Instant ramen may not be the healthiest of food choices, but it certainly is one of the most popular ones. At least when it comes to college adults and early-twenty-somethings. That’s because instant ramen has two very big things going for it: It’s cheap and it’s easy to make. You throw the package in a bowl, add water, shove it in the microwave or atop the stovetop, and bam, insta-meal. Additionally, this salty and savory bundle of noodles are great for things like warming you up on a cold winter day or filling you up if you want a snack but aren’t that hungry.
However, if you’re just doing water and noodles, then you’re really missing out. Just because ramen is cheap doesn’t mean you can’t spice it up some. Adding things to your basic instant noodles dish will notably make it taste a lot better, no brainer. But upgrading this dish can also ensure you get key nutrients that you might be missing out otherwise on, making it an easy, healthy meal. The following is a look at a few quick and easy ways to dress up your noodles on the cheap:
3 Tips for Better Instant Ramen
1. Make it Buff
While there might be a lot of this-way and that-way conversations when it comes to fat and carbs, just about everyone agrees protein is essential. Protein is a macronutrient that is most commonly found in animal-based products (like porn and beef) but also is present in alternative sources like nuts and legumes (think soy-based products). Getting enough protein is important because protein helps increase muscle mass and strength, fills you up and reduces cravings, reduces your blood pressure, and, as it serves as a main building block for organs and tissues, helps you more quickly recover from an injury.
In addition to these health benefits, proteins simply add some key flavor and texture differences that make ramen more enjoyable. There’s also plenty of cheap protein options. You might add in a hard-boiled egg after cooking or crack an egg during boiling. Or grab already cooked smoked ham, cut into tiny slices and sprinkle onto your ramen post-cooking. Want to get fancier? Grill some chicken and slice and dice it.
2. Make it Green
Protein is certainly important, but we know there are also probably a lot of other meals in which you’re adding protein. After all, meat is pretty much a centerpiece item here in Texas. What you might not often get, however, is enough veggies. Yet, veggies are incredibly easy to add to a ramen dish and you can get them really cheap at your neighborhood Aldi’s or local farmer’s market.
The best choice is to use fresh vegetables and ones that pack in a lot of nutrients. Think tomatoes, carrots, onions, and green beans. All of these are easy and cheap to buy in bulk and can be easily chopped and thrown into your ramen dish either as it’s boiling or afterward for a more crunchy texture. For a really fancy take on ramen, go for the baby bok choy and tiny corn. If you can’t keep fresh veggies fresh, then opt for the frozen packages. The frozen corn, pea, and other medleys are great for this kind of thing as you only have to throw them while boiling and they’ll be ready when the rest of the dish is.
3. Make it Creamier
You can cook or prepare ramen in a couple of different ways. You can choose to make it more soup-like by having excess water in it, allowing for more of a spoon-type of eating situation with the above additions sort of floating in it. Or you can choose to strain the noodles and eat the dish more as a traditional spaghetti meal. Either way is fine, but if you do prefer to have a more noodle/strain-friendly dish, then consider adding some cheese to make it creamier.
Cheese is a fantastic source of calcium, fat, and, yes, even protein. It also comes packed with a ton of vitamins and zinc which helps the immune system fight off ugly viruses and bacteria that would otherwise make you sick. Additionally, adding some cheese to your ramen will make it creamier, similar to how it makes mac n’ cheese creamier. When it comes to which cheese you use, the decision is up to you. Parmesan or crumbled feta added after the ramen has sat for a second is great for just a touch of cheese. But if you really wanna go big, cut up some cheese slices and stir it in.
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