Thrifty Thursdays: Guilt-Free Veggie Ramen

I have a confession to make; one that may jeopardize how you feel about me and my proclaimed healthy-eating habits...
I love Top Ramen.
Why does it feel dirty to simply type it? Yet, It's true- ever since I was little (as in middle-school when I wanted to "cook for myself"... not little as in I was raised on the stuff) I have had a fondness of the dehydrated noodle block and mystery seasoning packet combo "meal" that seems like a great bargain at around $0.15 a pop. Don't judge me. It's not like I ate/eat it every day... it is just a sort of rebellious indulgence (yes, I know that word is reserved for things like foreign chocolates and expensive cheese...but humor me) every once in a while...for instance: when your husband leaves for a week on business and you let all the talk about cooking-well-for-one fall to the wayside. Which brings me to this week's Thrifty Thursday recipe- my very own health-conscious, veggie-packed version of the beloved dorm-room staple...sans the blood-pressure-raising, sodium-death-bomb "mystery" seasoning packet, and with a whole lot of creative flare. 

Not only will this guilt-free recipe satisfy your own salty-ramen craving, but it will make more than enough for leftovers to get you, and your dorm-mate, through a few days of hellish final exams, or at least a few nights at home in front of the TV- tuned to some trashy reality show (it's probably scientifically proven that Ramen tastes 10 times better when you're invested in some other 'forbidden' activity). It's Ramen, only better...still quick n' cheap but without the need to store it out of sight in a cupboard, behind the couscous and trail mix. Enjoy!

Guilt-Free Veggie "Top" Ramen 
about $8 makes 6 servings

1 package Chinese chowmein or ramen noodles (I found them at WF in the Asian section)
1 32oz box vegetable broth
1tbsp lemongrass paste
1 tbsp ginger paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 head baby bok choy
1/2c carrots, chopped
1/4c red bell pepper, chopped
1/4c sweet/yellow onion chopped
1/2c cilantro, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1c shitake mushrooms (dried/soaked or fresh)
2 lime wedges
1 egg lightly beaten (optional)
1 tsp chili powder
salt, pepper to taste

1. Cook noodles according to directions on package. Drain.
2. Bring vegetable broth to a boil. Add lemongrass & ginger paste, soy sauce, garlic, onion, stir well for 2 minutes.
3. Add carrots, bell pepper, mushrooms, bok choy. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.
4. Add noodles, cilantro, chili powder, lime juice from wedges, salt, pepper to taste. If using an egg, pour it slowly into the pot, stirring quickly, it cooks almost instantly). 
5. Make it fancy-lookin' with cilantro garnish! 

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