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Elements of Life: A Contemporary Guide to Thai Recipes and Traditions for Healthier Living: The Elements of Thai Cooking, Eating, Beauty, and Health [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Su-Mei Yu

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18. September 2009

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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In Thailand, food is about nourishment, enjoyment, and the interplay of flavors, but it's also about healing and wellness. The Thai philosophy is based on the notion that each of us is born under a "home element"-Earth, Water, Wind, or Fire-which is also present in our physical bodies. By eating to satisfy your home element, in combination with the time of day and the weather, you create your own optimal health, beauty, and spiritual well-being.
Su-Mei Yu, born in Thailand to Chinese parents, grew up amid these ancient beliefs, though her own family's approach was slightly different. She moved to America as a teenager and eventually opened San Diego's first Thai restaurant. On one of her annual trips back to Thailand, Yu encountered a folk doctor who determined her home element as Water. With uncanny accuracy, he announced that she thrived in warm, dry climates, and that she preferred sour, bland, and bitter flavors. Intrigued, Yu researched the philosophy behind the home elements, and in The Elements of Life, she brings it to Western home cooks for the first time.
In the first chapter, Yu helps you determine your own home element, using a special wheel affixed to the inside back cover of the book. Then she guides you to a basic understanding of how to plan meals around your home element in conjunction with the weather and the time of day. From there, she moves into the recipes-glorious, richly flavorful recipes that fuse Western influences and Thai traditions.
The Basics chapter offers foundations you'll use across all the elements, including recipes for breakfast (Applesauce Pancakes), lunch (Tom Ka, a coconut cream soup), and dinner (Panang Curry). Here you'll find drinks, salad dressings, stir-fries, soups, curries, and much more.
Next, Yu devotes a chapter to each element. She identifies the personal characteristics related to that home element and the tastes, flavors, and aromas best suited to it, with a chart of natural ingredients that possess those qualities. Then come the recipes, meant to balance the element, time of day, and type of weather. Cold Soba Noodles, Grilled Shrimp and Mango Salad, Persian-Thai Fried Rice, and Stir-Fried Chicken or Pork with Watermelon Rind-each offers benefits for one or more elements. Every chapter ends with recipes for natural beauty treatments, massage oils, and healing balms.
With a wealth of simple, inspiring recipes and straightforward, easy-to-follow advice, The Elements of Life will help you follow a traditional, natural, and remarkably effective path to health, beauty, longevity, and inner peace.


Earth, Water, Wind, Fire:
A Revolutionary Way to Use the Ancient Wisdom of Thai Philosophy in Your Kitchen, Your Home, Your Life "Discovering your home element will allow you to use your diet to achieve harmony with nature. With the information you gain by knowing your home element, you can adjust your menus in response to the weather, the season, the time of day, or how you feel for optimum health and emotional well-being. "Your home element has a spiritual dimension as well. To discover its presence is to discover your true self. To know your home element is to know your inner voice. This light of wisdom illuminates your way as you journey through life. Its sustaining energy provides you with a sense of direction and fortifies you against life's problems. When you follow the path of your home
element and listen to your inner voice, you will be rewarded with a life of well-being and a state of physical and spiritual harmony that is called suk sabai: contentment, clarity, and happiness."
-Su-Mei Yu
"The Elements of Life offers a large vision of how a culture can integrate well-being, beauty, and superb taste into one's daily meals. Food as healing goes far beyond the dry, functional approach we're more accustomed to. This is a gorgeous, inspiring, and promising book."
-Deborah Madison, author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and What We Eat When We Eat Alone?
"The Elements of Life is more than a cookbook. It is at once scholarly, yet accessible, and groundbreaking in its recipes and intriguing stories about the Thai traditions of healing. Su-Mei Yu nourishes our bodies and spirit with her wisdom."
-Grace Young, author of The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen
"Imagine the greatest collection of mouthwatering recipes in one book. This is it. Su-Mei Yu is a miracle worker, and the ancient health wisdom she shares can and will change the way you eat forever."
-Deborah Szekely, founder of Rancho La Puerta and Golden Door "
A welcome and thoughtful introduction to the traditional Thai approach to food and health. Among the recipes, some traditional and others created by Su-Mei to suit North American kitchens and
palates, there are dishes to suit all temperaments in all seasons."
-Naomi Duguid, coauthor, with Jeffrey Alford, of Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia and Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China

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Amazon.com: 4.6 von 5 Sternen  5 Rezensionen
17 von 18 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Fascinating Exploration of Thai Recipes for Eating and Well-Being 4. Februar 2010
Von M. Hill - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The Elements of Life may look like a coffee table book, but it is so much more. It serves as a doorway into the Thai way of life and traditions. Follow the steps and the adventure begins. For the interested reader, this book enables an uncomplicated method of incorporating Thai recipes for food and health/well-being.

The first step is to use the included Elements of Life wheel to determine the reader's applicable Home Element. This step took only a couple of minutes. The elements are earth, water, wind and fire. An individual may have one or two home elements. Once the home element is determined, the Basics Chapter offers general guidance. Read that section first and then turn to the applicable home element chapter for specific guidance for eating and well-being. The entire process is fascinating and encompassing. After using the Elements of Life wheel my home element result was approximately 2/3 water and 1/3 earth. Both the water and earth chapters apply to me, with a stronger emphasis on water.

I first checked the Earth chapter. The contents include Food for Health, Hot weather recipes, Rainy weather recipes, a chart that incorporates the aromas and flavors of the element making it easy to see how to add items most beneficial to me in my cooking and life based on my home element(s). The Bliss section of the chapter offers advice to optimize physical being and includes recipes for facial masks, a foot rub, hair conditioner along with a section of special scents (like cedar, sandalwood, patchouli, juniper berry, etc.) that are complimentary, massage oils, sachets and finally traditional remedies for minor ailments. The Water and other home element chapters are similarly organized.

The book is lushly illustrated although every dish is not pictured. Not surprisingly, the user should be willing to search out specialty ingredients for the recipes. I prepared the Cambodian Salad with Chicken, Smoked Salmon, Mushroom and Arugula Salad, and Cool Rice Vermicelli with Grilled Shrimp, Fire-Roasted Anaheim Chile, and Sweet-Sour Sauce. The recipes were delicious and instructions clear.

This is much more than a cook book, it is an introduction to Thai traditions. The book is carefully crafted by Su-Mei Yu and her desire to share her wonderful culture with the reader is evident on each page. I treasure my copy of this beautiful book and recommend it to all.
3 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Learn the theory behind Thai food 30. Januar 2012
Von Nan Lee - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Just as Traditional Chinese Medicine made a huge splash in the Western world for its understanding of the body's "humors' and has produced the best cold and flu medicine around, and acupuncture, so does Thai cooking rely on a foundation of astrology combined with a TCM style list of "elements." Once you know your "home element" you can find your section in the book which s pleasantly comprehensive and custom-written for your type of constitution.
The concept is not new - Indian medicine ayurveda, calls these humors "doshas" and also prescribes diet accordingly. But it is still a new concept in the West - that everyone's body is actually different. That one recipe does not serve all. That what you love is actually not good for your partner, and you need to cook for all constitutions, not just one.
The book takes a complicated subject and prescribes a full menu for all four seasons for EVERY element type. What makes it easy to read is Yu's wonderful full-page photographs...photos are explanatory, not just artful, a pleasant suprise.
Unlike Thai cookbooks focusing on Thai street food, these recipes can actually be cooked at home. The author is a Thai restauranteur in California and spouse of a non-Asian foodie, so her ability to translate culture is as good as it gets. This book will probably end up being a reference and foodie classic once our culture abandons industrial agriculture and fully adopts sustainable foodways. That could take decades. But the book exemplifies how far Americans are from the healthful diets of Asia and why Thailand is the center of medical tourism today. Expand your mind!
3 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A good thai cook book with simple healthy recipes 29. Dezember 2010
Von C. Wong - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
A well written book with some interesting yet simple and healthy recipes. There's some beautiful pictures, but I wish it had more pictures of the final dish. I also like that it included some natural recipes for facials and foot soaks.
2 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen This book is unique! 20. Oktober 2011
Von Sarina - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The most important part of this book is the "elements of life", because the point of eating - it's consuming right product of nature, that provide comparable for your own type energy. So, the whole idea of this book is not just "nice Thia recipes" and "Thia philosophy". Last century, human's life style turns from natural to convenience way, from personal preference to mass way, from energy to calorie, that all things actually brakes connection with your own body and create misunderstanding of its real needs and natural ways that life works! . ...and substitutes by dieting, pills and all kinds of unnatural and unbalanced way to correct that mistake. That particular book provides thousand of years knowledge in very simple way and helps to understand how to find the right food in right time of the day and particular weather, for yourself and each member of the family. This way I found why the potatoes is good for my husband and bad for me..... By the way, it is almost impossible to find such information. This book is unique!
Don't think too much about some Thia or Chinese ingredients, that difficult to find. The most important - to be sure what kind of food it is right for you.
.....But in this system I found confusing nuance. It said that if you born premature, you need to add that time to your B.D. date...I add and was completely wrong in definition of my "home element. So, I used my real (premature)B.D. and everything fall in the place!
5.0 von 5 Sternen Amazing Book 2. März 2014
Von Cat - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Verifizierter Kauf
I immediately went out, bought things I'd never bought before (or even heard of) and I'm making thai food tonight! Woo! lol
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