Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hacks To Make Instant Ramen Noodles Healthy/Healthier

It's a great day for some noodles my lovely Sparklers!

As many of my friends and family know, I LOVE noodles.  While I love all types of noodles, one of my #1 comfort foods is instant ramen.  The type when you boil a block of dried noodles and add in a foil packet of powder.  These noodles are very familiar to those on a budget or who generally are not great at cooking.  Cooking wise, my blog tends to focus on healthy recipes.  So I thought I would share with you my favorite healthier instant noodle hacks.  They add a lot more nutrition and fiber.  Admittedly, these take a little longer than just whipping up the noodles per the directions, however they take under 15 minutes I promise!

I'm eating this healthier bowl of chicken flavored styrofoam-cup noodles as I type this post...for breakfast.  It has fish-cake, sprouted tofu, frozen peas, and frozen chopped spinach added.  Mmmm...    

Lets start with the basics.  There are 2 primary formats for instant noodles, the traditional kind where you cook it in boiling water on the stove and the type where you just add water to the styrofoam cup.  I have listed my favorite health hacks for each one:

1) Traditional Boil-In-Pot:

  • Boil 2 pots of water or 1 pot for cooking and a kettle of extra hot water.
  • In 1st pot, cook the block of noodles 1 minute LESS than the instructions.  Drain out the unhealthy the starchy and oily water (did you know instant noodles are deep fried to make them dry?).
  • Rinse the noodles in cold water to remove excess oil and to stop the cooking process.
  • In the 2nd pot (or rinse and reuse the first pot), add the seasoning packet(s) and however much boiling water you like to achieve the saltyness of broth you like.  This is usually about 1-1.5 cups of water.  
  • Heat up healthy add-ins in the broth (or sautee in the pot before adding hot water/broth). My favorite add ins to heat up include:

    • Proteins- (Chicken, Beef, Fish Cake, Shrimp, Tofu...)  Any leftover proteins from another meal can be added.  If the flavor on the leftovers doesn't work with the noodles you want to make, you can rinse or boil the protein back to being more neutral in flavor.  It's a great way not to waste food!
    • Eggs- I love eggs in my ramen.  You can either scramble or fry them then add on top, add to beaten egg slowly while stirring to boiling pot to get egg-drop soup, or carefully drop a whole egg into the boiling broth without stirring to get a poached egg.  
    • Veggies- I tend to go for frozen veggies because they are quick and easy (and that is what we are going for with ramen right?  My favorites include--Spinach, peas, corn, carrots, and broccoli.  If you feel like adding fresh veggies, be my guest!
    • Fiber Powder- While adding protein and veggies is great, a little extra fiber never hurt to add to the very refined carbohydrates of the noodles.  It also blends seamlessly with this dish.  You wont even notice that it is there if you get the flavorless dissolving kind.   
  • Add back in your noodles to the hot broth and add-in and cook for the remaining minute of cook time.
  • Put in a bowl and enjoy your (less) guilty pleasure meal!

2) Just Add Water To Styrofoam Cup:

  • Start by boiling water to hydrate the noodles.
  • Heat up healthy add-ins in a separate pot.  Saute them in a little coconut or olive oil.   
    • Egg-Tip: because you do not have a boiling pot of broth, if you will have to poach eggs separately if you really want a poached egg.  I suggest dropping a whole egg into a mug of water and microwaving it between 30 seconds to 1.5 minutes for different stages of runny yolk.  2 minutes gets you a perfectly hard yolk.
  • Add the boiling water to the cup of noodles, after your add-ins are sufficiently heated through.  Let it sit for 1 minute LESS than the instructions, then pour it into your hot pot of add-ins.  Let it heat for the remaining minute with your add-ins. 
  • Put in a bowl.  Eat instant ramen noodles because they are so tasty now!
3) Extra Health-ifying Ramen Hacks:
  • Don't Drink The Soup- Since you cannot control the amount of seasoning in this format of instant noodles, I suggest limiting the amount of soup you drink.  I find that I'm perfectly satisfied just eating the contents of my noodle soup without drinking too much or the actual broth.  The extra consumption of salt and preservatives isn't worth it to me and I still get the flavor when I eat the best part...the noodles!  I understand if this isn't acceptable to you, in which case I suggest drinking a lot of water before and after to try and flush out some of the salt. 
  • Don't Be Afraid- Creativity with instant noodles is a must, and since the base of the dish is so inexpensive, why not try something new?  Some other fun things I have seen done include topping it with cheese, stir-frying the cooked noodles with the seasoning or extra sauces, even turning the noodles into burger buns!  Whatever you decide, be mindful of the salt content of the seasoning packets and try to add some healthy proteins and veggies.

I hope you enjoyed this post on one of my favorite foods.  Be healthy and as always,

Shine & Sparkle!

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