When Hongkongers want a healthy meal, many head to Life. The two- year-old vegetarian and organic health-food restaurant in Central has a range of goodies such as Moroccan nut stew, juicy bean burger and gado gado. The dishes, which can be vegan, yeast- or gluten-free (and even onion- or garlic-free), incorporate whole grains and the likes of spirulina (a sea algae), hemp seeds and carob, satisfying customers who want to avoid ingredients such as animal fats, chocolate and refined sugars. 'We get a lot of people who are allergic to the gluten in wheat,' says assistant manager Lillian Au. 'We bake some of our breads without using wheat flour. We use quinoa flour, rice flour and amaranth flour.' The grains are also used in dishes such as risotto and salads, which are available in the 60-seat restaurant and for takeaway. They're proving so popular that the owners plan to sell them in a whole-food store due to open on Aberdeen Street in Central next month. Whole grains tend to have higher protein content than refined grains, so they're an important part of a vegetarian diet. However, it isn't only vegetarians who eat them. 'Some customers just want healthy food,' says Au. White rice is a staple in most Asian cuisines and it's difficult to find restaurants offering the healthier whole-grain variety. 'Brown rice isn't as fragrant as white,' says Jerria Chow from Max Concepts, although a couple of brown rice dishes are available at its Simply Thai in Times Square and Thai Basil in Pacific Place. But whole-grain rice is taking off, if the experience of the Maxim's Group is any indication. Since last year, it's been selling a steamed rice series (a bowl containing white, red and brown rice) with barbecued meats and other dishes at its 65 fast food outlets, including Maxim's MX.