the appetizer:

The Elements of Life: A Contemporary Guide to Thai Recipes and Traditions for Healthier Living by Su-Mei Yu, includes excerpts and recipes like Thai Curries; Jungle Soup Gaeng Paa; Almond Milk; Stir-Fried Okra; and Ceviche, Thai Style Plah Pla.

Cookbook Profile

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

by Su-Mei Yu

The Elements of Life
Click to buy The Elements of Life


Su-Mei Yu, author of the IACP award-winning Cracking the Coconut and the chef/owner of Saffron restaurant in San Diego, introduces the Thai approach to food and wellness in The Elements of Life—a distinct and illuminating collection of over 120 delicious recipes. Rooted in the Thai concept of "food as medicine," this innovative book will show readers how to revolutionize their diets by using nature's elements—Earth, Water, Wind, and Fire—to eat for optimum health, beauty, and spiritual well-being.

To achieve good health and well-being, our body's four elements and our home element must function in perfect harmony. Using the interactive wheel developed by her mentor, the late Dr. Pennapa Subcharoen, Yu shows readers how to identify their home element and eat foods that accommodate it through different times of the year and different times of the day. As an added bonus, Yu has adapted Dr. Pennapa's wheel, and her version is included at the back of the book.

The Elements of Life is divided into five recipe chapters—one devoted to each element, as well as a "Basics" chapter that includes recipes for things like Coconut, Soy, and Almond Milks, simple curries and stir-fries that create balanced dishes that work for all elements. Introductions to each recipe list the ailments the dish will improve. Each chapter also includes sections on beauty and mind and spirit, with many recipes for facial masks, massage oils and sachets geared to the home element that will help readers to relax, rejuvenate, and feel renewed.

Yu provides plenty of tempting recipes for every home element, season, and time of day. Each element chapter includes a helpful chart with the various tastes that Yu refers to, along with the foods that correspond to that taste. Here are just a few examples of recipes well-suited to each element:

The book's lush, evocative design features nearly 200 full-color photographs throughout, including mouthwatering food photographs of finished dishes and beautiful travel photos from Thailand showcasing traditional ingredients, food vendors, and much more. 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.

About the Author

Su-Mei Yu is the author of the 2000 IACP Award-winning Cracking the Coconut and Asian Grilling, and is a frequent contributor to Fine Cooking magazine. She is chef-owner of the acclaimed Saffron restaurant in San Diego, California. Su-Mei has made many appearances on television shows such as Martha Stewart Living. Born of Chinese parents in Thailand, she came to America to attend boarding school at the age of fifteen, and worked as a social worker and as an assistant professor at San Diego State University before opening the first Thai restaurant in San Diego in 1985.


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This page created August 2010