Why you should care

A healthier ramen? Hell, yeah!

For years, instant ramen has held a rightful place in the junk food hall of fame. Those solid bricks of preformed curly noodles — deep-fried for speedy cooking and accompanied by sodium-laden flavor packets laced with MSG — are about as healthy as Pop-Tarts. But lately a new kind of healthy ramen is transforming the college dorm-room staple into the next superfood.

Nutritious, organic, baked-not-fried versions have been bubbling up not only on the food truck and restaurant scene, but also on the massive in-store instant noodle market — which hit 100 billion units in 2012.

Ramen noodles: The next superfood?

Of course, these changes come at a cost to consumers — to the undergrads, starving artists and roadtrippers who eat ramen simply because, at $1.50 for a six-pack, it’s so ridiculously cheap. Rehabbed ramens can run $2 to $3 each. So, they’re still well within the realm of affordable, just not comically so.

And while these steamy bowls of noodles might not be as healthy as, say, a kale salad or an açai-chia seed smoothie, which one would you rather eat this winter?

Ramens We’re Slurping Right Now

GreeNoodle

What you get: Looks a lot like the old ramen, but contains two noodle bricks and flecks of the green moroheiya vegetable. Comes with or without soup flavor packets, which include shiitake and tom yum.

How it tastes: Delivers that satisfying chewiness of old-school ramen, with a mild veggie flavor.

Superfood status: Contains moroheiya (mulukhiya in Middle Eastern and North African cuisines), the dark green leaves of the Corchorus plant, which packs an antioxidant punch and boasts higher levels of beta carotene, calcium and B vitamins than other superfood stars like spinach and broccoli.

Availability: Most Asian food markets and online at greenoodle.com

King Soba Organic Edamame Miso Ramen

What you get: A single-serving of dried skinny brown noodles and a miso sprinkle with edamame bits and spring onions

How it tastes: The noodles are less ramen, more buckwheat vermicelli, steeped in a rich soup.

Superfood status: The double whammy of soybeans from the edamame and miso combined with 100% buckwheat for the noodles adds up to triple superfood points. Bonus: Each serving’s 11 grams of protein is almost equivalent to eating two eggs; and 7 grams of fiber is more than 25% of the daily recommended amount for women.

Availability: Whole Foods Market and various online retailers.

Dr. McDougall’s Vegan Ramen Chicken Flavor

What you get: Ramen noodles of various flavors (chicken, beef) in a forest-friendly recyclable cup you fill with hot water or pop in the microwave. Ideal for nostalgic types who miss the classic Nissin Cup Noodles.

How it tastes: The texture of its baked noodles differs from other instant ramen noodles, but that’s pretty much the caveat for all ”cup” noodles.

Superfood status: Do tiny bits of dehydrated spinach count? Also loaded with vegan and organic ingredients and lacking the unhealthy stuff.

Availability: Pretty much everywhere; six-packs sold at Walmart.

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