If your new year’s resolution for 2017 is to cleanse your body and start eating more nutritious food, the Thai cuisine is a great place to start.
If you’re celebrating the holidays in Thailand, you can also look forward to beginning your healthy new year’s eating regime as well.
In addition to the mouth-watering culinary repertoire that encompasses exotic treats such as steaming pad Thai noodles and curries with lashings of coconut milk, plenty of Thailand’s vegetable-based dishes are also purely healthy, too.
You can find a whole selection of dishes at local restaurants or better yet, have your private villa’s professional chef cook up a few delicious meals at your holiday home.
Below is a menu of healthy Thai favourites that are sure to get your taste buds excited.
Sugar, Salt and Spice
Packed full of the traditional Thai flavours – sweet, sour, salty and spicy – Som Tam is a crisp papaya salad that originates from the northern part of the country. A delectable mix of shredded green papaya, tomatoes, string beans and garlic give this concoction plenty of crunch, and you can expect family restaurants to have a unique take on the flavoursome dressing. In terms of health benefits, green papayas are rich in fibre, vitamins C and A, as well as magnesium. The dish is also incredibly low in fat, so it’s a win-win. If you’re feeling very hungry, pair this with a grilled marinated chicken for a hearty meal.
If you’re in the mood for a spicy Thai curry but without the creamy coconut sauce, then opt for a healthier gaeng pah curry – also from the northern part of Thailand. These ‘jungle curries’ are made with water rather than coconut milk or cream, as coconuts don’t grow in the country’s cooler regions. Chillies, fish sauce, lime, coriander and other veggies five these curries just as powerful a flavour punch, just with a thinner curry base that’s more like a broth. Plenty of meat versions are available, although if you’re on a health kick a veggie-based curry filled with water spinach, onions and even carrots will give you the nutritional boost you’re seeking.
Similar to som tam, this tasty salad uses sour green mangoes instead of shredded green papaya to give a tasty burst of flavour that makes it the perfect fish for a refreshing, satisfying lunch on your private villa’s pool terrace. The sour kick of the mangoes is offset by the salty infusion of the fish sauce, and a sprinkling of cashew nuts (rather than the crushed peanuts used in som tam salads) imbues the dish with protein and extra crunch.
When most of us envision spring rolls, we think of deep-fried golden nuggets packed with pork or shrimp. In Thailand, fresh spring rolls should conjure up a totally new picture – of aromatic herbs and vegetables all packed into a thin sheet of rice paper. Lettuce, basil and tofu can form the filling of the spring roll if you’re trying to avoid meat, and the roll is then dipped into a sweet and sour sauce before it’s eaten. This low-calorie dish can be consumed either as a nutritious snack or even as a light lunch.
If you want your villa’s chef to serve up some tasty (yet healthy) nibbles as you lounge by the pool, then nam phrik could just be the treat for you. Essentially, this is a plate of fresh Thai vegetables served alongside a homemade chilli paste for dipping. Don’t expect a plate fill of carrot and cucumber sticks when you order nam phrik. Instead, you can look forward to the colourful sight of exotic vegetables including Thai green beans, bird’s eye chillies and pea eggplants.