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Stalked: Zoe King, Founder PO-TEN-CY
21 March 2017
About 4 years ago I was forced to take a medical problem I had into my own hands after every doctor had no idea how to treat it, the problem become so bad that I started searching the internet for an answer, sure enough something which has been in the press a lot kept popping up; sugar! I put myself on a diet of no sugar (at all) for 3 months and sure enough everything cleared up and I have never suffered from it since, but from then on I’ve always tried to keep my sugar intake to a low but when it comes to that 3pm slump you kind of need something to accompany that cup of tea that will make you feel a little bit naughty!! Therefore, when the new brand PO-TEN-CY popped up on my instagram feed with their stunning imagery of mouth watering healthy goodies that are made for you and delivered to your office, I couldn’t quite believe how much of a good idea this was. Before I knew it my credit card details were entered, pressed ‘order’, and my healthy energy balls were being made for me and on the way to the office. Delicious doesn’t come near to how good these treats are.. there was only one thing left to do, get the lovely founder of PO-TEN-CY on the blog!!
Although every shoot I do is fun, I have to admit this probably was one of the best, apart from that fact that Zoe came with a whole bag of goodies to keep up going, being a cook myself it was lovely to chat with a chef who shared the same loves as me and it was all healthy !!
Why did you decide to start your own brand of healthy treats and what's next?
I began working as a private chef four years ago, although you could say I was born into the industry as my parents were restaurateurs. I was taught the importance of food and it's provenance from a young age.
When I had my son, I took more of an interest in holistic nutrition: nourishing both him and myself with the most natural food available to us. When he was assessed for a condition a couple of years ago, my first reaction was to see how we could manage it with his diet, and we cut out several food types that are known to exacerbate it. It made a huge difference to his life, and made me realise that food really can be used as medicine.
During this time, I was preparing detoxes for my private clients, catering for events and running other people's food businesses. I decided to take everything I had learnt and start out on my own. I've always relished projects and opportunities that give me creative control – how better to do that than going it alone?
In regards to business model, I chose healthy snack delivery as it’s a corner of the wellness market that I believe has been overlooked thus far. So many people in offices take in or order a healthy salad for lunch, but slip up when the biscuits and cakes are passed around during the 3pm afternoon slump. It’s quite difficult to organize a stash of snacks for the whole week – a delivery makes it easy to stay on track, for the whole office team.
In terms of business, I'd like to see po-ten-cy rivalling some of the lunch time delivery traders in regards to sales and reach.
Another market I’d like to focus on is kid’s snacking. The PO-TEN-CY family box that has proved really popular in offices was actually designed for family use! I have a real passion for kid’s nutrition, which is how this all started. I’d love to develop a range of snacks specifically focused towards children. We’ve come a long way in the last few years and there are better offerings in the supermarkets – but I don’t think we’re there just yet.
I’d like to have the demand to warrant a small team of people hand making PO-TEN-CY snacks from a permanent site. One of my long term dreams is to be able to move this into more of a social enterprise and to train people to work in the kitchen who wouldn't necessarily be able to find work easily elsewhere - specifically people with learning and developmental disabilities. I firmly believe that with the whole equality discussion we've overlooked (and the government continues to overlook) a group of highly valuable citizens with amazing skill sets and minds that the kitchen, with it’s methodical environment, is a great setting for.
Besides all of this, I’d love to direct more focus on my plant based cookery courses, pop up events, and event catering – all of which have been popular so far. Busy times ahead….
What's your favourite snack?
My favourite snack is an energy ball or raw granola bar, from our range – particularly the new Orange, Cinnamon + Tahini Cashew Ball – just the right mix of salty and sweet. When I fancy something savoury, I love our smoky raw activated trail mix. I’m also a sucker for dip. My go to used to be Living Foods raw rainforest hummus, which almost brought me to tears when I found out it had been discontinued. I found a great substitute from Chic-P hummus, an awesome social enterprise using leftover veg to make amazing dips. Their beetroot & horseradish hummus is great for dunking with a nice big leaf of kale. I go through 2 – 3 tubs a week!
I persuaded the lovely Zoe to share with us one of her killer energy ball recipes..
Orange, Cinnamon + Tahini Energy Ball
350g Medjool Dates, pitted
2 Oranges, zested
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 pinch Himalayan Pink Salt
3 tbsp Tahini
50g Black Sesame Seeds
50g White Sesame Seeds
1 scoop SunWarrior Vegan Protein Powder (optional)
Blitz the cashew nuts in a food processor for 5 - 10 seconds until finely chopped, but not powdery. Place in a bowl.
Place the pitted medjool dates, Orange zest, Himalayan pink salt and vanilla in the food processor and blitz until sticky. If you've chosen to add protein powder, add 2 tbsp of water at this point and blend again.
Transfer the date mixture to a bowl and using your hands, mix in the cinnamon and Tahini.
Incorporate the nuts with your hands, testing the mixture to see if it's moist enough. You want to be able to form a small ball that sticks together and holds. Add the protein powder if you're happy with the consistency
Weigh 25g balls on digital scales, and place on a tray lined with cling film or parchment.
Place the black and white sesame seeds in a bowl.
Roll the balls in your hands to get them nice and sticky, and roll them around in the sesame bowl to coat.
Place your balls back on the tray, cover with cling film and refrigerate to harden.
Transfer to a Tupperware. The energy balls will keep refrigerated for 7 - 10 days.
Where do you sweat, eat and shop in London?
I sweat on my living room floor every morning at 5am when I get up to practice yoga. With a 7 year old, I don’t get much time for classes these days. I relish the first hour of the day that I have to myself to prepare my mind for the day. Most days I also run back from the school drop off to get a bit of cardio in and build up a sweat.
I love the Good Life Eatery for breakfast, Nama or Wildfood café for casual lunches, the Modern Pantry for weekend (bottomless!) brunch and Brunswick House for dinner.
I'm not a big shopper for workout gear. I have a pair of amazing Sweaty Betty zero gravity leggings that hold me in in all the right places, and are chic enough for the school run. Apart from that I'm happiest in my battered old Nike shorts and a crop top to practice yoga at home and to play rugby in - with the addition of a t shirt for the latter!
How do you recover after a workout?
With a PO-TEN-CY energy ball of course!
In all seriousness, I get quite hungry after a run, so I'll wind down with a few yoga sequences then make a Protein Smoothie with spinach, Rude Health Almond Milk, banana, nut butter, maca, and sunwarrior vegan protein powder. I get fatigued quite easily and as a vegetarian (mainly vegan) it’s super important to keep my protein levels up.
Five items you can't live without?
1. My son. An endless supply of inspiration and hilarity.
2. Music. I have a playlist that I listen to whilst I work filled with my favourite artists. Everything from the Stones, Tom Misch, Bonobo, Fleetwood Mac, but mainly featuring my favourite band, Hiatus Kaiyote. There is, and should be, always time for a dance break.
3. My MagiMix food processor. It’s hot pink and ridiculously large. It’s the one indispensable item in my kitchen – there’s nothing it can’t do. I’ve proposed, several times.
4. Gin. Or Espresso Martinis. Or a good Biodynamic Red Wine.
5. Yoga, to keep my balance.