You Are What You Eat: Rescuing Ramen – How to make ramen noodles a low-salt meal
By Katy Wilkens, MS, RD
Just about everyone eats ramen noodles. Those precooked, dried noodles are a quick favorite in college dorms, cafeterias and on backpacking trips.
Quick they may be, but low in sodium they aren’t! We’ve surveyed several brands and realized that not all ramen noodles are the same. Some had a quarter of the salt as others. Even the lower-salt packages aren’t ideal. Eating one will still have you well on your way to your daily 2,000 mg salt limit.
The best way to use ramen noodles is to buy the type in a block and avoid using most of the seasoning, since the majority of the salt is in that seasoning pack. Use just 1/2 teaspoon of the seasoning packet to keep the salt down. You can pump up the flavor with other low-salt additions.
Ramen Noodle Soup for Two
2 cups water
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
1/2 cup leftover meat, chicken or 1 egg
1 pack ramen noodles
3 ounces diced tofu
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon ramen seasoning packet
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Bring water to a boil. Add vegetables, ramen noodles and seasoning to create the broth. If using an egg, blend with a fork and pour it slowly into boiling broth, swirling the broth as you pour. Continue stirring until the egg is fully incorporated. Remove from heat when cooked to desired texture. Add tofu, scallions and sesame oil.
Use canned shrimp in addition to or instead of tofu. Rinse shrimp thoroughly before adding to broth.
Use leftover cooked meat. Slice meat thinly, then add it to the boiling water with ramen noodles and vegetables.
For some added heat, use hot chili oil or hot sesame oil in lieu of plain sesame oil.
Carbohydrates: 43 g
Protein: 12 g
Fat: 11 g
Sodium: 470 mg
Chinese Chicken Salad
2 chicken breasts, boiled and shredded or finely chopped
1 head of lettuce, washed and sliced thinly
3 green onions, sliced thinly
2 celery stalks, sliced thinly
2 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
1 small cucumber, peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 pack ramen noodles
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Mix all salad ingredients together. Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour on salad just before serving
Tip: To save time, boil and shred the chicken the day before. To prevent it from drying out, add 1/4 cup of the water it was boiled in (or 1/4 cup of salad dressing) to it. Keep the chicken in the refrigerator until the next day.
Carbohydrates: 25 g
Protein: 13 g
Fat: 17 g
Sodium: 105 mg
Ramen Snack Mix
1 pack of ramen noodles, crushed
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
Toast the crushed ramen noodles in a frying pan over medium heat until lightly browned. Add the cranberries, apricots and almonds
Use any dried fruit.
Add 1/4 cup chocolate chips for a touch of sweetness.
Carbohydrates: 54 g
Protein: 6 g
Fat: 8 g
Sodium: 85 mg
Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. She has a Master of Science degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Washington.