London start-up, pollen + grace are busy little bees, delivering natural, great tasting salads, snacks and juice to worker bees across the city. I catch up with founder and foodie Stephanie Johnson to discover the inspiration behind the business – plus we offer you 20% off!

Describe pollen + grace in three words…

Delicious, convenient, beautiful.

How did it all begin and what was your inspiration?

Cultivating a space which is creative, loving and supportive is just as important as making amazing food.

Pollen + grace began in March 2015, out of a love for healthy, delicious food but also due to the lack of fresh, natural food-to-go options available in London. I struggled to find healthy, free-from options and spent a lot of time preparing lunch for the next day – I thought if I have to make it for myself every day, I may as well make it for everyone else, too!

Tell us a bit about the team behind pollen + grace. And did you always want to set up your own business in the food industry?

Stephanie Johnson set up pollen + grace last spring

Stephanie Johnson set up pollen + grace last spring

The pollen + grace team is made up seven permanent staff – four in the kitchen and three in the office. Being a start up, it’s very much all hands on deck! One of the most important parts about setting up the company was to create an environment that we actually enjoyed working in – cultivating a space which is creative, loving and supportive is just as important to us as making amazing food. Personally, I’ve been passionate about food and business as long as I can remember, it was only a matter of time before I combined the two.

How did your first pop up at Old Street in East London go down?

The first pop up was even more of a success than we could’ve hoped! The reaction to the food was amazing and we had a lot of people that came back every day, sometimes more than twice a day! It’s so great to see people seeking out a healthy, natural option over the usual processed stuff available and it was really lovely to finally meet our customers! Post pop-up depression is a real thing.

Where do you source your ingredients?

We are very careful about where we get our ingredients from. We use quality products that are as fresh and sustainable as possible. Our meat is from HG Walters, in our opinion the best butchers in London!

pollen + grace pack their museli bars full to bursting with almonds, chia seeds, cranberries, gluten-free oats, coconut oil (and coconut!), dates and cinnamon

pollen + grace pack their museli bars full to bursting with almonds, chia seeds, cranberries, gluten-free oats, coconut oil (and coconut!), dates and cinnamon

What’s your favourite meal on the menu?

This is definitely the hardest question! Our favourite product is easily our paleo banana bread, but our favourite salad is a tricky one – it changes every day! I think it’s currently the kale + carrot bright box though, it’s the perfect winter salad, and so filling… and that pesto!

Where do you love to eat in London and what’s your favourite street food?

Hard one! My favourite restaurant has got to be Granger & Co, because Australians do food best. And for street food, Broadway Market for sure, there’s so much variety, quality produce and great free-from options too, it’s a Saturday morning staple.

You say you “don’t like diets” – how does the pollen + grace ethos counter diet culture?

We’re really not fans of diets, counting calories is such a waste of time! At pollen + grace we believe that as long as you’re eating wholesome, natural ingredients, there should be no limitations. It’s not about trying to lose weight, it’s about having a happy and healthy body – inside and out. And we also preach the importance of 80/20, yes we love salad and green juice, but it’s perfectly ok to have that glass of wine or tub of ice cream now and then too!

porridge

Coconut porridge with spiced plums

Why did you decide to go the “whole hog” with gluten-, wheat- and dairy-free? 

The gluten-, wheat- and dairy-free came initially from intolerances, I love great-tasting food but couldn’t eat a lot of it any more because of my intolerances, so decided to start making my own! This then lead me to realise just how great you can feel from eating natural foods, which is where the refined-sugar free came in, too.

I love great-tasting food but couldn’t eat a lot of it any more because of my intolerances, so decided to start making my own!

Do you think our diets should be changing to adapt to the modern world?

I definitely think there’s a lot that can be changed with the current diet in the UK – people are eating foods full of preservatives because they’re a quick option on a busy day, but taking a little more time to prep natural food (or letting us do it for you) would give you so much more energy, which is surely more important!

If you could eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?

Peanut butter, or nut butter in general.

Where can we find your products in London if we’re on the go?

We’re currently stocked in all Planet Organic stores across London, as well as the Shoreditch and King’s Cross branches of Frame, Transition Zone, Boom Cycle, The Power Yoga Company, Timberyard (all branches), Orange Pekoe Cafe and Story Coffee with more on the way: watch this space!

mylks

pollen + grace create a selection of delicious “mylks”

Finally, what can we look forward to this year from pollen + grace

Hopefully lots of very exciting things! We definitely want to do another pop up soon, possibly this time in the west or central, and we like to change our menu based on the best produce available at that time of the year, so definitely lots of new meals and products!

A lot of our summer salad favourites will be making a return online and in retail and we’ll switch up the breakfast pots too… we’re thinking along the lines of vanilla and coconut chia pudding with fresh mango compote, and our range of sweet treats is constantly expanding! Currently though, the next place you’ll definitely be able to find us will be London Coffee Festival in April, where we’ll be serving up our entire range!

Reader Offer

Simply quote EATS20 when making your purchase and you’ll receive 20% off pollen + grace online orders. Act quick – offer ends on 29 February 2016!

pollen + grace | Order online Monday to Friday by 10am for same-day delivery, a freshly prepared lunch will arrive at your desk or door by 1pm | Free delivery within areas of West and South West London, to the following post codes: W1, W4, W6, W14, SW1, SW3, SW5, SW6, SW7, SW11, SW18. Pollen + grace can also deliver London-wide with 24 hours notice for a £5 delivery fee.

Photography: Kerry Hopkins
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