DIVAS ON A DIME: Ramen noodles get a healthy upgrade

By Patti Diamond


Ditch the flavor packet; add vegetables and protein to make healthier ramen noodles. (www.JasonCoblentz.com)

Each time I visit the grocery store, two things happen. First, I see food prices continuing to rise. Second, I snoop to see what other people have in their carts. Not a casual glance either — I really look. I learn a great deal about the family behind the cart.

Lately, I’m seeing more cases of ramen going home with people than usual. This indicates that folks are trying to stretch their family food budget, even if they know it’s not as healthy as they’d like. I suggest, since we’re eating ramen, let’s make it healthier.

First, the good news: Ramen contains some iron! It’s made from wheat flour that’s been fortified with synthetic forms of nutrients like iron and some B vitamins.

Now the bad news: It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that ramen isn’t healthy. But it’s important to understand why. Ramen noodles are highly processed, made from wheat flour, vegetable oils, flavor enhancers and preservatives, which can be harmful to your health. Ramen is nutritionally void! In addition to that, it’s a giant sodium bomb.

When you read the nutrition label (you do read those labels, don’t you?), you’ll notice a typical serving of ramen has around 190 calories, 27 grams carbs, 7 grams fat, 1 gram fiber and a whopping 890 milligrams of sodium. But wait! Did you notice each package contains two servings? So, double all those numbers and now they’re accurate.

Eaten occasionally, less than once per week, ramen won’t harm your health. Here are several ways to make this convenient dish healthier.


Ditch the flavor packet: The seasoning packet is ground zero in terms of sodium. Boil noodles in water or low-sodium chicken or beef broth to make soup.

Add vegetables: Fresh or frozen vegetables add nutrients that ramen noodles lack. Try adding peas, carrots, broccoli, onions or spinach to ramen.

Add protein: Ramen noodles are low in protein, so adding eggs, chicken, pork or tofu provides protein that will keep you fuller longer.


With that said, if we’re going to occasionally eat something that’s not healthy, it’d better taste ridiculously delicious. Here’s an awesome recipe for Sesame Noodles using ramen noodles. Look, Ma! No seasoning packets!




This decadent snack is ready in the time it takes to boil the noodles.


Yield: 2 servings  Time: 10 minutes


1 package ramen noodles, seasoning packet discarded

1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced

1 cup bok choy greens or spinach, sliced

1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon chili garlic paste

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1 green onion, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds


  1. Bring a pot of water to boil for the noodles. Once the water boils, add the noodles and cook for 3 minutes. While the water is heating up, mince the garlic and ginger.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the coconut oil or butter; once melted, add in the garlic and ginger. Cook for 1 minute, then add the bok choy or spinach and saute for one minute more. Stir in soy sauce, sugar and chili garlic paste.
  3. Remove pan from heat and add the sesame oil. Add the cooked and drained noodles to the skillet and toss well to coat. Serve with green onions and sesame seeds.

I don’t usually say “This is terrible for you, but here’s a great recipe.” Or perhaps I don’t do it often enough. It’s no worse than a doughnut for breakfast, plus there’s iron. This was delicious.


Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of the website “Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com


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