Reinventing the ramen

Final exam season is fast approaching. Time students once spent eating, sleeping and bathing will soon be consumed by one thing-intense and obsessive study. In the rush to feed themselves between cramming sessions, many students will turn to an old standby for their nourishment: ramen noodles.

Some love ramen and some hate it, but its benefits are clear. Ramen is cheap, making it the perfect food for strapped-for-cash college students.

“I get excited when I can buy 10 of them for a dollar,” said Rebekah Coleman, a senior biology major. “That’s like a week’s worth of meals.”

Ramen is also time-management friendly, taking a mere three minutes to cook and providing the overworked mind with a quick carbohydrate boost. But ramen also has a negative side.

“Ramen noodles are very limited in nutrients,” said Mona Yetter, a nutritionist with the women, infants and children division of Food and Nutrition Service. “They are certainly a cheap source of calories but you won’t get many nutrients along with these calories.”

But there is no reason for Ramen eaters to despair. Ramen can be transformed from little more than empty calories to a healthy dish simply by discarding the flavor packet-which is a source of massive amounts of sodium – and adding nutritious vegetables and spices to the noodles.

Below are four suggestions on how to make ramen noodles tastier and healthier. Since time is of the essence during finals season, none of these recipes takes much longer to prepare than a bowl of ramen. The meals can be made in a dorm room and to top it off, the ingredients are fairly inexpensive.

Keep in mind that the recipes listed below are only suggestions. Ramen is a versatile noodle, so feel free to add whatever your taste buds desire.

Spicy Southwestern Ramen
Prep time: 3 minutes
Cooking time: 3 minutes

1 package ramen noodles (flavor unimportant)
¼ cup seasoned canned black beans
¼ cup frozen corn
¼ tsp. chili powder
½ tbsp. olive oil
Salt to taste

-Discard flavor packet and boil noodles for three minutes or until they are al dente, when they’ve been cooked enough to be firm but not too soft.

-While noodles are boiling, add frozen corn
-Drain corn and noodles
-Add beans, chili powder, salt and olive oil
-Stir ingredients together and enjoy!

Ramen a la Tuna
Prep time: 3 minutes
Cooking time: 3 minutes

1 package ramen noodles (flavor unimportant)
3 oz. can of albacore tuna
½ tbsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

-Discard flavor packet and boil ramen for three minutes or until noodles are al dente
-Strain noodles
-Drain tuna and add to noodles
-Add olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper
-Gently stir ingredients together and enjoy!

Ramen Soup, Kobialka Style
Prep time: 1 minute
Cooking time: 3 minutes

1 package chicken-flavored ramen noodles
½ cup frozen vegetables (a combination of carrots, peas and corn works well, but any vegetables will do)
Crushed red pepper to taste

-Boil ramen for three minutes
-Add vegetables and flavor packet after noodles have boiled for one minute
-Add crushed red pepper to taste. If you don’t like red pepper, try black pepper or omit pepper altogether.
-Pour noodles and broth into bowl and enjoy!

Ramen Pasta Salad
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 3 minutes

1 package ramen noodles (flavor unimportant)
¼ cup lettuce, finely chopped
¼ cup tomato, finely chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp basil
Salt and pepper to taste

-Discard flavor packet, and boil ramen for three minutes or until noodles are al dente
-Drain ramen and add vegetables, olive oil, basil and lemon juice
-Season with salt and pepper
-Toss ingredients together, and enjoy!

Recipes by Daniel Kristie, except Ramen Soup Kobialka Style, used with permission by Matt Kobialka, a senior history major.

Other easy to perk-up foods:
Frozen pizza – add vegetables, sliced cheese or meat.
Yogurt – add oatmeal, nuts and fresh fruit.
Eggs – scramble, fry or make an omelet with cheese, vegetables and meats.

Daniel J. Kristie can be reached at

1 Comment

  1. During my college days, I make sure I have stock of instant noodles on my food cabinet. It’s the easiest food to prepare. All you have to do is add hot water and viola! your food is ready to eat.

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