The Three Simple Tonics That Sustain One of New York’s Busiest Chefs

In our series My Detox, T asks creative people to share the homemade recipes they count on to cleanse and refresh.

Daniela Soto-Innes’s Brooklyn apartment might as well be an apothecary. On a recent afternoon in the plant-filled space of the 28-year-old chef — a co-owner of the hip New York Mexican restaurants Cosme and Atla — she was proudly showing off her trays of powders and roots and bowls overflowing with herbs. Anxiety? Have some lemon verbena, she offered. Need a good night’s sleep? Try ashwagandha. Heart problems? Cacao blossoms.

“I am like a Mexican grandmother,” she proclaimed, pouring herself a glass of activated charcoal-infused water. It’s an apt description, considering that almost everything Soto-Innes knows about natural remedies she learned from her actual Mexican grandmother, Carmen Hernandez Melendez, who lived near Soto-Innes when she was growing up in Coyoacán, a neighborhood Soto-Innes refers to as “the hippie, bohemian part of Mexico City.” She remembers picking rose petals (a solution for beautiful skin, she was told) and hoja santa leaves (to sooth stomach pain) from her grandmother’s expansive gardens, and then watching her abuela turn the plants into various healing tonics.

Soto-Innes moved to New York in 2014, but her grandmother’s wellness routine is still a big part of her life. As a chef, a profession that demands long work days with few breaks, Soto-Innes relies on a few healthful drinks to maintain balance. “Every day when I wake up, I think, ‘What do I need for today? How do I feel?’” she says. First thing in the morning, she will often drink a tangy mixture of dried hibiscus flowers steeped in hot water with a splash of apple cider vinegar. She has loved the taste of hibiscus since childhood and adds apple cider vinegar because it “cleanses your intestinos, and the intensity of the vinegar really wakes you up,” she says. If she doesn’t finish the drink, she’ll mix the rest with olive oil once it cools and use it as a salad dressing.

When she’s feeling particularly lethargic, or before going on a run, she’ll also drink green coffee (the color comes from the unroasted beans) mixed with coconut oil, which provides “pure energy without anxiety,” she says, and keeps her full. Also, the green coffee beans don’t cause teeth stains. The rest of the day is split between Atla — a casual, light-filled all-day cafe on the corner of Lafayette Street and Great Jones Street where she’ll usually have a morning snack of guacamole, fruit and fish — and Cosme, a slightly more polished space in the Flatiron district that serves dishes including duck carnitas and corn husk meringue. Currently, she is planning the opening of her and her partner Enrique Olvera’s first restaurant in Los Angeles. For the inevitable late nights out — Soto-Innes loves dancing — a light, floral drink of lemon verbena and coconut water is her all-purpose hangover cure. “Lemon verbena is what relaxes you, and the coconut helps my face start de-puffing,” she says. “It feels good and you hydrate yourself at the same time.” Here, she shares the recipes for her purifying tonics.

Apple Cider Vinegar and Hibiscus Tonic

½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon dried whole hibiscus

¼ teaspoon raw honey

1 pinch ground cinnamon

In a mug or heatproof glass, combine the apple cider vinegar and hibiscus. Pour 1 cup of boiled water over the top. Mix in the honey and cinnamon.

Green Coffee With Coconut Oil

1 teaspoon ground green coffee beans

½ teaspoon virgin coconut oil

In a mug or heatproof glass, add the ground green coffee beans. Pour 1 cup of boiled water over the top. Let steep for 15 minutes. Mix in the coconut oil (it should melt into the coffee).

Lemon Verbena and Coconut Water Tonic

1 teaspoon fresh lemon verbena

1 cup coconut water

In a mug or glass, combine the ingredients. Let steep overnight.

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