PenPals and Ramen.

I think the first time I ever had a penpal was when we did the Flat Stanley project in grade school. Are you familiar with it? You color in a cutout of a boy (Stanley) and send it to a kid at another school in the U.S., though now I believe it’s worldwide. I don’t remember much about my penpal partner, but I do remember my excitement for learning about someone I’d never met before; someone my own age, living across the country, with different hobbies and experiences. Anyone else here do the Flat Stanley project?


Illustration by: Sarah Belcher

Now my penpal-ing involves less pen and paper and more typing over email. Currently, I have one ‘penpal’ in New Zealand – a friend from college I reconnected with over Instagram. I’m learning so much about New Zealand and its amazing culture, government policies, and way of life, and how Sarah is on her way to being self-sufficient and sustainable in the country-side. Having Sarah pop into my inbox from time-to-time with lengthy emails of her seemingly black thumb (which I highly doubt), the “kiwi music scene”, and her general thoughts and aspirations to do more for her community is such a treat for me. It’s been nothing short of fun and inspiring to connect with an old friend and see how we both have and haven’t changed.

Now, thanks to Fit Approach and Eggland’s Best, I have a foodie-penpal, Christine of Run Out of the Box. Christine is a runner, yogi, and CrossFit queen. She’s also a foodie after my own heart, which I found out when she sent me this recipe. I told her she can give me all the gluten as long as the dish was vegetarian and she did not disappoint. She turned a recipe that was once the cheapest, unhealthiest college meal into a nutrient and protein packed dish that is making all my winter dreams come true right now.


30-Minute Ramen at Home

By Christine Parizo

Way better than the 20-cent packets I lived off in college – and so much healthier!
Makes 4 servings.


  • 4 tsp vegetable oil
  • ½ lb shiitake mushrooms
  • 4-6 scallions, sliced, white and green parts separated
  • 1” piece fresh ginger, peeled & finely chopped (or ½ tsp ground ginger)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or 1.5 tsp minced garlic)
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp white miso
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp Tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 4 Eggland’s Best eggs, hard or soft boiled
  • 12 oz fresh ramen noodles (or 4 packets of dry ramen)
  • 2 heads baby bok choy, quartered lengthwise
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add
    mushrooms and cook until beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the pot. Add scallion
    whites, ginger, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add broth
    and bring to a simmer.
  3. Remove a ladleful of broth from the pot and transfer to a small bowl; add miso and
    whisk until smooth. Return to pot; add tamari and sesame oil.
  4. Return water to a boil. Add noodles and bok choy; cook until noodles are al dente
    and bok choy turns bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain; remove bok choy. Rinse
    noodles under cold water, then drain again. Divide noodles and bok choy among
  5. Peel eggs and halve lengthwise.
  6. Pour broth over noodles. Top with mushrooms, eggs, and scallion greens. Roughly
    chop sesame seeds and red pepper flakes; sprinkle over bowls.

This recipe is an absolute breeze to make – quick and easy, and I already had most of the ingredients in my pantry.  I pan-fried the mushrooms so they had a crispy, meatier texture and was very liberal with the toasted sesame seeds to give it that extra crunch. Also, for my hot sauce lovers, I added quite a bit to the broth.

I love this kind of dish because you can play around with adding different vegetables and proteins like tofu and chard or edamame beans and carrots. The options are so endless.  This dish was a hit is definitely going on repeat in my house!

Do you have a penpal currently? I think it’s such an amazing way to grow online relationships much further than Instagram comments and DMs. I’m so open to doing more recipe swaps, book swaps, yoga sequence swaps, you name it! Let me know if you want to do one in the comments below. If you’re all set with penpals, what types of things do you talk about or exchange?

Go get yourself a bowl of ramen, connect with more people, and have a great day!




9 thoughts on “PenPals and Ramen.

  1. Yum, I love non-college ramen, but have never tried making it at home because it is so time intensive – this is the perfect solution!

    Also, your food photography game is SO STRONG>


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