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.
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. This doesn’t include my vitamins/supplements regime where I used to get free shipping to all destinations whenever I travelled, and has been a part of my routine so long that I didn’t even remember to account for it. 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.
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.