by Grace T. Kim
Thai food is well-known for its exotic and distinctive flavors thanks to the use of medicinal herbs and spices like lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, garlic, galangal, and chilies. However, you are probably not aware of the common use of monosodium glutamate (an unhealthy flavor enhancer), sugar, and lots of oil. If you are looking for healthy Thai food without compromising flavor check out our list of 10 Healthiest Thai Dishes.
When you make your order the following dishes, make sure that you request the following to make sure that your efforts do not go to waste. It is best to a1 restaurant to cook with less/no sugar and no MSG in your food. In Thai, you just have to say, “Mai wan” (no sweet), and “Mai Sai Pong Shu” (no put MSG). If given a choice, always opt for the brown or berry rice rather that white rice because of the added fiber and nutritional value.
If you are a vegetarian/vegan, remember to inform them in Thai by saying, “jay” at the end of your dish i.e. Som Tam “Jay”. This will ensure that they will refrain from using any animal products like dried shrimp, crab, or fish.
The following Top Ten Healthiest Thai Dishes were chosen for their great taste, low caloric value, and healthy cooking methods:
The dish is like the Thai version of a Korean Bibimbap. It is served with a mound of streamed brown rice topped with a variety of fresh vegetables and spices – mainly toasted coconut, green beans, been sprouts, cucumber, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and a wedge of lime. The sweet soy sauce is served on the side and it is recommended to sparingly drizzle it over your rice dish. Skip any other extra seasoning because it has a lot of sugar and possibly MSG. Enjoy the dish by mixing it up with the sauce and fresh lime juice.
Som Tam/ Yum Ma-Muang (Green Mango Salad)
The only difference between these two salads is that Som Tam is mainly made with young papaya and Yum Ma-Muang is made with green mango. Both are sweet, sour, and spicy. Remember to ask for less sugar and no MSG; it is optional to request a vegetarian dish. Other notable ingredients are carrots, onion, roasted peanuts, garlic, lime juice, and dried shrimp. Although garlic is very good for you, take note that Thai cooks are generous with it. So don’t be shy to ask to request less garlic by saying, “Kra Tem Noy.” If you don’t want your salad too spicy, then say “mai ped.”
This is a sweet, sour, and spicy Thai salad made with tomatoes, mushroom, young papaya, onion, Chinese celery leaf, and cooked seafood – usually shrimp, squid, and fish. The garlic, chili, lime, and spices are excellent for your health, but take the same precautions with sugar, MSG, garlic, and chili.
Yam Woon Sen
Another Thai salad that is made with mung bean noodles, minced pork, and possibly seafood. The fresh ingredients are generally tomatoes, onions, and Chinese celery leaf. This is not a dish for vegetarians – you’re better off ordering SomTam “Jay.”
Gaeng Jued Pak Ruam Tao Hoo
Not all Thai dishes have to have robust flavor. This clear and healthy soup is made from stock (beef/pork/chicken), served with minced pork/chicken and a medley of vegetables like carrots, onion, and cabbage.
One of the things to relish in Thailand is the abundance of fresh and exotic fruit. The most sought-after fruit dish is mango sticky rice, which is delicious, but avoid the sticky rice because it is a caloric bomb. If you are a fan of the king of fruit, durian, a local tip is to eat mangosteen after because it neutralizes the digestive heat that the durian produces. And never drink beer or anything fizzy when you eat durian – it is supposed to be a deadly combination. Other than that, take your pick from a cornucopia of natural sweetness packed with essential nutrients.
Tom Yum Goong (Hot and Sour Soup with Shrimp)
When ordering this soup, take note that there are many versions of it. The kind that is the healthiest does not have coconut milk/ condensed milk in it. Some restaurants add these ingredients to reduce the heat from the spices. If the Tom Yum is clear, then you’re good to go. Remember to also request for no MSG.
When ordering the meat, order shrimp by saying “Goong” – hence the name of the dish “Tom Yum Goong”. Shrimp is the lightest meat option, but if you want to have a vegetarian version, ask for mushroom “Tom Yum Hed.” You may even say Tom Yum Jay, as they may even have tofu chicken. And beware of the spice!
Chicken Satay gets its yummy taste from its marinade of Thai spices. This type of grilled chicken skewers has minimal calories, but the dipping sauce served on the side has a lot of sugar. Usually, the Satay Gai is served with a sweet fish sauce with chili and/or sweet peanut sauce. Both are delicious even when sparingly dipped with your grilled chicken.
Pla Nueng Manao (Steamed Fish with Lime Sauce)
This is one of the healthiest Thai seafood dishes because the whole fish is steamed with healthy ingredients like lemongrass, Chinese celery, onion, chilies, mushroom, ginger, garlic, galangal, kaffir lime leaf, and lime juice. If you decide to eat this with rice, remember to opt for brown rice or riceberry.
Kuay Teow Lui Suan (Fresh Spring Rolls)
Although these fresh spring rolls have lots of rice noodles in them, they are healthier that their deep-fried counterpart. There are many types of fillings that allow you to cut down your calories and still get a crunchy flavor. You can choose from tofu, mushroom, shrimp, or just vegetables. These are also served with sweet fish sauce with chili and/or sweet peanut sauce.
One of the greatest perks of being in Thailand is the ease of eating well. If you’re health conscious, no matter where you eat in the Land of Smiles, you’ll know what to order and how to order it.