Homemade and Healthy in a Hurry
I don’t really do New Year’s “Resolutions.” They’re vague, usually ignore the many steps needed for completion, and don’t really come with any sort of self-accountability. And because of this, they are easy to abandon when instant results aren’t achieved. Goals are more my cup of tea: realistic (if you make them so), more precise and comprehensive, and much easier to see progress. In fact, a list of goals may be the key to achieving your resolution… go figure!
I treat my goals like a business plan, by imagining or writing down the initial goal first, then visualizing everything I might need to do to reach it. The smaller the step, the easier it is to accomplish. For me, achievement and completion trigger a sense of self-satisfaction, which, in turn, inspires more drive to complete the next step. There’s just something incredibly gratifying about highlighting or crossing something off a list— sometimes, when I’ve completed a task that wasn’t on my list, I’ll write it down just to cross it out!
Though I think of resolutions and goals as different branches of a similar concept—bettering ourselves or our lives—one thing that comes into play more often with resolutions is the desire to change habits, often deeply-ingrained ones. Behavioral science shows the most important step to success with a resolution is to incorporate new habits into your daily routine. The idea is the same with goals, although, I believe, to a lesser extent.
This year, one of my goals is to get back into a handstand. I suffered an injury last year, and have been slowly (but successfully, thank goodness) recovering from it since. However, I lost a lot of strength trying to heal, and with that, a lot of the “fun” stuff I used to be able to do. I’ve already established the steps I need to take to reach my goal. Most are things I have already been doing, but a couple are practices I want to include in my routine until they simply become habitual
One habit I plan to introduce this year, to help facilitate the handstand, is to incorporate a cup of bone broth into my routine each day. The collagen and amino acids in broth are essential support structures for joint strength, muscle growth, and inflammation reduction, and I believe they will assist in getting me to my goal faster. Even if I’m wrong, and it doesn’t make a huge, measurable difference, there are still plenty of other incredible benefits from broth.
Now, it should be easy enough to start sipping my new habit straight from a mug. But, of course, it’s always more exciting to incorporate that cup of broth into a more complete meal. One of my favorite ways to do that is ramen.
Ramen has always been a beloved dish in our house. It takes a little timing for the best results, but even if things aren’t timed perfectly, the meal will still be outstanding. It comes together quite quickly, as long as you have the stock made; it’s a great, economical way to stretch a pricier protein; and it’s incredibly healthy.
I always thought of ramen as an unassuming food, mostly for late-night revelers and working-class folk. It’s been interesting to see how it has caught on over the past few years and become so hip and trendy—and often incredibly expensive. I guess it just goes to show that ramen is one of those foods that is almost universally loved. The Japanese staple is unbelievably comforting: humble, yet complex, with depths of flavor and texture from whatever garnish and flavorings suit your fancy.
I switch things up a lot in our ramen bowls, with different broth bases, spices, meats, seafood, and seasonal veggies, but our all-time favorite combo starts with a simple, fragrant beef broth base, inspired by Vietnamese Pho, served with sliced steak, chicken, perfectly cooked egg, and some sort of greens, usually bok choy or spinach. A drizzle of sesame oil on top, and we are usually good to go.
We do His and Hers bowls at our house—mine with zucchini noodles, his with a traditional ramen or soba noodle. Any noodles will work, but some of my favorite whole grain packaged products are Lotus Foods Millet and Brown Rice noodles https://shop.lotusfoods.com/Organic-Millet-and-Brown-Rice-Ramen-4-Ramen-Cakes/p/LOT-602035&c=LotusFoods@Ramen and Eden 100% Buckwheat Soba https://www.edenfoods.com/store/soba-100-buckwheat.html, both which are gluten-free. You could also use any whole-grain, spaghetti-sized pasta in a pinch.
The recipe below is our established family favorite, but, of course, I encourage wild experimentation to suit your needs, tastes, and budget. I’m sure there might be a few purists out there that would disagree, but in my eyes, ramen is 100% rule-free.
Ramen Bowls for Two
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
1 quart beef or chicken broth, preferably homemade
3 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife
1 inch fresh ginger, sliced and bruised with the side of a knife
2 star anise pods
Tamari, to taste
Optional flavorings choice (spices, miso, bonito flakes, seaweed, herbs, etc.)
1 steak, 6-8 oz. (Any type, but I prefer strip loin or sirloin)
1 boneless chicken breast
Oil, for cooking steak and chicken
Salt and pepper
3 large eggs
4 baby bok choy, sliced in quarters lengthwise and washed. Alternately, use a couple handfuls of baby spinach, thinly sliced, divided between bowls before serving
Per person: 4 oz. noodles of choice or 1-2 medium zucchini, spiralized into noodles
Sesame oil, to drizzle
Optional vegetables, meat, or seafood of choice
- Let steak come to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, pour broth into a large pot. Add garlic, ginger, and star anise and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for at least 30 minutes for flavors to infuse. Get everything else ready while broth continues to simmer.
- While broth simmers: Place whole eggs in a small pot and cover with cold water. Place on burner but wait to turn burner on. Preheat the grill. Lightly oil steak and chicken breast and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- After the both has simmered for about 20 minutes, start grilling steak and chicken. Grill steak to your liking and chicken until cooked through. Transfer both to a plate to rest.
- About 30 minutes into simmering, bring the eggs to a boil, then turn off pot and let sit for exactly 6 minutes, 30 seconds (the “perfect” hardboiled egg). Immediately drain eggs and run cold water into the pot to stop the cooking process.
- Once broth has simmered, remove solids and add tamari, salt, and pepper to your taste.
- Add noodles (or zucchini noodles) to broth and simmer gently until cooked through. If you are using some of each (like at my house) start with one type of noodle, transfer to a serving bowl once cooked, then cook the other. Divide noodles between serving bowls. Bring broth back to a simmer and gently cook bok choy until wilted.
- Arrange ramen bowls: Keep broth on low heat to stay hot. Slice steak and chicken into thin slices and arrange artfully atop noodles in bowl. Add a few pieces of wilted bok choy (or raw slivered spinach) to each bowl. Slice eggs in half and arrange 3 pieces per bowl. Bring broth to a boil, then pour over everything in the bowl. This will warm through any items that might have cooled.
- Drizzle each bowl with a little sesame oil and any additional condiments you like.
Image from Briana Goodall.