Photographed at Mia's home in Brooklyn, New York City
I first met Californian-born Mia ten years ago through our mutual friend Sayre, who'd embarked on an exchange year abroad at my university in London. I remember Mia visiting one weekend and breezing in an out of drinks with her wild white blond curly hair before heading back to Barcelona where she had opted for her exchange year. Over the years we've followed each other's lives and were re-united last year when she chose Paris for her hen do. I aptly gate-crashed and spent the evening catching up over numerous rounds of tequila. At the time she was still living in Hong Kong where she had moved two years previously with her husband to be. There she continued working in her field of restaurant marketing and communications (she studied English Lit at UC Santa Barbara and has Diploma in Culinary Arts from the French Culinary Institute) and had just launched RASA on the side, after receiving her Holistic Health Coach license from the Institute of Integrated Nutrition. RASA means 'taste' in Sanscrit. The concept of taste in Ayurvedic traditions is related to the nutritional properties of food (i.e., if you’re craving salt, perhaps there are some nutrients your body needs!). The idea of RASA is to help people realign their cravings with the needs of their body. She is now working towards a masters degree in nutrition.
Mia recently re-located back to New York with her husband and a few months ago moved into a beautiful four-storey town house in Bushwick, Brooklyn where I stayed while I was in New York a few of weeks ago.
Having already taken in her 21 day healthy eating challenge that she'd created for RASA, I knew that I wanted to interview her for my new 'Better Living' series as she encompasses exactly what I would define as living a better life!
(Make sure to scroll down for her Blueberry Mint Protein Shake)
What inspired you to lead a healthier, more holistic (better) lifestyle?
My grandmother studied to be a dietician in the 30s and I grew up in California. I’ve always been interested in cooking and eating well. When I moved to New York in my early 20s and started working in the restaurant industry, indulgent dinners and late nights started to take a toll on my body, my skin and my mood, etc.. I wanted to live a healthier life, but still wanted to eat delicious foods.
How have your eating habits changed since delving into nutrition/ starting RASA?
Health is not something that has a start or an end date, which is what I have realised in my personal health journey and by working with clients. Many people want to go on a “diet”, only to revert to their old style of eating when it’s over. That just doesn’t work—you need to find healthier solutions that you enjoy if you want to achieve and maintain your health goals.
I’m constantly learning more about my body, what makes me feel good, and what doesn’t. This changes with age, the seasons, schedule demands and more. Right now, I’m eating less grains, but enjoy indulging in butter and other healthy fats (coconut and avocado on everything!). I also eat way less sugar, including fruit and “unrefined” sugars. As I learn more about myself, I get healthier and healthier—it feels really good.
Why did you start RASA?
I started RASA to share my passion for cooking and living a healthy lifestyle that isn’t boring or bland. Also, I always aspired to be an entrepreneur and have a business that didn’t confine me to one location. I currently live in Brooklyn, but I used to live in Hong Kong, my husband is from England and I’m from California. I want to have the flexibility to be mobile, while also having a career I enjoy.
How has travelling/ living abroad informed how you live now?
I’m really influenced by different cultures and their wellness traditions. Living in Hong Kong, I learned a lot about Eastern medicine and how that influences cultural norms.
Tell me one piece of advice that you’d give to anyone wanting to embark on a healthier lifestyle…
Find healthy foods and activities that you enjoy! It shouldn’t be a chore. If you hate kale, don’t eat kale chips, or if you’re not into yoga, don’t do it. It may take time to form a healthy habit that you truly take pleasure in, so be patient and experiment with different workouts and foods, etc.
There’s this whole culture of demonizing foods and feeling guilty about what we did or did not do. That guilt isn’t good for you either, so take the time to learn how your body ticks and find foods and activities that support that. And don’t forget to feed your soul! Indulge and enjoy good food in the company of friends and family, and do that often.
I offer 21 and 10-day whole foods detoxes (the RASA Challenge) that are a great way to jumpstart and discover new healthy lifestyle habits.
What does living better mean to you?
Better living is enjoying foods and activities that support and nurture your body. When your lifestyle is effortlessly aligned with your health, you will feel f****** amazing and never deprived.
Women you admire/ who are living their best lives?
My girlfriends! I’m so lucky to have an army of smart, fun, entrepreneurial and beautiful women to call friends.
Last good book you read?
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
What’s in your magazine pile?
Vogue, Vanity Fair, T Magazine
What’s on your nightstand?
Palo santo, a picture of my husband as a baby and a ton of loose earings ;)
What does your morning routine look like?
I meditate for 20 minutes (most) mornings, and love making fresh nut milk and a big pot of coffee before checking any emails.
Best career advice you ever received?
Go-to alcoholic beverage?
I love natural wines, especially French reds. And tequila. ;)
Tea or coffee?
Wish I could say tea, but coffee all the way!
Lip gloss, headphones, subway card, phone.
What do you do to relax?
I cook! After a busy day, I sometimes don’t even take my jacket off before I get into the kitchen. It’s therapeutic for me. Gets me in the flow.
New York favourites:
Coffee Shop: Devocion
Blueberry Mint Protein Shake:
- 1/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen — sometimes frozen is nice, then you don’t need to add ice)
- 1/4 cup full fat coconut yogurt
- 1 scoop vanilla pea protein powder (I like sunwarrior’s warrior blend)
- 1/2 tablespoon raw unsweetened cacao nibs
- ~5 mint leaves
- 1 small handfuls of kale
- 1 cup filtered water
Add all ingredients to a high speed blender and blend until smooth.
Written & photographed by Marissa Cox.