We all know that instant ramen is a college staple. Whether you’re making it as a freshman in your dorm, or a fully-fledged senior in your apartment, it’s nearly impossible to escape that college go-to for meals. The sad part of this fact, though, is just how unhealthy it is. Especially in this day and age, when health and money availability seem to be intimately intertwined, it can be hard to get a healthy meal while trying not to break the bank at the same time. So here are a few ways to improve your ramen that are both healthy and delicious.
Add an Egg
Sure, this might seem insanely simple. But it does work! Add an egg of any sort that can vastly improve your ramen game. Whether it’s a simple hard-boiled egg, the complicated poached egg, some leftover scrambled eggs, or anything in-between, you can always count on the egg. Not only are eggs cheap and easy to come by almost anywhere in the world, but they are also high in protein and nutritional value. Also, the yolk itself is excellent for if you’re looking for ramen with a richer taste without having to go out to a real restaurant and break the bank. So even if you have nothing else on this list that will work for you, try putting an egg in there!
We’ve all heard the phrase “eat your veggies” from our moms. And sure we all rolled our eyes and scoffed when we were in middle school about that, but like many things in life, mom knows best. Not only will adding vegetables improve your ramen in a healthy way. But the crunch and texture and flavor of vegetables can change a ramen meal from tasting like a glob of noodles crawled out of a chemical plant, to something that feels almost healthy. Not only that, but there are so many vegetables to choose from. Personally, scallions, onions, and mushrooms are my go-to’s, but there are also peppers, broccoli, and so much more.
Rinse Your Noodles
This may sound a bit silly, but I promise you that there is a reason for it. When you cook your ramen noodles, do it separately from the broth. Then when they’re done cooking, drain the ramen water down the sink and add a new batch of water to your bowl for your soup flavorings. Not only will this improve the flavor of the ramen in a way that makes it taste less greasy and soggy, but it will also make the ramen so much healthy by getting rid of extra fat and sodium within the noodles. This is due to the nature of the flash fry method that is used in the production of ramen noodles.
Use Different Broth
Just like adding in an egg or two, broth is a widely available and cheap alternative to those little ramen pockets with neon yellow “broth” inside of them with more sodium than you need in an entire week. Now while I do think that this is one of the healthiest things you can do t improve your ramen since the broth packets that come with ramen are where most of the sodium, msg, and trans fats come from. I would also recommend this only to buy it if you have some fridge or mini fridge to keep the leftovers. It’s doubtful you’re going to use a whole box of broth all in one sitting. But other than that, it makes it much more delicious and healthy.
Beef, pork, fish, shellfish, even a bit of spam, adding a bit of fresh protein to your ramen, while still maybe not the healthiest meal, will give you a certain level of protein for your mind and body to stay sharp during the entire day. Now, this isn’t just a bit of egg. You could also add bacon or a bit of your Chinese leftover pork, or some beef to the mixture. Not only will this improve your ramen for your taste buds, but your body will thank you later when you pull an all-nighter.
Use Real Seasonings
Another way to combat using those seasoning packets that come in your ramen packets is by using real seasonings to improve your ramen. My personal go-to is using a bit of sesame oil, a bit of soy sauce, and some hot sauce to the boiling water. Sure, it still may be a bit salty, but at least it isn’t as artificial as the seasonings that your noodles come with. Not only that, but doing this will allow you to mix and match the flavor of your ramen. One night it could be sweet and sour, the next night savory, and so forth.
Add Some Cheese
This one might be a bit of an odd one to put in here, but I promise it works. Add in a handful of shredded cheese, or a bit of an American cheese slice to your ramen will make it taste much better. Not only will it improve your ramen taste-wise, but also it will give it an almost creamy and delicate taste to it that is surprisingly delightful.
Add Coconut Milk
So we’ve all heard about coconut milk, and coconut oil, and all that other stuff. Lately, it seems like coconuts have become almost a go-to life hack for all your life’s problems. But this one works to improve your ramen in a way that makes sense. Just a little dash of coconut milk can make any ramen that much more palatable. Not to mention just like broth, it’s super cheap and becoming more widely available in local grocery stores, so why not give it a try next time you’re at a loss for what to do.
The age-old classic of tofu. Not only is it vegan friendly. Not only is it great as a meat substitute in soup, stews, smoothies, and tons of other recipes, but it also goes a long way to improve your ramen. Firm ramen would be recommended to make sure it soaks up that delicious broth you’ve made, but soft tofu can also work if you have a bit more of a creamier tonkatsu or dan dan noodle variations. Instant ramen, cold noodles, or even some rice vermicelli, tofu is flexible and works will all of them. Versatility is part of its charm.
Use Fresh Ginger and Garlic
This might seem like a no brainer, but I can’t tell you to have many people I’ve talked to that forget to add either garlic or ginger into their instant ramen. It’s such a simple thing, but it goes so far in improving your ramen you wouldn’t believe how much better it makes everything. Even if you have absolutely nothing on hand to make your ramen any better, even just a dash of garlic (which I’m pretty sure everyone has some be it garlic salt or some other bit of seasoning), and a pinch of ginger will make your ramen noodles at least a little slurpable.