If you are anything like me then you want to eat healthy here in Thailand but more often than not you end up with a pizza or burger in front of you with a few cold beers. Don’t get me wrong my diet is much better than 6 or 7 years ago where I paid little attention to what I ate, I just ate. So, the point of this blog is how we can try and improve what we eat for improved health. Starting with Som Tam could be a very smart move.
Such has been my interest in being healthier in the last few months that I even fast with nothing but water every Monday and it has proved very useful. I will save this for another blog if you are interested, but it basically gives the body a day off having to digest food and allows the body to detox and repair itself much better. There are even theories that this could add years to your life.
What about MSG in Thai food?
Before I discuss the wonderful nutritious properties of Som Tam I want to add a quick mention to MSG. So many restaurants use a lot of MSG (Monosodium glutamate) for nothing more than to add good flavour, it basically enhances the taste. The jury is out whether it is actually bad for you or not. A quick scout around various sites online and it’s still not clear. What is clear is it is sodium based and too much salt is not a good thing, there is enough salt in food already for our needs. For me, I steer clear where I can, but I am not overly fussy as I get a balanced diet most days anyway.
Som Tam – a Superfood in every sense
I am like most of us, I have to rely on what others say about good health. Who would have though black pudding would ever be classified as a ‘superfood’ for example, but it has. The mainstream media recently picked up on a claim by online retailer Musclefood that black pudding, high in iron and protein and low in carbohydrates, is a healthy option.
Even the preparation of Som Tam is a magical Thai experience
Som Tam though makes far more sense as as superfood. The ingredients are awesome. First off Som Tam is addictive and very tasty. Salty, spicy, crunchy and sweet its core ingredient is green papaya. Green papaya is a powerful fruit full of essential nutrients and enzymes to promote digestive health.
You also have tomatoes. I am not a huge fan of tomatoes but they go very nicely in this salad. Tomatoes are the major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.
Garlic is also a key ingredient and the benefits to this clove are well documented. Even chillies have benefits. Chilli contains up to seven times the vitamin C level of an orange and has a range of health benefits, including fighting sinus congestion, aiding digestion and helping to relieve migraines and muscle, joint and nerve pain. It’s also a good source of vitamins A and E, beta-carotene, folic acid and potassium.
Here is the run down on the ingredients, and many thanks to www.maangchi.com – as I pulled the recipe from this site. A foodie I maybe, but a chef I am not.
Ingredients for 2 servings
2 cups of shredded green papaya (or swede/rutabaga)
2 tbs of toasted peanuts
2 cloves of peeled garlic
1-2 fresh birds eye chili (or more depending on tolerance)
1 tbs of dried shrimp
½ piece palm sugar
7 cherry tomatoes
juice of ½ lime
1½ tbs of fish sauce
1-2 tbs Thai snake beans (or green beans) cut into 1 inch sticks
So great news on the nutritional benefits as Som Tam. Add Sticky Rice and some BBQ chicken and you have my hands down favourite meal in Thailand. Oddly, and many Thais I ask agree too, I find it tastes even better when prepared by a vendor walking along the beach…maybe its just the overall ambience of chilling out on the beach – with a cold beer – enjoying this superfood combination.
I am hungry just writing this. I am off to a Thai street vendor, bye for now…