Friday, January 9, 2015

Drinks with Reads: The Accidental Alchemist & Gigi Pandian's Green Smoothie Alchemy

Gigi Pandian joins us for Drinks with reads with possibly the healthiest drink ever. Read on...

Want to start the New Year off right with a drink that’s both healthy and delicious? Yup, it’ll take some culinary alchemy. But that’s okay, because I’ve just written a mystery featuring an alchemist and a chef. 

In The Accidental Alchemist, out this week from Midnight Ink: Unpacking her belongings in her new hometown of Portland, Oregon, herbalist and reformed alchemist Zoe Faust can’t help but notice she’s picked up a stowaway. Dorian Robert-Houdin is a living, breathing three-and-a-half-foot gargoyle—not to mention a master of French cuisine—and he needs Zoe’s expertise to decipher a centuries-old text that holds the key to mysteries past and present. 

I started writing this book about an alchemist and an unusual chef after a cancer diagnosis left me with pesky food restrictions, but I refused to eat boring food. Instead, I learned how to cook. I discovered that when you cook food from scratch, healthy foods can taste phenomenal – as long as you learn the “tricks” for how to combine and prepare ingredients. 

In most cases, I’ve found that these tricks aren’t complicated. And I say this as a city girl who used to live on takeout. For example, in the green smoothie recipe below, ginger is the secret ingredient that adds a kick to the drink, the fat in the avocado binds the other ingredients so the drink doesn’t taste gritty, and using frozen broccoli instead of fresh adds a surprising sweetness. These are simple ingredients, but pairing them in this way creates something greater than the sum of their parts. 

Gigi Pandian’s Green Smoothie Alchemy

  • 1 pear, cored
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli
  • 1 cucumber, peeled 
  • 1/4 to 1/2 of an avocado
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 cup of coconut water (or plain water if you don’t want added sweetness)
  • Optional: If you’re a chocolate lover, add 1 Tbsp cacao nibs or unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • Optional: If you’re making this as your breakfast, add 1 or 2 Tbsp of protein such as almond butter or hulled hemp seeds

Toss all of the ingredients into a blender. If you’ve got a high speed blender like a Vitamix, blending will take around 30 seconds. Other blenders work just fine, but will take a couple of minutes longer. Makes 1 large breakfast-sized smoothie or two small smoothies. 

  • You can use fresh greens -- such as broccoli, kale, or spinach -- instead of frozen broccoli, but those will make the smoothie less sweet. 
  • You can also substitute the pear for a green apple, but that’ll make for a tarter drink.  
  • If you use cocoa powder in place of cacao nibs, your “green” smoothie will turn the color of a chocolate milkshake. 
  • Can’t find coconut water but want some added sweetness? Substitute a little of your favorite sweetener, such as a teaspoon of honey. 

Gigi Pandian is the USA Today bestselling author of the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mystery series (Artifact, Pirate Vishnu, and the forthcoming Quicksand) and the new Accidental Alchemist mysteries. Gigi’s debut mystery novel was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant, and her short fiction has been short-listed for Agatha and Macavity awards. A cancer diagnosis in her 30s taught her two important life lessons: healing foods can taste amazing, and life’s too short to waste a single moment. Gigi spent her childhood being dragged around the world by her cultural anthropologist parents, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with an overgrown vegetable garden in the backyard. Visit her at and connect with her on Facebook ( and on Twitter (@GigiPandian). 


  1. You had me at "decipher a centuries-old text." I have heard of the Treasure Hunt mystery series and this is my reminder to start reading them. After the Alchemist of course. I have to admit, this drinks looks very appetizing, and if I can claim it's healthy it's a win-win. Thank you Gigi.

    1. I hope you enjoy both the books and the drink!

  2. The book sounds fun and the smoothie looks delicious. Now if we can get the gargoyle to come to my house and make that smoothie!

    1. Exactly. Then I need him to organize my kitchen... ;)

  3. I decided to start taking Green supplements and I was amazed at how "clean” the taste is, like you're drinking pure nutrition from the earth. And it has very little after taste like some veggie drinks I've tried.

  4. I've got to send this recipe to a friend of mine...she's all into green smoothies etc. I don't often make them because I'm the only one in my family that would drink one. *sigh* Sounds great, though!

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