5 healthy tactics that trump takeaways

January has killed my (albeit limited) creativity in the kitchen. I’ve been working long hours in the studio and life outside it has been pretty crammed as well. These days, with busy lives, no one wants to get home and cook for hours before they can eat dinner. Especially during winter. This month, I’ve realised it’s crucial to have a few super-fast time cheat dinners in your repertoire.

Having a few healthy recipes in store is a tactic that definitely steers me away from ordering a takeaway.

Time cheat healthy recipes - Lucy Lettersmith

Spicy Chicken & Avocado Wraps

Fry a chopped lean chicken breast, and add chilli, lime and crushed garlic. Squash half an avocado onto a seeded wrap, place some sliced roasted red pepper onto each and then top with the chicken mixture.

Fried Brown Rice with Edamame

Add cooked brown rice to a pan with two tablespoons of vegetable oil and heat through for a minute. Stir in two large eggs until cooked, and then add coleslaw mix, edamame, soy sauce and chilli-garlic sauce. Serve topped with peanuts and cilantro.

Prawns with Tomatoes and Olives

Cook 10 oz of couscous according to packet instructions. Meanwhile, pan fry a chopped onion before adding a can of chopped tomatoes, green olives, ½ cup of white wine, salt and pepper. Add the cooked prawns and cover for four to five minutes. Serve on a bed of couscous.

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Baby Broad Beans with Chorizo

Cook broad beans in salted water for two minutes and then drain. Fry chorizo and the drained broad beans in a little oil until the chorizo is crisp and the beans are covered in spicy oil. Serve with bread.

Tortellini Casserole

Gently boil prepared tortellini of your choosing for four minutes. Meanwhile, fry garlic, red onion and shiitake mushrooms before adding one large chopped tomato. Add cream and then place this on top of the boiled tortellini in a baking dish. Cover with mozzarella and Parmesan and bake for a few moments to brown the cheese.

http://www.10-minutemeals.com/chicken-2/tortellini-casserole/ - as featured on Lucy Lettersmith

How to know if your hashtag has purpose

Hashtags are like Marmite: you either love them or hate them. Whatever your opinion, they should be an essential part of your social media strategy.

Hashtags are largely perceived as youthful, informal and occasionally humorous, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them if that doesn’t fit your brand. Youth-orientated brands may choose to use them more liberally to relate to their audience, whilst other brands may only use a few select hashtags when relevant to get more impressions on their posts.

#Hashtag effectively - Lucy Lettersmith

Think carefully about how hashtags fit with your brand’s tone of voice and, if you have a social media manager, make sure you communicate this with them. It also depends on which social media platform you’re using. Here are my top tips for using hashtags effectively across Twitter and Instagram:


Due to the character limitation, it’s usually only possible to use one hashtag in a tweet. Try to keep any hashtags you create short to make it easier for others to use.

Try finding brand-relevant conversations with potential followers through hashtags and join in by using it too. Look at your competitors’ feeds to see which hashtags they use that are popular. This is a great way to share your expertise on a subject. However, only use generic hashtags and be careful not to infringe on a hashtag created by another brand as this can be seen as rude and a conflict of interest.


The quickest and easiest way to get ‘likes’ on your photos on Instagram is by using hashtags. Instagram allows you to use up to 30 on any one picture. Most common nouns and geographical locations are likely to attract visitors to your post.

However, the majority of accounts who find and like your posts through a hashtag won’t follow your account. As such, they aren’t very valuable engagements and it can be seen as tacky or ‘desperate’ to use a lot of hashtags to gain ‘likes’.

To be more discrete with your hashtags, submit them in a separate comment underneath the caption of your photo. This still works the same and makes your posts look neater.

5 (smoother) ways to overcome the January blues

Ailments kicking about in your system this winter? There’s a smoothie that can help you with that. I love smoothies. As well as satisfying my sweet tooth, they give me a real energy boost if I’m feeling particularly run down. Here are my favourites that are seeing me through the January blues.

Winter smoothie recipes - Lucy Lettersmith

1. Warm mango smoothie bowl

Let’s start off with something totally different – this smoothie is not a smoothie as you know it (it’s warm and comes in a bowl), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious! It also contains two servings of vegetables and some sensational spices to give it that kick you need to get you through the colder days.

2. Winter warming smoothie

This winter smoothie mixes it up – in the best possible way! The fibre, healthy fats and warming spices keep you going in the coldest of temperatures. The coconut milk and coconut oil both contain lauric acid, which helps to boost the immune system. I find this a great one for fending off any nasty winter bugs – I pop its ingredients in the blender as soon as the cold/flu feeling hits and it usually does the trick.

3. Apple pie smoothie

When it comes to winter comfort food, can anything really beat apple pie? Well, I’ve certainly been giving it a try with this smoothie! It’s a bit of a twist on the classic dessert, with added cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla extract (all of which contribute to physical wellness). I often add an extra dash of ginger for a bit more of a kick to the immune system.

4. Banana nut smoothie

Nuts are a great source of protein, something you need a great deal of during the colder winter months. Add some oats and vanilla protein powder to the mix and you’ll be raring to go – plus, it’s absolutely delicious!

Beat the January blues with a smoothie recipe - Lucy Lettersmith

5. Carrot cake smoothie

If carrot cake is your favourite, you can’t really go wrong with this fabulous smoothie. I’m loving smoothies that taste like desserts at the moment (great if you’re on a health kick and avoiding puddings!), and this one is perfect for beating the January blues as it’s packed full of goodness. To lighten the calories, you can opt to use coconut water instead of non-dairy milk.


Basic social media statistics every business needs to know

Familiar with Facebook? Is your business getting stuck into other social media platforms, such as Instagram and Pinterest? Taking the first leap into the social media whirlpool can be a bit scary – especially if it’s something you aren’t used to and you’re using it to represent your business online.


Even though all professionals and businesses should be on LinkedIn for networking purposes, it isn’t a time-consuming social medial platform. Thankfully you only need to check-in occasionally, instead, focus on the platforms that will generate both business and interest, such as…


Great for those in female-focused businesses, such as fashion, design, jewellery, travel and photography. Users of Pinterest are predominantly women and 70% of them say they use the site to help them decide what to buy.


This is the social media site that everyone is on – but there are ways to get noticed. Firstly, short posts with photos generate a lot more interest than long text. Posting on Thursdays and Fridays attracts more attention, and asking a question doubles the amount of interest a post receives.


News, marketing and sports businesses do well because they can provide the ‘in-the-moment’ posts that are great for Twitter. If you can be the go-to source for developments in your sector, this will generate interest in your brand.


Great for image-friendly businesses including fashion, luxury brands, food, retail and restaurants. Users are predominantly in the 18-29 age group so anyone wanting to target that audience should post items at evenings and weekends.

You may feel that you don’t have the time, or resources, to maintain your business presence on every available social media site. The best thing to do is decide which social media platforms pair up best with your business. When you have done this, concentrate on presenting yourself well on them so that you can engage effectively with your audience.

How to hire a best-fit social media manager

Looking to outsource social media for your business? To hire a best-fit social media manager, start your search close to home. In short, ask your peers.

Fact is, people like to use a product or service that’s been endorsed by someone they trust. It’s a great way to ensure you’re hiring someone who’ll be a great fit for your business. (It works both ways too; over 80% of my  business is via client recommendations. Generally it’s a winner; nice people = great clients – and they tend to hang out together in the same circles!)

Owners of small to medium businesses understand how outsourcing works, and that freelance contractors regularly maintain more than one client. As such, (unless they’re your closest competitors!) many business owners will actually recommend the best of the best to you, knowing you will return the favour in some way when the time comes.

So…just ask!

If the ‘endorsement’ route for hiring a best-fit social media manager is proving a dead-end, you can also put the word out—and specifically ask for recommendations:

At local business organisation meetings.

Within niche-specific forums or membership sites you belong to.

Within closed Facebook business groups you belong to.

From your business coach or mentor.

Failing this, spend some time researching possible candidates on Google. (Hint: Look for websites rather than people).

A social media management website can allow you to check out criteria without the need for initial contact first. You can check out rate cards, look at portfolios to see if that person or company is a good fit, and read—and check out—testimonials.

When you are finally ready to contact that person or company, you will have a clear picture of what to expect and how much to budget monthly.

Social media management companies abound online—and fit almost every budget and company size. If you are going to go with a company that specialises strictly in social media, you will want to match the size of your budget, company and goals to the scope offered by the social media management company. (For example, if you’ve only just been in business a couple of years and you typically make about four thousand pounds a month, you can pretty much bet that a company who charges a flat fee of three thousand a month is too much fire-power for the way you operate: they are looking for larger celebrity marketers or bigger brands.)

Hire a best-fit social media manager - Infographic by Lucy Lettersmith

Hire a best-fit social media manager for your business – Infographic by Lucy Lettersmith

In order to hire a best-fit social media manager, look for a goal-oriented approach when you’re interviewing. If your candidate talks about nothing but traffic, traffic, traffic (or engagement, engagement, engagement), then keep looking: Traffic is just one part of what a social media manager’s role involves.

If he/she talks about goals, sit up and pay attention. You may have a winner!

Remember, this person is going to be your voice on social media—so make sure he/she understands what you are all about to your followers and subscribers.

How to hire a best-fit social media manager -2 top tips by Lucy Lettersmith