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How to Make Instant Ramen Better with Healthy Ideas


By Peter Reyes


When I was a struggling student in Tokyo back in 90s, I didn’t have much money to spend on dine-out meals or takeaways. Things are jaw-dropping expensive in Japan, and I remembered the cheapest meal (¥ 900) I had was at a stand up noodle bar in Shinjuku. So I had to make do with whatever that was within my tight budget – packets of cheap no-frills instant ramen noodles.


There’s no denying that instant ramen noodles are super unhealthy, loaded with notorious health saboteurs like fat, MSG, sodium, preservatives, artificial colorings, all packaged into one quick meal. However, there are a few simple things that you can do to transform “bad” food into a slightly more healthy dish, and enjoy without breaking your calorie bank.



How to Make Instant Noodles Healthy


Although there’s still an ongoing debate whether instant ramen contain wax and that it takes about 4 to 5 days for the body to excrete the wax, here’s what you should do as a precautionary measure:


1. Boil the instant noodles in a pot with water.


2. Once they're cooked, remove and discard cooking liquid.


3. Next, bring another pot of water to a boil, then place your cooked noodles into the pot and turn off the fire.


4. Add in soup mix to make ramen soup or remove cooked ramen and toss with instant mix to have dry noodles.



If horror stories about instant noodles – ranging from hair loss to premature greying of hair to increased cancer risks (thanks to MSG) – give you nightmares, then use just ⅓ of the instant mix when making dry ramen. If you prefer a stronger flavor, feel free to use ½ packet but be prepared to drown yourself in gallons of water after the meal.


Better yet, throw away the seasoning packet and create your own seasoning instead. For example, mix the noodles with a bit of low-sodium soy sauce, sugar and a dash of pepper, and maybe a drizzle of sesame oil to finish.


A little tomato sauce, some extra hot Thai chili sauce and oyster sauce give a fiery spicy kick to the instant ramen noodles. Alternatively, flavor with hoisin sauce, or XO sauce (a spicy seafood sauce, which is available in the Asian aisles of your local supermarket), or a combination tomato sauce and yellow mustard.


Keep in mind that instant ramen noodles has poor nutritional content as they offer nothing more than refined carbohydrates, fat, very little protein and not much dietary fiber. So to pump up the nutrition, make sure to include lean protein and lots of veggies in your quick meal.


You can toss in shrimps, canned crab meat (drained), skinless shredded chicken or turkey breast. Thickly-sliced no-nitrate ham, eggs, and tofu cubes make tasty additions as well. If you’re a person with adventurous taste buds like the Koreans, you might want to add a slice of low-fat cheese to your bowl of instant ramen noodles.


For fiber, fresh or frozen mixed vegetables such as spinach, napa cabbage, celery, tomatoes, broccoli, mushrooms (enoki and shiitake) and even seaweed can be added to any basic instant ramen or noodles recipe.


To reduce your intake of trans fat, you might also want to buy non-fried instant ramen noodles the next time you go to the grocery store. These are much better for you because they are air-dried rather than being fried. Plus, they are a whole lot lower in sodium content as compared to the regular kind.


Additionally, look for healthy brands of instant noodles that don’t have added preservatives, food coloring or MSG in them. You can also find vegetarian friendly instant ramen that don’t contain egg or animal products, which is a huge benefit for those watching their cholesterol levels. If you can’t find fat-reduced instant ramen, try angel hair pasta instead. They cook pretty fast (about 3 minutes or so) and best of all, they have no saturated or trans fats.



Here are a few of my favorite healthy instant ramen noodles brands that I think you should check them out:


Assam laksa, chicken and curry flavor (Maggi low fat)


Spicy black pepper, tom yam (Koka no MSG)


Nutri noodles (Cinta)






make instant ramen healthy and taste better

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