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Healthier Japanese Ramen

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
September 28, 2023
September 28, 2023

Ramen in restaurants aren’t much considered a “healthy dish” in Japan. To start with, it’s a lot of white flour based noodles for one meal, and thus is very starchy and not good for blood sugar control. Secondly, the broth is generally quite salty and may have some added fats.  

For example, many Japanese women avoid ramen of any kind like the plague, especially tonkotsu made with pork bones that’s extremely rich.  A lot of Japanese also eat broth as long as they’re slurping the noodles, but consider the stock itself is more a sauce and won’t drink what’s left, because it’s too salty and fat to drink on its own.

If you really want a healthy option for ramen -- I'll give you a nice recipe below. In a pinch, f you pick instant ramen and throw away the soup to make your own, throw in a lot of vegetables, include a good quality protein like lean meat, egg,  or tofu, then chances are that despite the instant noodles this ramen will be  healthier than the average bowl of real ramen eaten at a restaurant.  But if you want some top-notch healthy ramen, try my soba noodle ramen recipe below.

Healthier Japanese Ramen

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth**
  • 4 to 6 ounces 100% buckwheat or soba noodles
  • 1 bunch (about 8 leaves) swiss chard, trimmed and washed, stems removed, spinach, or bok choy
  • 1 cup shredded chicken or 1 1/2 cups cubed firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, halved
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

**Make your own vegetable broth by boiling for 4 hours: 1 gallon of water with 1 quartered onion, 1 carrot, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 bay leaves,  and 1 tbsp sliced fresh ginger (Add 1 thai chili if you want it extra spicy).

  1. Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat.
  2. Add sliced mushrooms and cook for 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic and ginger; continue to cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.
  4. Add soy sauce and stir; cook for 3 minutes or until mushrooms are soft.
  5. Stir in vegetable broth and bring to a boil.
  6. Add noodles, greens and protein (chicken or tofu); cook until the noodles are tender, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and ladle into soup bowls.
  8. Garnish with shredded carrots, scallions, hard boiled eggs, and toasted sesame seeds.
  9. Serve.

This recipe serves 4 people

Nutrition facts for this ramen:

Calories 318
Total Fat 13 g
Saturated Fat 2 g
Cholesterol 186 mg
Sodium 410 mg
Potassium 765 mg
Total Carbohydrates 37 g
Dietary Fiber 3 g
Sugars 6 g
Protein 15 g

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