Living without MSG and Doctoring Ramen Noodles

By Adam Zens

P1130052Some friends of ours had taken us on a short trip and we had arrived in the small town with only one grocery store. I was very thankful for these folks and we were all in a celebratory mood and it was time to buy some potato chips. While the others had their errands to run, I had a simple mission: to pick out some (relatively healthful) chips that we would all munch on together. I went into the store and looked over several brands of chips, carefully scanning the ingredients to determine whether the chips were healthful enough for human consumption. When I returned to our group, I promptly learned that I had failed to identify one key negative ingredient in the chips that I chose: monosodium glutamate. Since that time, I have become a more cautious selector of potato chips.


Yet for college students and others who have a limited food budget MSG-laden Ramen noodles are an absolute staple in life. So, it’s time to think up some creative alternatives for replacing the packet that attends the Ramen noodles.


It’s not really possible, is it? I’m talking about making the very cheap Ramen noodles without resorting to any of the fake, chemical ingredients in the “flavoring” package, such as MSG (Monosodium Glutamate). Well, it’s not impossible, but it may not have the zingy flavor and impact that MSG carries with it. Hey, I want to spin “natural” as a substitute for “artificial” as much or more than the next guy, but I’m not willing to lie outright. There is something in the MSG that “hits” you. It reminds me of the scene in the movie, Limitless, where Bradley Cooper describes this feeling of seeing everything so clearly after he has taken this new drug, NZT. He is able to see problems clearly and MSG has an effect like that.


YouTube Link for better Ramen:


MSG also seems to have the blessing of corporations who can use it in their foods or food products without having to use a warning label; therefore, it is safe. Or so we are told.


But back to the mission at hand: How to create tasty Ramen noodles without MSG? I certainly put my best food forward by advising that the cook use lots of natural and fresh substitutes for the “flavoring” packet that accompanies the Ramen noodle package.

In this case, I happened to have at my disposal plenty of garden salsa which my wife had poured lots and lots of TLC into which I used liberally along with nearly an entire diced red onion. As I point out in this video, I generally drain nearly all of the water from the Ramen noodles and allow the noodles to cook a bit longer on very low heat with the onions and Amish butter for at least a few more minutes.


Even with the two packages of Ramen noodles and a few slices of Amish butter and a few tablespoons of garden salsa, the total cost still falls below the $1.98 per person cost suggested in the $1.98 Cookbook. One thing that you may experience is a much fuller feeling of being satisfied from this MSG-free improvisation. But you will not experience the “zing” or “jolt” of the MSG-based high. Corporations may have won a Pyrrhic victory here. They have the “high” for consumers but we have the sense of fullness or satisfaction so that we are not craving our next meal. Take that, corporations


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