Long-time restaurant PR Mia Rigden recently switched careers, to become a licensed health coach. The American also runs wellness website The Rasa Life, where she develops recipes and encourages readers to have a healthier relationship with food through activities such as the Rasa Challenge, a 21-day programme of meal plans.
“I don’t like to demonise food groups,” she says. “Our culture has too much of ‘no’ to this, ‘no’ to that. Everyone is different.”
Her own habits include a morning smoothie based on a vegan protein powder by Sunwarrior, which is available in her Wan Chai neighbourhood, at JustGreen and Green Common.
“I use a scoop of protein powder, a tablespoon of cacao nibs, some spinach, some peppermint oil – just a couple of drops – then I add coconut oil and almond milk. So it’s mint-chocolate-chip flavoured,” she says.
As Rigden, who trained at New York’s French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Centre), travels frequently, she tries to avoid keeping highly perishable foods at home, but there are staples she always has to hand. As both she and her husband lead busy lifestyles, she needs to cook quick, easy meals, and things she can make ahead of time, such as her paleo bread, a recipe she recently published in an e-book.
“It’s made with almond flour and coconut flour, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut oil and 10 eggs – six eggs, four whites – and apple-cider vinegar. I make a loaf every week.”
Most of the ingredients she buys from online retailer iHerb, which, she says, she finds more convenient and better value than shops.
“I make sure I have some staples in the fridge, so I can make up something quickly, from ingredients that aren’t super perishable. I like the idea of the Mystery Box,” she says, referring to a challenge on popular television show MasterChef, where contestants are given a box of previously unseen ingredients and then have to make a dish out of them.
Being in close proximity to Wan Chai Market means Rigden can easily get her hands on fresh ingredients, such as salmon from Foodies Gourmet and herbs from the vegetable vendors, which she stores in a jar of water in the fridge to keep them fresh.
“Herbs are amazing. They add so much flavour to your cooking. I love coriander – which I call cilantro – with avocados; I’m a California girl, so I like anything remotely Mexican, and green onion, basil, parsley, chives. I don’t cook with that many ingredients. I just make eggs or chicken or salmon, with a salad or rice, so when you add some fresh herbs, it’s just so tasty.”
Although Rigden eats healthily, she also indulges, and has plenty of tequila, wine and champagne on her shelves. She’s a regular customer at La Cabane, one of Hong Kong’s few retailers focused on natural wines. She has yet to find her favourite brand of tequila in Hong Kong, though.
“I love tequila. Casa Dragones is my absolute favourite tequila brand. I brought three bottles to Hong Kong when I first moved here [in 2014]. Tequila gets a bad rap. I think it’s not the tequila [that’s bad for you], but the sweet and sour mix in the margaritas, and drinking too much of anything is not good. You should taste your liquor. It shouldn’t be masked with sugar. This is a sipping tequila, you don’t feel hungover the next day.”