serving for 2 people.
Makeover 5-Clean Out the Refrigerator Ramen: Top the noodles with last night’s chicken, leftover meatloaf, taco fixings, a few vegetables or sauce that didn’t quite get eaten up yet. Make it pretty by sprinkling with parsley or another green herb as a garnish!
Makeover 6-True Confession: I too ate a lot of Ramen when I was in college-my favorite was making a “Chili Primavera”. I would throw away the seasoning package, add a little vegetarian chili, cooked vegetable and sprinkle with cheese-an instant, fairly well-balanced meal and cheap.