Amy’s bean and rice burritos. One of the only healthy-ish items at the campus market I could purchase with my “meal plan card” to heat up in my dorm room’s microwave for dinner. Those burritos = my freshman year of college. My daily grub would usually consist of a protein bar, some fruit, maybe a yogurt, lots of coffee (thankfully the Starbucks on campus took our “meal cards” as well. Some might say I was a loyal customer. Others, an addict. I say, same-diff), an Amy’s microwave burrito, and to end the night right – a few dixie cups worth of peanut m&ms. Its really a wonder that I’m not diabetic. From high school through college I ate the largest cup of peanut m&ms for dessert every night. I would be a health-nut all day just for that nightly indulgence. Ah, I miss those blissful days of ignorance. And the smell. The microwaved-Amy’s-burrito-smell. I’m sure my roommate, Kat, could have smelled a few less burritos and been okay. But I smelled my fair share of her frozen taquitos getting nuked, too. (Oh! Those nights when we would treat ourselves and have a roomie-date at Rubios, do you remember those Kat? Just so we could have our favorite taquitos loaded with guac and salsa. THE BEST.)
Living in a small space, whether it be a dorm room or your post-college-but-the-economy-still-sucks-tiny-apartment, can make it tricky when it comes to preparing meals that weren’t already prepared for you. I know firsthand from my small-budget college days, and my still-small-budget married days. Which is why I am excited to bring you an inexpensive, healthy twist on a college staple I am just now discovering. Ramen. And its getting all dressed-up.
I was ecstatic to find packages of ramen at our neighborhood health food store that were gluten free! Made with yummy ingredients like millet and brown rice. Even forbidden rice! I stashed away the flavoring packets they came with for a quick miso soup another night, and added a few ingredients of my own to create these spicy thai ramen bowls. Simple additions of coconut milk and sriracha to the broth give it a spicy but creamy flavor. Cubes of tofu add inexpensive protein, and the toppings take it to the next level. A handful of chopped peanuts, a few pinches of cilantro leaves, chopped scallions, and a squeeze of fresh lime are the stars of this dish. The best part? You can enjoy this loaded bowl for under five bucks. Plus, its ready in under ten minutes. Seeing as we don’t own a microwave, I found a simple way to prepare the noodles with just a kettle of boiling water and a plate to trap the heat. Whether you are on a budget or not, this quick dinner is one I would recommend giving a try. If nothing else, to redeem ramen’s reputation (and to use up those leftover scallions you bought a bunch of at the market for only ninety-seven cents but still can’t bring yourself to let go to waste).
I originally created this recipe for the Urban Outfitters Blog. I’ve also included the recipe here below. Thank you Urban Outfitters for sponsoring this post!
SPICY THAI COCONUT RAMEN W/ PEANUTS + SCALLIONS + CILANTRO
Serves 1 hungry person, or 2 semi-hungry persons.
1 block of ramen noodles
2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup canned full fat coconut milk
sriracha to taste (I used about 2 tablespoons)
salt to taste
half a block of firm tofu
a handful of chopped peanuts (roasted and unsalted)
1 scallion, chopped
few pinches of fresh cilantro leaves
fresh lime wedges
Begin by placing the dry ramen noodles in a bowl. Pour the 2 cups of boiling water over the ramen, and place a plate on top of the bowl to trap the heat. Let it set for about 7 to 8 minutes for the noodles to fully cook. Remove the plate and break up the noodles with a fork.
Add the coconut milk, sriracha, and salt to taste. Drain the tofu and chop into cubes. Place between a few sheets of paper towels and press gently to remove as much water as possible. Add the tofu to the bowl of noodles.
Top with chopped peanuts, scallions, cilantro, a squeeze of fresh lime juice — and dig in!