The Body Coach is back - this time with a batch of 30-minute recipes. He talks to Lauren Taylor about life lately and what the new book is all about

AS bestselling cookbook authors go, Joe Wicks is a bit of an anomaly. He's not had any professional chef training, never even worked in a kitchen - and in fact only learned how to cook a steak medium-rare a couple of years ago.

Yet he's just released his sixth recipe collection, Joe's 30-Minute Meals, and has the UK's second bestselling cookbook in history under his belt (Jamie Oliver holds the top spot), overtaking many Michelin-starred and celebrity TV chefs.

So how has he done it? A thoroughly modern star, Wicks built his - now multi-million-pound - empire through social media, posting short videos of himself working out, or throwing his healthy dinners together. His chirpy personality, along with his trademark style of shouting the ingredients as he throws them in, has helped the PT with gravity defying curls gain an audience of 2.3 million on Instagram as The Body Coach.

Wicks' latest book sees him move from 'Lean in 15' - the concept that catapulted him to the top of bestseller lists - to meals that take double that time but are still quick and easy, and show off what he says is the evolution of his own learnings in the kitchen. "I've kind of progressed a bit as a cook (he won't call himself a chef) and I wanted to introduce recipes I'm enjoying now, things I'd have never cooked once," he says. "I used to think risotto was the hardest thing on earth to cook."

That's perhaps what's so charming, he's no Raymond Blanc and isn't trying to be. Wicks was brought up on frozen chicken nuggets and fish fingers and it wasn't until his 20s that he got into cooking, alongside his love of fitness. "Once I started to cook healthy food, I realised how good it made me feel," he says - and even now, he's still picking up new skills. "I'm learning to use new spices and flavours but keeping it all simple, so I still believe, every recipe in here, everyone can do."

The new book is split into sections: All-day breakfast, chicken, fish and seafood, pork, beef and lamb, and sweet treats, and includes recipes you might not expect in a 'healthy cookbook', like 'banging' chicken balti and sausage and mushroom pie.

Each recipe is marked either 'reduced-carb' (higher in fat and protein) or 'carb refuel' (lower in fat, higher in carbs), a concept Wicks fans will be familiar with. The idea is that you eat the former on days when you do less activity, and the latter after a workout: "Your muscles enjoy that refuel process."

It feels as if he's genuinely on a mission to inspire people to simply cook more, move more, and have a good relationship with food - one that doesn't involve counting calories. "My biggest criticism from anyone - I always get stick from personal trainers - is always the fact that I don't list calories and macros (macronutrients). I'll always stand by it - I don't believe in calorie counting. I don't think it's a healthy relationship to have with food. Weighing yourself every day and counting calories... You can't hit a daily target - your body doesn't work like that."

* Joe's 30 Minute Meals: 100 Quick And Healthy Recipes (Bluebird, £20)


(Serves 4)

1tbsp coconut oil

1 red onion, peeled and diced

1 courgette, trimmed and diced (250g)

1 aubergine, trimmed and diced (250g)

4 sprigs of fresh oregano

4 sprigs of fresh thyme

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1tbsp tomato puree

250g orzo

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

250ml chicken stock

2 x 200g chicken breasts, cut into 1cm slices

1tsp sweet smoked paprika

Salt and black pepper

Small bunch of parsley, roughly chopped

Small bunch of chives, finely chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan 180°C/gas mark 6).

2. Melt half of the oil in a heavy-based flameproof casserole dish over a medium to high heat. Add the onion and cook for one minute, then throw in the courgette, aubergine, oregano, thyme and two chopped garlic cloves. Fry, stirring regularly for five minutes, until the vegetables are starting to soften.

3. Add the tomato puree and orzo and mix to combine. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and chicken stock and bring the mixture quickly to the boil, stirring regularly. Put the lid on and slide the dish into the oven.

4. Meanwhile, melt the remaining oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the sliced chicken and the remaining chopped garlic clove. Stir-fry the chicken so that it is virtually cooked through - it is more important at this stage to colour the meat than to cook it through.

5. Sprinkle in the paprika along with a pinch of salt and pepper and toss the whole lot together.

6. Remove the pasta from the oven and carefully take off the lid, stir in the chicken, slide the lid back on and bake the whole lot together for 10 more minutes.

7. After 10 minutes, take the dish from the oven and stir through the parsley and chives. Serve straight from the dish to the masses.


(Serves 4)

4 large Romano peppers, halved lengthways, seeds removed

10ml olive oil

1tbsp coconut oil

2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 aubergine, trimmed and diced into 1cm cubes (250g)

250g lamb mince

250g beef mince

½tsp ground cinnamon

1tsp ground cumin

½tsp sweet smoked paprika

Salt and black pepper

1tbsp tomato puree

100ml beef stock

70g pine nuts

½ bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

225g pizza mozzarella, patted dry

Rocket, to serve


1. Preheat the oven to 210°C (fan 190°C/gas mark 6-7). Lay the peppers on a baking tray in a single layer, drizzle over the olive oil and roast in the hot oven for 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, melt the coconut oil in a large frying pan over a medium to high heat, then add the red onion and garlic and fry for three to four minutes or until just soft.

3. Crank up the heat to maximum and add the aubergine and both types of mince. Fry the ingredients over the high heat, stirring occasionally for a few minutes, breaking up the mince with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle in the cinnamon, cumin and paprika and stir to incorporate.

4. Season with a generous amount of salt and pepper, then add the tomato puree along with the beef stock and let the mixture simmer away - you don't want it to be too wet. After a couple of minutes, turn the heat off and stir through the pine nuts and chopped coriander.

5. Remove the roasted peppers from the oven. They should have collapsed a little but still be holding their shape. Carefully drain off liquid that may have been produced while roasting, then fill the cavities with the mixture. Don't worry if the mixture falls over the side.

6. Slice or tear the mozzarella and arrange over the top of the mince, then slide the tray back into the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes. The mozzarella will have melted nicely by this point. Serve up with a generous helping of rocket.