SABRINA DE SOUSA, NEW YORK USA
ON NUTRITION, CLEANSING & HOLISTIC HEALING
Dimes is a beautifully curated restaurant that dwells in the heart of the Lower East Side in New York and it has been my upmost pleasure to finally share with you my conversation with its co-owner, Sabrina.
When I first met Sabrina, it was her great luminosity and grace that had me captivated to scout out her insights and perspectives revolving around nutrition and her personal spiritual practices and beliefs.
It has been meeting people like Sabrina herself and people of such radiance who has sparked me on this journey to start a project like Belle Luna Vie to provide a sound platform to share their stories and philosophies. I hope what Sabrina had to share about inner intuition, trusting and listening to your body and natural healing can inspire us all in some ways to reshape our approach towards health and our practices in eating, living and healing.
I FIND MORNING RITUALS AND HOW ONE CHOOSES TO START THE DAY BOTH IMPORTANT AND INTERESTING. WALK US THROUGH YOUR MORNINGS?
I normally get up around 6:30am in the morning and I’ll feed my dog Mars. Its crazy early but its just because I have to be at work at 8am. On my days off which have been quite scarce lately, I’ll get up at 7:30am in the morning. Lately I’ve been doing a parasite cleanse so I’ll get up and take fibre with charcoal and then I’ll wait an hour and take the parasite herbs but normally when I’m not doing a parasite cleanse I’ll get up and have kefir.
We’ve been making our own kefir because I’ve had this kefir grain for about over a year and a half now and we use it to make kefir yoghurt which is a really great way to balance out your probiotic intake. Before we were just taking pure probiotic pills but we weren’t entirely sure the strength and something about getting freeze dried probiotics was kind of bewildering to me and didn't sound real. So we make our own and its just been a really great way to get all of your good bacteria in one drink and its delicious.
WHAT WOULD YOU NORMALLY DO FOR BREAKFAST IF YOU WERENT DOING THE PARASITE CLEANSE?
I’m not a really big breakfast eater - I’ll drink coffee and sometimes I’ll have a glass of kefir with nothing in it and then just go to work. And then usually around 10:30am the hunger will start kicking in and then I’ll get something like an acai bowl.
HOW DOES YOUR ROUTINE DIFFER ON YOUR DAYS OFF FROM WORKING AT DIMES?
I have days off now, Sundays are my one day and its nice. I mean I think for me a fun day off would be to go to Chelsea and go to the galleries and go see a show I’ve been really craving to see. Art is a really big inspiration for me and what we do at Dimes. I take on a lot of the branding side of it and with the restaurant and what it entails - its not just a restaurant its like a whole community and its kind of wild to see what we can do. Like I want to design a chair for the restaurant and seeing how we can go beyond just food. Just building the brand in a unique way.
DO YOU HAVE AN EXERCISE REGIME?
I used to run, I was an avid runner but I stopped because of work and it just became too much. But I signed up to a gym just near my place. They have all these classes and the other day I took a Zumba class and I mean its kind of amazing to open up the chakras at 8am in the morning and I was smiling the whole way through because its so hysterical but once you embrace it its super fun.
SO WITH YOUR TYPE OF SCHEDULE RUNNING DIMES - HOW DO YOU FIND BALANCE IN YOUR DIET AND FINDING THE RIGHT TIME TO EAT THROUGHOUT THE DAY?
I mean in the beginning when we opened the second space I was so busy I would forget to eat but I guess it really helps that we own a healthy restaurant so there were weeks at a time that I wouldn’t eat anything else but Dimes and I, not to self promote, but I kind of looked my best! I was eating just what was at the restaurant - eating salads, vegetables and acai bowls.
I’m very conscious of what I eat but that being said I also have guilty pleasures like everyone else. Its not like I’m counting calories - the most important thing for me is that I’m eliminating properly and I’m drinking enough water. You know my skin tells me exactly whats going on with my body and thats why I decided to do the parasite cleanse because I started breaking out all over my back. I was like this isn’t right, my body is trying to tell me something. And then you know, I did a little bit of research and my roommate and I decided to do it.
THAT WAS A LOT OF THE REASON BEHIND WHY I DECIDED TO START BELLE LUNA VIE - TO HAVE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT WHETHER ITS ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, ACNE OR WEIGHT GAIN - TO OBSERVE AND LISTEN TO WHAT OUR BODIES ARE TRYING TO COMMUNICATE TO US. WE ARE SO CONDITIONED TO LOOK "OUTSIDE" AND NEVER QUESTION WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON "INSIDE". THE NEED TO LOOK TO DRUGS OR PRODUCTS TO FIX WHAT WE THINK IS BROKEN WOULDNT BE THERE IF WE WOULD JUST PAUSE AND ENGAGE OUR INTUITION AND FIGURE OUT THE ROOT CAUSE. DO YOU FEEL A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR BODY NOW HAVING DONE THE PARASITE CLEANSE?
My energy is spiked but the first week - I think day 6 - my energy level plummeted and I was like, okay I understand whats happening, my body is starting to detox. Are you familiar with the store High Vibe on 3rd St [East Village]? They’ve been there for awhile and what he sells is very curated but its the best of the best and he makes his own parasite cleanse blend and it also helps with candida, which we of course all have. He was telling me he originally put these herbs together for his friend 20 years ago who was traveling to India and kept getting sick. He’s a firm believer in that its really important for people to do a parasite cleanse. I mean, if you eat raw vegetables or eat protein, or even have a pet - everything has parasites.
WHAT ARE THE SPECIFICS OF THE PARASITE CLEANSE YOU ARE DOING?
Its just herbs, I mean I’m not really following any specific way - you just put a little bit in water twice a day and just drink it on an empty stomach. I mean you should be smart about what you’re putting into your body to make sure you don’t feed the parasites. Things like sugar, they like sugar and I mean I’ve done cleanses before and I understand the benefits of them but I also understand what it means to be realistic and to not be such an extremist. I feel like I’m somewhat gentle to my body and we all need to be.
WHAT WOULD YOU NORMALLY COOK FOR DINNER?
I eat at Dimes a lot but I love to cook. You know its funny, I never have anything in mind when I cook here, its usually whatever I can find and we really like to keep the cupboard and fridge nice and full. I love roasting a tonne of vegetables, and spices are one of my favourite things like Peri Peri which I really love and all sorts of other fun little things. My mother always brings me these pickled peppers when she comes back from Brazil and I throw that on everything. I do love to cook and my meals will mostly always be vegetables and a protein.
I like to keep it simple, I usually love to build on colours and layer things that way. I mean if you can figure out a balance between acid and flavour, you can make things pretty too and it can really open up the appetite.
IN OPENING A RESTAURANT LIKE DIMES WHERE PROVIDING ORGANIC AND SEASONAL PRODUCE IS AT FOCUS, WAS PROVIDING A NUTRITIONAL AND CONSCIOUS MENU SOMETHING THAT WAS IMPORTANT FOR YOU AND ALYSSA?
Absolutely. And you have to prioritise what the organic ingredients are because you know our approach is that it should be accessible for everyone and that if everything was to be organic we would have to charge double.
Everything is definitely subconsciously considered - like the eggs we use are the best I’ve found anywhere, the eggs and dairy. The protein comes from local farmers and our greens are always organic. The olive oils we use aren’t but its about that balance and its how I personally shop anyways and I’m not entirely 100% pro organic because you don’t know how things are grown these days. Take for example, an apple farm can label their apples organic but if the farm next door isn’t practicing the same rule, all of those pesticides are going to fall into the soil anyway. I think with the way things are right now, you just have to find a balance that works with you. For me its more important to keep away from things that are processed, you know? Eat as much raw fresh vegetables as you can eat.
WHAT WAS THE PROCESS BEHIND THE MENU DEVELOPMENT? YOU HAVE SUCH INTERESTING AND BEAUTIFUL COMBINATIONS.
The menu development kind of happened on its own - it was a very organic process but for one its always seasonal. We don’t follow a strict set of rules and we were being interviewed the other day and they asked us if we were macrobiotic and we were like no - I mean some of the dishes are but then we have bacon on the menu and thats okay - this is how I eat and I don’t eat by following a set of rules or regime or you know any of those other dietary restrictions. I’m eating whatever makes my body happy. For the dinner menu, we try and carry a fish, a chicken and one red meat dish and try and take it from there but we always try and have good salads and small plates that are always vegetable driven and also showcasing whats seasonal at the time and what we can get from the farmers market.
DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIFICS ABOUT FOOD YOU LIKE TO EAT OR AVOID?
The one thing I believe in is just to make sure I’m eating a wholesome diet - just as long as my vegetable intake takes over the majority of my diet, I think I’m in the right direction. I don’t really follow any diet per se, I think its just little things like making sure you eat the right grains or you know I probably drink more coffee than I should but no, I think the way I eat is so engrained in me and its intuitive.
I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT YOUR WORK WITH HERBAL REMEDIES - WHAT DREW YOU TO BECOME INTERESTED IN HERBALISM AND HEALING?
I have a very weak immune system and I would always get sick. I always had a lot of interest in herbs that would strengthen my immunity like echinacea and the vital stuff like garlic. I slowly began to learn about herbal tinctures and what they can do and the variety of things you can take to mellow out etc.
Again I was working with this girl Gianna and she gave me a bottle one day and just said take this. And I was like how did you make this? And she had a very crunchy approach where she was like, oh you throw a little bit of ever clear in with the herbs and shake it with a little bit of water and then let the moon talk to it and then I was like cool and gained more and more interest.
She actually cleansed the first Dimes with me. We had a bewitching hour where we wore all white and she told me to go to the market and get all the herbs and vegetables that really meant something to me so I went out and got fennel and rose buds and we made this massive batch of tea and went across the road with it to Dimes and had this amazing ceremony. It was just her and I and we just cleansed all the walls with the tea and saged and palo santoed the whole place and she read my cards. The best part was that she was like where do you think the register is going to be? And I picked the spot and she whipped out a crystal and dug a spot in the ground and now theres this crystal right under the register. She played a huge part in having me learn and open up to herbalism.
SPIRITUALLY, WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I mean I definitely think its really important to search, and I’m searching. You know searching, finding the harmony of peace with yourself and searching for the answer we won’t necessarily ever find but just searching for that something that you know exists.
WHAT ARE THE THINGS THAT ARE IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO KEEP YOURSELF VIBRATING AT A GOOD FREQUENCY?
First thing is, make sure you’re sleeping. I think thats very important and then drinking water and I think finding the balance of what you’re putting into your body and making sure you’re eliminating properly. Just being kind to your body as well, I think stress really inhibits your body from circulating the way that its meant too. I also take holy basil and that helps, and also magnesium for women is really good and calming.
I think finding breathe is something I keep telling people over and over again. I haven’t had time to meditate, even though theres no excuse. I used to, I definitely sat everyday and focused on my breathing. To help myself destress, I’ll just sit in the office and do these breathing techniques that would really help me return and be present.
I USED TO TRAVEL UP AND DO SILENT MEDITATION IN THE MOUNTAINS AND WHEN YOU FINISH YOUR COUSE THEY ALWAYS TELL YOU TO MEDITATE AN HOUR IN THE MORNING AND AN HOUR AT NIGHT. I DONT KNOW IF ITS THE FACT THAT I HAVENT BEEN ABLE TO HARNESS THE DISCIPLINE YET BUT I'VE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO SIT EVERYDAY. BUT AGAIN, TALKING ABOUT WHAT WORKS FOR YOU, I FIND MYSELF FOCUSING ON MY BREATHE AND MEDITATING THROUGHOUT THE DAY WHENEVER ANYTHING UNCOMFORTABLE OR DISTRESSING ARISES. TO JUST BREATHE THROUGH THE DISCOMFORT, ITS A GREAT TOOL AND ITS HELPS ME ALOT - TO FIND WHAT WORKS, I MEAN EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT. TO CLOSE OUT, CAN I ASK YOU WHAT YOU FIND TO BE BEAUTIFUL?
Someone that just accepts who they are - you know isn’t trying to manipulate their bodies or their appearance to fit into a norm, even though the norm is kind of fucked up right now. Like someone like yourself where you can tell that you’re all natural and very accepting and not trying to fit into anything. I also really love and am always really observant of peoples teeth. I find teeth so attractive, theres so much character. I’m very equal opportunity with teeth. And reading peoples energy? I mean thats just a given, thats just really easy.