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

The Top 6 Questions We’re Asked About Prunes

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, October 24, 2019

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.

Spicy Squash Soup with Chorizo

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, October 17, 2019

The very best soups fill the house with tempting aromas as they cook: our Spicy Squash Soup with Chorizo is no exception! Ginger, rosemary and smoked paprika combine to tempt the taste-buds. With squash, chorizo and scrummy Sunsweet prunes, this is a hearty and flavourful recipe just perfect for still-chilly February.

Ingredients

600 g butternut squash
30 g ginger root 2 onions
3 tbsp. oil
2 tbsp. smoked paprika powder
300 ml white wine
400 ml chicken stock  
4 chorizo sausages (Spanish paprika sausage)
200 g Sunsweet prunes
30 g pumpkin seeds
2 sprigs of rosemary
3 tbsp. sour cream
Salt, pepper

Instructions

  1. Peel squash and ginger and dice finely. Dice the onions into large pieces. Heat oil in a pot, add squash, onions, paprika powder and ginger and sauté for 5 minutes. Deglaze with white wine and stock and boil at a medium heat for 15 minutes. Cut chorizo sausage into slices. Cut prunes into large pieces. Toast pumpkin seeds in a dry pan.
  2. Grind squash in a blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add prunes and keep hot. Fry chorizo slices in a dry pan for 5 minutes on each side at a medium heat. Chop rosemary and sprinkle onto the sausage.
  3. Pour soup into a bowl. Serve with sausage, sour cream and pumpkin seeds.

Tip: Optionally sprinkle some of the chorizo oil from the pan onto the soup.


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

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, October 10, 2019

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!

4-Ingredient Prune Cookies

Posted by Sunsweet - Friday, October 04, 2019

Quick to make, super-yummy and with no added sugar. What's not to love about these 4 Ingredient Prune Cookies? But would it surprise you to discover that these delicious cookies are bone friendly too? Research suggests that - because of the nutrients that they provide - the fruits may well have bone health boosting benefits. So tuck in!

View our collection of delicious Bone Friendly Recipes

Ingredients

16 SUNSWEET prunes
2 tablespoons hot water
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a food processor, pulse SUNSWEET prunes and hot water until smooth. Pulse in oats and walnuts until a sticky dough forms.
  3. Roll dough into 12 balls and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Immediately after removing from the oven, tap each of them down with a glass to form a cookie shape and let cool.

Exotic Lentil Soup with Prunes

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, October 03, 2019

You can never have too many soup recipes in your repertoire. And our Exotic Lentil Soup with Prunes is a wonderful addition, just perfect for the autumn. Colourful to look at and warming to sip – it’s a hug in a bowl! With crusty bread, it makes a satisfying supper. And, popped into a flask, it makes a healthy, on-the-go meal.

Ingredients

3 carrots
200 g celeriac 
2 red onions 
1 leek 
1 sweet potato (approx. 350 g) 
1 bunch flat parsley 
2 tbsp. oil
300 ml chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
300 g pre-soaked and cooked lentils 
300 g Sunsweet prunes
4 tbsp. apple vinegar 
Salt, pepper  

Instructions

  1. Peel carrots and slice. Dice celeriac, peel onions and cut into strips. Clean leek, cut into slices and wash. Peel potato and cut into pieces. Pull parsley leaves from the stems and chop coarsely.
  2. Heat oil in a pot. Add potato, onions, carrots and celeriac and steam for 5 minutes at medium heat. Add leek and steam for 2 more minutes. Deglaze with stock. Add lentils and simmer for 20 minutes at a medium heat. Add prunes and parsley.
  3. Season to taste with apple vinegar, salt and pepper.

Tip: Roast some almond slivers and add as topping to the soup. Serve with toasted rye bread.

Keep it up – you’re doing great!

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, September 25, 2019

As the Summer season draws - very firmly - to a close, there’s one crucially important task to undertake, to lay good foundations for the months ahead. And the nature of that task? To discover a way to keep motivated around healthy living and fitness regimes throughout the autumn and winter.


The great outdoors

With the onset of darker and colder and wetter nights, it’s hardly surprising that outdoor activities can all too quickly lose their appeal. There are a few ways around that, though, if you think creatively enough!

  • When the weather is changeable, flexibility is key. Rather than planning an outing for a specific day and time, if the weather’s dry, get yourself out there – even if it’s just for a brisk walk around the block while your one-pot dinner is cooking.
  • Instead of a midweek meal or a movie to catch up with friends, why not schedule a regular weekend walk-and-talk?
  • If you invest in some decent, weather-proof gear, a few showers won’t be able to derail your plans. And you could even flask up some hearty, homemade soup for a spot of autumnal alfresco dining!

Indoor activities that won’t break the bank

Gym membership – or even enlisting the services of a personal trainer – can prove to be money well-spent. But, with our increasingly busy lifestyles, it can be difficult to make a regular commitment to a class or a session. And there are lots more cost-effective ways to get the health benefits of physical activity.

From weights routines to rope skipping, from speedy sessions to month-long challenges, you’ll find a plethora of workouts – the vast majority of them being completely free of charge – on-line. YouTube and exercise apps are excellent starting points, for whatever floats your particular fitness boat. You may find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the array of options but – equally - you’d certainly be hard-pushed to ever feel bored!

Reaping the benefits

All forms of exercise – especially if sessions are regular and of moderate intensity – have significant benefits for health. According to the NHS, exercise can reduce the risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%.

Inside and out

Did you know that getting the outside of your body moving tends to get things moving on the inside, too?

A gentle walk after your main meal is a great habit to get into as it encourages the circulation of blood and oxygen around the body helping to keep things moving inside as you move gently outside. Even if you have no other exercise planned for the day, why not try to include at least a 30 minute walk after lunch or dinner?

Your digestion will thank you for it!

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 19, 2019

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.


The top three nutritional reasons to keep loving prunes this season

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, September 12, 2019

Did you know that there are lots of compelling reasons why prunes should be top of the class, and not just at back-to-school time? Not convinced? Well, here are our top three seasonal reasons why you – and your family - should be making friends with prunes!

Understandably, you may be reluctant to kiss goodbye to the summer. But, no matter what your life stage, the autumn is an excellent opportunity to embrace that back-to-school feeling! September is the perfect time of the year to get back to basics, from a health and fitness point-of-view. And, guess what, prunes are a great place to start!

The top three seasonal reasons to love prunes

  1. You can give your immune system a fighting chance to keep all of those annoying autumnal bugs at bay … with prunes! The dried fruit is a rich source of vitamin B6 and copper, both nutrients are able to help to support a healthy immune system.
  2. The holiday suitcase is back on top of the wardrobe for another year, the nights are getting longer, darker and colder so it’s not uncommon - or indeed surprising - for your energy and motivation levels to start to take a downward turn. But did you know that prunes can help? Vitamin B6 - which we mentioned above - can help you to feel less tired, it also supports the normal release of energy from foods and the transportation of iron in the body. Copper and manganese – both of which are found in prunes – assist in some of these functions too.
  3. Prunes have lots of heart health benefits. They’re naturally saturated fat free and reducing the consumption of saturated fat helps to maintain normal blood cholesterol levels. They’re naturally salt-free, too, and reducing the intake of salt helps to maintain normal blood pressure.

There really is a lot to love about prunes!

Want to find out more? Take a look at our online guide to the health-boosting properties of prunes or check out our FAQ

On a more serious note…

Scientific research has been undertaken into the role that prunes can play in potentially helping to prevent serious illness. And a recent study found that eating prunes regularly, may help to reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer.

Professor Dr Nancy Turner Texas A&M University said: “Through our research, we were able to show that dried plums promote retention of beneficial bacteria throughout the colon, and by doing so they may reduce the risk of colon cancer.”

According to the NHS, bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK.

That back-to-school feeling

The daily ‘little break’ and ‘big break’ for kids, and adults, are always a challenge but don’t overlook the snacking potential of prunes. With no added sugar, prunes are naturally sweet. And, let’s face it, which child isn’t on the hunt for something sweet the second they walk in the door?! Negotiating playground and office politics is hungry work after all!

Enjoyed straight from the pack, included in the family’s favourite bakes or whizzed into a smoothie, prunes make the perfect lunchbox filler or healthy after-school treat.

You can check out our delicious smoothie recipe suggestions, 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.

Prune Energy Balls

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, September 05, 2019

Our modern lives are busy and our fridges aren't always stocked with nutritionally-optimal snacks. That's where store cupboard items like nuts, seeds and dried fruits come into play.  So it makes dietary sense to have a repertoire of easily prepared snacks up your sleeve like our Prune Energy Balls. They’re healthy, tasty, easily-made and can last up to a week. Think school lunch boxes, pre or post-exercise pick-me-ups, an office 'deskfast'. 

Ingredients

125g Sunsweet Prunes
80g almonds / walnuts / mix
60g Chia seeds
15g cocoa powder
15g cup smooth nut butter
Coconut oil, to blend
Desiccated coconut, for rolling (optional)
Makes about 20 balls

Instructions

  1. Place the nuts in a food processor and blitz for a moment. Add prunes and further blitz until a soft dough begins to form.  Add other ingredients, except the coconut oil and desiccated coconut, and blend until smooth. Add a small amount of coconut oil, a few drops at a time, until the mixture is sticky, and holds its shape.
  2. Take a tablespoon of the mixture, roll into a ball and continue until all the mixture is used. Roll the balls in the desiccated coconut, to coat (optional).
*Sunsweet tip: place in the Prune Energy Balls in the freezer for about 45 minutes to set. Stored in an air-tight container in the fridge they will keep for up to a week.

Prunes the fat and sugar for healthier baking

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Benefits of using prunes in cooking

Prunes offer unique baking benefits, both nutritionally and physically so not only do they help create delicious tasting dishes, they can also improve the overall nutritional credentials for a recipe! Here’s how:

  1. Replaces free sugars with naturally occurring sugars
  2. We all know we shouldn’t eat too much sugar, and experts globally recommend we reduce intakes of ‘free sugar’, but with different sugars everywhere, which kind should we reduce and what can we replace it with? Free sugars are sugars added to food and drinks, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices.

    Prunes are a traditional dried fruit with no added or free sugars - their sweet taste originates from their naturally occurring sugars, contained within the fruit, which is 38g/100g.

    These Sunsweet Oatmeal and Blueberry Muffins have had 100g of the 175g of free sugar in the original recipe replaced with the same quantity of chopped prunes, giving a 57% reduction in free sugars. And they still taste fantastic. So it’s a win-win, using prunes reduces the total sugar without compromising on the flavour!

    An added bonus of adding whole or chopped prunes to cakes is that they contribute to our daily fruit and vegetable intake – in fact this recipe provides half a daily portion per muffin.

  3. Reduces sugar
  4. Sugar is a key ingredient in desserts - creating texture, taste and flavour, but often there’s far more than is needed. Prune puree is a handy way to reduce the total sugar content of recipes. For example, all the added sugar (and half the cream!) were replaced with prunes in these delicious Sunsweet Mocha Mousse Chocolate and Prune Pots, per portion, sugar reduced by 4.6g; fat by 5.1g; and energy by 50kcal.

    As a general rule using prune puree to replace sugar can reduce total sugar content in pudding recipes by a quarter. Give it a try!

  5. Reduces fat
  6. Prunes are naturally fat free yet their fibre and sorbitol content mean they behave like fat in baking. Additionally, prune puree has a silky consistency that is very similar to butter. The fibre and sorbitol work to retain moisture and, together with prunes’ malic acid, enhance flavours by bringing out the flavours of other ingredients without overpowering them. These unique qualities help produce soft and chewy baked goods. They are perfect attributes for modifying this traditional Prune and Almond Cake recipe. Inclusion of prunes meant butter and sugar could easily be reduced and additionally the original mascarpone cheese was replaced with a much lighter yoghurt, to create a cake that is lower in fat, saturated fat and sugar.

    The fantastic deep purple colour of prunes helps create a baked and roasted appearance, perfect for baking and an added bonus for pale-looking gluten free breads. These same qualities also work brilliantly in savoury meat dishes.

  7. Less sugar than dates
  8. Dates are commonly used as an added sugar replacer in sticky toffee pudding, but did you know prunes contain 30g less sugars per 100g. Prunes taste less sweet due to their sorbitol content, which is the highest of any dried fruit! Sorbitol is type of carbohydrate called a polyol, which tastes less sweet than other sugars, such as sucrose.

    It is the sorbitol and fibre in prunes that are responsible for prunes being beneficial for maintaining normal bowel function. Prunes’ unique blend of sorbitol and fibre mean it’s possible to add extra fruit to a recipe - a real feel good factor! [sugars: prunes 38g/100g; and dates 66-70g/100g. Dates and prunes both contain no added sugars.]

    This scrumptious Sticky Toffee Pudding replaces dates with prunes, reducing added fat and sugar, increasing the fibre content and adding 75g of extra fruit! The final recipe (per 100g) contains 28% less sugar, 43% less fat and 89% more fibre than the original.

  9. Added fibre
  10. Fibre has been the forgotten essential of our diet, which is probably why we consume under 20g per day, way less than recommended. The UK daily recommendation for fibre is 30g and a recent review commissioned by the World Health Organisation showed that low fibre consumers were at much higher risk of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.

    Prunes are high in fibre (7.1g/100g), so adding prunes to these recipes increases the overall fibre content between 35-89%. Adding prunes to a Flourless Chocolate Torte increased fibre content by 57% per portion!

    And did you know…prunes are also a dream match with chocolate due to their caramelized flavours and vanilla undertones.

  11. Lowers total calories
  12. We all know butter means high calories- yes a whopping 744kcal per 100g, whereas prunes contain just 229kcal/100g, so since prunes behave like fat (but are fat free!), replacing butter for prunes can help reduce total energy too! These Sunsweet Anzac Biscuits use chopped prunes, which also act as a binding aide so added butter, sugar and syrup can be reduced to save 9% calories per portion.

  13. Other uses of prunes in cooking and healthy eating
    • It’s not always possible to make cakes from scratch, so to help keep portion sizes of ready-made cakes down, serve with a handful of prunes, or drizzle with prune puree if appropriate!
    • Adding whole or chopped prunes within recipes, or on the side counts towards your 5 a day intake.
    • Not only are prunes good in sweet baked dishes, their subtle sweetness and unique combination of substances including sorbitol and malic acid, all combine to mean prunes work like a natural preservative, helping to retain moisture and extend shelf life. SO, your batch cooking will stay fresher and moist for longer!
    • Prunes can be enjoyed as part of a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. Eating 100g (8-12) prunes a day can contribute to normal bowel function; their vitamin K and manganese content means that they can help maintain normal bones; and being a source of copper and manganese, this can help protect cells from oxidative stress. Why not learn more about the nutritional benefits of prunes, and see how it can contribute to your healthy and balanced lifestyle?