SINCE LAUNCHING HER UNIQUE JUICE BAR GRASS ROOTS JUICERY IN WILLIAMSBURG FOUR YEARS AGO, SABRINA DIAZ, A FORMER VINTAGE DEALER, HAS CHANNELED HER ARTISTIC SENSIBILITIES INTO THE WORLD OF WELLNESS. To enter her cheerful Brooklyn health shop is like walking into Willy Wonka’s candy-riddled garden–just swap the chocolate river, Gobstoppers and gummy bear trees for green juice, raw energy balls and beet/turmeric-dyed rainbow pasta. “I wanted to create a one-stop shop where you could go for a smoothie, but also get vitamins or hair care products,” says Diaz in a banana-print vintage frock recalling a millennial Carmen Miranda complete with a giant strawberry iPhone case. We caught up with Diaz at her sunny Brooklyn home where she talked the trick to making the creamiest smoothie, Dominican food and what natural beauty step everybody skips.
Photos by Sasha Israel
Were there any natural remedies you learned growing up in a Dominican family?
My mom was really into natural things. She actually had a health food store. In Dominican culture, there’s also all this weird shit. I would bump my head and my mom would put sugar, juiced onion and butter on my head. It has something to do with inflammation. There’s a lot of weird, natural things in Dominican culture–mixed into the fried cheese and salami.
How would you describe your own diet.
I do everything in moderation. As I’m getting older, I’ve noticed that certain foods have an effect on me. Last year, I had no energy and I was just really tired. I went to a natural doctor Joseph Giacona at Neighborhood Natural Medicine in Brooklyn. He told me to cut out one thing at a time. So I started with dairy and sugar. Once you cut those things out and you see how you feel, you realize how these things have an effect on you. You just start incorporating into what you eat.
What do you do when you’re feeling your most vibrant?
I’m doing the Whole30 right now and I’ve been feeling really good. It’s no carbs, no processed sugar, no dairy, no legumes. Basically just protein and leafy greens. For me, when I’m feeling my best is when I cut out sugar. I am such a sugar person. That’s what will do it for me. I’ll get it from fruit, dried mango I love.
Do you have a juice every day?
Yes, I have a green juice every day. Surprisingly,I can’t stand green juice so I need pear, apple or pineapple in there. I need it to be sweet. My favorite is our Secret Lover, which is a cold press juice that we sell with kale, spinach, cucumber, pear and apple.
What’s your favorite workout?
I really like Soul Cycle. I work with a trainer three days a week and then I try to do cardio in between.
What’s the trick to making the best smoothie?
Keep your fruits frozen. It helps so much more with the consistency. Freezing your own bananas is the best. I cut them and half. I also like hemp protein because there’s no added sugar and it has a nutty taste. Then, I just do hemp seeds on top for crunchiness.
What supplement are you loving right now?
Reishi mushroom powder from Sun Potion. I don’t know if it’s in my head, but it is calming. It’s a good thing to have for a morning smoothie.
Take us through a typical day in the life of meals.
I love sleeping in, but if I’m being good, I’ll probably get up around 8/8:30 and have a black coffee. I used to only do iced lattes, but now I’ve been just straight coffee and I’m into it. My breakfast is pretty simple. I’ll do a hard-boiled egg and fruit. The other day I got creative and I did a sliced sweet potato, toasted it, then did like an avocado toast, but on a sweet potato and egg. It was really good. Lunch, I’ll probably be at the juice bar, so I’ll do a kale salad with grilled chicken. And then, dinner I’ll do salmon and roasted veggies.
What about natural supplements?
Raw aloe force when I’m irregular. I’ll have a shot of that and it’s pretty crazy.
Zana juice probiotic. One customer came in and was like, “I want to write a book about this probiotic because it has changed my life.” It’s like really O.G. It’s been around forever. I’ve gotten a lot of my friends hooked on it.
Aqua Flora Candida High Potency 9
Do you have any natural remedies for when you’re sick?
I get sick a lot in the winter with coughing, chest pains. I take a Chinese herb called Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa and its this super thick syrup that contains an amazing variety of Chinese herbs. My favorite way to take it is by making in into a tea. You take a teaspoon and mix it in to hot water, even the smell of it just starts to clear you up. I also take Oil of oregano.
Do you take anything when you feel like you really over-indulged or something?
The Raw Aloe Force is really good, and just sticking to clean eating, green juices. That’s it.
What about self care?
I started doing a little bit of acupuncture. When I first had it done, I was like, “Oh my god. This is the only time in my life that I’ve ever actually relaxed without thought of anything.”
What are your favorite natural beauty products?
George’s Always Active Aloe Spray. Keep it in the fridge! In the summer, it’s always in my bag. In the morning, for a “wake me up,” and after makeup, I like to put it on for a dewy effect. I’m a sucker for any hydrating facial spray. I also really like Josh Rosebrook products. I’ve definitely seen a change in my skin since I started using them. One thing that he taught me was that the most skipped step that people just don’t realize is exfoliating. He has a great exfoliator called Active Enzyme Exfoliator and you leave it on for like an hour, then you take it off, and you see your skin is like glowing red after because of all the blood rushing. I started doing that like twice a week and I notice a difference. I’ve also really been into face oils. Another thing that I learned was that I was just putting oils on dry skin. The key is to have damp skin, if you have the aloe spray or the Josh Rosebrook hydrating accelerator. You put that on before the oil. And then, I’ll do a cream after and then that’s it. I also love Tata Harper’s moisturizing mask.
What should people keep in mind while on a cleanse, or if they’re going to embark on a cleanse?
I would keep in mind that you should probably ease yourself into it. You should probably start cutting things out so it’s not so harsh. Maybe cut out meat and dairy for at least a week before, so it’s not so shocking. The first day is the worst, but the second day, you start feeling clear and amazing.
What’s your favorite, go-to raw dinner if you’re cleansing?
Kelp noodles. I’ll do like a spinach pesto or an almond and herb dressing.
Where do you go food shopping, if you’re not at the juice bar?
I love Trader Joe’s. If I’m in the city, I’ll stop by Life Thyme.
I’m a sucker for Lovely Day. They never let me down. I get the salmon and I love the spicy papaya salad. In Brooklyn, there’s Box Café. An old Japanese woman runs it and it’s a weird mixture of menu offerings, but it’s a really nice atmosphere. It’s really authentic.
Do you have a favorite Dominican restaurant?
My favorite Dominican restaurant is called Malecon, and they have a few locations but there best and original location is on 178th and Broadway, uptown in Washington Heights. It’s so good.
What do you order there?
Churrasco, which is like smoked skirt steak and I’ll get it with fritos maduros, which is fried plantains. And I mean, Dominican breakfast.
I would do a Mangu with Spanish onions and a fried egg and fried salami. When I’m hungover that’s what I crave.
Sabrina’s Morning Green Smoothie
10 oz coconut milk. (I used our house made one from Grass Roots Juicery for that creaminess)
2 handfuls of baby spinach
1 cup frozen pineapple
1 frozen banana
1 serving of Reshi powder
1 serving hemp protein
topped with bee pollen and raw hemp seeds
Combine all ingredients into blender and blend until creamy. Top with a sprinkle of bee pollen and raw hemp seeds.