Serving you with

the freshest news
Sunsweet is an agricultural cooperative

Sunsweet Prunes

Blog

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

Are you beach body ready?

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, June 22, 2017

Beach body ready. It’s a phrase that can strike fear into the hearts of the best of us! So, what’s the skinny? Are crash diets a no-no? The jury may still be out on crash diets. So is there a less drastic and more long-term approach that we can take?


Do crash diets work?

The jury is out on crash diets. One study of 200 obese adults, published in The Lancet, found that although crash-dieters did lose weight, the approach can be dangerous. That’s because it’s tricky to get all of the nutrients that the body needs when you significantly reduce food intake. So, this summer, why not take a less drastic and more long-term view?

Is there a different approach?

Overeating of any kind is likely to lead to weight gain. But research from Liverpool University suggests that eating 140-170g prunes daily, as part of a weight control diet, may have a positive contribution to weight loss.

Whether you’re at a music festival, having a picnic, on-the-road with the family or just going about your daily business, snacking is an inevitable part of contemporary life. It goes without saying that unhealthy snacks like crisps, biscuits and fizzy drinks should be limited to being an occasional treat. But there is evidence to suggest that nutritious snacks can – and indeed should – form part of a healthy balanced diet.

What’s the science on snacking?

According to the Mayo Clinic, choosing healthy snacks can help to manage hunger and reduce the likelihood of bingeing at mealtimes. The trick is to choose snacks that are satisfying, nutritionally beneficial and relatively low in calories. Because prunes are a fruit - and so lower in energy density than many other snacking options – they can make a convenient, healthy choice when consumed as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.

Why do we overeat?

Experts in psychology tend to agree that there can be a range of complex, emotional issues behind our propensity to overeat. Learning to tune in to your body and to identify what acts as a trigger for you may be enough for you to make the adjustments needed to reach a healthy weight and to stick to it, long term.

  1. Reason #1 You’re constantly on the runWhen life is busy and you’re regularly eating on-the-hoof - grabbing what you can, when you can – your eating patterns can end up muddled. You may not be able to remember the last time you sat down for a proper meal. But day-long snacking can prove surprisingly calorific! Try to take a more mindful approach. Plan ahead so you’ve got a more inspiring store-cupboard. Have a repertoire of recipes for simply-prepared dishes up your sleeve. And promise yourself that – from now on - you’ll take a little time out of your day to enjoy your meals.

  2. Reason #2 You’re craving something other than food

    Maybe you’re tired or stressed or both – it’s not uncommon with our hectic lifestyles, after all! Try to be aware of what’s going on for you. If you’re in need of comfort, try not to make food your first port of call. Call a friend. Get outside for a stroll. Give yourself a hand massage. Sometimes a little TLC can go a long way towards filling that gap.

Have a happy and healthy summer!

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 Chorizo, Prawn and Prune skewers are a snazzy dish, just perfect for parties!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, June 15, 2017

When it comes to summer BBQ dishes, it can be nice to ring the changes. Our Chorizo, Prawn and Prune skewers are really easy to make but will add a touch of sophistication to your table. The skewers are perfect as an appetiser but – with a selection of salads – they’re substantial enough to serve as a main, too!

Ingredients

1 sweet potato (approx. 250 g)
Salt
175 g cream cheese
1 tbsp. Tahini
2-3 tbsp. lemon juice
¼ - ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
8 big prawns (for example tiger prawns, approx. 200 g)
2 tbsp. olive oil
100 g soft chorizo (Spanish sausage with peppers)
12 g Sunsweet prunes
Additional: 4 wooden skewers

Instructions

  1. Peel and cube the sweet potato for the dip. Boil in 100 ml water and a pinch of salt for 10 minutes until soft. Puree the sweet potato pieces in the water it is boiled in. Let puree cool.
  2. lix sweet potato puree with cream cheese, tahini and 2 tbsp. lemon juice. Season the dip with salt, cayenne and lemon juice if needed. Refrigerate.
  3. Put the wooden skewers in cold water for 30 minutes to prevent them from burning on the grill. Peel prawns except for the tail. Cut lengthways and remove the intestines. Wash prawns, blot dry and coat in olive oil. Cut chorizo into 8 pieces. Thread 2 prawns, chorizo pieces and 3 prunes alternately onto each skewer. Grill on a hot BBQ for 4-6 minutes. Serve with sweet potato dip.

Summertime and the living is easy

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, June 08, 2017

Whether you’re celebrating Father’s Day with the extended family or the Solstice with a group of friends, summer weekends are a brilliant opportunity for catching up and chilling out. There’s one very simple trick that you can have up your sleeve, to ensure that you have as much fun during your get-togethers as your guests: advance planning!


Keep your menu simple

A showstopper dish – like a marinated whole chicken or a side of salmon with a herby crust - can be put in the oven and left to its own devices. And then around an hour before your meat or fish is ready, pop some baby new potatoes into the oven, too. Keep the potatoes whole and unpeeled and toss them in oil, herbs - rosemary works well – and a little sea-salt. Simple and delicious.

Enlist help

Guests often ask if they can bring something to gatherings so don’t be too shy to answer, “yes, please!”. Give each guest a theme, for a salad, and leave them to it. A green salad, maybe, or something tomato-based or involving mixed beans. You could even ask them to bring a fruit salad, for pudding. And – if they’re stuck - you can always signpost them to our recipe pages, for inspiration!

Keep everyone moving

A great way to break the ice at summer events – especially when there are little people involved – is to ask each family to share their favourite outdoor game idea. Tag. Hide and Seek. Pretty much anything involving bubbles or balloons. The fun factor will be boosted instantly. You’ll all work up an appetite for that yummy, healthy meal. And the kids will have bonded well enough to continue the fun, after the food, while the adults enjoy a well-deserved rest.

When it comes to summer celebrations, prunes are something of an unsung hero. And yet they can add a fruity scrumptiousness to a range of dishes and drinks. For sweet and savoury nibbles, think prunes baked with chorizo or – even simpler – flavoured mixed nuts (most supermarkets stock an interesting selection) combined with chopped prunes. As part of a fruity marinade or BBQ sauce, prunes add a rich flavour that complements a range of meat and fish and livens up grilled veggie kebabs. Prunes make a zingy addition to salads – both savoury and sweet. The fruit is the perfect partner for choc-themed puds – prune brownies, anyone? And prune juice makes a fabulously flavourful base for a range of drinks from smoothies to mocktails, from fruity cocktails that are strictly for the grown-ups to refreshing frozen treats that the whole family will love.

Our recipe pages are full of ideas for you to follow or be inspired by. And our comprehensive guide to entertaining is packed full of tips to help your summer celebrations sparkle!

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 treat for the tum and the eyes. Our Fruity Pilaf with Prunes and Chicken Skewers is deceptively simple to make, too!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, May 25, 2017

Coming up with ideas for mid-week meals can be tricky and that’s where dishes like our Fruity Pilaf with Prunes and Chicken Skewers really come into their own. Quick to make, pretty to look at and super tasty, it’s sure to be loved by the whole family!

Ingredients

Ingredients (for 4): For the Chicken Skewers: You will need 4 metal skewers, at least 8 inches long
2 large free-range chicken breasts, skinned and cut into bite-sized pieces
100ml natural yoghurt
1 tbsp turmeric
½ tsp chilli powder
Juice of 1 lemon
For the Rice Pilaf:
Large knob butter
1 medium onion, peeled, trimmed and finely chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cumin seeds
120g fast cook brown basmati rice
500ml warmed chicken stock
6 ready-to-eat Prunes, roughly chopped
Large handful shelled pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
2 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
Salt & pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. First prepare the chicken skewers. Mix together the yoghurt, turmeric, chilli powder and lemon juice.
  2. Skewer ¼ of the chicken pieces onto each skewer, then place in a wide dish and cover with the marinade. Leave to one side while you prepare the rice.
  3. In a large heavy-based pan, melt the butter over the low heat, add the onion, stir well, and leave to sautee until soft – about 5 minutes. Add the ground coriander, ground cumin and cumin seeds, and stir well for a moment to avoid sticking.
  4. Add the rice, mix thoroughly with the onion mixture, and leave for half a minute before adding the stock.
  5. Stir well, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover with a tight-fitting lid (otherwise place a sheet of foil over the top of the pot and secure the lid down on this – this will give you a snug-fitting lid).
  6. Leave to cook over the heat for 10 minutes, check to see if it needs more liquid, if it does add water, and then give it a further 5 minutes to sit, covered.
  7. While the rice is cooking, turn your grill up to high, place the chicken skewers underneath, discarding any excess marinade.
  8. Turn the skewers every 2 minutes or so, so that each side of the chicken cubes are evenly cooked through. When cooked, remove from the grill and set to one side.
  9. Remove the lid from the rice, and quickly fluff up the rice with a fork.
  10. Wait a moment for the steam to escape, then add the prunes, pistachio nuts and fresh herbs, and mix through well.
  11. Spoon the rice into a large, wide serving bowl and place the chicken skewers on top. Eat immediately. Serve with a crisp green salad.

A Focus on Digestion for World Digestive Health Day

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, May 18, 2017

The low down on digestion

Digestion is the body’s way of breaking down food. Although it’s a sensitive physical process, a healthy digestive system is something that many of us are lucky enough to be able to take for granted. If it gets out of synch, the entire body can feel its effects. Modern lifestyles with sedentary jobs, not enough exercise, the consumption of processed foods and stress can all take their toll on the gut. Over time, sluggish digestion can become a chronic problem. It can cause emotional issues, like anxiety, and physical issues, like bloating, reflux, constipation and diarrhoea.


Keeping tummy troubles at bay

When it comes to any health complaint, prevention is better than cure. And, fortunately, there are some simple and effective steps that can be taken to help to keep tummy troubles at bay. Having a good grasp of the digestive basics, choosing gut-friendly foods and adopting better eating habits can go a long way towards boosting digestive health.

Hints and tips

Read on for our Top 4 tips for maintaining a healthy digestive system.

  1. Eat more fibre rich foods

    Prunes are a source of dietary fibre. According to the European Food Safety Authority, consuming around 100g of prunes – on a daily basis - helps to maintain normal bowel function. And the EU Commission has now authorised this health claim for use in the general population.

  2. Keep the water flowing

    Dehydration can lead to headaches, lack of focus, fatigue, constipation and lacklustre skin so be sure your diet includes plenty of water and other fluids like prune juice.

  3. Keep moving

    Regular physical activity not only revs up your metabolism, it also helps promote digestive health by keeping you “regular”.

  4. Take 5

    Soothe away stress before it gets to you, by listening to calming music or simply phoning a friend to catch up.

And to find out even more? Download our expert guide on IBS.

The role prunes can play in maintaining good digestive health

There could be a number of reasons why your digestive system is working less than optimally. And, of course, there are a number of potential solutions to the problem. But the inclusion of Sunsweet prunes in your everyday diet can be a deliciously simple place to start. Our products are 100% natural and they can be enjoyed by the whole family including children, pregnant women and the elderly. And because we use only the best quality Californian prunes, the Sunsweet range really is the perfect complement to a healthy, balanced diet.

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.

Prune-power in a glass! You can never have too many scrummy smoothie recipes

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, May 11, 2017

Combining avocado, apple and spinach leaves and flavoured with honey, lemon, ginger and super-sweet prune juice this is a smoothie that packs a powerfully nutritious punch. And it’s an easy way to get lots of healthy fruit and veg into the family’s fussiest eaters!

Ingredients

½ an avocado
A small apple, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
A handful of spinach leaves, washed
A tablespoon of honey
The juice of ½ a lemon
A knob of ginger, about 2cm long – peeled
300 ml Prune juice

Instructions

  1. Place all of the ingredients except for the ginger and the Prune juice, into the blender.
  2. I like to grate my ginger with a fine grater, so if you have one I recommend you do the same; if you don’t have one then simply chop the ginger as finely as you can and add it.
  3. Pour in enough prune juice to barely cover the ingredients, then simply blend everything well.

The Top 6 Questions We’re Asked About Prunes

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, May 04, 2017

Everything you ever wanted to know about prunes – and, quite possibly, a little bit more besides - all in one place! Check out our official, super-informative Q&A on all things Sunsweet prune-related. The Top 6 Questions We’re Asked About Prunes.

  1. Are prunes gluten-free?
  2. Reports suggest that – for a whole host of reasons - as many as one in four of us are now attempting to live gluten free. Gluten is the protein that is found in grains like wheat. And with things like bread, pasta and cereal being such a staple of everyday meal planning, going gluten free isn’t easy. But the good news? All fruit is naturally gluten free and so a serving of prunes or a glass of prune juice can be enjoyed whenever you like. You can even add them to your favourite coeliac-friendly recipes to give them a sweet and fruity twist.

  3. Are prunes suitable for people with diabetes?
  4. Experts recommend that to keep blood sugar levels steady, we aim for a diet with an overall GI of 50 or less. But, happily, that doesn’t mean that sweet and tasty snacks like Sunsweet prunes are a no-no. Harvard Medical School found that the GI of pitted prunes is around 29 making them a low-GI fruit that doesn't dramatically affect blood sugar and insulin levels.

  5. Do prunes contain sugar?
  6. Prunes contain no added sugar. They are simply dried plums: one plum becomes one prune, just with the water removed. During the plum-prune drying process, sucrose is hydrolysed to glucose and fructose so prunes contain minimal sucrose. And prunes are classed as whole fruit so they can contribute towards achieving your 5-a-day, as well as boosting your daily fibre intake.

  7. What effect do prunes have on the digestive system?
  8. For centuries, prunes – and prune juice - have been associated with good digestive health. But now there are scientific findings to support that association, too. Research has shown that - when 100g of prunes are eaten daily, as part of a varied and balanced diet and an active lifestyle – they can assist with normal bowel function just as much as fibre supplements. In fact, prunes should be considered as a first line therapy when it comes to maintaining a healthy bowel.

  9. What is the connection between prunes and strong bones?
  10. Research suggests that prunes, due to the nutrients they provide, could be beneficial for bone health. Prunes contain vitamin K and manganese that - among other functions - have direct benefits for bone health. Prunes are also a source of vitamin B6 which helps make healthy blood cells in our bone marrow and maintain normal hormone levels including those involved in bone health.

  11. And, our favourite, just how exactly does a plum become a prune?
  12. It’s simple, really. Sunsweet prunes are a special variety of sun-ripened plums that have been dried to remove some of the water. A variety with an exceptionally high sugar content, these "Improved French" variety of plums give Sunsweet prunes their distinctively delicious taste; rich and fruity with notes of creamy vanilla. The dried fruit contains similar levels of nutrients – such as fibre - to fresh plums, while offering the added benefit of year-round availability and a long shelf life.

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 Simnel Cake is a wonderfully fruity twist on the traditional classic.

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, April 27, 2017

Simnel Cake has enjoyed something of a resurgence in recent years. Supermarkets report brisk sales of ready-made versions. But how much more joyful to fill your home with the aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg and candied orange peel as you bake your own? Did you know that the cake is traditionally topped with 11 marzipan balls to represent Jesus’ 11 disciples?

Ingredients


300 g butter
130 g brown sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
4 eggs
250 g flour
1 tsp. baking powder
5 tbsp. starch
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
300 g Sunsweet prunes, diced
50 g candied orange peel
300 g marzipan
1 egg yolk

Other:
cake spring form baking tin, 26 cm

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven at 170 °C (convection 150 °C).
  2. Mix butter and sugar. Add grated lemon zest. Slowly add eggs, flour, baking powder and starch. Fold in cinnamon, nutmeg, prunes and candied orange peel. Line the bottom and the sides of a cake spring form baking tin with baking paper. Spoon the dough into tin, place in preheated oven and bake for approx. 1 hour. Let it cool completely.
  3. Roll out about 200 g of marzipan and cut a circle (Ø 26 cm). Place onto the cake. Press slightly. Divide remaining marzipan into 11 equal pieces and form eleven balls. Position the balls on the marzipan circle. Brush cake topping with a little beaten egg yolk. Preheat the grill and place cake into the oven. Grill until marzipan begins to brown.

Healthier Snacking for Busy Families

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, April 20, 2017

Time pressures, for many of us, seem to be rising both exponentially and relentlessly. Families with young children, in particular, seem to be constantly on the move with even the tiniest of tots having a packed schedule. Meals eaten together, up at the table, have become more of a special occasion thing than an everyday thing. And snacking has become just a regular part of our time-strapped, modern lives. Not all snacks are created equally, though!

With so much of the food that we consume being eaten “on the hoof”, it’s important to opt – wherever possible - for snacks that pack a nutritious punch without piling on the pounds.

The stats on obesity, from the World Health Organisation, are startling:

  • Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980.
  • By 2014, almost 40% of the world’s adult population was deemed overweight.
  • And obesity is preventable.

Planning Ahead

Used tactically, and as part of a generally healthy and balanced diet, snacks can help to manage hunger and reduce the likelihood of bingeing, at mealtimes. But it really does pay to plan ahead. Why not try pulling together a menu of easily-prepared snacks, that the whole family will love, and that can be enjoyed on a myriad of snacking occasions? Think lunchboxes, pre-exercise pick-me-ups, breakfast on-the-run...

Healthy Choices

Naturally, it makes nutritional sense – apart from when having a very occasional treat – to make healthy choices, to avoid snacks that are high in added sugar, fat and salt. We do understand, though, that it can be tricky to work out what is healthy and what isn’t when it comes to snacks. For example, processed fruit snacks – some of which actually have added sugar - are blurring the boundary between confectionery and traditional, unprocessed dried fruits. But the great news is that sweet and tasty treats are far from being an absolute no-no. “Traditional dried fruits have historically been considered a nutritious snack choice in parts of the world where abundant sunshine enabled drying fruits for preservation, such as the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. They all provide dietary fibre, are virtually fat and salt-free and each provide a range of essential micronutrients, such as potassium, copper, manganese, iron and vitamins A, E, K and niacin.”, says Jennette Higgs, Consultant Dietitian at the California Prune Board.

Recipe Ideas

And prunes are an excellent example of these traditional dried fruits. They can be enjoyed on their own, straight from the pack, but they’re also the basis for a whole host of super-satisfying goodies. Our website is a brilliant resource with countless healthy-snacking recipe ideas. Why not have a look and bookmark a few that take your fancy? And if you’re a YouTube kind of person, check out our video for a step-by-step guide to making Energy Balls. They’re perfectly portable, flavour-packed and sure to be a big hit with the whole family!

Mums-to-Be

And did you know that snacking is especially important for mums-to-be? It can:

  • Boost those flagging energy levels
  • Help to keep nausea at bay
  • And, when high-fibre options are chosen, help to alleviate constipation

Why not take a look at our dedicated pregnancy website for lots more hints and tips?

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.

Join us as we celebrate 100 years of history!

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, April 19, 2017

For an entire century, Sunsweet has been inspiring consumers to eat well and to enjoy a healthy, balanced lifestyle. The company has a rich heritage and deep roots within the growers’ valley of California. But where did it all start?

Once upon a time in California…

Believe it or not, the Sunsweet story began with just one man, Louis Pellier, who imported prune orchard stock from France to California. Louis Pellier introduced Agen prunes to the region in 1850. But it wasn’t until 1917 that Sunsweet was formed. A group of farmers founded and named it the Sunsweet California Prune and Apricot Growers Association. In that first year alone, they handled 43% of the state crop. Today, the company is 250 growers strong, producing 40,000 cases of fruit and juice every single day and exporting to more than 45 countries around the world. In fact, the Sunsweet Growers, as it is now known, is one of the world’s most successful agricultural cooperatives!

Generational Experience and Innovation

Many growers within the cooperative are from family businesses and bring generations of expertise to the craft of cultivating prunes. While building on learnings from the past, Sunsweet has always had an eye on the future too, striving for innovation and improvement. In 1966, for example, Sunsweet patented a unique pitting system. No other prunes in the world are pitted with the same precision and care as Sunsweet prunes, resulting in fruit that is rounder, plumper and more flavourful. The ‘Smart Pitter’ has been improved over the years and remains patented to this day. No doubt, the original Sunsweet farmers, of 1917, would be proud that their cooperative continues to grow, innovate, improve and deliver the best prunes possible to customers.

When plums are dried into prunes, the dehydration concentrates their flavour. The prune becomes about one third of its original size but retains its nutritional value. Did you know that Sunsweet prunes:

  • Contain just over 7g fibre per 100g, that’s about a quarter of your daily needs.
  • Are a source of vitamins like B6 that can help you feel less tired and Vitamin K that supports the maintenance of normal bones.
  • Count towards your 5-a-day with just 4/5 prunes classed as a serving.

A very special place

Sunsweet growers know good farmland when they see it. Sunsweet prune plum orchards are only planted, in the rich soil of lush regions, with rain-free summers and cool but not freezing winters. There are only a handful of places like that on earth and the birthplace of the Sunsweet prune - the San Joaquin Valley - is one of the very best.

It goes without saying, that Sunsweet farmers have strong ties to the land and so it’s only natural for them to be committed to the preservation of nature and to lead the way in green innovation. You can find out more about Sunsweet’s green credentials on the website.

A very special company

Despite the passing of 100 years, Sunsweet’s passion for all-things prune has remained undiminished. The company has an award-winning commitment to quality and customer service and is always investing to ensure the best quality prunes in the world. And the good news for you? All of these measures help Sunsweet to grow prunes that are deliciously plump, succulent and tasty for you to enjoy.

Here’s to the next 100 years!

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.