Try JOE WICKS' tips for re-energising your midday meals

Try JOE WICKS' tips for re-energising your midday meals

January 28, 2021

Shake up your lockdown lunches: Mediterranean halloumi traybake, Turkey and red pepper panang curry, and Elvis pancakes… try JOE WICKS’ tips for re-energising your midday meals

  • Joe Wicks provides tips on how to maintain a new eating and exercising regime 
  • Stresses the importance of goal setting, one key way to increase your motivation
  • Shares some healthy recipes to help people keep on track with their goals 

Most of us enjoy cooking for our families. But then lockdown happened. Making breakfast and dinner is one thing but now lunch? Every day?!

While there are lots of unexpected bonuses to being at home 24/7, like spending more time with family and getting to play around a bit more in the kitchen, I think we’ve all become familiar with the drawbacks, too.

I love cooking, but it’s not always easy when you’ve got young kids who need a lot of attention. It’s tricky.

So when lunchtime comes round it’s tempting to stick a pizza in the oven or whip up some instant noodles, but they’re a nutritional disaster which can make everyone tired and moody and have the family wanting more not long after you’ve flicked the dishwasher on.

These tips will help re-energise your midday meals — and create wholesome, satisfying meals for everyone. 

Most of us enjoy cooking for our families. But then lockdown happened. Making breakfast and dinner is one thing but now lunch? Every day?! 

  • Plan ahead. Decide what you’re going to have for lunch at the weekend and shop accordingly. If you don’t have rubbish in the house, you won’t eat it! Avoid ‘I don’t like blah-blah’ angst by letting everyone choose a lunch for one day. Monday could be Mum’s day, Tuesday one of the kids’ and so-on.
  • Embrace the humble leftover. Save some chicken from your Sunday roast and turn it into a nutritious soup like my chicken pho for Monday lunch. Or double a recipe and save some for the next day. I do this with my chicken and chorizo pie. This has the added benefit of monitoring your portion sizes too.
  • Max your pantry’s power. Tinned pulses are cheap, nutritious and make a super-fast and delicious lunch. Green lentils are the base of my super-easy lentil sloppy joe. It’s the perfect post-workout meal. Or how about my pasta and chickpea stew (this tastes even better if you make it the night before).
  • Invest in a slow cooker. Chuck the ingredients in at breakfast (you don’t even need to brown the meat) and you’ll have a sumptuous soup or stew come lunch.
  • Meals on wheels. Ten minutes to lunchtime and nothing doing? Stir-fries like my salt and pepper prawns take a matter of minutes but are big on flavour and nutrients. Or try loading Little Gem lettuce leaves with pork mince fried in Thai curry paste and topped with roasted peanuts, mint and coriander. Yum! Invest in ready-chopped onion, garlic, ginger and chilli to speed up prep time.
  • Snack smart. Take the heat off lunchtime by stocking up on healthy mid-morning munchies like a handful of nuts and seeds. Apples and blueberries are also ideal (they’re perfect to satisfy the sweetest tooth) plus try my satisfying walnut and roasted pepper dip with crudites. Give these to the kids mid-morning to stave off those ‘when’s lunch ready’ cries.
  • And relax. Try to eat at the table together (if you’re not too sick of the sight of each other!) rather than on a tray in front of the TV. Appreciating and enjoying your meal will promote good digestion, key for optimal health. 

Soy, five-spice and orange chicken with little trees   


  • ½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 200g skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into large, bite-sized pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1½ tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Small piece ginger, finely sliced
  • 200g little trees (tenderstem broccoli), any bigger stalks sliced in half lengthways
  • 30g cashews
  • Drizzle of honey

Sprinkle the five-spice powder over the pieces of chicken thigh and season with salt and pepper.

Melt 1 tbsp coconut oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Put the chicken pieces in the pan. Fry for 4 minutes, turning occasionally until nicely browned.

Lower the heat, pour in the soy sauce and half of the orange juice and place a lid on the pan. Cook for a further 4 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the remaining coconut oil in a separate frying pan over a medium to high heat. 

Throw in the sliced ginger and little trees along with the remaining orange juice. Cover, so that the broccoli steams, and cook for 3 minutes, then take off the lid and add the cashews.

Cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes, uncovered, until all the orange juice has evaporated and the little trees are tender.

Take the pan off the heat.

Come back to the chicken. Take off the lid and crank up the heat. Drizzle the chicken pieces with a little honey and cook for 1 minute more until the chicken is sticky and caramelised.

Check the chicken is cooked by slicing into one of the larger pieces — the knife should cut through easily and the meat will have turned from pink to a whitish brown. 

Dish up the chicken and little trees.

Chipolatas in onion gravy with carrot and parsnip mash


  • Olive oil
  • 6-7 pork chipolatas (200g)
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 medium parsnips
  • ½ chicken stock cube
  • 1 tbsp caramelised onion chutney
  • ½ tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 40g butter, cut into cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a frying pan over a medium to high heat. Drizzle in a little olive oil, add the chipolatas. Cook for about 7 minutes, turning regularly with tongs. 

Meanwhile, peel and roughly chop the carrots and parsnips. Put in a microwaveable bowl with 2 tbsp of water. Cover and zap on high for 8 minutes until completely soft.

Bring a kettle of water to the boil. Put the chicken stock cube into a jug, pour in 150ml boiling water and whisk with a fork to dissolve.

Come back to the chipolatas.

Make sure they are cooked through by cutting into one and checking there is no pink meat left. Turn down the heat and pour the chicken stock into the pan around the chipolatas.

Spoon in the caramelised onion chutney and wholegrain mustard.

Use a fork to whisk the chutney and mustard into the stock to create a gravy. Leave to bubble away while you finish the mash.

Carefully uncover the carrots and parsnips. Add the cubed butter along with a good pinch of salt and pepper, and mash roughly.

Pile the mash onto a plate.

Dish up the sausages and caramelised onion gravy.

Turkey and red pepper panang curry 


  • 1 lemongrass stalk, tender white part only, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small shallot, roughly chopped
  • Knob fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ½ red chilli — remove the seeds if you don’t like it hot
  • ½ tsp each cumin and coriander seeds
  • ½ tbsp coconut oil
  • 200g skinless turkey breast fillets, sliced into 1cm strips
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 1 heaped tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • Small handful basil leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the first six ingredients (counting the cumin and coriander seeds as one) into a small food processor with 1 tbsp of water. Blitz to a smooth curry paste. Melt the coconut oil in a wok or large frying pan over a medium to high heat. 

Spoon in the curry paste and cook, stirring almost constantly, for 1 minute, then add the sliced turkey and red pepper. Fry for around 2 minutes, then pour in the coconut milk. Dollop in the peanut butter.

Give everything a good mix, then leave the curry to bubble away for 3 minutes or until the turkey is cooked. Check by slicing into one of the larger pieces to make sure the meat is white all the way through, with no raw pink bits left.

When you are happy that the turkey is cooked, take the curry off the heat, stir through the fish sauce and most of the basil leaves. Season to taste, then pile the curry into a bowl, scattering the remaining basil leaves on top.

Mediterranean halloumi tray bake 


  • 1 medium courgette
  • 100g green beans
  • 1 roasted red pepper from a jar, drained
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp almonds
  • 80g halloumi (¹/³ of a pack)
  • ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat the grill to maximum.

Cut the courgette into diagonal slices and trim the green beans, then slice the roasted red pepper and garlic.

Place everything on a roasting tray and add the whole cherry tomatoes to the mix.

Drizzle over the olive oil, sprinkle with the dried oregano, salt and pepper.

Give everything a good mix, then spread into a single layer and place under the grill for about 5 minutes. While the vegetables are grilling, roughly chop the almonds and slice the halloumi. After 5 minutes, flip the vegetables, then place the halloumi on the tray too.

Scatter over the almonds and drizzle everything with the balsamic vinegar. Slide back under the grill for 5 minutes until the veg is tender and the halloumi is golden.

Elvis pancakes


  • 4 rashers streaky bacon (120g)
  • 2 small, ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 heaped tbsp peanut butter
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • 10g butter
  • Drizzle of maple syrup (optional)

Preheat your grill to maximum.

Lay the bacon rashers on baking tray lined with baking parchment. Slide under the

hot grill.

Cook for about 4 minutes on each side, or until done to your liking.

I like my bacon crispy on the outside but still a little soft.

Meanwhile, using a fork, mash the bananas in a bowl into a rough puree. Crack in the eggs, spoon in 1 tbsp peanut butter and sprinkle in the cinnamon, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Give everything a good stir.

Pancake batter sorted.

Melt the butter in a large nonstick frying pan over a low to medium heat.

Once melted, spoon the batter into the pan to make 4 to 6 pancakes. Fry the pancakes without moving them for 3 minutes on the first side, or until the batter has set, then flip and fry the pancakes for a further minute on the second side. 

While the pancakes are gently frying, mix the remaining peanut butter with ½ tbsp water in a small bowl. This will loosen it, making it easier to drizzle on the pancakes.

Pile the banana pancakes onto a plate. Top with the bacon and drizzle over the peanut butter with a little maple syrup, if you like.

Gobble down, Elvis-style.

Work out YOUR way 

By now you’ve hopefully discovered the incredible benefits of regular exercise — how it can lift your mood, make you feel less stressed, more energised and help you sleep better. The perfect antidote to lockdown.

I’m also hoping that you’ve found physical activities that you enjoy — whether that’s been doing one of my HIIT workouts or going for a power walk around the park, or both!

Whatever it is that grabs your attention, nurture it and let it become a passion — because the key to a long-term, healthy lifestyle is to enjoy what you are doing.

To wrap up this week we’ll finish with some more brilliant HIIT exercises.

Mix them up with yesterday’s if you are up for a challenge.

What are you waiting for? On your marks, get set, GO!

Do each exercise for 40 seconds, rest for 20 then move on to the next. Do 3 rounds in total.


Run up and down on the spot as fast as you can. 

Lift knees high, keep your back straight and pump your arms to accelerate.


Place your hands on your temples. 

As you crunch, try to twist so your opposite elbow touches your opposite knee.


Get down to plank position.

Lift your left leg up and move it to the outside of your left hand. 

Move it back to plank and move your right leg to the outside of the right hand. 



Stand straight. 

Bring one leg behind the other and stretch out your leg diagonally behind you. 

Swing your arms as if you are ice-skating. 

Tap your toe, then jump to swap legs and move your arms in the opposite direction.



Aim to lift your body off the ground and alternate between kicking your foot up to touch your toes. 

Left hand meets right foot and vice versa. 

While you are doing this, try to keep your bum off the floor.

  • Extracted from 30 Day Kick Start Plan by Joe Wicks (Bluebird £18.99). © 2020 Joe Wicks. To order a copy for £14.81 go to www.mailshop. or call 020 3308 9193. Free UK delivery on orders over £15. Promotional price valid until 05/02/2021 

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