The Elements of Life: A Contemporary Guide to Thai Recipes and Traditions for Healthier Living

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Discover the Thai approach to food and wellness-and use nature's elements to eat for optimum health, beauty, and spiritual well-being

The traditional Thai philosophy of diet and health involves eating meals planned around your "home element"-earth, water, wind, or fire-as well as the weather, time of day, and other factors. In this book, award-winning author Su-Mei Yu explains this age-old philosophy and gives you information and recipes to ...

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Discover the Thai approach to food and wellness-and use nature's elements to eat for optimum health, beauty, and spiritual well-being

The traditional Thai philosophy of diet and health involves eating meals planned around your "home element"-earth, water, wind, or fire-as well as the weather, time of day, and other factors. In this book, award-winning author Su-Mei Yu explains this age-old philosophy and gives you information and recipes to help you prepare meals that will promote better physical, spiritual, and emotional health.

She describes the personal characteristics related to the each of the four home elements, as well as the tastes, flavors, aromas, and natural ingredients best suited to them. She shows you how to identify your home element and eat foods that accommodate it through different times of the year and different times of the day. Beauty treatments geared to your home element will help you to relax, rejuvenate, and feel renewed.

This beautifully designed book

  • Includes an interactive wheel that helps you calculate your elemental sign
  • Explains how to plan meals appropriate to your home element
  • Offers tempting recipes for every home element, season, and time of day
  • Shares dishes with a delicious variety of ingredients and flavors, from Cold Soba Noodles to Stir-Fried Chicken or Port with Watermelon Rind
  • Contains beauty, mind, and spirit sections with recipes for face masks, hair treatments, and massage oils based on each home element
  • Features more than 120 full-color photographs of finished dishes and life in Thailand

Written by the IACP Award–winning author of Cracking the Coconut and Asian Grilling,the simple, inspiring recipes and straightforward, easy-to-follow advice found in The Elements of Life will inspire you to live according to the elements and follow a traditional path to health, beauty, longevity, and inner peace.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Yu, author of Cracking the Coconut and chef/owner of the San Diego restaurant Saffron, explores the Thai approach to food and wellness in this unique and illuminating collection. Based on the belief that fresh, locally grown vegetables are natural remedies essential to maintaining good health), the book details the four elements of life: earth, wind, water and fire. To be healthy, all of our bodies' elements must be in harmony, which occurs through a diet that combines the most beneficial tastes, flavors and aromas of our element and allows for varying factors such as time of day and weather. Recipes help achieve this balance and are grouped together by element. Yu provides a wide array of options for each meal, including stir-fried shrimp with asparagus; cool rice vermicelli with grilled vegetables; noodles with Chinese broccoli and pork or chicken; and mango sorbet with young coconut ribbons. Headnotes list the ailments each dish will improve. Yu also includes recipes for facial masks, massage oils and sachets that calm the mind and the senses. An informative and appetizing look at Thai tradition and its relation to food, this book offers a new perspective on healthy eating. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471757078
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/12/2009
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,006,437
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Su-Mei Yu was born in Thailand to Chinese parents and lived there until she was fifteen, when she was sent to boarding school in the United States. After stints as a social worker and an assistant professor, in 1985 she opened Saffron, the first Thai restaurant in San Diego, which has received national acclaim. Yu writes frequently for food magazines including Food & Wine, Fine Cooking, and Gastronomica. Also the author of Asian Grilling and the IACP Award-winning cookbook Cracking the Coconut, she lives in La Jolla, California.

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Table of Contents



Chapter 1: Earth, Water, Wind, and Fire: Finding Your Home Element.

Chapter 2: Basics.

Chapter 3: Earth.

Chapter 4: Water.

Chapter 5: Wind.

Chapter 6: Fire.



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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted January 14, 2011

    My favorite cookbook of my collection

    This cookbook holds many recipes to be treasured from curries, soups, salads, dressings and desserts. I have a giant collection of very special Asian cookbooks and this is my favorite for many reasons. Number one, the food tastes so amazing and so authentic. Number two, all of the recipes are healthy, utilizing mother earth's gifts to their fullest. I am vegetarian and though there are many meat and fish recipes within this book, the author kindly respects all diet choices by offering vegetarian substitutions for every recipe! Number three, I love curries and I have collected Asian cookbooks for this reason. This book has my favorite curry recipes. Number four, the book is based upon a Thai belief system that we all have our own inner element and that our diet should reflect the needs of our spirit through tastes, color and temperature, as well as work in accordance with the weather around us. Therefore, this book provides recipes that allows one to connect with their food in new way and soothe them on the deepest levels, nourishing not only the taste buds but the spirit. A particular recipe I adore is the Restorative Soup which is what I eat whenever I get sick. So comforting and makes the sickness go away! Number five, the author grew up eating this cuisine and then made it for her family, now wanting to share the recipes and the healing techniques of this Thai element tradition with the world. This makes the book full of so much love; you can just feel it in the book! Su-Mei Yu, you are awesome and I love your cookbook. It is truly the best gift I ever gave to myself, my body and my spirit! Thank you.

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