Within the enticing realm of famous Thai food lies an intricate network of dishes that range from meaty and greasy to fresh and healthy. Today we’ll be highlighting healthy Thai food!
Knowing what to order and how to order it, can give you the upper hand when it comes to eating healthy Thai food.
If you’re coming to Thailand and want to eat healthy, you may want to check out my Vegetarian Thai food guide.
Here are 21 Healthy Thai Food dishes to try:
1. Som Tam ส้มตำไทย
Famous and widely available is Thailand’s green papaya salad known much better as “som tam.”
The fresh ingredients that go into som tam include: shredded green papaya, tomatoes, string beans, dried shrimp, garlic, and chillies. There are many variations of som tam, some including fermented fish sauce or crab, but probably the healthiest version is som tam thai.
Som Tam Thai is dressed with a piquant sauce that includes fish sauce, cane sugar, lime juice and tamarind juice. It’s one of Thailand’s most famous dishes and it happens to be pretty healthy too!
A bag of sticky rice and you’re all set for a great little meal!
2. Yam Mamuang ยำมะม่วง
Yam mamuang is quite similar to som tam except instead of green papaya, the main ingredient is shredded sour green mango.
The tartness of the mango along with the saltiness of the fish sauce and sweetness of the cane sugar make yam mamuang one of the freshest tasting salads on the Thai food repertoire.
I’d highly recommend it, especially if you want a dish that’s a bit different from normal som tam.
3. Pad Pak Ruam Mit ผัดผักรวมมิตร
Many normal Thai food restaurants are able to stir fry almost any combination of ingredients together for you to eat with rice.
Pad pak ruam mit is just a stir fried combination of whatever vegetables are on hand at the moment. To eat pad pak ruam mit in its healthiest version, order it with less oil: “nam man nit noi.”
I’ll admit it, I like to eat lots of chillies too!
4. Pad Pak Bung Fai Daeng ผัดผักบุ้งไฟแดง
One of the most popular vegetable dishes in Bangkok is pad pak bung fai daeng, stir fried morning glory infused with tasty red chillies.
This green stalk oriented vegetable dish is stir fried on high heat so it’s scorch cooked on the outside but still retains its lovely crisp texture. Pak bung is often fried with oyster sauce and fermented soy bean sauce for extra lip licking deliciousness!
5. Pad Pak Gachet ผัดผักกะเฉด
One of my personal favorite vegetarian Thai dishes is pad pak gachet, or stir fried water mimosa.
The tough textured vegetable is packed with earthy flavor and usually it is stir fried up with a generous amount of garlic, chillies and flavorful sauce. The really tough chewy texture may be different from most vegetables, but that’s what I really love about it!
6. Nam Prik น้ำพริก
Nam Prik is the general name for a variety of different dipping sauces that are served along with a garden of boiled and steamed vegetables and sometimes fried fish.
As far as healthy Thai food goes, apart from the saltiness content of the sauces, nam prik can be one of the great healthy choices. The wide selection of steamed vegetables can include eggplant, string beans, cucumbers, bitter melon, okra, cabbage, winged bean and many others.
7. Jim Jum จิ้มจุ่ม
Jim jum is the Thai street version of a personal hot pot – a selection of ingredients self cooked by each customer on their own table.
An aromatic blend of herbs boiled together forms the soup foundation of jim jum and then it’s up to you to add as many vegetables and pieces of pork as you want.
You can easily order a pot of jim jum without getting any pork and just enjoying the basket of vegetables and the mungbean clear noodles.
8. Pla Chon Lui Suan ปลาช่อนลุยสวน
Within the realm of Thai cuisine in an incredible range of different fish and methods of cooking fish. Pla chon, or snakehead fish is one of the most popular kinds of fish eaten on the streets of Bangkok.
With pla chon lui suan, the fish is steamed, covered in garlic, chillies and mint leaves and then placed on a plate of steamed garden vegetables making it quite a healthy Thai food.
It’s also normally served with an incredible sauce that ignites glorious flavor!
9. Kuay Teow Lui Suan ก๋วยเตี๋ยวลุยสวน
The Thai version of fresh spring rolls (non-deep fried) are a handful of fresh raw vegetables encased in a thick rice noodle wrapper.
The vegetables and minced meat (or sometimes tofu or mushroom) rolls are made with green lettuce leaves and lots of sweet basil. The accompanying dipping sauce is what really makes kuay teow lui suan so tasty – an explosion of tangy flavor with an unparalleled jolt of freshness.
It’s not really a full meal for me, but it sure makes a nice healthy and delicious Thai snack!
10. Gaeng Liang แกงเลียง
The sheer components that make up a bowl of gaeng liang must make it one of the healthiest Thai foods available.
The vegetable herbal soup consists of a collection of earthy tasting things like, pumpkin, corn, squash, ivy gourd, mushrooms, and a bunch of other herbs and random veggies.
This herbaceous blend is like scooping healthy detoxification medicine into your body – and it tastes great too!
11. Gaeng Jued Pak Ruam Tao Hoo แกงจืดผักรวมเต้าหู้
For a simply made, but always delicious and warm healthy Thai food, try a bowl of gaeng jued soup.
The name in Thai basically means “plain soup/stew,” so it’s not the most vibrantly flavorful Thai dish, but it’s still not bad (a side of raw chillies can do wonders!).
This Chinese vegetable soup is characterized by a colorful medley of vegetables boiled with tofu in a minced pork broth.
12. Miang Pla Too เมี่ยงปลาทู
Another favorite dish of mine is lettuce mackerel fish wraps, known as miang pla too (เมี่ยงปลาทู).
Think of it as tacos made with fresh green vegetables, rice noodles, fried fish, and a scrumptious spicy and sometimes sweet peanut-y sauce.
You basically grab a piece of lettuce, load it up with fish and khanom jeen rice noodles, add some parsley, sweet basil and mint, and drown the entire Thai taco in the provided sauce.
13. Suki Nam สุกี้น้ำ / Suki Haeng สุกี้แห้ง
There are two variations to this healthy dish: suki nam (soup version), and suki haeng (dry version).
A selection of vegetables that usually includes cabbage and morning glory are cooked with a portion of clear mung bean noodles and a combination of seafood or whatever meat of your choice.
The dish is served with a fantastic red chili sauce that truly makes it a flavor to cherish. Most Thais enjoy eating suki as a standalone dish, but I prefer to eat it along with a plate of rice.
14. Makua Yao Prik Pao มะเขือยาวพริกเผา
I’ve always been a big fan of any dish made with eggplant. In Bangkok the purple eggplant isn’t all that common, but they do have a similar long skinny eggplant that is green on the outside and tastes pretty good too.
My favorite way to eat eggplant is stir fried in roasted chili sauce along with sweet basil and chillies, a dish known as makua yao prik pao. The eggplant soaks up all the delicious sauce making it one of my favorite vegetarian Thai dishes.
15. Gaeng Om Gai แกงอ่อมไก่
Gaeng Om is a type of healthy herbaceous northern Thai stew made from a selection of different vegetables along with either chicken or pork (or another meat of choice).
Among the plethora of green leafy vegetables that go into the production of a delicious gaeng om, is a host of fragrant herbs. Dill is the protruding flavor that really gives it a kick!
16. Khao Yam ข้าวยำ
One of the classic dishes of southern Thai food is known as khao yam, in English basically rice mixed salad.
Though it may look similar to khao kluk kaphi, khao yam is quite a bit healthier as it usually doesn’t include any pork.
The dish is basically rice mixed with toasted coconut and topped with chopped green beans, bean sprouts, cucumber slices, and shredded kaffir lime leaves. It’s most often enjoyed with a sweet soy sauce on the side.
17. Yam Talay ยำทะเล
When it comes to healthy Thai food, yam talay (mixed seafood salad) can rally be a make or break dish. Break if the seafood is overcooked or the vegetables are over ripe but Make if the seafood is not overcooked and the vegetables are crisp and not overly ripe.
A selection of prawns, squid, and sometimes fish is boiled, mixed with freshly ripe tomatoes, mushrooms, and a few other garnishing vegetables and flavored with a Thai style sour and sweet dressing.
The salad is fresh, quite healthy and overall it’s extremely tasty!
18. Yam Woon Sen ยำวุ้นเส้น
Another fresh dish in Thailand is clear mungbean noodle salad.
It’s a very popular dish to eat in Thailand and though it contains bits of minced pork and some seafood (sometimes even hot dogs), the dish is full of great vegetables like tomatoes, onions, and celery.
I like to order my yam woon sen extra sour, so it bursts with lime juice!
19. Larb Het ลาบเห็ด
You know the classic Thai / Laotian dish of larb moo (Isaan minced pork salad)?
This is the same dressing and ingredients, but instead of pork, a variety of mushrooms are used in the recipe. This obviously makes the dish much more of a healthy Thai food!
You can find this dish in the Vegetarian Thai Food Guide as a fantastic Isaan substitute dish.
20. Tom Jab Chai ต้มจับฉ่าย
Available at mostly Chinese Thai restaurants, tom jab chai is a soupy stew that consists of mainly super soft boiled down veggies.
Often flavored with chunks of pork, tom jab chai is not as healthy as it could be, but it still has lots of green healthy vegetables within it. The vegetables are cooked so long that they really melt in your mouth.
You can also get it as a vegan (Thai Jay) dish at Tien Sin Vegetarian restaurant in Bangrak.
21. Som Tam Ponlamai ส้มตำผลไม้
Nothing is better than a mixed fruit salad EXCEPT a mixed fruit salad covered in chillies, peanuts and a salty Thai dressing!
At first it did sound a little strange, fruit and chillies? But after sampling my first plate of som tam ponlamai, I fell in love – in Thailand it just works! Try it!
In order to eat healthy Thai food avoid the dishes that consist of heavy coconut creams (like lots of Thai curries), dishes where the main ingredient is pork or another red meat, and unfortunately the scrumptious Thai desserts. Also avoid all the deep fried snacks!
To be a bit more health conscious try ordering stir fried dishes with just a little bit of oil (náam man nít nòi), or no oil at all (mâi sài náam man).
Whatever you do though, don’t be afraid to hit the streets of Thailand to discover some more healthy Thai dishes!
Lastly, I just wanted to announce that the Vegetarian Thai Food Guide is complete and now available!
Not only is it extremely useful for vegetarian and vegans, but also if you want to start eating Thai food that’s healthy and extremely delicious!