By themselves, ramen noodles aren't exactly healthy, but the fact that they are so inexpensive makes them an inevitable part of a college student's diet. Yet ramen can be incorporated into much more well-rounded and nutritious dishes than a bowl full of water, while still remaining cheap. Its mild flavor means it goes with just about any vegetable or meat, and it also means that even picky eaters can enjoy it in a dish with their favorite goodies. Got some ramen in your cupboard? Use one of these great ideas to make dinner tonight!
Heat up your wok for some stir fry! Cook the ramen noodles according to the package directions, leaving out the packet (which is full of MSG and sodium, ingredients you don't need in such concentration). Meanwhile, chop up vegetables and, optionally, some meat, and mix together your favorite type of stir fry sauce (either homemade or from a bottle). Fry the veggies and meat, then remove them from the heat and fry the noodles in the remaining juices. Toss in the goodies and fry for a few more seconds to finish off the dish.
Dried ramen bits can be used as substitute croutons on salads with Asian dressings. Or, you can make cooked noodle salads, similar to pasta salads, using ramen noodles instead of regular pasta. Start with some fresh vegetables -- some of the best are tomatoes, cabbage, shredded carrots, cucumbers, and snap peas -- and cooked ramen noodles. Toss the chopped or shredded veggies with the noodles in a liberal amount of dressing and serve.
You might prefer livened-up ramen soups, for an easy meal. As you bring the water to a boil to cook the noodles, toss in some veggies, like broccoli or mushrooms, to tenderize them; leave them in while the ramen cooks. You can add in some small chunks of cooked meat, like chicken or shrimp, or fry up some tofu bits and toss those in. Try boiling the noodles in chicken or beef broth instead, and don't use the packet -- dribble in some soy sauce and chili sauce instead for a more flavorful and healthy broth.
Chicken lo mein is a traditional dish found at American-Asian restaurants, and it's often greasy and heavy. You don't have to use as much oil as they do! Try using olive oil instead for a healthier and less greasy feel to your noodles and goodies, and use much less (only enough to coat everything for cooking). If you want to still retain the soft texture of most lo mein dishes, simply cook the noodles a little longer than usual.
The classic college trick is to add eggs to your ramen. If not done properly, this can get disgusting, so follow this method: start cooking the ramen and crack the egg into as separate bowl about a minute before the noodles are done cooking. Scoop out a small amount of the boiling water and whisk it up with the egg, then slowly drizzle this mixture into the ramen water. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cook through before eating it.
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