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

There's lots to love about yoga!

Posted by Sunsweet - Friday, April 27, 2018

Whether you're a man or a woman, a child or a pensioner, whether you're looking for a strenuous workout or a more relaxing - even spiritual - practice, there's a style of yoga to suit you. And don't worry, uber-bendiness and hippy-print harem pants are optional. But the health benefits that you'll experience aren't. From boosting digestion to alleviating chronic conditions, there's lots to love about yoga!

International Yoga Day

The first UN International Yoga Day took place in 2015, in recognition of:

  • The holistic benefits of the practice and its compatibility with the principles and values of the United Nations
  • How crucial it is for us all to make healthy lifestyle choices and to develop habits that support our physical and emotional wellbeing

Will you be inspired by this year's event – on the 21st June – to give yoga a go?

History

The idea of an International Yoga Day was first mooted by the United Nations after a compelling proposal from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In his proposal, Modi stated that, “Yoga is an invaluable gift from our ancient tradition. Yoga embodies unity of mind and body, thought and action ... a holistic approach [that] is valuable to our health and our well-being. Yoga is not just about exercise; it is a way to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.”

The Health Benefits of Yoga

The World Health Organization has implored member states to take steps to address the growing inactivity of individual citizens – an unhealthy trend that is a key risk factor in diseases like cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a non-profit committed to clinical practice, education and research - the potential health benefits of yoga include:

  • Stress reduction, a better night's sleep, improved mood and an enhanced sense of well-being
  • Improved fitness, balance, flexibility and strength
  • Management of chronic conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure

Something for Everyone

Whatever your age or ability level, there's a yoga style and approach that is just right for you. From active kids who need an opportunity to wind down, after a hectic day juggling school, homework and after-school activities. To elderly people and those who are less mobile and would appreciate the mind, body and spirit benefits of a gentle armchair practice.

Here are a few of the more popular styles:

  • Hatha yoga is a foundation of all yoga styles and can be a good choice if you're looking to improve flexibility. It’s controlled breathing can help improve oxygenation of the body and alleviate stress.
  • Iyengar yoga: Using Props - belts, blocks and pillow-like bolsters – that assist with correct alignment, it is gentle and can work well for those with an injury or a chronic condition.
  • Ashtanga yoga can offer a new challenge for those who already have a decent level of fitness.
  • Bikram Toya: Bikram yoga is the favourite of anyone who loves to sweat! The poses are done in a heated room to facilitate the release of toxins and designed to provide a challenging, invigorating, rejuvenating yoga experience.

Whatever style you choose, an initial one-to-one session with an experienced teacher can be really worthwhile, to assess your unique needs and to get you off to the best possible start.

Find yourself a nearby class, get yourself signed up for a course and enjoy the sensations of lightness, ease and relaxation that will surely follow. Bliss!

PS If you're feeling inspired about getting your body moving, why not download our Healthy Living Guide? Good luck!

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 Spicy Cranberry Prune Mocktail is a delicious drink with a real sense of occasion!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, April 19, 2018

The flavours of ginger and lime combine to add zing to this delicious mocktail. The whole family are sure to love this non-alcoholic Spicy Cranberry Prune Mocktail. It’s a delicious drink with a real sense of occasion. Serve over ice, in your prettiest glasses, and let the good times roll!

Ingredients

100 g raspberries (fresh or frozen)
200-250 g crushed ice
200 ml Sunsweet prune juice
200 ml cranberry juice
4-8 teaspoons lime juice
200-300 ml ginger lemonade
(alternative: mix ginger ale either with 1-2 tbsp. ginger juice or 1 tablespoon grated ginger)

For decoration:
1 piece (approx. 3-4 cm) ginger root

In addition:
4 long drink glasses
4 long thick straws

Instructions

  1. Divide raspberries and crushed ice into 4 portions in long drink glasses. Mix prune juice, cranberry and lime juice, and pour them into glasses. Fill with ginger lemonade. Stick straws in the glasses. If desired, wash ginger, cut it into 4-8 slanting thin slices and add as decoration. Serve immediately.

Cocktail variant: add 20-40 ml gin.

Make friends with technology

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, April 19, 2018

In the last decade, our use of the internet has skyrocketed. It’s been blamed for many things including our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. And yet it remains a significant part of our everyday lives despite all of the negative and downright fear-mongering headlines. But can technology actually have a role to play, in helping us to create balanced, happy and healthy lives?

Despite being a huge part of modern lives, the online world often gets a bad rap. If you believe what you read in the press, we’ve replaced couch potato habits for mouse potato habits – equally sedentary and unhealthy - and spend every spare moment surfing the net. Social media – in all its iterations - has been blamed for poor body image and low self-esteem across the entire range of demographic groups. And there seems to be a grain of truth behind the fear.

In England alone, according to the UK communications regulator, Ofcom, people now spend twice as much time online compared with 10 years ago and it would be safe to assume that it is a similar story all across Europe. Much of that time, of course, is spent immobile. And stats from the medical journal, The Lancet, suggest that inadequate exercise is responsible for more than 5 million deaths globally each year. Sobering stuff.

But is there a silver lining to the techno cloud?

At its very best, the internet offers a diverse resource of up-to-date, educational material that is both entertainingly written and accessible. Much of it is absolutely free. And our blog, of course, is an excellent example! Whether you choose apps or websites, social media or online newsletters, there’s lots of content out there to support you in your quest for a healthier lifestyle. Check out our top 3 techno tips, be selective and get informed.

  1. Newsletters – Choose reputable sources

    Sign up to a couple of lifestyle-related online newsletters. Choose ones from trusted sources, that cover topics that interest you – info overload is not our goal, here – and get inspired with everything from recipes for healthy and speedy mid-week dinners to tips on keeping active, whatever the time of year.

  2. Workout Videos Online

    Don't let good habits around physical activity slip. It’s far better to maintain an exercise programme throughout the year so that it becomes just another part of your daily routine, something that’s as automatic as brushing your teeth. And this is another area where technology can be your ally. Whatever form of exercise you enjoy – from boxercise to yogalates – you’ll be sure to find an online workout that floats your boat. Bung a one-pot-wonder into the oven – remember to keep things healthy! – and, while it cooks, pop on your workout video of choice and get moving.

  3. Monitoring Fitness Progress

    Whether it’s monitoring your daily calorie intake with sophisticated food diaries, tracking your levels of physical activity, learning relaxation techniques like mindfulness or even keeping an eye on your menstrual cycle, there’s an app for that! Speaking to Fox News, Scott Snyder – an innovator in the field – said, “The ultimate goal of most of these apps is to change behaviour. Small changes are a big overall win for health.” We couldn’t agree more!

As with most things, getting a good balance is crucially important. Everything in moderation – including technology – and you won’t go far wrong!

Looking for more inspiration? Why not check out our Healthy Living Guide?

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.

5 Top Tips on Comfort Eating ... without piling on the pounds!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, April 12, 2018

So, what do you think…is it really possible to indulge yourself with tasty, comforting and warming food, without piling on the pounds? Or, come the summer, do you fully expect to be dieting? At Sunsweet, we believe that comfort does not necessarily have to mean calorific.

5 Top Tips on Comfort Eating...without piling on the pounds!

Gaining weight. It's something that most of us accept as “just one of those things”. The World Health Organisation reports that more than 1.4 billion adults are overweight, the findings of which could prove to be very significant.

Why do we crave Comfort Food in winter?

Comfort Foods tend to be high in carbohydrate and sugar, and there are lots of theories about why we crave these heavier foods more in the winter months. There's a school of thought that winter weight gain could be our survival instinct kicking in; that we're fattening ourselves up to get through the colder months and keep our mood buoyant. And there's another more practical thought: when the days get shorter and temperatures drop, our resolve for healthy living plummets and we descend into a circle of eating more, moving less and, ultimately, gaining weight.

So what can be done to counter the sluggishness caused by overindulging?

Our 5 top tips

Plan ahead to maximise meal-times and super-charge your snacks

  1. Seize the opportunity to stock up the store cupboard with more nutritious snack alternatives. Dried fruit – like Sunsweet prunes – keep well, pack a nutritious punch and are surprisingly versatile adding a rich, fruity depth to both sweet and savoury dishes.
  2. Plan meals ahead – and, where possible, prepare them in advance - so that “I’m starving” feeling doesn't automatically equate to grabbing something quick, calorie-laden and unhealthy. Soups and stews are nourishing and warming and if you choose your recipe wisely can be low in fat and calories, and high in taste and comfort, too. Our Minestrone with Prunes Soup is a lovely veggie option with less than 300 calories.
  3. Drinks and snacks can be tasty, little pick-me-ups. But the ‘easy-to-reach’ sugar laden snacks and super-sized coffees can be a disaster, calorie-wise. High-fibre snacks served with a warm drink – herbal teas are perfect - can help to fuel the body and keep everything moving. And an attractively presented plate of fruit, fresh or dried, couldn't be simpler or quicker.
Get savvy about treats
  1. Life would feel pretty dull without the occasional treat. And from time to time, if you really fancy something chocolatey, there's nothing sinful about giving in to temptation. Do a bit of research though to come up with healthier alternatives. Our Paleo Chocolate Pudding is an excellent example of a treat that is flavourful, tempting, looks great, and under 410 calories, too!
  2. Naturally sweet, prunes and prune juice have no added sugars, just naturally-occurring ones; a quick and easy way to keep sweet cravings at bay. Also did you know that a prune puree (blitzing the fruit with water) can be used to successfully replace fat in cakes and cookies? You can find out more, here. And, finally... A warm bath. Super-cosy PJs. Flickering candlelight. A roaring fire. And a good old-fashioned hug. Totally Comforting, Totally Indulgent. Totally Calorie Free!
  3. Enjoy!

Granola Muesli Bars

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, April 05, 2018

There are times – throughout a busy week - when only a sweet treat will do. Packed full of nutritious goodies, like dried fruit and nuts, our Granola Muesli Bars are no ordinary sweet treat. With a cuppa or glass of milk, the bars are a scrummy pick-me-up. And they're perfect for breakfast on-the-run. Ring the changes - with different fruit and nut combos - to create firm, family favourites.

Ingredients

100 g brown sugar 
50 g honey 
150 g soft butter
1 egg
1 tsp. cinnamon powder
200 g California prunes
60 g dried apricots
200 g crunchy oat flakes
100 g granola  
100 g nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts)
Salt

Instructions

  1. Beat sugar, honey, and butter until fluffy. Gently stir egg, 1 pinch of salt and the cinnamon into the mixture. Chop prunes and apricots coarsely and fold together with oat flakes, granola, and nuts into the butter-egg mixture.
  2. Spread the mixture on a lined baking tray and bake in oven at 190° C (convection oven at 170° C) for 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool, then cut into bars. Wrap individually in parchment paper or in plastic foil. 

The Top 6 Questions We’re Asked About Prunes

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, March 22, 2018

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.

Is five-a-day still enough? When it comes to fruit and veg, more is definitely more.

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, March 15, 2018

With scientific studies now suggesting that five-a-day may no longer be enough, how can we ensure that our family are getting the fruit and veg that they need, for optimum health, while keeping things interesting – and tasty – at mealtimes?

Summer is a great opportunity to finally step into the sunny season with confidence, positivity and gratitude. Phew! And the perfect fuel for all of that? Delicious fruit and veg and plenty of it!

So, is five-a-day still enough?

Based on the World Health Organisation's recommendations, the five-a-day fruit and veg guidelines were introduced in 1990 with the aim of lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Almost a third of us struggle to regularly get our five-a-day. But a 12-year study, 2001 – 2013, by University College London has found that we may benefit from actually doubling-up on the official guidelines and aiming for ten portions of fruit and veg a day instead, to significantly lower the risk of premature death. The study’s lead author, Dr Oyinlola Oyebode, went on record to say: “The clear message here is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age. My advice would be however much you are eating now, eat more.”

Variety – the spice of a healthy life

Whether your fruit and veg is tinned, fresh, frozen or dried – like scrummy Sunsweet prunes – it all counts towards your five-a-day. Great news, especially if you're aiming for the more ambitious ten daily portions! The trick is to keep things interesting, so that you and your family don't get bored. And a really great way to do that is to try – for as many of your meals as possible – to have a seasonable focus to the ingredients that you choose.

Did you know that just three prunes count for one of your daily portions? This is great news, especially if you're aiming for the more ambitious ten daily portions! The trick is to keep things interesting, so that you and your family don't get bored. A really great way to do that is to try – for as many of your meals as possible – to have a seasonable focus to the ingredients that you choose. Our recipes pages have lots of inspirational breakfast, mains, salads, desert & sweet treats, salads etc ideas to help you on your way.

Seasonable Treats

With the changing of the seasons, there's something lovely about taking advantage of the natural diversity – the flavours, the textures, the scents and the colours – of seasonable foods. And it's a great way for you and your family to ring the changes at meal-times and to try lots of different foodstuffs throughout the year. Wild garlic, morels and salad staples like spring onions, watercress and rocket are all excellent at this time of the year and make superb foundations for the lighter dishes of springtime as we naturally gravitate away from winter stodge. And if you're feeling inspired by all-things seasonable, why not try growing your own?

Grow your own!

Growing your own is easier than you might think. Vegetable gardening – with a raised bed or even just a handful of pots – is a great excuse to get the whole family out into the fresh air. And eating healthful foods - that you have watched grow from seed – can help to tempt even the fussiest of eaters into trying new things. There really is something magical – for kids of all ages – in the transformation from seeds to shoots to something scrummy. Salads are a super-simple starting point. A sunny spot. Plenty of water. And you really can't go wrong.

And finally...

You can check out Sunsweet's eco credentials, here:

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.

Can you boost your chances of avoiding winter bugs?

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, March 01, 2018

This year, is it possible to avoid all those dreaded winter bugs? Maybe by getting back to basics - with plenty of hearty and nourishing food, lots of exercise and good, old-fashioned rest and relaxation, you might just be able to give you and your family a fighting chance!

So what do you reckon? Do you think it’ll be possible this year for you and your family to avoid all those dreaded winter bugs? We’re not going to make any promises but maybe by getting back to basics with plenty of hearty and nourishing food, lots of exercise - ideally out of doors – and good, old-fashioned rest and relaxation, you might just be able to give you and yours a fighting chance!

At this time of year, it can be tempting to set your sights high when it comes to lifestyle changes. New Year’s Resolutions can be a bit of fun. But – even if you take them seriously - they can be notoriously tricky to stick to. And who wants to kick off the New Year feeling as though they have let themselves down? A broader set of intentions around diet, exercise and emotional wellbeing may prove to be more beneficial, in the long run.

Fuelling your body with nutritious home-cooking

Life is busy. After a long day, and despite the best of intentions, it can be hard to find the motivation to eat well. It’s all too easy to grab something that’s convenient - but low in nutrition - and wind up with even lower energy levels. But that’s where just a little bit of forward planning can really come into its own. Investing a couple of hours of your time to batch cook and then freeze a range of soups and stews, for example, is an excellent way to create “ready-meals” that pack a nutritious punch. And if you have a few temptingly tasty one-pot recipes up-your-sleeve, 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!

Snack wisely

Snacking is a part of modern life but it’s worthwhile remembering that not all snacks are created equal! When you’re famished, there’s nothing quicker than grabbing a handful of prunes to munch on. And did you know that prunes are a source of vitamin B6, which helps to support a healthy immune system?

Getting out into the fresh air

The weather outside may, indeed, be frightful but exercising outside is so delightful. Trust us! There’s something about bundling up and heading off for a walk on a wintry day that really helps to lift the spirits. And there’s a scientific basis for that; a combination of fresh air and the increased oxygen levels that follow exercise helps to release serotonin, the feel-good chemical.

Learning how to relax

Stress can be as bad for your body as it is for your head. But in these super-busy times, stress can feel almost inevitable. And so it’s worthwhile having a few tried and trusted techniques to hand, for when the pressure starts to mount. The evidence may be anecdotal but a link between heightened stress levels and a depleted immune system seems logical. So practice mindfulness, walk with a friend, enjoy a soak in the bath, cook a delicious meal for you and a loved one – whatever helps you to relax!

So this year, resolve to have a healthy, happy and active winter. Enjoy!

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.

Chicken and Prune Quiche

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, February 22, 2018

Wonderfully versatile and absolutely delicious, our Chicken and Prune Quiche makes a show-stopping starter, light lunch and is perfect for picnics. Sunsweet prunes lend both rich and fruity notes to this family classic. Served simply, with a generous helping of lightly-dressed seasonal salad leaves and herbs, this lovely recipe lets you serve up springtime on a plate!

Ingredients

150 g streaky bacon
350 g chicken breast 
200 g button mushrooms, sliced  
½ bunch of sage, chopped
150 g California prunes
½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped 
6 eggs 
200 ml coconut milk 
Salt & pepper 

Instructions

  1. Cut bacon into strips and fry in a non-stick pan, add chicken strips and sauté for 5 minutes while turning. Add mushrooms, sage, prunes, and parsley and sauté 2 minutes longer.
  2. Whisk eggs and coconut milk in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Thinly brush baking pan with oil, spread the chicken mixture evenly into the dish and cover with the egg mixture. Place dish in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes at 180° C (fan assisted oven 160° C).
  4. Allow quiche to cool and serve with a green salad.

Our Fruit Cake with Dried Prunes is perfect for unexpected visitors

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, February 08, 2018

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