A foodies guide to Bangkok

The vibrant and colourful streets of Bangkok are constantly abuzz with the sounds of laughing locals, horns of tuk tuks and motorbikes and the array of mixed fresh local cuisines. The waft of fresh seafood, fried veggies, spices, pineapple and other juicy fruits is what completely captivates me – while at first foreign, have now become some of my favourite scents.

But while the hidden treasures nestled in the nooks and crannies of Bangkok’s streets are glorious, the true beauty in this city lies within the happiest people I’ve ever met. Locals of Bangkok are always appreciating the beauty in life – in the smallest forms. I have never felt safer, more comfortable, accepted and welcomed in a city in my life as I have in Bangkok.

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For those of you reading this in Melbourne, I’m sorry. I write this post in the aim of inspiring, not bragging (despite being grateful to trade in four layers for 40 degree weather).

For those of you planning a trip to Thailand, I highly recommend spending at least a few days in Bangkok, especially if you’re a foodie. And to the vegetarians, vegans and fellow Foddies (people on the low FODMAP diet) have no fear – Bangkok is full of amazing cafes and restaurants which cater towards people with dietary requirements. I’ve written this blog post as a short guide to some of my favourite street foods, cafes and restaurants in Bangkok.

Street food we tried

Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or have some kind of food intolerance if there’s one thing you should do in Bangkok it’s eat street food. While we ate at some amazing cafes and restaurants (featured below), nothing is quite like getting a bowl of something fresh you’ve never heard of or tried for less than $2.

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Our first street food experience was at the Floating Market on our second day. While the markets weren’t overly enthralling, we were fascinated by a lady making tiny dumplings on a boat with various vegetables inside. The lady spoke no English, but handed us a banana leaf filled with 8 tiny clear dumplings and two tiny chillies for 40 Baht (less than $2). We loved every mouthful, and although we didn’t know what was inside at first, we later figured out they were filled with carrot, mushroom, peanut and cane sugar. A few days later we found a stall at a market which identified them as Thai steamed rice skin dumplings – the mouth of the of rice.

Another amazing street food we tried at Khao San Road was fresh coconut ice cream for around 30 Baht ($1). Perfect for vegans and anyone intolerant to lactose – this cold dessert is topped with nuts and chocolate sauce. We saw stands at the Chatachuk Weekend Market with 8-10 topping options: from different sticky rices to jellies and nuts, so if you’re heading to the market wait and get it there.

If you’re not vegan another good street food (if you can find it) is a little mini taco looking sweet. The man who served us spoke barely any English but it looked too good not to try. Although we’re not certain, we think it was a mini coconut egg  hard-shell pancake topped with shredded fruit and nuts. We paid 10 Baht ($0.45).

One of my favourite street foods was from a man just around the corner from our apartment – the popular egg crepe (a Thai street dessert). To make, the stall owner will spread crepe batter over a flat element, drop an egg and chopped banana inside the middle, fold it up and cover it with your chosen spread – I went for Nutella. You can find these around Bangkok – some carts will have up to 10 topping options for around 60 Baht ($2.40).

Where to eat out

Although Bangkok isn’t quite up to Melbourne’s brunch standards, it has serious game when it comes to smoothie bowls, quirky lattes and Buddha bowls. The city has so many amazing vegan and vegetarian cafes and restaurants – we were only able to get to a few, but my favourites are listed below.

Brekkie Organic Café

French-Parisian esque interiors, quirky antiques, quality coffee and serious smoothie bowl options.

Brekkie organic cafe

Broccoli Revolution

Totally vegan, traditional Thai fusion brunch with killer Buddha and smoothie bowls.

Broccoli rev

Mango Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant and Arts Gallery

Cute and cosy hole in the wall with friendly staff and a menu which warms your soul.

Mango

Stay tuned to TML as more detailed articles on each cafe will be posted over the next week. I can’t wait for you to continue on my adventure throughout Thailand with me.

Chloe.

The Melbourne Look gets a new look

Hi there,

I’m Chloe – a 22-year-old Melbourne soon to be journalism graduate and self-proclaimed health foodie. Some of you may already know me as a fashion blogger, others who follow me on Instagram may have already noticed my recent shift into the foodie category. I’m basically writing this post to introduce you to the new concept behind my blog The Melbourne Look.

While over the past three years I have focused my writing on Australia’s fashion industry, I have decided to dive into the diverse world of health food and lifestyle blogging. Now, first thing’s first – I’m 100 per cent not in any way claiming to be a nutritionist or dietitian – this blog is purely an expression of my new-found passion for healthy and nutritious food.

What’s going to be different about my blog compared to every other food and lifestyle blog? Quite simply – I’ve lived through it.

In July 2016, following a crazy Euro-trip, I was diagnosed with IBS. For those of you who don’t know, it’s an annoying gut syndrome that leaves you feeling pretty average when eating certain foods (I’ve written an article explaining it here). After visiting a dietitian she basically told me if I wanted to feel good again I’d have to go on a low FODMAP diet, and eliminate certain foods to figure out what I was intolerant to.

While this diet tested my self-control, tormented and tortured me (I couldn’t eat some of my favourite things; avo, sweet potato, bread and cheese for a long time), I came out of the elimination phase feeling better than ever.

However, I struggled for a long time to find recipes and foods which were not only low FODMAP but were nutritious, tasted good and satisfied my cravings. One day I gave up hunting and decided to just create my own low FODMAP alternatives to recipes I loved. I began posting photos of these on my Instagram and realised there was a whole community of people out there who were facing the same issues and needed inspiration.

Which brings me back to my blog. Here I will post healthy, intolerance friendly recipes I’ve created (with the help of my best friend who’s a dietitian), profile Melbourne foodie events, restaurants and cafes that cater for intolerances, and write articles in the aim of helping foodies out there with information and inspiration.

Over the next six weeks I will be eating my way through Thailand and Vietnam with my best friend – posting foodie guides to each city we visit and finding inspiration for recipes for The Melbourne Look. I can’t wait to share this adventure with you.

Chloe x

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FODwhat? Why it could be more than gluten causing your stomach pains

Gluten free. Lactose intolerant. Sensitivities to wheat. What happened to the days when the only issues we had with food were nut allergies? Now we have the Paleo diet, the rise of veganism and everything in between. Has the nation gone crazy over a food intolerance ‘fad’?

From the outside looking in, I used to look on bemused at those in supermarket aisles, boycotting the bread and dairy sections because a diet on a ‘wellness’ website told them milk was bad for them.

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Having never worried too much about my own personal diet, whilst still trying to remain healthy, the sudden rise of intolerances and dietary requirements seemed odd, but then it happened to me.

Bloating. Sharp pains. Cramps. Every time I ate a meal no matter how big or small, the problems were the same. It played on my mind, affected my relationships and affected my work. Food is the most crucial fuel we can put into our bodies and all it was doing was causing me great pain.

For too long I pushed it aside. I was a ‘google doctor’ just like those people in the supermarket aisles and thought I knew better. Then the penny dropped. I finally went and got professional help.

“I think you should try a low FODMAP diet to see if you’re intolerant to something”.

The words were uttered from the dietician’s mouth. What the hell was a low FODMAP diet? All of a sudden my life had been turned upside down. There were restrictions on everything I could eat and even my coffee intake was cut down from five coffees a day to a measly one.

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The results? The sharp pains were gone, my energy levels were back up and I had the desire to see my friends again. My life had been flipped 180 after the adjustments to my diet and I now had the confidence to be myself again.

But how does it work? Well it turns out gluten isn’t the devil it’s made out to be if consumed in moderation.

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According to Dr. Jane Muir, Head of Translational Nutrition Science at Monash University, this is because “a gluten-free diet is only necessary for people who have been diagnosed with coeliac disease – an autoimmune disease that results in inflammation of the small intestine when any gluten is ingested.”

While coeliac disease affects approximately one in 70 Australians on average according to the Coeliac Organisation of Australia, a research study conducted by CSIRO found seven per cent of Australians were avoiding wheat containing foods to manage symptoms they were attributing to these products.

World-leading research conducted by Monash University has cast doubt on whether gluten is the real cause of the problem. According to Dr. Muir, the culprit may be a group of short-chain carbohydrates (or sugars) called FODMAPS, which stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides And Polyols.

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“The sugars include fructose (in pears and apples), lactose (in milk), sugar polyols (sorbitol and mannitol in stone fruits and artificial sweeteners), fructans, fructo-oligosaccharides (in rye, artichoke, garlic, onions and wheat) and galacto-oligosaccharides (in legumes and nuts),” she says.

“Because these sugars can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine, they reach the large intestine where they are fermented by bacteria to produce gas, leading to abdominal discomfort.”

Researchers from the Department of Gastroenterology at Monash University have been conducting research for over 10 years to develop the low FODMAP diet to help patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

IBS affects one in seven Australian adults, and is characterized by the discomforts such as lower abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating, wind, abdominal distension and altered bowel habit such as constipation and diarrhoea.

While people can be tested for coeliac disease, the low FODMAP diet is the only scientifically proven way in determining if someone has food intolerances or IBS.

Dr. Muir says the research team at Monash has “good scientific evidence that the majority (75-89 per cent) of patients with IBS will benefit from a diet that restricts their intake of FODMAP sugars.”

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It sounds crazy, right? A diet that restricts your intake of all the good stuff: certain fruits and vegetables, milk and yoghurt, cheese, breads, cereals, nuts and seeds. Why can’t you just eliminate gluten and dairy?

Dr. Muir says by ignoring the symptoms associated with IBS and consuming foods high in FODMAPs you could be doing your body more harm than good.

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“There are serious gut diseases such as coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease and bowel cancer that have similar symptoms so need to be checked out immediately by a GP.”

By self-diagnosing food intolerances and eliminating whole food groups you may also be missing out on important nutrients such as dietary fibre, says Dr. Muir.

“While eliminating gluten is not dangerous if done in conjunction with a dietician who will ensure the diet is adequate and nutritionally balanced, people shouldn’t do it on their own.”

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Accredited practicing dietitian Chloe McLeod says it is important to work with a dietician to determine your approach to the low FODMAP diet.

“When I work with patients, most likely high FODMAP foods will be removed from their diet, and I will then set a series of food challenges to determine their sensitivities,” she says.

“Once this is finished we ‘liberalise’ the diet, meaning high FODMAP foods are slowly and gradually added back in, below levels where the symptoms of IBS occur.”

According to McLeod, research indicates that most people don’t react to all of the high FODMAP groups. Identifying these groups means foods the person didn’t react to can be re-introduced, and it can be determined how much of a certain food they can tolerate.

According to Dr. Muir and McLeod, the low FODMAP diet is not a long-term diet, therefore the re-introduction stage of certain FODMAPS is extremely important.

But while it isn’t long term, McLeod says long term a low FODMAP diet will make life easier for people suffering from IBS for the following reasons:

  • Most people with IBS are able to re-introduce FODMAPS and maintain good symptom control, making it easier to make informed choices and better manage symptoms
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  • Many FODMAP foods are high in prebiotics – compounds which provide food for the healthy bacteria that are found in the gut, so it is essential they be added back in at manageable levels
  • Avoidance of unnecessary restrictions  will help ensure their diet meets their nutritional needs

While the low FODMAP diet eliminates pages of grains, fruits and vegetables, the good news is there are low FODMAP foods to replace them.

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So if a low-FODMAP diet that restricts parts of certain food groups isn’t a long-term diet, how healthy can a diet that eliminates whole food groups be?

Diets such as the Paleo diet omit grains, cereals and legumes altogether, which are important sources of dietary fibre. A ‘gluten free’ diet may seem healthy in theory, but many of the replacement foods are high in sugar, salt, fat and low in fibre, meaning by taking this approach you may be doing your body more harm than good.

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While many people are intolerant to gluten, it is not the devil and for most people does not need to be eliminated completely. Instead of becoming ‘google doctors’ and cutting out whole food groups, if people notice symptoms associated with IBS after eating, they should seek medical advice.

The low-FODMAP diet has helped me regain control of all aspects of my life, and left me feeling healthy and happy again. I was once bemused at the people boycotting the bread and dairy sections of the supermarket, but now find myself doing the same.

Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures; let’s spend more time understanding how our bodies process it and less time listening to blogs that claim ‘fad’ diets are the golden key to our health.

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Back to Basics with TheTwentyTwo

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Here in Melbourne it’s no lie that no matter what time of year it is, a few layers never went astray and a basic tee never hurt anyone.

In fact, while basics have always been a staple in the wardrobe it’s apparent this season, a crisp white shirt paired with designer can do wonders for your high street rep.

Lets face it girls, basics are here to stay and if you’re looking for a quality tee this season sisters Vicki and Jenny Lee from TheTwentyTwo have the perfect line for you.

If you’re an interior minimalist, you may already know the stripped-back, bare and beautiful quality TheTwentyTwo is synonymous with in the living room, dining room and kitchen. The girls are all about beauty in understatement, and this passion for all that’s simple has (finally) lead them to develop their first fashion basics range.

Designed and created from the highest quality cotton there are five styles for women in various understated colours and even three styles for the boys (ehem, men look great in basics).

Have a look through my favourites from the new collection and tell me what you think in the comments. All items featured can be ordered online at www.thetwentytwo.com.au.