Jewels reading In Defense of Food summer 2008
Two things provoked this “meat and potatoes” Midwesterner into observing meatless Mondays; the first came when I read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan (highly recommended book). I learned why a more plant based diet would be healthier for both myself and the planet, but my problem was that I detest the texture of beans and I wasn’t crazy about lentils either, so consuming protein would pose a problem for me without meat, poultry, or fish.

Jewels with Chef Tal at Le Cordon Bleu January 2009

Then I met Tal Ronnen and the people at Gardein. Suddenly vegetarian, even vegan meals were irresistibly delicious, and looked considerably more familiar. Protein could still take center stage on my plate! Gradually, I became so used to eating at least one animal free meal each week, that doing a completely vegan cleanse for three weeks didn’t even phase me.

#2 Chick’n Spring Rolls

When the people at Gardein sent me some coupons, I decided to share them with you, so you could start the new year out observing meatless Mondays too. The Animal Free 2011 Contest/Giveaway was born when I suggested you share your favorite New Years hors d’oeuvres, vote for them in a poll, and you would decide your top five favorites.

“… And the winners are…”

#1 Spicy Deep Fried Pickles submitted by Derek Sumisu
#2 Chick’n Spring Rolls submitted by Elizabeth Evangelista
#3 Tiny Meatballs with Various Dipping Sauces submitted by Lane Morris Buckman
#4 Grandma’s Artichoke Nibbles submitted by Kim Phillips Cuccia
#5 Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms submitted by Terri Berri
#5 Pepperoni, Green Pepper, and Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms submitted by Jen Roth

At first I was a little shocked the entries were mostly meat based, but then I realized most could easily be replaced with Gardein or another meat substitute product if you do decide to observe meatless Monday’s. Congratulations and would the winners please email your address to , so I can mail out your coupons!

#1 Spicy Deep Fried Pickles
Courtesy of Derek Sumisu
Servings: 12


  • 8 large dill pickles (your choice of style, but I usually use Polski Ogorki)
  • 2 eggs
  • splash of milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • Japanese nanami/shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7 pepper spice)*
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oil for frying/deep fryer (vegetable oil works well)


1). Preheat your oil to 375 degrees (190 Celsius) 
2). Split flour into 2 parts. 1 1/2 cups and 1/2 cup
put the 1/2 cup onto a plate
put the rest in a bowl.

3). Slice the pickles into 1/4 inch thick pieces
coat the pickles in the flour on the plate
make sure they are well coated.

4). Put the eggs in a bowl and whisk well
add a splash of milk and whisk again
move the pickles from the flour into the egg
make sure they are well coated.

5). Take the bowl with 1 1/2 cups of flour and add
salt, pepper and Japanese spice. If you don’t have
Japanese spice, Cajun works well also. Use your
own judgement here. If you like it spicy, use more.
Less spicy needs less. The same goes for salt and pepper.
(a practice run before New Years Eve will guide you!)

6). Move the pickles from the egg into the spicy flour mix.
coat them well…

7). At this point you can be decadent and put the pickles
back into the egg and then back into the spicy flour for
a double coating!

8). Fry the pickles in at least 2 inches of oil or in a deep fryer
for about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Don’t overcrowd
them or they’ll stick together.

9). You can serve the pickles with your sauce of choice.
I recommend Japanese Tonkatsu sauce, ketchup, ranch
dressing or blue cheese dressing if you’re into the exotic!!

* This can be found at most Asian grocery stores.

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