This High-Protein Cheesy Ramen Is the Ultimate Comfort Food
When it comes to mac and cheese, the old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," most certainly applies. With its comforting carbohydrates, gorgeously creamy texture, and ability to satisfy the strongest salty cravings, the tried-and-true pasta dish is the perfect example of food worthy of the chef's kiss emoji.
But recently, TikTok users have essentially said to hell with that cliché and are putting an international twist on the American dish, swapping the standard elbow noodles with ramen — Chinese-style wheat or egg noodles that are traditionally served in broth in Japan. To create the fusion meal, as demonstrated by @thegoldenbalance, add garlic, chili flakes, butter, cream, and cheese to a hot skillet. Stir together until smooth, then swirl tender ramen, as well as some of the water it was cooked in, into the creamy sauce. Next, mix in the ramen's seasoning packet, and voilà — an incredibly cheesy, slurpable dish that the TikToker calls "a 10 out of 10."
While cheesy ramen will undoubtedly score top marks from your taste buds, it can be lacking in the nutrition department. If you were to use a packet of Maruchan's chicken-flavored instant ramen, for example, you'd cop less than 2 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein. Do a little math wizardry, and that's just 7 percent of the recommended dietary allowance for fiber, which helps keep your number twos regular and increases satiety, and 17 percent of the RDA for protein, a macronutrient that helps build and repair cells, tissue, and muscle.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with devouring a cheesy meal that's short on key nutrients when the craving strikes. But amping up the dish's nutritional qualities, if you're in the mood to do so, can be as easy as using protein-packed ramen, such as one from immi. The instant ramen company has reinvented the noodle to be entirely plant-based, high-protein, and high-fiber, using ingredients such as pumpkin seed protein, wheat, and food starch. Thanks to its out-of-the-box recipe, one packet of immi's black garlic ″chicken″-flavored ramen boasts a whopping 22 grams of protein and 18 grams of fiber, roughly 48 percent and 64 percent of the RDAs for the nutrients, respectively. (Related: These Dietitian-Approved High-Protein Snacks Will Keep You from Getting Hangry)
Regardless of the exact type of noodle used, combining it with good-for-you fixings can also boost your cheesy ramen's nutrition and flavor profiles. Toss the noodles with diced cherry tomatoes, leafy greens, sliced mushrooms, or broccoli florets to up the fiber content and incorporate additional vitamins and minerals into the dish. Mix in crumbled tempeh, crispy chickpeas, or roasted chicken to score a punch of protein in every bite. Or, top it off with sriracha à la TikToker @snackqween, who calls her cheesy ramen concoction "a work of art."
Ready to join the mac and cheese revolution? Stock up on immi's high-protein ramen or put all the packets that have been sitting in your pantry since college to good use and whip up a skillet full of cheesy ramen tonight. Your taste buds will be so glad you did.