Kid-friendly Tasty Thai Rainbow Rice Salad + Zesty Coconut Lime Dressing Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Tasty Thai Rainbow Rice Salad + Zesty Coconut Lime Dressing

Recipe: Tasty Thai Rainbow Rice Salad + Zesty Coconut Lime Dressing

Tasty Thai Rainbow Rice Salad + Zesty Coconut Lime Dressing

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Stasique/
prep time
25 minutes
cook time
25 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Tasty Thai Rainbow Rice Salad + Zesty Coconut Lime Dressing

We’ve noticed that kids love rice. Who doesn’t, really?! Salad is not so much of a universally-loved thing, so we thought of combining the two in this colorful, crunchy, flavor-packed recipe to introduce many of our kid chefs to Thai cuisine and to pack in a bunch of colorful vegetables. Thai food can be fiery—made hot by various fresh peppers. Lime, lime leaf, and tamarind add sour notes, while palm sugar and coconut sweeten Thai food. In Thailand, a typical snack for kids and adults is tart, unripe mango sliced and dipped in salt, sugar, and chili powder. Thai food is all about balance—sweet, spicy, sour, and salty. Spices and flavors used in dishes vary widely depending on the region of Thailand. Our surprise ingredient in these recipes?! Coconut! Coconuts are so cool: check out the fun facts below and share with your kid chefs all the ways coconut palm trees and coconuts can be used. And have fun cooking and eating these super fresh recipes as you do!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • mince :

    to chop into teeny tiny pieces.

  • simmer :

    to cook a food gently, usually in a liquid, until softened.

  • tear :

    to pull or rip apart a food, like basil leaves, into pieces instead of cutting with a knife; cutting breaks cell walls more, so herbs can discolor faster.

  • toast :

    to brown and crisp food in a heated skillet or oven, or in a toaster.

Equipment Checklist

  • Medium saucepan
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Blender
  • Metal spoon
  • Zester (or grater with small zesting plate/side)
  • Citrus juicer (optional)
  • Measuring spoons


Tasty Thai Rainbow Rice Salad + Zesty Coconut Lime Dressing

  • 1 C jasmine rice
  • 1 red/yellow/orange bell pepper (or all three!)
  • 1 handful Brussels sprouts (or broccoli/baby bok choy)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 shallot
  • 5 to 6 mint leaves
  • 5 to 6 basil leaves
  • 1/2 C dried coconut flakes or shreds
  • Dressing:
  • 1/4 C coconut milk
  • 2 limes
  • 1/4 C fresh pineapple chunks (or frozen (thawed)/canned)
  • 1 half-inch piece fresh ginger
  • 1 T brown sugar + more to taste
  • 1 pinch garlic powder
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


Tasty Thai Rainbow Rice Salad + Zesty Coconut Lime Dressing

measure + add + simmer

To a medium saucepan, add 1 cup of rice and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the water has evaporated and the rice is cooked! Fluff rice with a fork and scoop into a mixing bowl.

chop + mince + tear

Chop or mince 1 bell pepper, 1 handful of Brussels sprouts, 1 carrot, and 1 shallot. Mince or tear 5 to 6 mint leaves and 5 to 6 basil leaves. The smaller the veggies, the better! Add veggies to the rice bowl.

toast + add + mix

Meanwhile, adults can toast 1/2 cup of coconut flakes over low heat in a skillet until golden brown. Add the toasted coconut to the rice and veggies and mix well!

dressing: peel + zest + squeeze

Peel **1 half-inch piece fresh ginger** using a metal teaspoon. Add to a blender. Zest and squeeze juice from 2 limes and add to the blender.

measure + blend

Measure and add to your blender 1/4 cup of coconut milk, 1/4 cup of pineapple chunks, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, 1 pinch of garlic, **1/4 cup of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Purée until dressing is very smooth!

pour + mix

Pour 1 cup of Zesty Coconut Lime Dressing over rice, veggies, and coconut and mix well. Season with more salt, pepper, and sugar and enjoy!

Surprise Ingredient: Coconut!

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Photo by yaroshenko/Adobe Stock

Hi! I’m Coconut!

"Knock, Knock! Who's there? Coco. Coco Who? Coco Nut! You guessed it! I'm a Coconut! I'm kind of like the moon because you can sort of see a face on my outer shell. See those indentations? They could be my eyes and nose! (Or maybe you see a really small, hairy bowling ball!) I may be a hard case to crack, but I'm tasty inside! Try me flaked or shredded, sweetened or unsweetened, in cookies, pies, cakes, salads, and shakes! Yum!"


  • Coconuts are native to tropical islands in the Pacific around Southeast Asia, but they were spread around the globe by explorers hundreds of years ago. 
  • In Thailand, for about 400 years, pigtailed macaque monkeys have been trained to pick coconuts.
  • In the United States, you can write an address on the outside of a coconut, slap on the correct postage, and drop the whole thing in the mail. Amazing! Yes, coconuts are mailable as long as they are presented in a dry condition and not oozing fruit juice! Try it! 
  • A coconut can survive months of floating in the ocean, and when it washes up on a beach, it can germinate into a tree! 
  • Globally, coconut oil was the leading oil until the 1960s, when soybean oil overtook it.
  • May 8 is "National Coconut Cream Pie Day" in the United States.

Anatomy & Etymology

  • Coconuts are related to olives, peaches, and plums. Coconuts are NOT nuts; they are big seeds!
  • The term "coconut" can refer to the whole coconut palm tree, the seed, or the fruit, which technically is a drupe, not a nut! A drupe refers to a fleshy fruit with a stony seed inside that's protected with thin skin or hard, stony covering. Examples are peaches, coconuts, and olives. The word "drupe" comes from "drupa," meaning overripe olive. 
  • An average coconut palm produces about 30 coconuts a year, although it's possible for a tree to yield 75 to 100 annually. 
  • A coconut will ripen in about a year; however, if you want to harvest it for the coconut water, it will be ready within six to seven months. If you shake a coconut and hear water sloshing around, it's not fully ripe, and there won't be as much meat.
  • The outer skin of the coconut covers a thick, fibrous husk, which can be used for making ropes, mats, brushes, sacks, caulking for boats, and stuffing for mattresses.  
  • Coconut leaves have many uses, too, such as making brooms, weaving baskets or mats, or drying for thatch roofing.
  • Traditionally, the trunk of the coconut palm tree was used for its wood to build boats, bridges, houses, and huts.
  • The word "coconut" comes from the mid-16th-century Spanish and Portuguese word "coco," which can mean "bogeyman" or "grinning face" after the three indentations on the coconut shell that resemble facial features.

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • The coconut comes from the coconut palm tree. These trees prefer hot weather. Where in the world do you think they grow? Throughout the tropics and subtropical parts of Earth, in over 80 countries! 
  • The three highest coconut-producing countries are the Philippines, Indonesia, and India. 
  • The coconut palm tree can grow up to 98 feet tall!  
  • Coconut milk is sweet and water-like but eventually dries out as the coconut ripens.
  • The coconut palm is sometimes referred to as the "Tree of Life" because it's useful from top to bottom. Except for the roots, every part of the coconut tree is harvested in the tropical areas where coconut palms are common.  
  • If buying a coconut whole, choose one that feels heavy for its size. Young coconuts will be full of coconut water and covered in a green, smooth shell with tender flesh. While older, mature coconuts have a more brown and fibrous outer shell with firmer and drier meat inside.
  • Coconuts are not easy to open! You have to forcefully crack them open to get to the edible goodness inside.
  • Coconut meat can be dried and shredded and used in salads, baked recipes, sprinkled over fruit, and enjoyed as a snack. It can also be eaten fresh and added to smoothies. 
  • Coconut water is hydrating and can be enjoyed straight or poured over ice with other juices for a refreshing treat. 


  • Electrolytes! Fresh coconut water is a source of electrolytes like potassium, sodium, and manganese. What do electrolytes do? They replenish the body by helping our muscles to move, our hearts to beat, and our brain cells to communicate with each other. 
  • Coconuts are rich in a type of fat called lauric acid, which is known for being antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal. These properties help prevent us from getting sick by protecting our immune system.
  • Coconut is very nutritious and has lots of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is classified as a "highly functional food" because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content. 
  • Pacific Islanders especially value coconut oil for its health and cosmetic benefits.


What is "Khao Yam"—Thai Rainbow Rice Salad?

Photo by Be Saowaluck/
  • "Khao Yam" (kow yam) is a rice salad from southern Thailand that originated in Malaysia, where it is known as "nasi kerabu" (rice salad). The salad is made with blue jasmine rice that has been naturally colored blue from cooking it with the petals of the butterfly pea flower. 
  • Other ingredients include herbs, vegetables, coconut, and "nam budu," a Southern Thai anchovy sauce. Khao yam is known as a main dish and is often served for breakfast.

Let's Learn About Thailand!

Photo by anek.soowannaphoom/ (traditional floating market)
  • Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia and is officially called the Kingdom of Thailand. 
  • The country's previous name was Siam. In 1949 it was changed to Thailand, which means "Land of the Free."  
  • Thailand is a constitutional monarchy with a king, prime minister, and national assembly, its legislative body.
  • Thailand's population is more than 69 million people.
  • Thailand has over 1400 islands and is at the center of the Indochinese Peninsula.
  • Bangkok is the capital and the largest city in Thailand. According to different websites, it's either the first most-visited or second most-visited city in the world, right up there with London and Paris. 
  • Thailand is home to the world's most enormous gold Buddha, the largest crocodile farm, the biggest restaurant, the tallest hotel, and the longest single-span suspension bridge!
  • Thailand is known for its fantastically delicious street food. You can eat pad thai (noodles, vegetables, and meat stir-fried together), green papaya salad, meat skewers, and even grilled scorpions at street carts everywhere in Thailand! 
  • A hundred years ago, there were more than 100,000 elephants in Thailand, and about 20,000 of them were wild. Today, there are about 5,000 elephants, less than half of them untamed. 
  • Thailand is known for its orchids. In fact, over 1,500 different orchid species grow in the wild in Thailand.
  • Kitti's hog-nosed bat—thought to be the world's smallest mammal—is found in Thailand. It weighs just two grams! This is the same weight as a small pebble or a pile of feathers.
  • One of the country's most unique festivals is the annual Monkey Buffet, held in front of the Phra Prang Sam Yot temple in Lopburi province. Thousands of local macaques dine on a buffet of over two tons of grilled sausage, fresh fruit, ice cream, and other treats. Local people view the festival as a thank you to the monkeys, which live in the village and bring in thousands of tourists each year.
  • The Mekong River, along part of the eastern border of Thailand, contains over 1,300 fish species. Giant freshwater fish, including a 10-foot-long, 660-pound catfish, can be found in the river.
  • The mudskipper is one of Thailand's strangest creatures. This fish-out-of-the-water walks on land using its fins, and it can even climb trees. It absorbs oxygen through its skin and mouth. It's a fish that likes to spend most of its time out of the water, eating the algae in tidal pools.
  • The world's longest snake, the reticulated python, makes its home in Thailand. The largest one ever found measured over 33 feet from end to end.
  • Siamese cats are native to Thailand. In Thai, their name is "wichien maat," meaning "moon diamond" or "diamond gold." A 14th-century book of Thai poems describes 23 types of Siamese cats; today, there are only six breeds. The Si Sawat or Korat cat is another breed of Thai cat, similar to the Siamese, and initially thought to be a blue Siamese cat. They are given to newlyweds to bring good luck to the marriage.

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Thailand?

  • The school year goes from May to March, and both public and private schools require students to wear uniforms.
  • Families and children are important in Thailand. Parents expect their kids to help with household chores and farm chores if they live in a rural area.
  • Soccer, tennis, swimming, and badminton are popular sports for kids. "Muay Thai," or Thai boxing, is the national sport of Thailand, and some kids may start learning it as early as five years old. It is a type of martial art accompanied by traditional music called "Sarama."
  • Rice, especially Jasmine rice, is a staple in Thailand, and it's usually served at every meal. For breakfast, Thai kids may eat "Jok" (rice porridge) or "Khao tom" (sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves), "Kai jiew" (an omelet served with rice), or grilled meat or fish, and fruit. For lunch, they may have soup and a rice or noodle dish with meat and vegetables. Family dinners may include "Khao pad" (Thai fried rice), "Pad Thai" (stir-fried rice noodle dish), and various soups. Typical sweets that kids like are mango sticky rice, coconut ice cream, Thai jelly, and "luk chup," which are candies made from mung beans, coconut milk, and sugar.

The Yolk's On You

Did you hear the tall tale about rice? 

There wasn’t a grain of truth behind it!

Lettuce Joke Around

What did the carrot say to the rabbit? 

"Do you want to grab a bite?"

The Yolk's On You

Why don't coconuts have money? 

Because people milk them dry.

That's Berry Funny

What did one coconut say to the other?

"Got milk?"

Lettuce Joke Around

What do you call a fruit that goes into space? 

A coco-naut!

THYME for a Laugh

"Knock, knock!" 

"Who's there?"


"Coco Who?"

"Coco Nut!"

The Yolk's On You

What did the rabbit say to the carrot? 

"It’s been nice gnawing you!"

Lettuce Joke Around

What kind of tree can you carry in your hand? 

A palm tree.

That's Berry Funny

What vegetable are all others afraid of? 

A Scarrot!

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