My biggest challenge (without a doubt) in Thailand has been eating healthy. For some reason or the other, I had this idea fixated in my head that being a vegetarian/health nut/tree hugger/gym bunny in Thailand would be effortless. Well, I was wrong. After living in Suphanburi for about two days, Phil and I sat on our bed in a state of nausea after eating lunch at our school’s “canteen” for the first time. About 10 minutes later, I was glued to the toilet (I’ll spare the details…) and Phil was projectile vomiting into the bathroom sink next to me. In retrospect, it’s completely hilarious! At the time I felt awful; my body would reject anything I tried to eat or drink (including water). After one visit from my school coordinator/boss and she saw me face down on the bed, she drove me to the hospital where I was treated for some sort of “bacterial infection/parasite”. Fast forward a few days later, Phil and I began to feel much better (thank goodness for traveler’s insurance).
In Thailand, I have found that most food options are typically fried, made with sugar/high fructose corn syrup, and/or sprinkled with MSG. This includes everything from street food to crackers at the grocery store. Balancing healthy eating and indulging in new and different foods is a challenge I am learning to overcome. So far, some of my favorite Thai foods are: baked vegetable rice, stir fried vegetables, thai iced coffee, and green tea kit kats (no seriously, they’re so good). Our second week of school our coordinator gave us a refrigerator, rice cooker, and microwave. Phil and I later purchased a burner and blender so we could begin cooking at home. After several trips to Top’s Market and Tesco Lotus, I discovered many fresh (and affordable) fruits, vegetables, and protein packed snacks. The first time I saw avocados in Top’s Market I nearly passed out of excitement (it’s the little things).
Another luxury of living in Thailand is that eating out is generally fairly inexpensive. A meal for two (including appetizers, a main course, and drinks) usually costs anywhere from ฿300-฿500, or $8.00-$13.00. Phil and I have both enjoyed eating new and different Thai food from various restaurants. While I was in the hospital, my angel of a coordinator brought me some soup and rice from the Organic Room. It quickly became one of my favorite restaurants because the food is fresh, healthy, and delicious. Some of my favorite menu items include the “goong” (shrimp) salad with sesame dressing, brown rice with streamed vegetables, and the mixed berry smoothie. This restaurant has played an important role in making Suphanburi feel like home to me. It is also conveniently located near Tesco Lotus so Phil and I like to go often after school or before grocery shopping.
My favorite cafe in Suphanburi is the Mill’s Cafe which overlooks the Chao Phraya River. When I first heard about this cafe via Instagram, I was immediately intrigued by all the homemade cakes, brownies, and cookies. This cafe is the perfect place to relax, drink coffee, lesson plan, or indulge in a Pinterest-inspired dessert. The back patio (which resembles a backyard) is decorated with twinkle lights and has beanbag chairs for guests to sit on. Although I miss my oven and experimenting in the kitchen with new dessert recipes, the next best alternative is allowing someone else to bake treats for you.
Being a “kitchenless” vegetarian in Thailand has been a challenge; but it is doable with the proper appliances. Some of my favorite foods that I typically gravitate to are whole fruit smoothies, oatmeal, greek yogurt, scrambled eggs, beans, brown rice, nuts/seeds, whole wheat toast, peanut butter, fruits, vegetables, green tea, and black coffee with coconut milk. I have posted links to a few of my favorite recipes that I love to cook as a “rabbit girl” (the appropriate nickname my coordinator gave me). Furthermore, if you have Pinterest you can follow me here to see other recipes I love. Enjoy!