Awhile ago, I stood in a line winding down a New York street waiting to go downstairs into pretty much a dive of a Ramen restaurant. They didn't open a plastic bag of noodles and I didn't see any seasoning packets in site. Instead, there were pots of house made broth bubbling away with seasonings secured in a cheesecloth; bouquet garni style. It was trendy; it was New York and it was delicious.
Sadly most people do not indulge in Ramen made from scratch, but rather the instant variety. Raise your hand if you have eaten more of the stuff than what you would like to admit. I'm talking about the noodles with the little seasoning package all wrapped up in plastic: the quintessential college food. It's what too many people make when they are either too tired to prepare food, or too broke to buy anything else. It is true, it's cheap, but unfortunately it isn't good for us. Research has indicated that consuming instant Ramen 2 or more times a week increases the likelihood of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke as well as a host of other problems. You might say, well I don't eat ramen that often, so I'm ok, right? Wrong. Statistically, our lives will be shorter than our parents. The lifespan of our children will be shorter than our own. Why? The lack of Real Food in our diet. Ramen is not the only culprit. Our food supply has become increasingly more convenience based and less and less Real Food based. So what do we do? Start by eating real food. Food that we can recognize: an apple, a carrot, whole oat groats, instead of things like highly processed cereals, bread products, crackers, chips, pasteurized and homogenized milk, a plastic tub of dried and highly processed powdered vegetables, protein powders, and heaven forbid, the newest trend on the market: chocolate bone broth. That's not bone broth people. Stick some bones in a pot, add some water, an onion and simmer. If you're too busy to do that; you're too busy! It comes at a cost, namely your health!
However, there's hope for your Ramen fix. I have developed a seasoning for ramen that comes from real food, no msg, or other nasty unidentifiable ingredients. You can use it with water much like you would use the seasoning package from Ramen; however, I strongly recommend that you stir it into plain, unsalted homemade bone broth for maximum nutrition and depth of flavor. When you make it with gelatinous, rich bone broth, you will get that awe and satisfied feeling that you have when you eat wholesome, healing and nutrient dense food. It will also keep you satisfied longer than just water.
When it comes to Ramen, any fusion of ingredients really goes. If it sounds good to you, go for it. Since I always have prepped vegetables, eggs and broth in my fridge, this is a meal that can come together in just a few minutes. I pull out prepped veggies, cook some Asian brown rice noodles and heat broth. Then I let my family assemble their own bowls and ladle hot broth over the top. I like to use add-ins that do not need to be cooked, but can just be heated by pouring hot broth over them. For example, a halved boiled egg, thinly sliced mushrooms, thinly sliced bell peppers, bean sprouts, already cooked chicken or beef from the roast that I have made the bone broth out of, carrot ribbons, spinach, bok choy etc. Asian style 100% whole grain brown rice noodles cook in 4-5 minutes and are a great option. This meal is fast, easy, healthy and everyone has a happy tummy.
Below are few of my ramen bowl ideas. Keep it simple! You don't need to go overboard on the ingredients, just a few veggies, and an egg is really delicious.
1 cup unsalted bone broth; unsalted vegetable broth, or water
1 tsp. RealTaste Zen Seasoning
1 tsp. organic, good quality soy sauce, or alternative
1/4 tsp. organic, raw apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. pure, organic maple syrup, optional
Family Size: Serves 6
6 cups unsalted bone broth; unsalted vegetable broth, or water
2 Tbsp. RealTaste Zen Seasoning
2 Tbsp. organic, good quality soy sauce, or alternative
1 1/2 tsp. organic, raw apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. pure, organic maple syrup, optional
1. Heat broth, or water.
2. Add Zen, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup.
3. Adjust with more Zen to taste, if needed.
4. Place desired add-ins in a bowl.
5. Pour hot broth over the ingredients in bowl.
eggs: boiled or poached
bell peppers, thinly sliced
carrot ribbons, or shredded
zucchini, sliced thin or ribbons
spinach or other greens
herbs: cilantro, basil
organic, 100% whole grain, Asian-style brown rice noodles. These cook in 5 minutes and store well in the fridge. Drain them in a colander and run cold water over them to rise off the extra starch that makes them sticky. They can be stored in the fridge until using.
buckwheat soba noodles
Additional Flavoring Options
organic, good quality miso paste. It's salty so reduce the amount of Zen seasoning that you add, if you choose to add miso.
cayenne, or red pepper flakes
Pack a thermos full of steaming hot broth and a container of ramen fixings. We find that it's best to pre-heat your thermos to keep food hot longer. This means to pour steaming hot water into the thermos and place the lid on it for a minute or so. Empty the water and add the food/broth to the thermos. While layering ingredients in a mason jar is cute and fun; it is not so practical for eating, unless you like to eat things in layers. So, either mix ingredients up in the jar as you are filling it, layer ingredients in a lidded bowl or container, or bring along a bowl to empty it into.
You will notice some sediment in the bottom of your broth as it sits. This is due to the fact that the Zen Seasoning is made of real food and Real Salt. Real food has fibers that don't easily dissolve in liquid. Real Salt is unrefined. It has trace minerals; some of which don't dissolve in water; however, they are bio-available for your body and they are good for you. So the sediment in the bottom of your broth is a good thing. It means you are eating real food, so shake it up, stir it up and enjoy!
Feel free to play around with the healthy soy sauce, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup to suit your tastes.
Add more apple cider vinegar and maple syrup for a sweet and sour soup.