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Ramen – it’s that little brick of noodle and packet full of sodium that has little-to-no nutritional value, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Marisa Spiegel, NorthShore Registered Dietitian, has a wealth of ideas on how to turn that bowl of soup into a meal…with some real health benefits.
The first thing you can do is take that little shiny packet of seasoning and throw it away. There’s nothing in there that’s going to be good for you. Replace that with a quick chicken “stock” by using low-sodium chicken broth or bone broth instead. For extra flavor, you can boil a chicken breast in the stock until it’s cooked all the way through, then shred it.
These modifications will significantly lower the sodium content of the ramen as well provide a boost of protein that will keep you feeling full for longer.
From here, just add the noodles and cook per the package instructions, usually around three minutes. For a lower-carbohydrate, lower-calorie and gluten-free option, use spiralized veggie noodles instead.
Another addition you can easily do is to chop up some veggies to add on top. Carrots, mushrooms and cabbage go great with ramen and you can top with chopped green onion. Veggies will add the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients such as fiber missing from a standard bowl of ramen.
For additional sources of lean protein try adding a soft-set egg or tofu to your bowl. Many upscale ramen places serve an egg on the side, and for good reason. Eggs provide a wealth of vitamins (D, B6, B12) and minerals (zinc, iron and selenium) and are delicious in ramen!
Ramen noodles should never be thought of as a meal alone, but rather a base to create a healthy meal. With these few changes alone, we have greatly increased the nutritional value as well as texture and flavor, turning a drab bowl of noodles into a well-balanced meal.
Now that you know a few ways to improve the nutritional value of your ramen, check out our recipe.