Monday, April 14, 2008

Brighten Your Day Salad + Vegan Poppy Seed Dressing

You know how sometimes when you're feeling down, just seeing something that's bright and sunny can make you feel a little bit better? Well, as silly as it might sound, that's exactly what creating this salad did for me...

Last night, my mom called to tell me that she had finally decided to put our cat, Natasha, to sleep. We've had Natasha (or "Tashie," as we liked to call her) ever since she was a kitten and I was about 8 or 9 years old. She was a Seal Point Siamese cat, with blue eyes, beautiful white fur, and the typical black legs/ears/face that're associated with Siamese cats.

Tashie was a sweet and affectionate, yet calm and sophisticated pet. She was the kind of cat who could even make sworn "non-cat people" want to pet her, and was the envy of my friends when I was growing up.

My younger brothers and I would squeal with laughter when she purred - she was so loud that we eventually tacked "Moto" (short for "motor") onto her name - because her purr sounded just like a running motor! We would also sing the "We are Siamese" song to her (from the Disney movie "Lady and the Tramp") when we were little. The fact that she was Siamese - the novelty of it - never quite wore off, I guess...

After I got older, went away to college, and eventually moved out altogether, I saw less and less of her. However, whenever I went to visit my mom and little brother, the sight of Tashie - in "her" spot on the couch - always made me feel like I was home.

Unfortunately, as the years went by, Tashie developed arthritis and could hardly walk - it was so painful to watch her try to jump down from the couch onto the floor - and she eventually lost the ability to keep most of her food down.

During the past several weeks, my mom said that she had to check Tashie's breathing when she got home from work, just to make sure that she was still alive. Sadly, her movements finally became so limited that she stopped being able to use her litter box. And, eventually, Tashie Moto could no longer even purr. As a result, my mom made the difficult decision to have her euthanized.

Even though I'm glad that Natasha is no longer in pain, it's still sad to think about the fact that she's gone. I'm really dreading the first time that I have to walk into my mom's house without Tashie being there - it'll be hard. And although I realize this isn't the last time that I'll lose a pet, and that lots of my other pets have gone before her, it still really sucks.

So, since there's really no good way to segue here, I'll just jump right into my "feel better" salad recipe... If it can bring a bit of levity to my otherwise dreary day, I surely must be doing something right.

Recipe: Brighten Your Day Salad
Note: all ingredient amounts are "to taste"

baby spinach, washed & dried
red onion, thinly sliced
Mandarin orange segments
golden raisins
fresh ground black pepper

1.) Place spinach in serving bowl.
2.) Add red onion & Mandarin oranges, tossing to mix ingredients.
3.) Sprinkle salad with raisins & walnuts, adding a bit of ground pepper, if desired.
4.) Top with Vegan Poppy Seed Dressing (recipe follows) & serve immediately.

(Print, Email, or Text this Recipe)

Recipe: Vegan Poppy Seed Dressing
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. white vinegar
2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. agave nectar
1/2 tsp. yellow onion, grated
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. poppy seeds

1.) In a small bowl or jar, whisk together all ingredients, except poppy seeds.
2.) Add poppy seeds to dressing, stir, & serve.

Note: If storing dressing in refrigerator, remove before use to liquefy, & whisk before serving.

(Print, Email, or Text this Recipe)


  1. Nothing better than homemade dressing. =)

  2. I'm so sorry you lost your baby, Natasha :( It's always devastating to lose one of our furry loved ones.

  3. Yes! Seeing something bright and sunny ALWAYS makes my day better; I’m NOT a big fan of dark, rainy days, but when the sun comes out, you’ll rarely see me frown.
    Your salad looks delicious… but I know that it won’t even begin to take away the pain of losing such a wonderful cat. My thoughts are with you; losing a pet sucks, especially one you’ve had for such a long time.

  4. I'm very sorry about your kitty... :-( That sucks, even when you know they were miserable.

    *hugs and good vibes*

    Lee, The Veggie Guy

  5. So sorry to hear about Tashie. That's always a tough thing to do.

    Your salad does look very cheerful though. Hope you cheer up soon :-)

  6. delicious, vibrant dishes DO have the power to make you feel better - and to nourish you as well! :0)

    my deepest sympathies are with you, during this tough time. hang in there.

  7. This salad would certainly brighten up my day. Sorry to hear about Moto...pets are one of the family:D

  8. Thank you so much for your kind words. Isn't it strange how when you become vegan, or even health conscious I suppose, comfort food takes a new form? You realize that cheese and sweets make you feel like tired and gross afterwards, and things like color and textures make food comforting and energizing. Its the difference between wanting to feel asleep and awake, in a way.

    I am so sorry to hear about your cat. i'm sure you Mom must be devastated as well. But your compassion towards animals (including not eating them!) shows in your words and your memories.

    Life can be so tough! It helps to know that there are great like-minded people out there who try to live with kindness and decency.

    And awesomely yummy salads.:)

  9. I second everything chocolatecoveredvegan said.
    I'm so sorry about your kitty. <333 Hang in there.

  10. Oh man... When I was 15, I inherited my grandparents' dachshund. She was the funniest, high-spirited dog there is. However, over time she developed a heart problem which caused her lungs to fill with water. During her last days she would just sit there, panting, desperately trying to breath.. The memory of it fills my eyes with tears just now. My dad finally took her to the vet to put her to sleep. We burried her in our garden and planted a tree over her.

    I grieved dearly, I cried for weeks. But looking back, it's her suffering that grieves me most and makes me cry now, and I wish we would have ended her suffering earlier instead of keeping her with us one more day and then another because we were afraid of loosing her when all this waiting caused her only more pain.

    I'm sorry for your loss and I'm grieving with you for your cat.

  11. wow jd!
    you've got a super fun blog. I love it. Consider yourself bookmarked!

    You asked about the coffee-alternative "roma"... I got it at our little health food store. There are lots of different kinds, and I like most of them. I think my favorite is Inka.

    :) Amey

  12. Oh no! I forgot to add my condolences about your sweet kitty. Phew. that's so hard. I'll be thinking of you.

  13. I sympathize with a policy for your food. And I support your site. If there is time, please come in my site.
    From Japan

  14. I'm sorry about Natasha.

    But I'm PSYCHED about that salad dressing recipe. That's always been one my favorites - now I can make my own! thanks!

  15. i'm very sorry about your kitty :(

  16. I'm so sorry you lost your kitty. I'm sure that lovely salad helped to make you feel a little better.

    Lady & the Tramp is my favorite Disney movie.

  17. Hi everyone,

    I just wanted to say a sincere thanks for all of the kind comments that you left for me about Natasha. Reading them really lifted my spirits...

    Thanks so much for making me feel better!


  18. Oooo yum! I love Poppy seeds. They make me happy.

  19. Sorry to read about Natasha. Your Poppy Seed Dressing sounds fab!

  20. Jd, so sorry to hear about Natasha. My thoughts are with you and your family, I know how hard it is. I'm glad you had so many years of wonderful memories with her.

  21. Hi Veggie Terrain,

    My name is Shannon and I'm the editorial assistant at Following up on a recent email invitation to be a part of our newly launched Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I just want to reiterate that the Foodbuzz team loves reading your posts and would be very excited to have you become a part of our blogging community. I would love to send you more details about the program, so if you are interested, please email me at

    I love making my own dressings.


    Shannon Eliot
    Editorial Assistant,

  22. JD, sorry to hear about about Tashie. It must be tough. I have cats and adore them dearly as I know you and your mother adore Tashie. Whether a cat, dog, etc., they are part of the family. She'll be with you always.

    The feel good salad looks awesome. I make a poppy seed salad dressing similar to yours.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my site. I hope you have a change to make the Banana Basil smoothie soon.


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