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We regularly publish some great healthy living tips, new recipes and other Prune tidbits on our blog

A hearty winter one-pot, just perfect for cooler days.

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, November 22, 2017

You can never have too many mid-week wonders, one-pot meals up your sleeve and our Spiced Braised Beef with Chickpeas, Prunes and Kale is one such wonder! This versatile dish is sure to become a firm family favourite but spruced up with a few sophisticated sides, it makes a tasty dinner party dish, too!

Ingredients

900g beef stew meat, 1 1/2" cubes
2 1/2 tsp salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
120ml red wine
1 can (400g) chopped tomatoes
240ml water
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp garam masala
1 can (400g) chickpeas, drained
100g SUNSWEET prunes, halved
1 bunch lacinato kale, thinly sliced, thick stems removed
1 tsp red wine vinegar
800g cooked Israeli couscous, for serving

Instructions

  1. Season meat with 1 tsp salt and pepper and place in large, deep sauce pan or Dutch oven. Scatter butter, carrots and garlic on top; drizzle with olive oil. Turn heat to medium-high, cook without stirring for 12–15 minutes to sear the meat.
  2. Pour in wine, raise heat to high; cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, water, bay leaves, cinnamon, garam masala and remaining 1/2 tsp salt; bring to a boil. Lower to gentle simmer, cover and let cook, stirring occasionally for 35 minutes.
  4. Remove lid, stir in chickpeas. Cover and simmer for 1 5 minutes. Uncover, remove cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Stir in prunes, kale and vinegar. Simmer until meat is tender when pierced with a fork, 10–15 minutes.
  5. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving, allowing flavors to meld. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with couscous.

On Darker Days, Shine a Light on Emotional Wellbeing

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, November 22, 2017

It’s always important to be mindful of your mental health but never more so than when the days get shorter and gloomier. During the winter months, it can be hard to overcome the temptation to grind to a halt, physically. And inactivity, for a prolonged period of time, can throw everything off kilter: from our mood, to the digestion of our food and everything in-between.


Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – also known colloquially as the winter blues – is a recognised condition. A key symptom of SAD is a low mood that worsens as winter progresses but other symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Feelings of lethargy
  • Craving stodgy food and thus gaining weight

It’s always worthwhile seeking medical advice if you feel like you’re struggling to cope with day-to-day activities. But lifestyle adjustments – although sometimes difficult to implement when your energy levels are low – can help with the management of symptoms, too. It’s important to get as much sunlight as possible, for example, and to take positive steps toward managing your stress levels.

The impact of stress on digestion

Stress can be as bad for your body as it is for your head and can exacerbate a range of symptoms including poor appetite and tummy troubles. Digestion is a super-sensitive process, all too easily compromised by the stresses and strains of contemporary living. It’s the body’s way of breaking down food, a normal bodily function about which most of us never give a moment’s thought. But when the digestive system gets out of step, the entire body can feel its unwelcome effects. It can cause emotional issues, like anxiety, and physical issues, like bloating, reflux, constipation and diarrhoea. In these super-busy times, stress can feel almost inevitable. It’s worthwhile having a few tried and trusted techniques to hand, for when the pressure starts to mount. Practice mindfulness, walk with a friend, enjoy a soak in the bath, cook a delicious and healthy meal for you and a loved one to enjoy – whatever helps you to relax!

Lifestyle tweaks

After a long day, it can be hard to find the energy to eat well. But grabbing something convenient that’s low in nutrition may leave you with even lower energy levels – a vicious circle. Why not see if, with a little advance-planning, you can break that cycle? Rustle up some soups and stews in batches so that you can simply warm them up. Compile a list of a few temptingly tasty one-pot recipes. That way, you can prep dinner, pop it in the oven and then wrap up warm and buzz out for a quick walk while it’s cooking. The combination of fresh air and the increased oxygen levels that follow exercise helps to release serotonin, the feel-good chemical. Now that’s what we call a win-win!

Please Note: Prunes are good for digestion and help keep you regular, when 100g are eaten as part of a varied and balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Always consult a GP if you have any health concerns.

A warm and comforting brekkie with the feel-good factor, no fat-laden breakfast butties, here!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, November 16, 2017

Our warm poached prunes with yogurt make a wonderfully comforting and satisfying morning dish – just perfect as part of a relaxed, weekend brunch. The whole family will love this sweet and creamy dish. And it makes a lovely sweet-treat to complete a mid-week dinner, too – delicious!

Ingredients

8 ready-to-eat Prunes
100ml Prune juice
1 cup of strong tea (I love Redbush tea)
Zest of an orange
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
200g natural yoghurt

Instructions

  1. Place all of the ingredients, except for the yoghurt, in a heavy-based pan, place over a high heat, and bring to the boil.
  2. Reduce the heat, cover, and leave to simmer for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave to cool.
  3. Divide the yoghurt between two bowls. Scoop out the prunes with a slotted spoon and place half on top of each helping of yoghurt.
  4. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of the fragrant liquid, and eat immediately.

Healthy Hacks for Winter Snacks

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, November 09, 2017

No matter what your age or life-stage, life is busy. And snacking is just an everyday part of our busy, contemporary lives. Although many of us will eat more snacks over the course of a day than we realise, there’s nothing inherently wrong with snacking. Of course, overeating – no matter what food you plump for - is likely to result in weight gain. But there’s evidence to suggest that nutritious snacks can – and indeed should – form part of a healthy balanced diet.


Choosing healthy snacks can help to manage hunger, in the short-term, and reduce the likelihood of bingeing at mealtimes. Nourishing and warming snacks can give our bodies a much-needed boost on dark and cold days. In cold and flu season, immune-system boosting nutrition is more important than ever. And for children – who tend to shoot up suddenly - it’s important to fuel growth spurts with nutritious food choices. Children have smaller stomachs than adults, though, meaning that they feel fuller quicker and so snacking can be a good way to meet those extra nutritional needs. The trick is to choose snacks that can kick hunger into touch while, at the same time, being nutritionally beneficial and keeping calorie counts low.

So how can that be done?

When hunger strikes, it’s all too easy to grab whatever is to hand. And if it’s chocolate bars and packets of crisps that are to hand, it can be extremely difficult to resist temptation. But foodstuffs that are high in sugar, saturated fat and salt can - over time - lead to health problems like heart attacks, strokes and diabetes.

Fruit has an important role to play in healthy snacking. And dried fruit like prunes – with their lengthy shelf-life - can offer a tasty, convenient and healthy choice.

Portion control is important when making between-meals choices, try to limit snacks to about 100 calories. Enjoyed straight from the pack, four Sunsweet prunes make a deliciously sweet treat.

When choosing drinks, try to consider their health benefits, too. Hot chocolate is a lovely, warming treat but warm fruit-juice based drinks can be just as satisfying and pack a nutritious punch, too. We have a lovely selection on our website.

For perfectly portable, flavour-packed treats that the whole family will love, why not hop over to YouTube and check out our video for a step-by-step guide to making Energy Balls?

And did you know?

Prunes have a low Glycaemic Index (GI) of 29, which means that their sugar is released relatively slowly on digestion, helping to avoid the "rush-and-slump" that can be associated with other snacks.

Please Note: Prunes are good for digestion and help keep you regular, when 100g are eaten as part of a varied and balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Always consult a GP if you have any health concerns.

The part prunes play in maintaining a healthy weight

Posted by Sunsweet - Monday, October 23, 2017

Obesity is a growing issue, now, with both adults and kids being heavier than ever. Sobering stats from the Health and Social Care Information Centre have been reported on the NHS website: almost a quarter of adults are obese and more than 60% are either overweight or obese. The results of being overweight aren’t just aesthetic, excess weight has been linked to a greater propensity for illnesses like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. But it’s never too late to take positive steps around weight management.


Manage your stress levels

Studies show that stress has an adverse impact on our food preferences: when the going gets tough, we tend to make unhealthy food choices. When we’re stressed, we also sleep less, exercise less and drink more alcohol. All of which are bad news from a weight-management and general health point-of-view.

Researchers at Harvard University offer a trio of common-sense tips for countering stress:

  • Meditation: The practice will help you to become more mindful of your moods and better able to make healthy food choices.
  • Exercise: Activities like yoga and tai chi combine exercise and meditation – a win-win!
  • Social support: A listening ear, when you need to offload, from a supportive member of your network of contacts – choose that ear wisely, it could be a friend, a family member or colleague – can also help to alleviate the symptoms of stress.

Love your prunes!

Prunes are sweet, tasty and versatile – whether eaten straight from the pack or as a flavourful addition to a favourite recipe. But did you know that eating them might help with weight loss, too?

A study at Liverpool University discovered that eating 140-170g prunes daily - as part of a weight control diet - may contribute towards weight loss. That’s because prunes are a fruit and thus lower in energy density than some other snacks making them a convenient and healthy choice.

The study of 100 people tested whether - over a 3-month period - eating the fruit boosted weight loss. The findings were that the prune eaters experienced greater satiety – they felt fuller – and greater weight loss than the control group. Dr Jo Harrold, who led the research, said: "Prunes may be beneficial to dieters by tackling hunger and satisfying appetite; a major challenge when you are trying to maintain weight loss." Yet another reason to fall in love with the humble prune!

Don’t skip meals!

When you’re trying to control your weight, skipping meals – like breakfast - can be all too tempting. Don’t! Skipping meals can lead to reduced energy, making physical activity feel like a challenge too far. And allowing yourself to get too hungry can lead to overeating, at your next meal. Get your day off to a good start and make friends with brekkie.

Please Note: Prunes are good for digestion and help keep you regular, when 100g are eaten as part of a varied and balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Always consult a GP if you have any health concerns.

Simply-prepared, hearty and healthy – stews are the stars of autumn!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, October 12, 2017

Hearty stews are one of the highlights of autumn and our tasty Beef Stew with Prunes offers a fruity twist on the more classic stew flavours. Warming, nutritious and downright delicious, our hearty stew is sure to be a hit with the whole family. Why not make a double batch and freeze in single-serve portions?

Ingredients

2 tbs ground nut oil
600g boneless beef, cut into large chunks, ask your butcher to prepare
2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed and diced
600 ml beef stock
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
12 ready-to-eat Prunes, halved

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325f / 170c / gas 3
  2. Place a large, oven-proof, casserole pot over a medium heat, add the oil, and when hot quickly sear all the beef pieces, stirring and turning to brown each side. When browned, remove the beef from the pan with a slotted spoon and keep to one side.
  3. Add the onion and carrots to the pan, add a splash of the stock then cover and leave to sautee in the stock over the medium heat – about 5-7 minutes (check every few minutes to ensure they are not burning and stir as necessary). Turn the heat to high, then add the tomatoes, stirring well, then leave to simmer for a minute.
  4. Next add half the parsley and the rest of the stock, give it a stir, and add the beef back. Bring to the boil, then cover and pop into the hot oven. After 45 minutes, add the prunes, then return to the oven for another 45 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle with the remainder of the fresh parsley, and serve. This dish can really work with a crunchy green salad. The salad does not need a dressing as the juice from the stew is so filled with flavour.

Love your bones – with a little help from Sunsweet!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, October 05, 2017

World Osteoporosis Day (WOD) takes place in October, each year. And the campaign call this year is for people, of all ages, to “Love Your Bones: Protect Your Future”. Osteoporosis is a growing problem, globally, and sufferers can be affected by an array of life-limiting symptoms. But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are lots of simple steps that can be taken to help protect our bones.


Beautiful bones!

Most of us pay very little attention to our bones. And yet they provide us with strength, protect our bodies and help us carry out everyday tasks. Did you know that bones are a living tissue, continually growing and changing? They become most dense in our early twenties but then the density starts to reduce making it important to be mindful about bone health, throughout our lives.

Signs of osteoporosis

A first fracture - most commonly affecting the hips, spine or wrists – can often be one of the first signs of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis affects one in three women and one in five men aged 50 years and over. The condition causes bones to weaken and thus break more easily and can lead to serious pain and even long-term disability. Following a hip fracture, for example, only 40% of survivors return to their pre-fracture walking ability and because walking is an important weight-bearing exercise – crucial for bone health – this can exacerbate the condition. In severe cases, even sudden movements – like sneezing – can start to cause problems.

Hints and tips

The WOD’s official website offers the following five tips for healthy bones and a fracture-free future:

  1. Get regular exercise: Strengthening and weight-bearing exercises – like good old walking – are excellent options.
  2. Eat well: Ensure your diet includes plenty of bone-healthy nutrients like calcium and vitamin D. Snacking on nuts or dried fruit can help. And did you know that prunes contain vitamin K and manganese that - among other functions - have direct benefits for bone health?
  3. Cut out unhealthy habits: If you’re still overeating, smoking or drinking excessively, get the help you need and stop.
  4. Assess your osteoporosis risk: If it’s high, you might need prescription medication to protect you.
  5. And if you suspect that you’re high risk? Ask your doctor to run some tests so that you can get the treatment you need.

The role of prunes

Prunes provide a number of nutrients that contribute – in different ways - to bone health:

  • Vitamin K supports the maintenance of normal bones and helps with blood clotting.
  • Manganese also supports the maintenance of normal bones and helps form normal connective tissue (a structural part of bones).
  • Vitamin B6 helps make healthy blood cells and maintain normal hormone levels.
  • Copper helps support normal iron transport in the body and also helps maintain normal connective tissues.

If you’d like to know more, why not check out our Serve Up Bone Strength fact sheet?

Please Note: Prunes are good for digestion and help keep you regular, when 100g are eaten as part of a varied and balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Always consult a GP if you have any health concerns.

Our Fruit Cake with Dried Prunes is perfect for unexpected visitors

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, September 28, 2017

Home-baking, you really can’t beat it. Our Fruit Cake with Dried Prunes is a super-versatile bake. Studded with walnuts and cranberries and flavoured with honey and ginger, it’s delicious eaten warm, straight from the oven, as a teatime treat. But it’s scrummy toasted and buttered – as an extra-special breakfast - too.

Ingredients

250 g Sunsweet prunes
4 tablespoons water (or rum)
500 g flour
2 small packets instant dry yeast
100 g butter, softened
2 medium eggs
80 g sugar
2 tablespoons honey
4 level teaspoons ginger spice mix
125 ml milk (room temperature)
50 g walnuts
80 g whole dried cranberries
2 tablespoons flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 160° C . Puree prunes with water.
  2. Mix flour and yeast. Add butter, eggs, sugar, honey, ginger, milk and prune puree. Mix all together with a hand mixer until dough is smooth. Cover dough and let rise at warm room temperature for about 45 min.
  3. Chop the walnuts and mix with prunes, cranberries and flour. Stir dough on floured surface, flatten and spread the plum mix on it. Fold the dough with prune and the mix well, make sure that the fruits are covered with the dough. Shape dough oblong shape and put into a well greased square baking pan (12” long). Let rise again for 45min.
  4. Bake the fruit cake for approx. 45-50 minutes

The benefits of a well-stocked store cupboard

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, September 21, 2017

When you’re trying to make healthy choices around food, a little advance planning can go a long way. With a well-stocked fridge and store-cupboard and a repertoire of tasty, healthy and simple-to-prepare dishes up your sleeve, you won’t go too far wrong!


Temptation can be so hard to resist – especially when you’re feeling both tired and hungry. And that’s where healthy snacking comes into its own. Factoring in small snacks between meals can help to keep your appetite in check, your hunger satisfied, and help you to make healthier mealtime choices. Try to have a few healthy, grab-and-go options close to hand. Dried fruit – like SUNSWEET prunes - can be stashed in your desk drawer, your bag or your car’s glovebox so that you’re never too far away from a tasty treat.

Meals that Matter

Breakfast

It’s often described as the most important meal of the day. But it’s a meal that – when you’re up against it, time-wise – can all too often get skipped. Smoothies are the perfect solution for a speedy and nutrition-packed breakfast. Check out our recipe ideas for flavour combos that will suit the faddiest of eaters. And – if you’re really pushed for time – decant your smoothie into a travel cup and sip it on the run.

Lunch

Soup really is the ultimate lunch. Choose your recipe wisely and it’ll go a long way towards your 5-a-day. And, if you’ve a fussy eater in the family, soup can be buzzed super-smooth to surreptitiously deliver those nutrient-packed veggies. Why not take a look at our recipe pages? Most of our soups can be kept in the fridge for a few days or can even be frozen, for another time. Making friends with batch-cooking can be a great way to ensure that a healthy family meal is only ever a matter of minutes away.

Dinner

For mid-week meals, one-pot recipes really come into their own. You could prep the meal together, as a family, to boost that sense of connectedness. The tiniest of tots can wash veg, at the kitchen sink. And then - once your meal is prepped and popped into the oven – you’ll have a nice big chunk of quality time to enjoy together while the enticing aroma of dinner surrounds you.

Bon appetit!

Why not give prunes a go?

Did you know that prunes are surprisingly versatile? They can be used to add a nutritious boost to a variety of family meals - sweet and savoury – and their flavour adds both depth and richness. Try some of our delicious recipes!

Please Note: Prunes are good for digestion and help keep you regular, when 100g are eaten as part of a varied and balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Always consult a GP if you have any health concerns.

A balanced meal in a bowl. Warming, nutritious, substantial, delicious!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, September 14, 2017

There’s something so satisfying about a bowl of delicious soup. And our Moroccan Carrot, Lentil and Prune Soup is no exception. The soup can be pureed – perfect for picky eaters! - but it’s a more substantial bowlful if the veg is left chunky. A spicy and warming dish that’s just perfect for autumn.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried coriander
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cinnamon powder
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3 medium-sized carrots, peeled, trimmed and diced
150g dried red lentils
100g ready-to-eat Prunes, roughly chopped
400g can chopped tomatoes
600 ml vegetable or chicken stock
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tbsp chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the rapeseed oil over a medium heat. Add the onions, stir well to coat in oil, and reduce heat to low. Cover and leave to soften – about 7 minutes.
  2. Add all the spices and increase the heat slightly.
  3. Stir well, then leave for a minute or so to cook, before stirring well again.
  4. Add the carrot and the garlic, stir to cover in the spices, then reduce the heat and cover, and leave for 5 minutes to soften.
  5. Check after a couple of minutes, and if they are starting to stick to the bottom of the pan add a splash of water to loosen.
  6. Add the lentils and the prunes, mix well, then stir in the tomatoes.
  7. Bring to the boil, then add the stock and stir well to mix. Increase the heat until the soup starts to bubble, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer until all the vegetables are soft and the lentils have softened and collapsed - about 30 minutes.
  8. Stir through the coriander, parsley, and lemon juice, then taste, and season with salt and pepper as necessary.
  9. Ladle into warmed soup bowls and serve immediately.

Note: this soup can be pureed but it’s more of a meal left chunky.