Smoothies on the reef

For two weeks in December I was the galley slave on a liveaboard dive boat in exchange for crossing several items off my bucket list – diving Osprey, Holmes and Bouganville reefs in the Coral Sea, as well as diving the Ribbon Reefs of the Great Barrier Reef itself.  These are sites I’ve dreamed about diving for years, and I still can’t get over some of the incredible visions I’ve seen – shark feeding frenzies, gangster-like mobs of giant trevallies, sharks and red snapper bumping into me while hunting at night, illuminated only by the light of my torch, a coral colony so vast it could quite possibly be the biggest living structure on earth, alien-like zooplankton pulsing and rippling past me, lying down next to a potato cod as big as me, gliding through underwater caves and crevasses in the darkness while trying not to disturb sleeping turtles…  Spending the last part of my dive in the first five metres of water is one of my favourite things – exploring the top of a bommie, wall or reef top in the sunlight watching combinations of colours, textures, and the movement of soft corals and fish suspended in the current, while I’m moved back and forth by the surge.

A few of the sites we dived…


A thrilling site at Osprey Reef


Caves and swim-throughs on a night dive at Holmes Reef


My favourite site in the Coral Sea at Bouganville Reef, a drift dive bursting with so much life you don’t know where to look, as you whiz past in the current


A beautiful bommie on the Ribbon Reefs, GBR – too many gorgeous colours…

Life at sea has its ups and downs, and I should add side to sides to that as well.  It is a challenge catering for almost 40 people per week while being thrown around by the swell, squeezing in two or three dives a day, and doing everything in my power to keep my energy up, just to make it through the full-on 16 hour days.  Some genius crew member had a smoothie maker on board, which was an absolute lifesaver. I was able to buy a stash of fresh greens, chia, blueberries and coconut water to last a week and made it without getting scurvy, only crashing with exhaustion and happy memories when it was all over.


My home for two weeks


Half of the nice big dive deck…


And the other half

I’ve probably had a smoothie almost every morning for breakfast for years.  Sometimes for lunch or a light meal, or when too tired to cook. Because this is genuinely what I throw together on a daily basis I’m not concocting fancy or novel smoothie recipes for this post, just what can be made really fast, as in, throw a bunch of veg, fruit, superfoods and liquid into a blender with minimal preparation, with the double aim of staying full till lunchtime, as well as getting fresh, raw foods into me just in case circumstances don’t allow it later on.


My office and smoothie station, overlooking a different reef each day


Off to set up a mooring line


Myself and dive buddy


Ribbon Reef No. 10

My regular breakfast is a green smoothie, consisting of whatever green veg I can find, usually based around kale, spinach, silverbeet/swiss chard, or rocket, occasionally adding a cucumber, lemon, ginger, turmeric root, and usually with a banana. For extra goodies I add coconut oil, raw cacao powder, maca, ashwaganda and chia or pumpkin seeds. Add to all of this yoghurt, raw honey and nut milk or coconut water, although I usually just use yoghurt mixed with water.  The cacao powder does change the colour of smoothies and makes it less pretty, but until I started making bone broth it was the only way I’d found of getting enough magnesium in my diet.  The difference is immediate, and I notice if I don’t have it for a couple of weeks, so I try to never let this happen.   I can go for many hours without any other food, as I have very stable blood sugar levels and never have cravings for sugar.  I often take a smoothie to work with me, as I can sip it discreetly and don’t have to pack a complicated or messy lunch.  During my two weeks at sea I received countless remarks on my high energy levels and ability to work hard in tough conditions while cramming in several long and strenuous dives a day.  What can I say…eat plants!

Basic green smoothie: Blend 1 banana, a handful of pineapple, 2 large silverbeet leaves, juice and flesh of half a lemon, 2 large tbsps of yoghurt, 1 cup of water….



Beetroot smoothie: Blend 2 large swiss chard leaves, 1 chopped beetroot, 1-2 tbsps chia seeds, 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds, 1-2 tbsp maca powder, 2 tbsps yoghurt, 1 cup water, top with a sprinkle of cacao powder…



Peanut butter cacao smoothie: Blend 1 banana, 2 tbsps cacao powder, 1-2 tbsps peanut butter, 1 tbsp coconut oil, 1-2 tbsps chia seeds, 1 tsp honey, 2 tbsps yoghurt, 1 cup water, top with a sprinkle of cacao nibs…


Blueberry smoothie: Blend 1 banana, handful of blueberries, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp cacao, 1 tbsp coconut oil, 1 tsp honey, 2 tbsps yoghurt, 1 cup water, top with a sprinkle of coconut flakes…



Kale smoothie: Blend 1 banana, large handful of kale, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp cacao, 1 tbsp coconut oil, 1 tsp honey, 2 tbsps yoghurt, 1 cup water, sprinkle with coconut flakes…






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