I am excited to finally debut my personal website, sanaesuzuki.com (I created four different websites previously) on my birthday, April 4th 2016, which focuses on healing, happiness and what I love to share with the world. It will be an ongoing creative process, so if you see a section that is not available, please revisit…
Seed Kitchen restaurant was our life for the last eight years. It was our dream to open our own plant-based, vegan, and macrobiotic restaurant.
It started after I met my husband, Eric Lechasseur, in 1991. He was only 23 when I met him, but he was already an executive chef at one of the big resort hotels in México.
I was going through my separation and divorce from my first husband, and I was exhausted. I was extremely fatigued and got sick with flu symptoms almost all the time in 1992, and I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer the following year. I was told to meet a macrobiotic counselor, Cecile Levin, to get her advice for healing myself. I did my best to follow her directions for cooking healing, plant-based, vegan, macrobiotic foods, remedy drinks, special compresses, shiatsu massage, Do-In exercise and more. I started to feel better within three weeks or so, but it took a year to really know this was working, as shown by blood test results and other proof.
After I completely recovered from ovarian cancer in 1995, I started having many dreams.
Eric was a French training chef in Quebec and France, so after he helped me heal my cancer, he started to create his plant-based, vegan, macrobiotic recipes. Every chef’s dream is to open their own restaurant, so opening a plant-based, vegan, macrobiotic restaurant became one of our dreams.
I came up with the name “Seed” because I felt what we were doing was planting a seed in helping others and ourselves to be healthy and happy with delicious food. We did not have much money, and we didn’t have any family living in America, since Eric is from Quebec, Canada, and I am from Nagoya, Japan.
We established together our company, Mugen LLC, in 1999 and offered a plant-based, vegan, macrobiotic dinner club and put on special-course dinner events – we call a pop-up restaurant. Making our package foods at a commercial kitchen and deliver them to Co-op market, Erewhon Natural Foods Store and more.
I was faced with another challenge in my life in 2001 when I had a near-fatal car crash that left me with many bone fractures in my legs and caused my heart and lungs to fail. Under such distress, I fell into a coma for three days; after that, I was bedridden for one year, with no mobility for three years. But I kept my practice and faith in macrobiotics, and with time, I healed myself. Now I walk every day and became yoga teacher this year.
Even with all of our struggles, we never lost our dream. We started saving our money and looking for our dream restaurant location in 2005.
It was not a perfect place, but in 2008, we found a location near Venice Beach, where people were coming from all over the world. With just our savings, some help from my brother, and a couple of friends’ financial support, we opened Seed Kitchen.
We were so happy to have so many people come from all over to eat at Seed. We were delighted by many magazines’ coverage of our restaurant, as well as Eric had become a runner-up in a 2010 PETA food contest. We have such appreciation for all the staff who worked for Seed, as well as all the customers who enjoyed our food for so long.
We love Seed Kitchen’s food so much! For eight years, we offered some of the best plant-based, freshly made food every day. Our five different burgers were definitely the most popular: Southwest burger with whole grains and beans, BBQ tempeh burger, seitan sirloin burger, Mediterranean burger, and slow-simmer BBQ seitan burger. Plus, we offered three different kinds tacos, a macrobiotic “Sai Sai” bowl, and three different curry dishes. We made all-fresh, in-house sauces, dressings, salsas and pesto, as well as Eric’s wonderful original seitan and, of course, his amazing desserts.
We were a small restaurant, but we made high-quality original, fresh foods. We also followed the macrobiotic principles that helped me in healing from ovarian cancer and my car crash. This brought us to cut refined sugar from any of the desserts, the BBQ sauce, and everything we make. We use sea vegetables for minerals in our sauces.
Eric’s favorites include the Blackened Tempeh with Mango Salsa Burger, Rosemary Seitan, Coconut Curry, BBQ Seitan Burger and Crispy Tempeh Chorizo. My favorites include the Japanese Curry, Miso Goddess Ramen, San Felipe Tacos and Southwest Burger. Of course, I think we just put our favorite foods on the menu.
We really wanted people to come to Seed Kitchen before or after going to the beach. We love going to the beach ourselves and enjoy our life with ocean water.
We are very sad to be closing Seed Kitchen. A month before closing I decided to make a short documentary film—with the help of our good friend Claire Johnson—for ourselves, others who loved Seed Kitchen, and people who could not come to taste our food in person. Claire came to start shooting the film seven days before the closing.
We could not capture everything and everyone, but we received so many emails, Facebook and Instagram messages, and phone calls from people who are going to miss Seed Kitchen. One woman came and was crying, asking where she would go from now on to eat delicious, safe and healthy food. We almost cried, too.
Making this film made us realize how much Seed Kitchen meant to so many people and to ourselves. The eight years’ labor of love, our passion, effort and even stress we had—they are so valuable for our future. We can’t thank you enough for these opportunities. We will miss our Seed Kitchen—and we plan to publish Seed Kitchen’s cookbook next year!
We hope that when this film is completed, it plants a seed of inspiration for your heath and happiness.
Here is the first trailer of Love, Seed Kitchen.
Hope you like it.
Kula came into my life when I was in my wheelchair in 2003 after I had a near-fatal car crash. Her mother, Kin, was my service dog. After Kin departed, I wished for Kula to be my service dog. She was a very shy and quiet puppy, so even during the two years that we took her to training, I was not sure if she could be a service dog. But she worked to build her confidence and passed the test.
Kula was the most gentle, smart and kind dog I’ve ever met. She became not only my service dog—opening the door, picking up things I dropped—but also my beloved dog daughter, who was there for me every day to enjoy her life with us. She loved going to the beach, on mountain hikes, swimming, diving into Manzanita Lake, and enjoying the snow. We had a beautiful life together for 13 years.
I felt much sadness after Kula departed on August 1, 2016.
I wanted to honor her life and process my grief and longing through a memorial gathering with my husband Eric and others who’d loved her all her life.
Kula used to go to senior homes, where she made many people happy, as well as to the Santa Monica Farmers Market, where she’d meet children and let them feed her organic apples.
Please read about her going to senior homes and Santa Monica Farmers Market on my blog.
We had 26 guests, and we got all kinds of great food (everything was vegan, except one dish). I made Kula’s favorite hijiki dish, and Eric made Kula Cake—vanilla flavor with almond cream.
These below photos were taking by our good friend, Claire Johnson.
Our friends/guests shared their wishes, thoughts, and love for Kula.
I sang “Kula’s Pacific Blue” (I changed the lyrics) with Eric’s ukulele, accompanied by Dan How, our ukulele teacher.
I was nervous and made mistakes—you can see how I sang—but it was from my heart, and I really want to share it with everyone.The video was posted by Kula and our friend Chef AJ on Facebook.
Claire and I were able to retrieve it and post on Youtube so you can watch it and remember we had a fun and good memorial for Kula.
As I said in this video, animals have feelings and emotions, just like humans. Honoring their lives and holding memorial services help us to experience healthy grieving and learn how to be good humans.
With gratitude and love of light,
Eric and I have had many dreams since we met in 1991.
One of those dreams was to open our own vegan macrobiotic restaurant.
After I overcame ovarian cancer (1992~1995) and near fatal car crash (2001)
we started to save money and look for a location in 2005.
We found one where people come from all over the world: Venice Beach.
It was not a perfect location, but we thought it was a good location near the beach and many nationality people could just come to eat when they visit the world famous “Venice Beach” at that time, and we started to work toward the opening in Aug. 2008.
We opened Seed Kitchen on November 4th, 2008 with a hope and passion to be a successful restaurant making fresh and mostly organic house-made, delicious and healthy vegan macrobiotic food.
Seed Kitchen’s last day is September 27, 2016.
We are very sad, even though we know that “everything changes” in life.
We have tried our best to sustain the business, but over the last two and a half years, after the rent went up significantly, it was a very challenging time for us. We used all our savings to save the business, and we even borrowed money, but though we tried our best to keep a quality, honest business, we suffered financially. Our best may not be good enough, and after eight years, it is time for us to move on.
One of our chefs has worked for Seed Kitchen since its opening, so he was sad when we told him that we are closing. I was so sad and cried. We honor all the employees who worked hard for us, so we will make sure they all get their paychecks on the last day.
We were not a perfect restaurant, but we made fresh, mostly organic, vegan macrobiotic food every day for eight years in Los Angeles (one of the biggest cities in the world), so this itself is a success to us!
Thank you so much for last 8 years!
Eric will continue working as a private vegan macrobiotic chef for his private clients and special events, and I will continue to help people and animal family through whole-health macrobiotic counseling and teaching—including vegan macrobiotic cooking classes. I am also teaching Do-In yoga as a certified yoga teacher now and of course, Bach Flower registered practitioner, reiki practitioner, animal communicator, etc.
The universal order.
We hope to meet/see you somewhere when our paths cross.
I have always acted like an athletic person, even though I was not. I am a pretty lazy person who can continue watching movies all day long and use my bed as my office and a dining space. I was also very overweight when I was a teenager till mid 20’s. But I have always been curious and want to try many things; yoga was one of the subjects I wanted to try. When I was in college in 1981, I tried yoga for the first time at Harriman Studio on Santa Monica Blvd in Los Angeles.
Yoga was different from anything I knew, and after I tried it, something changed. It was not like other exercises I’d tried, but it stretched my body and made me feel lighter. At that time, I did not know why I liked it so much, other than it just made me feel good. I do not want to say “natural high,” but a feeling of highness comes from inside of me.
I really enjoyed how I felt, and how my body felt after practice. But I continued for only a short time back then, because I did not feel comfortable in a dark room (maybe it would be different if I’d gone to morning classes, but I went only in the late afternoons), with the carpeted floors and the smell of too much incense. Also, the people practicing yoga there looked very different from me, and I did not understand many things that they and the teacher were saying. I was just faking and trying to fit in, but I did not feel that I fit there.
I never forgot how I felt from the yoga practice I did, so I was always seeking a different yoga studio ( I wish Goggle existed that time…hahaha), but there was nothing that close to where I lived. In 1987, I found a new studio in Santa Monica, called Yoga Works. I was so happy and loved their bright studio, with its natural light and wood floor. I really enjoyed it and knew yoga was helping me so much—not just physically, but mentally and emotionally—because I was going through a very tough time with the separation from my first husband, as well as the passing of my father and one of my dogs. If I had not practiced yoga regularly, I am not sure how I would have survived. I did not think very deeply; I just practiced and practiced.
That’s what I did till I started feeling tired in 1992 and, gradually, became unable to do much yoga practice. I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1993. It was a hard time for me when I was not able to do yoga; I had to rest a lot and accept that I had cancer. I was scared and depressed. I did not know what to do. Then I found macrobiotics, and my focus changed to learn more and more about that. I did not forget yoga, but I had to focus and heal through the nourishing food.
I started yoga again in 1994 when I went to a macrobiotic conference and took yoga classes there. I felt so good, and I knew I needed to practice again. I went back to Yoga Works and took many different workshops. I was enjoying practicing yoga once again, and now I also had macrobiotics.
In 2001, I was feeling good. I had just put together my cooking studio in Santa Monica, called Studio Mugen. (Mugen means “infinity” in Japanese. My macrobiotic teacher, Michio Kushi, said we all came from infinity and will go back to it. So, I wanted to call our life here “infinity,” because everything changes.) Around the same time, I took a macrobiotic counselor training with Michio Kushi at Kushi Institute in Becket, MA.
But on the way back from the training, I had a nearly fatal car accident in the Arizona desert. I was driving with my three dogs and one cat; two of the dogs died in the crash, and I was in a coma for three days. I was later told that my heart stopped a few times, once for 12 minutes. My heart and lungs were injured badly by the accident they were not able to function without mechanically and all the ribs on the left side were broken, and my both legs and ankles sustained compound fractures. The doctor said unfortunately, I may never walk again. I was so shocked, I resented that I did not die from the car accident. It took me a long time to feel that I wanted to live again. All I knew was the love of my best friend at that time—Eric, who is my husband now; and my dog Kin and cat Mai, who survived the car accident; and other friends, and my family in Japan, who supported me so much.
It took a long time, but in 2003, I found a yoga class that I could go to with my wheelchair; I started to go, taking special transportation for a disabled person. I was back to practicing yoga, even though I was in a wheelchair. I am very proud of myself for continuing my practice and making my goal to walk again for my wedding with Eric on June 20, 2004. Everyone was so happy to see me walk “the virgin road” (what we call the aisle in Japan) with my brother’s support and the cane, which was decollated with satin ribbons to match my wedding dress. Of course, eating healthy and nutritious foods has helped me a lot, but yoga has helped with my physical movement, as well as relaxing my mind. I also got much more strength from practicing yoga, so I have less leg and ankle pain, and I sleep better.
It was a long detour, but when my 60th birthday came last year, I decided to take yoga teacher training—which I’d first thought about 20 years ago. I was concerned about whether I’d be able to complete the training and pass the test now, given my injured legs and ankles. So, I carefully planned a one-year mission.
Finding the right yoga studio was very important for me, so I checked many places around Santa Monica and found Santa Monica Yoga Studio. I was grateful to find a studio near my house, so I could walk or bike there to practice. I also found knowledgeable and kind teachers: Nancy Goodstein, Kyra Haglund, Jamie Elmer and Luke Ketterhagen. It was one of my best years physically since the car accident when I was able to practice yoga regularly and feel good about myself. I am so thankful that I did not give up yoga because of my serious injuries and instead kept practicing whatever I could, even when I was in my wheelchair. Yoga has been helping me every day; yoga is for my life.
My yoga teacher training main teacher, Nancy Goodstein wrote for me…
I have a saying about Sanae, “Do not underestimate Sanae.” She is quite petite, but crazy strong. She is deeply passionate and serious about all her undertakings, but she almost always makes me laugh. I am her teacher, but I consistently learn from her. Sanae has an ability to articulate both the physical and emotional world and make one feel that the healing that needs to be done is possible and that the route need not be painful. That her patience, wisdom and strength will lead you to heal in a beautiful and peaceful way.”
I am very happy to announce that I have completed yoga teacher training and passed the test. My official yoga class starts Thursday, September 1, from 12:15–1:15 pm. Then Thursday, September 22, from 12:15–1:15 pm and also Sunday, October 2, from 2:30–3:45 pm. The classes will be at Santa Monica Yoga Studio, 1640 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, 90405. The fee is $5/person to cover the studio space. I hope you will join. I also want to offer a donation-based class in the park near my house soon.
Love, Sanae 💖
Our bodies are more than 50% water. You’ve probably heard that, right?
According to chemistry expert Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D., the amount of water in the human body ranges from 50–75%. The average adult human body is 50–65% water, averaging around 57–60%. The percentage of water in infants is much higher, typically around 75–78% water, dropping to 65% by 1 year of age.*
When I learned macrobiotic vegan cooking in 1993 to heal from ovarian cancer, I learned to soak whole grains and beans in water (spring or purified) 4–6 hours or overnight before cooking. Soaking helps with digestion and makes whole grains and beans softer, with more liquid content.
I realized that our bodies need more nourishing foods like soup, which has more liquid, every day. It does not have to be a large amount—just 1–2 cups a day. Dealing with my cancer taught me this principle, and since then, I have soup every day. Usually, I have one cup of miso soup with three or more kinds of vegetables in the morning; many times, I have a creamy soup at lunchtime and even dinner.
Kombu & Shiitake Dashi (this is how you create the Umami flavor)
kombu, dried (use one 1⁄2-inch square piece per cup of water)
- Wipe to clean kombu with a dry cloth.
- No-cook method: In a bowl, combine the kombu and water and soak for at least 2 to 3 hours. Stovetop method: In a saucepan over medium- high flame, combine the kombu and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer (either covered or uncovered) for about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Strain out and reserve the kombu strip to make Kombu Condiment. Dashi is now ready for use in soups and stews. Dashi will keep for 2 or 3 days in the refrigerator.
Soup helps the digestive system and gives us gentle energy to be able to relax in a natural way. Many busy people come home and eat bread or microwavable food to save time, but bread is dry, and microwavable food provides more chaotic energy. Overall, they cause contracted tightness, and we are unable to relax our intestines, body or mind.
It doesn’t take much time to make soup a few times a week. A large quantity will last few days, and you can easily reheat it on the stove. It is simple if you plan a menu every week.
When I teach my macrobiotic principle cooking series, the first two classes cover whole grains, and the third is soup. In last week’s class, I taught how to make five different soups using umami dashi:
- Kombu & shiitake dashi (this is how you create the umami flavor)
- Clear soup (consommé)
- Miso soup (summer vegetables)
- Whole grain and vegetable soup (summer whole grain)
- Creamy soup (summer corn soup)
My teachings include:
Cut vegetables after you carefully wash them. Keep vegetables separate from one another so they do not exchange their energy before cooking. Add the vegetables one by one, letting them meet slowly and get along together. Once you add the vegetables together, do not mix too much; they do not need a lot of help to create a peaceful and delicious soup. We are just there to support them.
When you add seasoning—soy sauce (or tamari, if you need gluten-free), miso or sea salt—do not add too much, so you do not lose the each vegetable’s delicate aroma and texture. Most of the foods we eat are abundant with seasoning (spices, oils), making us unable to taste the vegetable/plant/whole grain itself. I’ll occasionally add more seasoning for certain special foods, but many people add strong spices and oils to most of their food, even with plant-based menus.
Just eating plant-based food in the beginning of transitioning from a meat-based menu is excellent, but in order for us to keep our bodies healthy and be peaceful in our minds, we need to learn cooking principles for modern life. We are all facing everyday life with more stress, worry, fear, frustration, anger and depression, so I believe we need to bring order to our universe and learn how to cook with principles.
The first thing we need to do is to just cook simple foods for ourselves—making whole grains and soup every day is a great way to start—so we must learn to make time for cooking. I believe strongly that cooking your own simple whole grains and soup will improve your life. I hope you’ll join me in living a healthy and happy life.
After Kula was diagnosed with spleen cancer she was not able to walk so I decided to do all-holistic bodywork to help her walk again.
Morning body routine before morning remedy drink and/or breakfast:
1. Massage her gums
2. Body scrub
4. Do-in exercise
I felt that massaging Kula’s gums were important, since she had abuses on her left-side gums, as you can see in the photo. Her gum area was discharging pus. Holistic veterinarian Dr. Lane showed me how to make a gum rice formula with green tea and myrrh essential oil (which is very good for gums and can also be used as a mouthwash to help eliminate dental infections) and massaged her gums with loquat tea (made from loquat leaf) and sea salt every day.
Here I am showing photos of Kula’s abscess how it got better.
1 cup green tea or loquat leaf tea
2 drops myrrh essential oil (if for cats, I just use sea salt, since cats are very sensitive to essential oil)
1 cup green tea or loquat leaf tea
4–5 drops myrrh essential oil
Use a very soft, small toothbrush. If you want to, you can use your finger (usually index).
Photo: Toothbrush and loquat leaf
In this video, I am massaging Kula’s gums.
Wishing healthy gums and teeth for your dog and you!
Love, Sanae 💖