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Guiltless Pleasure

Swedish pastry chef Emelie Holm has made Bangkok her home, and is ready to teach city dwellers how to indulge and stay healthy. By Monsicha Hoonsuwan.

Published on Sep 24, 2015


From Bangkok to Chiang Mai to Phuket, a host of new eateries is cooking up a contemporary spin on "health food." Banish the thought of boring brown rice and sprouts—these new dishes aim to please the palate while nourishing the body. Farmers' markets are bursting with homemade superfood granolas and raw juice bars are taking over the streets. The arrival of Swedish pastry chef Emelie Holm in Bangkok this March is another sign that Thai dining scene is shifting towards wholesome nutrition.

Holm, a cookbook author and TV personality, is an advocate for a diet free of gluten, lactose and refined sugar, though she also holds the crown as the founder of Sweden's first cupcake bakery. "I believe in a moderate lifestyle, where you can have a bit of everything but not too much," Holm says. Which means a cupcake is good, but can be made better with the use of alternative sweeteners like almonds, coconut and raw chocolate in place of refined sugar. "Raw food enables you to indulge a little bit more," Holm says.

Emelie Holm
Chef Emelie Holm. Photo: @jennygrimsgard.

Going raw means a person avoids foods that have been cooked beyond 48 degrees Celsius or processed and stripped of alkaline-forming properties. "If you want to be 100 percent raw then it takes a lot of commitment," Holm says. "You need to be sure to get the nutrients you need in your diet and plan your meals ahead." It can seem a bit overwhelming for beginners, but according to the Swede, following a raw diet here is much easier than back in Scandinavia due to the availability of local organic produce, another cornerstone of raw living. And as the raw movement gains momentum in Asia and establishes itself as a lifestyle, restaurants, juice bars and whole food stores are sure to follow. So when the sweet-tooth calls, Holm can easily whip up some berry crumble pie, coconut cheesecake or chia pudding, nutrient-dense treats that don't add to the waistline. Juicing is also her passion, she says, "If I can't make my own, there are plenty more freshly squeezed juices to find at your supermarket."

At the end of the day, however, Holm likes to keep some flexibility and enjoy all the "amazing food" of Bangkok—one of the main reasons she settled in the City of Angels in the first place. And with a gig guest-teaching Bangkokians how to make raw desserts at Issaya Cooking Studio, it seems like Holm and her guilt-free goodies are welcomed in the city for the long-haul.

Emelie Holm will be teaching a raw-dessert-making class on Saturday September 26, 3-6 p.m. at Issaya Cooking Studio.; Bt3,000 per person.


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Chef Emelie Holm. Courtesy of @happyfoodproject.
  • Raw ice cream - choco raspberry. Courtesy of @happyfoodproject.
  • Peach and blueberry cake baked with coconut sugar. Courtesy of @happyfoodproject.
  • Sangria with lemon and white wine - spiced with Thai basil leaves. Courtesy of @happyfoodproject.
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