Sunday, September 22, 2013

Welcome guest author Gigi Pandian!

Two for One! Recipes from Guest Author Gigi Pandian (Green Smoothie) and Her Character Jaya Jones (Jazzing Up Steamed Greens)

Gigi Pandian writes the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series. The first book in the series, ARTIFACT, was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant and is now available from Henery Press []. Gigi is thrilled to announce that just this month she sold a new mystery series to Midnight Ink in a three-book deal -- and she’s especially excited that in the new series she gets to share her passion for cooking delectable vegan food!  THE ACCIDENTAL ALCHEMIST is the first in a new mystery series about a vegan alchemist and her French chef sidekick -- who happens to be a gargoyle accidentally brought to life by a stage magician.

One of the funny things about being a writer is that readers frequently confuse us with our characters. I’m six feet tall in heels, and my character Jaya Jones is five feet tall in socks, so readers who’ve seen me in person have been known to comment: “but you’re not short!” Jaya and I do share some things in common. We both have one parent from India and we both love savoring delicious food. However, we have different favorite tasty foods we like to eat. So today I’m sharing one of my favorite snacks and one of Jaya’s.

Jaya Jones is a history professor in San Francisco. She’s often on a treasure hunt in an exotic destination, so she eats whatever tasty treats she can grab on the go. As for me, I’ve been a health nut ever since I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36. I was never a big cook before, but after learning I had food restrictions, I gave it a shot. Oh my goodness, cooking at home is so much fun! Why wasn’t I told??? And even better than the fun of cooking, I’ve learned that the food you cook for yourself is more delicious than anything you can get at a restaurant, because you can prepare it exactly as you like it.  In the past two years, I’ve gone from eating out 75 percent of the time to cooking from scratch 99 percent of the time. And I feel amazing.

Here’s my recipe for my favorite green smoothie that I have for a light breakfast or a snack. If you’re not into the idea of smoothies with vegetables in them, you might be rolling your eyes around now. But stick with me for a minute! I’ve got some tricks to create a healthy smoothie that’s just as mouthwatering as it is good for you.

Gigi’s Favorite Green Smoothie Recipe (makes 2 servings)

Blend the following ingredients together in a blender:
Half an Avocado
1 Pear
Kale – 4 leaves or to taste
1 Cucumber
Knob of fresh ginger, to taste
Unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao nibs – 2 Tbsp or to taste
Optional added protein, such as hemp seeds
Filtered water – 1 cup or more, depending on how thick you want your smoothie

Tricks to sweeten this up, if you’re new to green smoothies:
*Use coconut water instead of regular water.
*Add a little bit of a natural sweetener, such as honey.
*Use frozen broccoli instead of kale – frozen broccoli has a natural sweetness!

The natural sweetness of the pear, the spicy kick of the ginger, and the chocolaty goodness of the unsweetened cocoa make for a delicious treat that’s like a healthy chocolate milkshake! OK, it’ll probably take a while before it tastes like a milkshake to you... But it’s still a delicious treat!

NOTE: if you use cocoa powder rather than cacao nibs, your “green” smoothie will turn brown, looking a bit like a chocolate milkshake. It’s just as tasty, and even tastier if you prefer a creamy consistency.

Next up, here’s how Jaya Jones jazzes up boring foods. Since Jaya doesn’t cook, this is a “trick” rather than a full recipe. She never has very much in her kitchen, but always has good coffee in the cupboard and lots of this Indian condiment in the fridge.

The Jaya Jones Secret to Jazzing Up Your Greens

Have a boiled or steamed vegetable that you were planning on dousing with butter and salt? Try adding Indian pickle instead.

Indian pickle is a spicy condiment that comes in a range of flavors from mango to lime to garlic. The fruits or vegetables are packed in oil with chili peppers and other spices like turmeric. The combo of a little bit of oil and a lot of flavor make simple steamed greens taste more like a flavorful Indian curry than a throw-away side dish.

In the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series I describe the foods in the different parts of the world where the books take place, but in my new series I’m happy I get to feature food even more, including some of the vegan recipes I’ve come up with since throwing myself into learning how to cook from scratch.

Learn more about Gigi at

Sign up for Gigi’s newsletter [
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  1. Welcome Gigi and big congrats on the new series--that sounds like such fun!

    I'm not a big consumer of smoothies, but you make this sound delicious.

  2. My mom went through a juicer stage when I was growing up but she called them cocktails and they were invariably red from beets. I can't say I've tried a green smoothie. I'm a big fan of coconut water, so I bet I'd like it with that! I'll have to look for Indian pickles at my health food store. Mangoes are always delicious!

    Good luck with your new series, Gigi! It sounds fascinating!


    1. Krista, I sometimes put my smoothies in a cocktail glass, too. It doesn't feel right in the morning, when I usually have one, but if I'm having a smoothie while cooking in the evening, into a wineglass (or large martini glass) it goes!

  3. Welcome, Gigi! Congrats on so much success. Smoothies are the in-thing, aren't they? Great for people on the go.

    I love your comments about people confusing authors with their characters. Not even a question. Amazing how we have to have imaginations good enough to create people we don't even know and have never seen. Fun!

    Daryl /Avery

    1. Thanks for having me on the blog, Daryl! And yes, I'm a person on the go ;). I usually take my smoothies with me in a mason jar.

      I love to give my characters parts of me -- like how I'm going to incorporate some cooking in my new series -- but with all the situations I throw at my characters, it's easy to keep them separate from myself!

  4. I've wanted to try making a smoothie for ages and this looks like the perfect start for a newbie! Also love the Indian pickle idea...I hate messing up healthy veggies with too much butter! Thanks for stopping by MLK today, Gigi.

  5. Thanks for this amazing post, Gigi! And a big welcome here to Mystery Lovers Kitchen.

    Your series sounds really interesting. Congrats on the deal!

    I will spread the word about this smoothie.


    1. Thanks, Mary Jane! I'm not kidding when I say this smoothie helps me have the energy to write so much :)