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.



Almond Milk

The Elements of Life

Makes about 3 cups

I first discovered almond milk as a substitute for coconut cream and milk through a Thai friend who is a physician. Trying to control her own intake of saturated fats, she had thought of almond milk as a potential substitute in Thai cooking. Since she is not a cook, she asked if I could experiment with it when making curry. I did, and today I use it not only in my own cooking, but I also offer it to customers at my restaurant, who are grateful that healthy food can also be delicious.

Almonds contain "good" monounsaturated fat. High in calcium, magnesium, and folic acid, they also contain resveratrol, an anti-inflammatory agent. Blue Diamond manufactures almond milk under the brand name Almond Breeze. Buy the unflavored one for cooking. Homemade almond milk, however, is richer and thicker than the store-bought variety. For an even thicker milk, reduce the final amount of water from 3 cups to 2 or even just 1 cup. Almond milk is good for all home element types.

  • 1 cup raw almonds with the skins on
  • 5 cups boiling water
  • 3 cups water

Put the almonds in a large bowl, pour over the boiling water, and let sit until the water is just cool enough to touch, about 1 minute. Drain the water.

Put the almonds in a clean dish towel, rub off the skins, and discard. Rinse the almonds and place them in a jar. Add the 3 cups water, cover tightly, and refrigerate overnight.

Transfer the almonds and water to a blender and process until smooth. Line a finemesh strainer with damp cheesecloth and place the strainer on top of a bowl. Transfer the contents of the blender to the strainer. Extract the milk by squeezing the cloth tight and hard. Store the almond milk in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Save the leftover almond puree to use as a skin treatment (see below).


Almond Puree

Almond puree, the pulp left over from making almond milk, makes a unique base for homemade facial masks, body scrubs, and hair conditioners. Refer to your specific home element chapter (in the book) and try the beauty treatment recipes using almond puree. I apply it regularly to my hands, which are often dry. After cooking or doing dishes, I take a teaspoonful from a container of it I keep in the refrigerator and give my hands, nails, and cuticles a deep-tissue massage. I do this over the sink and use the time to clear my overloaded mind by focusing on the treatment. After a minute or two, I rinse it off with warm water and dry my hands with a clean towel. My hands are softer and my thoughts are relaxed.

  • from:
    The Elements of Life:
    A Contemporary Guide to Thai Recipes
    and Traditions for Healthier Living
  • by Su-Mei Yu
  • Wiley 2009
  • Hardcover; 336 pages; $35.00
  • ISBN-10: 0471757071
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-471-75707-81
  • Reprinted by permission.

Buy The Elements of Life


The Elements of Life

Kitchen Gypsy

This page created August 2010

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