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‘‘It’s not just about eating the things that are good for your body, it’s about learning to enjoy the process and appreciate both the food you eat and the fact you’ve made it yourself.’’
Wicks, who became a superstar over Covid lockdowns in the UK as The body coach for his online PE classes and was awarded an MBE for his efforts, is also a father of two who has found his focus has shifted from staying in shape and looking good to feeling good.
‘‘I really am a better and happier person when I’m putting good food in my body.’’
However, his food philosophy has not changed since he started out 10 years ago. He still believes in a flexible and balanced approach to eating is the most sustainable and enjoyable way of living. Hence his new book, Feel Good Food.
‘‘By keeping things simple and easy in the kitchen you are able to enjoy the foods you love without restricting yourself.’’
The key to long-term success is to learn to enjoy cooking, he says, as when you do, the appeal of and reliance on processed food and takeaways goes away.
‘‘As you learn new recipes and styles of cooking, you start to feel empowered and look forward to getting in the kitchen.’’
Being in control of the food they eat and knowing exactly what it is made from allows people to gain a better understanding of their body and what it needs to feel energised.
He is a big fan of batch cooking, as he believes it sets people up for success by taking the stress out of cooking, especially on those busy days.
‘‘You know you’ve got a healthy meal ready to go the moment you arrive at work or return home. This habit can really help you stay on track with your health and fitness goals.’’
In the new book, Wicks also looks at the link between food and mood and the foods that can support better mental wellbeing, and includes his tips for feel good living and understanding the building blocks of a healthy diet.
There are also handy chapters on simple snacks, comfort foods and sweet treats, alongside speedy meals, breakfasts and more substantial hearty meals.
Sausage, Sweet Potato & Mustard Traybake
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3-cm cubes
2 red onions, peeled and cut into 6 wedges
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 Tbsp olive oil
8 pork sausages
500g Brussels sprouts, halved
1 Tbsp wholegrain mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, finely grated
Pinch of salt
Pinch of black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220degC/200degC fan.
Spread the sweet potatoes, red onions and rosemary over a large, rimmed baking tray. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss together to coat, then lay the sausages on top.
Bake for 20 minutes until the sweet potatoes are starting to soften.
Remove from the oven and add the Brussels sprouts, using a metal spatula to mix them into the vegetables on the tray.
Flip the sausages over and return the tray to the oven for a further 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are becoming golden and the sausages are browned.
Combine the dressing ingredients in a jam jar, screw on the lid and shake.
Pour over the contents of the tray and serve.
Roasted Spiced Apples With Oats: 2 Ways
2 eating apples
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp light brown sugar or maple syrup
1/4 tsp almond extract or 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
FOR A SUMMER TREAT:
Yoghurt Bowls with Toasted Oat Topping
5 Tbsp porridge oats
3 Tbsp mixed seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, flax, hemp)
2 tsp butter or coconut oil
1 tsp honey or maple syrup
300g low-fat Greek yoghurt
FOR A WINTER WARMER:
500ml milk or dairy-free milk
450ml boiling water
160g jumbo oats
pinch of salt
2 egg whites
Preheat the oven to 200degC/180degC fan.
Core the apples and slice them into eighths.
Toss the apples into a roasting dish with the orange zest and juice, cinnamon, olive oil, sugar or syrup, and almond or vanilla extract. Make sure they are well combined.
Roast for 30 minutes or until the apples are soft, stirring after 15 minutes. Serve warm or allow to cool, then pop into a lidded container and chill for up to 5 days.
For the yoghurt bowls with toasted oat topping
Toast the porridge oats and mixed seeds in a small dry frying pan over a medium heat until fragrant and starting to brown.
Make a hole in the middle of the mixture and add the butter or coconut oil and the honey or maple syrup. Let it melt, then stir everything together until the oats and seeds are coated. Stir for another minute, then remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Divide the yoghurt between 4 bowls, top with the cooled roasted apples and the toasted oat mixture.
For the whipped porridge
Pour the milk and water into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the oats and a pinch of salt, then bring back to the boil. Turn the heat off and cover with a lid.
Let the oats sit for 5 minutes, then remove the lid, mix in the egg whites and turn the heat back on. Stir constantly with a whisk for 12 minutes until thickened.
Divide between 4 bowls and serve with the warm roasted apples on top.
Sweet potato nachos
4 medium sweet potatoes (around 600g), peeled and sliced into 5mm-thick coins
1 Tbsp light olive oil
1 tsp salt
60g cheddar cheese, grated
4 Tbsp low-fat natural yoghurt, to serve
1 Tbsp oil
1 red onion, diced
100g veggie mince (or minced beef)
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp smoked paprika
pinch of chilli powder
130g frozen sliced bell pepper (or the same amount of fresh, sliced)
400g tin of black beans, drained but liquid reserved
pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cumin
200g cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped big handful of fresh coriander,
juice of 1 lime
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 200degC/180degC fan.
Toss the sliced sweet potatoes with the oil and salt on a large baking tray, then spread them out into a single layer (you may need a second baking tray). Roast for 30-40 minutes, flipping them over halfway through, until starting to turn golden.
For the spiced mince, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent.
Add the mince, breaking it up with your spoon, and cook for a few minutes according to the packet instructions, or until the mince is no longer pink if using beef.
Stir in the cumin, coriander, paprika, chilli powder and frozen (or fresh) sliced peppers.
Stir until the peppers have defrosted and warmed through (about 5 minutes if using fresh, until softened).
Tip into a bowl and set aside.
For the refried beans, return the same pan to the heat and add the drained beans along with 100ml of the liquid reserved from the tin, the salt and cumin.
Mash with a potato masher in the pan, loosening with more bean liquid as needed, to make a creamy, slightly chunky paste. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Mix together all of the salsa ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Once the potato nachos are roasted, top with spoonfuls of the refried beans, followed by a layer of the mince mixture and finally sprinkle over the grated cheese.
Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes until the cheese has melted and crisped up in places.
Remove from the oven, top with the salsa and some dollops of yoghurt, then serve.