Okay, I do love to cook but this dinner thing every night for three unpredictable little boys is taking its toll. And let’s not even get into the school lunches (and snacks), three a day, five times a week. At my last trip to the supermarket I was so tempted to just buy a family size pack of instant ramen noodles. A) Because I know my kids would love them, and B) because it was instant! Instant happiness for all! No prep, no clean-up, no tantrums at the table.
Back in my college days, when life was simpler, this was practically all I ate. Sometimes just as a soup, like the package directions dictate. Other times, my roommates and I would get fancy and add some rotisserie chicken. If we were on a health kick some broccoli went into the mix. Shrimp, chicken, beef and pork were the flavor options, although I believe they all tasted the same. Somehow I never seemed to tire of the salty dish, hopefully I didn’t do any long term damage to my body with all of those preservatives.
I didn’t think much about sodium, preservatives or fat grams back then so I never bothered checking the nutritional label of my favorite cuisine. The manufacturers are kind of sneaky because in their minds, ½ a package is a serving so the package actually has twice the fat and sodium listed. But let’s be honest, who eats only ½ of that package??? Little did I know I was consuming 14 grams of fat and 1580 mg of sodium! Yikes – no wonder I gained so much weight freshman year!
Although I’m sure my kids will discover the joys of instant noodles when they head off to college, this week I’m trying a healthier version.
Pork Ramen Bowl
1-1/2 lb. pork tenderloin
¼ cup low sodium soy sauce, plus extra for seasoning
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp Chinese five spice
1 package Chinese noodles or rice vermicelli
1 quart chicken broth, low-sodium
3 large button or baby bella mushrooms, sliced thin
3 scallions, cut into small rings
½ cup snow peas, cut in thirds
Cut the pork tenderloin into eight pieces, approximately 1” thick. In a small bowl mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and five spice until the sugar is dissolved. Reserve ½ of the marinade and add the rest to a plastic zip-lock bag with the pork tenderloin. Let marinade for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with foil and a baking rack. Remove pork from marinade and place on the rack. Brush with the reserved marinade.
Cook for about 25-30 minutes, brushing with marinade once or twice. Cook until internal temperature reaches 145-150 degrees. Let rest for about 10 minutes and slice thinly. This step can be done ahead, pork can be kept refrigerated for 3-4 days.
Meanwhile cook package of noodles according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and set aside. I found these in my local market and they were a great alternative to the instant noodles.
In a large saucepan, heat up chicken broth to a simmer. Add in sliced mushrooms, scallions, and snow peas. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
Now you are ready to assemble! In a large soup bowl, add a heap of noodles and some slices of pork. Pour hot broth over the noodles and add soy sauce to taste. Serve with chopsticks and a spoon!
And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (age 7): “Wish there was no soup, only noodles and pork”
Liam (age 5): “It smells yummy”
Dylan (age 5): “No, it smells funny”
Noodles and pork were a hit, even though it was smelly!
For my local readers:
Fairway Market will be holding a National Eating Healthy Day cooking demo in Pelham Manor (847 Pelham Parkway) on Wednesday, November 5th from 12pm to 2pm. This year’s theme is fruits and vegetables and customers can learn how to prepare kale and butternut squash salad and Moroccan quinoa. On this day, Americans are encouraged to commit to healthier eating. Celebrating National Eating Healthy Day is fun and easy! The American Heart Association will provide a complete toolkit of materials and how-to information for workplaces, schools, individuals and community organizations.