Budget #WFPB No. 1: Ramen

Ramen noodles are the proverbial budget food, and notoriously unhealthy, yet with very little effort you can prepare them in a very healthy way. The recipe I’ll discuss here is from the Josh Donald’s book Sharp, which in my view it one of the best books about knives and knife skills that is on the market today. The recipe itself is from Kelly Kozak, who is co-owner of Bernal Cutlery in San Francisco.

In its simplest form, to make this #WFPB style, you could use these whoe grain Ramen Noodles:

Notice that three of them have some form of dried soup stock with them and the Millet & Brown Rice comes without any, so you have to roll your own. The choice is yours.

Now you wash some collard leaves, strip the stems out of a few leaves (or even only one if they are very large). Then, roll up the leaves into a cigar-like roll, and slice the roll in fine strips with a prep knife, a chef knife, a nakiri, or an usuba. You cook the noodles in two cups of water, or your own broth and just add in the strips of collards before serving, so they wilt. This will get you a very tasty lunch in almost no time. Collard greens are extremely healthy and satisfying.

Getting Fancy

If you want to get fancy, you can. Here are some options:

  • You can top it with thinly sliced scallion.
  • You could add some seaweed, like some wakame or hijiki – soak and rinse it first and cook it along with the veggies and noodles.
  • You can add some daikon, cut in thin slivers, or, if you have an usuba, or a mukimono, you can cut it katsuramuki style, and cut it in strips like the collard greens
  • For broth, you can use store bought veggie broth, or make your own, or make your own dashi with some wakame, and shiitake mushrooms.

Nutritional: Miso, Salt, Whole Food

If you compare my notes to what’s in the book, I am deviating slightly by explicitly pointing to commercially available whole grain noodles in the context of the #WFPB nutritional paradigm. Also, these Lotus Foods products are lower in sodium.

The story with salt is very simple, our body needs some, but in a Western diet, we typically get too much, and it sneaks up on us because it is in “everything,” meaning mostly prepared foods. That is one good reason to rinse canned beans before using them and/or buying the low sodium varieties to begin with. If you cook without, or at least with very little salt, people tend to use taste makers like Braggs Liquid Aminos, which has less salt than even low sodium soy sauce.

But… then there is the question of miso, which is a very salty condiment. Conveniently, the indefatigable Dr. Michael Greger did a video on his Nutritionfacts channel about miso and it turns out that for some reason the salt in miso does not raise bloodpressure, nor does it seem to increase the risk of stomach cancer as many pickled foods tend to do.

Lastly, collard greens is wildly healthy, as are all leafy greens – they all help with creation of nitric oxide when you chew and digest them, which is why they are high on the list regarding heart health. Many plant-based cardiologists recommend 4-6 portions of leafy greens per day for that reason.
In short, kale is satisfying because it’s a bit chewy, it is rich in nutrtition and again the subtle way of cutting it in these thin slivers and flash boiling it changes the taste you are creating. Here you have a nice quick meal with minimum fuss and lots of nutrition.

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