As a whole, I really love Korean food and I've been eating a lot healthier since I came here, but I won't lie - my ramen intake has definitely increased. In my defense, Korean ramen is different (better) than American ramen, and it's pretty much my only source of carbs. I try to limit my rice intake, and since I don't own a toaster, I don't buy bread. Sadly for me (and everyone), ramen will never be a truly healthy food. I can accept that. It's a deep fried carbohydrate in a fatty and salty broth. BUT! But, there are ways to make a ramen meal that is generally healthier, and significantly less catastrophic to your diet.
Sidenote: I am (obviously) not a dietician or nutrition specialist. I am simply trying to share a method of cooking and eating, that when combined with other fully healthy eating habits and regular exercise allow me to feel fit and full. If you decide to start eating ramen every day (even if you prepare it like this) and then try to complain to me about gaining weight I will either ignore you completely, or publicly deride you for lack of common sense. Anyways, let's get on with it ;)
Step 1: Break the ramen in half. Keep one half... and throw the other one away. I know it seems like a lot, but the reality is that if you follow my guidelines you won't miss it. The average package of ramen has between 400-500 calories. Which by the caloric numbers alone isn't that bad. An average meal should be about that much; however, these are completely empty calories - saturated fats, simple carbohydrates, and low protiens - so pretty much no nutritional value whatsoever. By throwing away half you drop the starting point to about 200, leaving room to fill the other 200 with real food that will keep you fuller for longer, and surprise! Actually nourish your body.
Step 2: Add Three Different Vegetables - As a general rule I start by cutting up a few cloves of garlic and about half a small onion for taste. Garlic is good for your immunity, and helps to clean toxins out of your body. Onions I don't know... but I they taste good in soup. Next, I add at least three vegetables, two of which should be green. My favorites combination is broccoli, Chinese cabbage, and mushrooms. Really anything will do, but make sure you have at least two green (or purple ones): spinach, kale, broccoli, and cabbage are all good choices.
Step 3: Add Two Sources of Protein - Adding protein will help you fill up faster, and stay full longer. Proteins are slow burn nutrients (when compared to simple carbohydrates, such as ramen noodles), so adding a healthy serving to your noodles will give you much more bang for your buck, meaning you won't eat and then be hungry again an hour later. Good sources of lean protein include chicken, eggs, tofu, and fish. You can also add beef or pork, however the fat content is significantly higher.
Step 4: Get cooking! Generally, I add the garlic and onions first, because otherwise they end up too pungent. Cut all the vegetables, and add at the same time as the noodles. There are two reasons you don't want the vegetables boiling all that long. One, boiling vegetables causes the nutrients to to break down, which significantly reduces their health-factor, and two, soggy vegetables are just gross. At the end, throw in your proteins and cook until done.
So let's recap. The secret to healthy(er) ramen is this:
- Half the noodles
- Three different vegetables (two of which are green)
- Two sources of lean protein
If you follow these guidelines, you will end up with a meal that comes out to about 400 calories, has decent nutritional value, is satisfying and delicious, and will not break the diet-bank (depending on the diet). Again, I recognize that ramen will never be a legitimately healthy food: the fat, sodium, and artificial ingredients are simply too high. However, preparing it in this manner is a decent compromise between your wallet, your diet, and your tastebuds. Also, if you want go the extra extra mile you can decrease the salt and fat content even further by using only half the flavor packet, and then substituting with low sodium chicken broth.
I don't really believe in dieting, as I think it's unsustainable in the long-term; however, I do believe in eating in a way that is not only satisfying to your taste buds, but your body as well. There are so many ways to shape your food habits in small, effective, and most importantly sustainable steps that can help you to lose or maintain your weight, have more energy, and generally just feel better.
Have you ever made ramen this way? What did you think? If you enjoyed this or found it helpful, please share with your friends. Remember, sharing is caring!! Hit me up on Facebook, on Twitter @abeautifulview0, or comment below with you favorite healthy(er) kitchen hacks, and I'll be sure to share my favorites :)
Enjoy the beautiful view!