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Where to Buy Healthy Food in Bangkok – Part 01

Where to Buy Healthy Food in Bangkok – Part 01

Series of blogs about companies and individuals that are growing or producing food that are good for your health. Most don’t have their own shop but have been spotted selling at various health markets in Bangkok. For example, at either the Bangkok Farmers’ Market or the Spring Epicurean Market.

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CSA Munching Box – Raitong Organics Farm, together with our Creative Farming Network, has started a CSA – Community Support Agriculture – subscription programme called the ‘Munching Box’ to provide home-grown organic seasonal fruit and veggies fresh from the farm to your door every week. Now everyone can enjoy seasonal fruit and veggies and you can challenge your “inner chef” to be fantastically creative with the surprise ingredients that you will receive in your Munching Box.

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Website: http://raitongorganicsfarm.com/csa.php
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/CSAMunchingBox

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Yogi Dairy is a newly formed Boutique type dairy products manufacturer in Bangkok, operated and managed by a joint team of Expats and locals. We are delighted to share with you a wide range of tastes and textures that until now were not available locally, and are all made fresh to order without the use of artificial colors & flavors or preservatives. Our products are made from local cow & goat milk, that is pasteurized to specific temperatures and standards and is complying with Thai Health ministry regulations.

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Website: http://www.yogi-dairy.com/
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acebook: https://www.facebook.com/bangkokdairy

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Absolute Fit Food – Created by certified nutritionists, and given the finishing touch by food design consultants, Absolute Fit Food delivers delicious gourmet health food solutions whatever your goal may be. With our Absolute Fit Food programs your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are all taken care of everyday and delivered fresh to your home or work place or available for pick up.

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Website: http://absolutefitfood.com
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acebook: https://www.facebook.com/AbsoluteFitFood

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All Rice – Rice cakes that contain up to five different grains: lentil, brown rice, red rice, mung bean and peal barley. The rice cakes are made with no oil, sugar, preservatives or MSG and are completely vegan. They don’t seem to have a website or Facebook page but you can contact Panit Techapongtada (Pitt) by email p_panit@hotmail.com

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I have a “Healthy living in Bangkok” list of Facebook Pages with these and more producers of healthy food. If you have tried any of these products on this page, please post in the comments. I will showcase four more next week.

Where to Buy a Juicer in Bangkok

Where to Buy a Juicer in Bangkok

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People keep asking me what juicers I use and where I bought them. So, I thought I would put together a quick list of what I have and where I bought them. However, before I proceed, I need to emphasize that I’m not an expert as I have only been juicing since 1st January. But, hopefully I can help people a little with a few tips. If you can add anything else then please post in the comments. The first juicer that I bought was this one from Central Department Store. The brand is Philips though there is no model number. The juicer had been reduced to 3,999 Baht which made it one of the cheapest in the store. It turned out to be a good buy as it is fast, reliable and most importantly, easy to clean. I could juice and clean up in about 10 minutes.  The chute at the top is large which meant it could take whole apples which of course cut down on preparation time. I would recommend this one for any hobby juicer.

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Strictly speaking this is not a juicer as it doesn’t separate the liquid from the pulp. A lot of fruit juice stalls around town use these to make smoothies. I bought this Philips model a few months later as I wanted to alternate between juices and smoothies. With the blender you eat the whole fruit which is obviously good for you. To make my smoothies I don’t use ice to make them cool. I chop up fruit like bananas and ripe mangoes and put them in the freezer. I then use these as ice cubes in my smoothies. I bought this blender at Big C. You should find it at Tesco lotus and Central as well. There are quite a few to choose from. I chose this one because of the “quick clean” button and the fact that you can screw off the bottom of the jug. This makes it easier to clean. You probably should buy the most powerful one that you can afford. You can buy them for about 1-2,000 Baht. Top end blenders are 15,000 Baht.

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The Hurom slow juicer was the one that I was looking at right from the beginning. But, as the price is around 12,000 Baht I didn’t think I could justify it. At the beginning I thought juicing would be a passing fad and that buying this expensive juicer would be a waste of money. Which is why I went for the cheaper Philips juicer in the end. However, after I had been juicing for three months and had already lost 10 kilos, I decided I could justify buying the Hurom. The advantage with a slow one is that it keeps more of the nutrients, the juice doesn’t separate so much and you can keep the juice in the fridge for 2-3 days. The pulp was also much drier and so I was getting more juice for my money. I will probably give away my old Philips juicer later, but I still use it sometimes when I have unexpected guests and I want to quickly juice something like guava or oranges. If I was you, I would only buy the Hurom if you are sure you will get your money’s worth. I bought the Hurom 500 model at Central Department store at Chidlom. If you have a Central 1 card you get a discount.

Let me know in the comments if you have bought any other juicers in Bangkok and where.

Learn How to Eat Healthily in Bangkok

Learn How to Eat Healthily in Bangkok

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Ever since I started juicing at the start of this year, my whole outlook on what I eat has changed. I originally intended to supplement my diet with fruit and vegetable juices. But, in the process I started thinking twice about consuming fast food and basically anything that is deep fried or coated in sugar. During my research I realized that my body just didn’t need this food in order to survive. That goes for coffee too. I no longer felt tired and so there was no longer a need to drink copious cups of coffee during the day. I never really intended to become a “health freak” but juicing opened the door to a different way of living for me. I guess I went a step closer to this last weekend when I accepted an invitation to join a raw food class in Bangkok.

People have this misconception that Thai food is among the healthiest of food around the world. That might be true to an extent as some ingredients are renowned to be natural remedies for many ailments. However, as a whole, I think that the Thai diet can cause more problems than it solves. Particularly if you mainly eat street food like myself with the deep fried snacks, sugar coated desserts and MSG laden main dishes. The last year or so I had stopped cooking for myself and mainly ate Thai street food. That was great as I love Thai food, and still do. But at the end of last year I realized that I had been coming down with the flu and other ailments more often than before. Thinking about it, I could see that my diet had little in the way of fruit and vegetables. That is why I started to juice as a replacement for some meals.

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I have now been juicing for about four and a half months (see here). This has been going very well, but lately I have been thinking about some alternatives to juicing for breakfast. That was why I was really happy to receive an invite from Jennifer Robertson to join her raw food class in Bangkok. Two of her courses caught my attention, “Breakfast” and “Thai”. But, as I had been looking for an alternative to my first meal of the day I decided to join her for the former class. Jennifer taught us how to make non-dairy nut milks, crunchy raw cereals with a long shelf-life, non-dairy fermented yogurt, a healthy pudding and the highlight, a pancake that hadn’t been cooked.

Before I attended the class, Jennifer sent me a form with various questions. One of them was “What percentage of your daily diet would you say consists of raw food?”. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but I only have one cooked meal on average. I usually have a vegetable juice for breakfast, a normal meal for lunch and a smoothie in the evening. I guess you could say that more than 70% of my food intake is raw. So, what is really meant by “raw food”? According to Jennifer, the term describes the use of plant-based nutrition sources including fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds to produce meals with a high nutritional value. As very little heat is used in preparation for these meals, most of the vitamins, minerals and enzymes are retained. Best of all, no colouring, flavouring and certainly no preservatives.

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Jennifer’s classes take place in her spacious apartment on Soi Chidlom. Class sizes are limited to no more than ten people. When we arrived we were given an information pack about raw food and also the recipes for the food that was going to be prepared. Unlike Thai cooking classes that I have attended before, Jennifer taught “demo-style” for much of the time but we had plenty of opportunities to help with the preparation. She also taught in a style that was both enjoyable and easy enough to understand for newbies like myself. Questions were welcome. The highlight, of course, was the sampling of all the food that we were helping to make. My favourites included the yoghurt made from coconut meat, a mango pudding made with chia seeds and a surprisingly delicious “raw” pancake.

It was great to tap into Jennifer’s vast knowledge about the different ingredients and where we could buy them in Bangkok and online. Other participants of the class also gave their own tips from their experiences. Since I attended the class,  I have made  cashew and almond milk which was flavoured with ingredients like cacao and sweetened with raw honey or coconut palm sugar. Tonight I also made my own soy bean milk from scratch. Next I’m going to make the mango-coconut pudding with chia seeds. I also want to have a go at making the yoghurt. Some of the ingredients I have found in Big C and Tesco Lotus. But for some of the more specialized items like chia seeds and Himalayan salt, I will have to visit the health stores in Bangkok such as Sunshine Market and Radiance Wholefoods. Another good source are the regular Farmers Markets. My next blog will be where to buy and eat organic/raw food in Bangkok and the rest of Thailand. Please post your own suggestions in the comments.

For more information about Jennifer’s raw food classes in Bangkok, please visit de.hydrated website or their Facebook page. Her next class looks very tempting. It’s a twist on some of the popular Thai food dishes such as som tum, spring rolls and pad thai.

Bangkok Farmers Market on 25th May

Bangkok Farmers Market on 25th May

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The next Bangkok Farmers Market will take place on Saturday 25th May at K Village on Sukhumwit 26 in Bangkok. This will take place from 8 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. You will be able to buy locally grown, locally made, locally crafted, organic produce from all over Thailand. In addition there will be on sale homeware, plants & flowers, and eco-friendly & healthy products. More information from www.BKKFM.com

How I lost 15 Kilos Juicing in Thailand

How I lost 15 Kilos Juicing in Thailand

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Over the new year, I made a resolution to make some big changes about my life. I’m not the kind of person who usually gets ill and I cannot remember the last time I had a day off work. But last year was a wake-up for me as many times I suffered from flu-like symptoms and other aches and pains. I was also overweight and I knew there is something that I needed to do before it was too late. The big change for me was starting to juice (see my original blog Tips for Juicing in Thailand). I bought a Philips centrifugal juicer from Cantral Department store for about 4,000 Baht. I then proceeded to replace my breakfast with a healthy fruit or vegetable juice. At the same time I quit drinking coffee and eating fastfood at places such as KFC and McDonald’s.

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My aim was to do a limited juice detox where I would only drink juices the whole time. No meats or other solid food. I prepared myself for about six weeks experimenting with different recipes. Some people go straight into the detox but then they suffer withdrawal symptoms.  For me the two weeks of the juice detox was easy. I didn’t have any side affects as I had already quit coffee beforehand. I had also been more conscious of what I was putting in my mouth. I was basically having fun shopping for fruit and vegetables at the local markets. Variety is always very important, but I had my favourites too. In the evenings I exercised on my bicycle. I could have gone on much longer but I missed eating Thai street food.

From the time that I started experimenting with juicing on 1st January to when I finished the two week juice detox on 12th March I had lost a total of ten kilos and felt great. I no longer had a need for coffee. Before I started juicing I needed a coffee when I first got up in the morning and then numerous more cups during the day to keep me awake. I was also drinking coffee in the evening. Now I no longer feel tired or fatigued. There is a new spring in my step and I feel great about myself for the first time in years. I didn’t start juicing as a way to lose weight. It was more as a healthy way of life. The weight loss was just an extra benefit and an incentive to continue.

When I came off the juice detox my original plan was to go back to juicing for breakfast and then eating as normal for lunch and dinner. I had seen a video diary of an American guy who had just successfully lost a lot of weight after a 60 day juice detox. Pretty cool but I found it strange when he talked about putting away his juicer. I searched for more of his videos on youtube and low and behold, I found another one called something like “Doing the juice detox for the second time”. He had put on all that weight again. His mistake was just seeing this as a diet. It is more a change in your way of life. Juicing taught me to be more aware of what I ate. I cannot eat a burger or minced meat any more as I have watched documentaries about how they are really processed and what is in them. Enough to put me off for life.

So, in mid-march I continued with juicing. I had recently bought a blender so this helped mix things up. I alternated between clear juices which had no fibre to eating the whole fruits in smoothies. I also splashed out on buying a masticating juicer which was four times as expensive as my old one. The advantage with these is that you get more juice and also you can store for 2-3 days. Which now meant I didn’t have to juice several times a day any more. Day one after the juice detox went something like this: Breakfast juice containing beetroot, cucumber, celery and carrot. Lunch of pork chops, jacket potato and vegetables. Dinner of….. a smoothie. I was so full from lunch that I didn’t have any room that night. And the next night too. I guess my stomach had shrunken a little.

Two months have passed since I finished doing the juice detox and I have now settled into a routine. I didn’t plan this but I basically only eat once a day now and nearly always only before noon. I juice for breakfast, eat anything I like for lunch (but no fast food), and then have a smoothie or fruit salad with yoghurt for dinner. I sometimes make a homemade soup in the evening like sweetcorn or carrot soup. I am very content with this. I never go hungry. Sometimes, due to my job, I have to attend gala dinners in the evening, and so I usually then have a very light lunch to prepare myself for these. It’s now been four and a half months since I started experimenting with juicing on 1st January. In that time I have lost just over 15 kilos and the weight is still slowly coming off. I have gone from being overweight to just being fat. I have every intention on carrying on. Wish me luck!

Buying a Slow Juicer in Thailand

Buying a Slow Juicer in Thailand

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As you probably know by now I’m very much into juicing and feel great for it. I have more energy during the day and no longer need to drink coffee. Over the new year I bought myself a Philips centrifugal juicer. These kinds of juicers are around 4-7,000 Baht. They are great and do a wonderful job, but they are not perfect.

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When I bought my juicer I knew about the more expensive masticating juicers. These are sometimes called a slow juicer. These are priced from 12,000 Baht upwards. I know these were better but at the time I couldn’t justify the price as I thought juicing might just be a passing fad. It hasn’t been so far.

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Although I love my juicer, there are a few problems. The juice separates quite quickly and you can’t store for long. On the other hand the slow juicers make juice you can keep 2-3 days, doesn’t separate and the colours are richer. The pulp is also drier which means you get more juice.

This juicer is a Hurom-500 and costs 13,900 Baht at Central Chidlom. Older models are 12,900 Baht. If you have a 1-Card you can get a 10% discount. Very tempting to buy one.

Bangkok Farmers Market on 23rd March

Bangkok Farmers Market on 23rd March

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The first Bangkok Farmers Market will be taking place on Saturday 23rd March 2013 at Four Points by Sheraton Sukhumwit 15, 8th floor Garden Tower from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m

It will feature

  • Organic Produce & Agricultural Products
  • Vendors from all over Thailand
  • Guest speakers from Organic Farms & Companies
  • Kids activities & Play area
  • Prepared foods from local restaurants
  • Live Music

For more information, follow @BKKFM

Juicing in Thailand

Juicing in Thailand

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Every year I come up with new ideas for New Year’s Resolutions, and like most other people, I never stick to them. But, this year has been different. At least for the last two months. Buying my bicycle nearly two years ago was a life changer for me. Particularly last year as I was using it a lot more to get around, run errands and also for exploring. As you know I love street food and cycling enabled me to go off and find new food vendors. I also love cooking, but I found myself going out to eat more and more. It got to the extent that I stopped going to the supermarket each week to buy groceries and was eating almost entirely on the street. In Thailand, going out to eat is a lot cheaper than cooking for yourself and so in the process I was saving a lot of money. But, that came at a cost. I didn’t realize what was going on at the time, but last year I was ill with the flu quite a few times as well as having various aches and pains. It wasn’t until the end of the year that I started putting two and two together.

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Eating Thai food is generally very healthy. But, you have to be careful if your only source of nutrients are coming from these road side vendors. When people started posting graphics on Facebook showing daily recommended allowances of fruit and vegetables it started to dawn on me that for the past year I had eaten very little in the way of fruit and vegetables. Doing a bit more research I soon realized that this was probably why I had been ill so often last year. Very few street food dishes have vegetables, and when they do, you are not getting that much. Around the same time, I also started seeing people on Facebook talking about juicing as a good way to get all the vitamins and minerals that you need each day. But, the thing that really got me to sit up and notice was the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”. It is about an overweight Australian who takes a challenge to only drink fruit and vegetable juice for 60 days. For me, that movie was an inspiration and I decided straight away that my New Year’s Resolution should be to juice at least once a day.

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The next step was to buy a juicer. Which I must admit gave me a headache for a while as there are not only different kinds of juicers, like masticating juicers and centrifugal juicers, but each one has many different brands to choose from. Roadside juice bars in Thailand use the much cheaper blender which you can get for around 1,000 Baht. The next one up are the centrifugal juicers. These ones separate the pulp from the juice. Prices start from about 4,000 Baht. The final ones are masticating juicers which “chews” the fruit at a slower speed making sure that you get every drop of juice. With the centrifugal juicer you need to drink the juice straight away but the juice from the masticating juicer you can store for longer. Unfortunately you are not going to be able to pick up one of these for less than 12,000 Baht. Over the new year holiday, I visited Central department store where they had a selection of centrifugal juicers. In the end I went for the Philips Juicer that had been reduced from 7,000 Baht down to 3,999 Baht. A quick search on Amazon showed that quite a few people were happy with this model. One tip when buying a juicer, you need to get one that is easy to clean. If its too much of a pain then you will probably use it less than less. Mine is easy. I can juice and do a clean-up within ten minutes.

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So, I started juicing at the start of the new year. My plan was to do a 7-10 day juice detox, but first I wanted to prepare myself. I had read accounts of people going through severe withdrawal symptoms on the first few days which caused them to quit. I didn’t want to be like that. Plus I wanted to do my homework first to find out what I could and couldn’t juice and what fruits offered the best vitamins and minerals. One of the things that I learned quite quickly is that guava fruit has five times more Vitamin C than oranges. I also learned about the benefits of other fruits like mangoes and pineapples as well as vegetables such as kale and carrots. Right from day one I substituted my unhealthy breakfast for a juice but had normal meals for lunch and dinner. Most days I juiced two or three times depending on whether I felt hungry or was feeling tired. At the same time that I started juicing I also quit coffee. Surprisingly, juicing every day meant that I was never fatigued and easily lasted the day without any desire for coffee.

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For the last two months I have had fun not only juicing a large variety of fruit and vegetables, but also exploring local markets for the first time. Normally I buy my fruit and vegetables with my weekly shopping at Foodland. But, you can pay twice as much there as you do elsewhere. With my bicycle, I was able to visit local markets whenever I needed to re-stock during the week. But, don’t make the mistake in thinking that these markets are cheaper than Big C and Tesco Lotus. Take carrots for an example, at Paknam Market they are usually 35-40 Baht a kilo. At Big C they are selling for 26-27 Baht at the moment. But then, other things like kale and bananas are cheaper down the market. It didn’t take me long to remember what is a good price. Another thing to remember is that down the market they might have two or three piles of fruit like guava. The cheapest pile at only 20 Baht a kilo were apparently “ugly”. As I was going to juice them I didn’t really mind. Same goes for oranges. Sometimes the 25 Baht a kilos ones are just as good as the ones double the price.

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I had been juicing for about six weeks and was feeling great. I had a lot more energy during the day and I wasn’t missing coffee at all. So, I decided that the time was right to start my juice detox. This is sometimes called a “reboot” which I think sums up the process very nicely. There is a website called Reboot with Joe that accompanies the documentary that I mentioned earlier. Most people go for a 7-10 day juice detox. As I had heard that the first few days might be tough, I decided to begin during the recent long weekend here in Thailand. This would enable me to take it easy as my body adjusts to this new routine. However, I think doing the six weeks preparation, and also quitting coffee and other vices in advance, meant that I was able to sail through the long weekend with little difficulty. In fact the days have been passing quickly and I have already reached Day 8 as I write this. As I am feeling great I will finish the full ten days which is this Sunday. At the moment, my plan next week is to go back to juicing for breakfast but having normal meals for the rest of the day. But, I will also cook more often.

UPDATE: Click here to see my blog for two months later.