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

Vernal Pea Soup with Cream Cheese Dumplings

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, March 10, 2016

An elegant starter. A light and tasty lunch. A bowlful of springtime beauty. Our delicious Vernal Pea Soup with Cream Cheese Dumplings is actually surprisingly simple to make. And with less than 300 calories in each bowl, we are certain that it'll become a firm favourite in your family's recipe repertoire, too. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 onion
1 tsp. olive oil 
400 g frozen peas
300 g vegetable stock 
200 ml kefir
80 g California prunes 
100 g cream cheese 
4 sprigs of mint 
Salt & pepper (coarse)

Instructions

  1. Finely dice onion. Heat oil in a pan and sauté onions until translucent. Add peas and sauté for 1 minute. Deglaze with vegetable stock, bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes over medium heat.
  2. Remove pan from heat and finely blend with a hand blender. Pour the soup into a metal bowl, place it in cold water and allow soup to cool.
  3. Stir kefir into the cold soup. Season with salt and pepper. Finely chop prunes and mint and mix with cream cheese. Form small dumplings using 2 wet teaspoons and serve with the soup. Garnish with mint and pepper.

Tip: serve with toasted baguette.


Peppered Lamb Fillet with Balsamic Tomatoes

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, February 25, 2016

The weather outside may still be Oh so wintry. But don't worry! Wintry nights are the perfect excuse to stay at home, get cosy with the people you love and serve up something special. With its deliciously sweet and fruity sauce, our Peppered Lamb Fillets couldn't be more perfect. Bon appetit!

Ingredients

3 tbsp. black pepper 
3 tbsp. coriander seeds
4 lamb fillets
7 tbsp. olive oil 
2 cloves of garlic 
2 sprigs of rosemary 
7 tbsp. of honey 
80 ml balsamic vinegar 
100 g cherry tomatoes, halved 
100 g California prunes, coarsely chopped 
250 g polenta semolina
½ bunch of parsley 
2 sprigs of sage 
40 g Parmesan cheese (grated) 
Salt 

Instructions

  1. Finely chop pepper and coriander. Wash lamb fillets, pat dry and season with pepper and coriander. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil with crushed garlic and rosemary. Add the lamb fillets and fry on each side for 2 minutes. Then wrap the meat with garlic and rosemary in tinfoil and bake on a baking tray in a preheated oven at 160° C for 15 minutes (convection oven 140° C).
  2. Add honey and balsamic vinegar to a pan. Allow to boil for 5 minutes, add cherry tomatoes and prunes, then remove from heat.
  3. Bring 1 litre of water to a boil together with 1 teaspoon of salt and the remaining olive oil. Stir in polenta and leave to simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat. Finely chop parsley and sage and stir into the polenta semolina. Fold in Parmesan cheese.
  4. Take lamb out of the oven, let it rest for 2 minutes and cut into slices. Serve lamb with polenta and balsamic tomatoes.

Tip: baby spinach salad works well as a side dish.


Suffering from ‘tummy trouble’ and a sluggish digestion? Prunes can help!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, February 18, 2016

For whatever the reason, when the digestive system gets out of whack the entire body can start to feel its effects. Lethargy. Bloating. Sluggishness. And even some pretty acute pain. There's good news, though. A sluggish digestion doesn't have to be endured, as just 'one of those things'. There are lots of tips for you to try, here. And the even better news? They're easy!

The discomfort and inconvenience of suffering from digestive problems, especially when you have previously been able to take a healthy digestive system for granted, can be tough to handle. There are lots of different factors that can affect digestion; from experiencing busy and stressful periods in your life, to hormonal changes triggered by pregnancy, to the natural and inevitable physical changes that go hand in hand with the aging process. Whatever the reason, if the digestive system has become chronically sluggish the entire body can wind up feeling below par, as a result.

The aging process

Digestion problems can crop up at any life stage and at any age. But according to the online medical resource, WebMD almost 40% of older adults have at least one digestive issue annually. Constipation is one of the more commonly-cited digestive complaints and with sufferers experiencing symptoms like the ones listed below, it really is no joke:

  • Reduced frequency of bowel movements
  • Sensations of sluggishness and bloatedness
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Increased risk of developing piles

Common conditions

Constipation can be caused by a whole host of factors including age-related changes in the digestive system, medication and the effects of undertaking reduced levels of physical activity and not drinking adequate fluids or eating enough fibre.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease – a condition that can be responsible for causing unpleasant and even painful symptoms like heartburn - is pretty common, too. The condition can be exacerbated by eating rich foods, by eating late at night and by generally eating too much because being overweight can be a trigger for the onset of the condition's symptoms.

As you age, it's important to schedule regular health checks with your doctor to discuss any symptoms that might worry you. And, of course, any sudden changes in your body should always be thoroughly investigated by your GP. As with many issues, though, preventing digestive problems – before they become chronic - is far preferable to having to treat those issues medically.

Now for the good news!

And there's some good news. Because simple and common-sense steps like maintaining a healthy weight by eating well – choosing a diet with plenty of fibre and fluids, for example - and exercising regularly are excellent starting points. Having a good understanding of the digestive basics – like opting for gut-friendly foods - can go a long way towards nipping potential problems in the bud, too. Here are our top 3 digestion-boosting tips for you to try. And they really couldn't be more simple. You can check out a more comprehensive list of easy, digestion-boosting tips, here. And there's even a whistle-stop tour of the digestive system, too!

  • Mindfulness at mealtimes: sit up at the table, switch off your phone and savour your food.
  • Drink plenty: water, herbal tea and fruit juices are all good choices. Avoid ice-cold drinks at mealtimes, though, they can make digestion sluggish.
  • Snack on prunes: they're sweet, super-tasty and a source of fibre and sorbitol.

Here's to maintaining good digestive health, whatever your age!

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.

Dense Chocolate Cake

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ah, the food of love... Our Dense Chocolate Cake is as close to desert heaven as it gets. Wonderfully moist. Super chocolatey. Surprisingly simple to make. And do you know what's even more surprising? This is a gluten-free bake. And each slice of scrumptious yumminess contains less than 400 calories. 

Ingredients

200 g dark chocolate 
100 g butter, cubed 
1 vanilla pod 
5 eggs 
1 pinch of salt 
100 g sugar 
150 g California prunes 
3 tbsp. cocoa powder 
Confectioner's sugar for dusting 


Other:
Cake springform baking tin24 cm 

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 160° C (convection oven 140° C). Line spring form with baking paper. Chop chocolate. Cut butter into cubes. Place both into a bowl and melt over hot water. Cut vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds.
  2. Separate eggs and beat the egg whites, salt and sugar until stiff. Remove chocolate from water, allow to slightly cool, and then stir in the egg yolks. Stir in prunes, vanilla seeds, and cocoa powder, carefully fold in egg white.
  3. Pour the cake mixture into the springform baking tin and bake for 40 minutes.  Allow the cake to cool and serve dusted with confectioner's sugar.

Never give a second thought to heart health? Discover why that has to change.

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, February 04, 2016

Although the official stats around heart disease are sobering – it's the leading cause of death worldwide, after all - there are some simple steps that you can take, around things like diet and exercise and stress-management, to help to effect positive change. Do your heart good, this February, with a helping hand from Sunsweet.

Valentine's Day. It's the perfect excuse to give a little thought to the health of our hearts. But as delightful as all the lovey-dovey stuff is, just for the moment, we're not talking about our hearts in a romantic sort of way. Because the stats around heart health - from internationally-respected organisations like the British Heart Foundation – are sobering.

  • Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide.
  • Cardiovascular disease causes more than a quarter of all UK deaths.

Heart disease – the risk factors

Risk factors for heart problems include diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels and what the British Heart Foundation refer to as 'modifiable risk factors', these are things like physical inactivity and poor diet. Stats from the British Heart Foundation claim that, in the UK:

  • 25% of adults are obese.
  • 50% of women don't get enough exercise.
  • And just 25% of adults manage to get their 5-a-day of fruit and veg.

The organisation undertakes research into the effects of stress, too. And although it isn't necessarily a direct risk factor for heart disease, the coping mechanisms that many of us choose to counter stress – things like skipping exercise and becoming more sedentary in our daily routines, eating foods that are unhealthy in a bid to comfort ourselves and drinking too much alcohol or smoking – just might be.

The benefits of prunes

Our lifestyle, including diet, exercise and the way that we handle stress, has a fundamental impact on our wellbeing, both physically and emotionally. And so a common-sense attitude towards health – like choosing to eat more healthily, more of the time – is really important. A nutritious contribution to a healthy and balanced diet, and a tasty step towards 5-a-day, Californian prunes are sweet, super-tasty and high in fibre. But did you know that they may have heart-health boosting properties, too?

  • Prunes are high in potassium, which supports normal blood pressure.
  • Prunes are naturally saturated-fat-free and reducing the consumption of saturated fat helps to maintain normal blood cholesterol levels.
  • Prunes are a source of vitamin K, which contributes to normal blood clotting.

You can check out a more comprehensive list of the health benefits of prunes, here :

Try our trio of health-tricks

When the going gets tough and the motivation for sticking to healthy habits disappears, it can be helpful to some health-tricks up your sleeve.

  • A walk and talk with a friend means fresh air and exercise, an opportunity to let off steam and rather conveniently, put some distance between you and unhealthy temptations.
  • Build-up a repertoire of nutritious and quick-to-prepare recipes. Our website is an excellent resource. Our Crispy Tofu Tandoori with Prune Sauce , for example, will limit the lure of the Indian takeaway menu
  • Create a list of treats for when you really need to up the feel-good factor. Whether it's dimming the lights, popping on some candles and relaxing in front of the fire. Soothing your body – and mind - in a warm, scented bath. Or enjoying a slice of damn-fine chocolate cake. Because, at the end of the day, just a little of what you fancy may do your heart the world of good!

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.

Flavourful Quinoa Prune Tabbouleh

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, January 14, 2016

Our Flavourful Quinoa Prune Tabbouleh may have the humble spud running scared! Beautiful to look at. Extremely versatile. And full of flavour as its name suggests. It’s a super tasty light lunch or a side dish to liven up the very dullest of suppers; a wonderful recipe to have in your repertoire. What's not to love?!

Ingredients

300 g quinoa
2 red onions 
250 g cherry tomatoes 
1 cucumber 
100 g California prunes 
1 avocado
2 bunches of flat-leaf parsley 
1 bunch of mint 
10 tbsp. olive oil 
8 tbsp. lemon juice 
1 tsp. cumin 
Salt & pepper 

Instructions

  1. Wash quinoa thoroughly under running water for 2 minutes and then drain. Place in a saucepan with 600 ml of water, add salt and bring to the boil. Simmer over low heat for approximately 15 minutes until quinoa grains break open and swell. Quinoa is al dente even when cooked. Fluff the quinoa gently with a fork, then serve.
  2. Peel onions and cut into strips, dice tomatoes and halve cucumber, remove seeds and slice. Dice prunes and avocado. Wash and chop parsley and mint. Stir olive oil together with lemon juice, cumin, salt and pepper until smooth. Add quinoa and other ingredients. Let rest for about 20 minutes and serve.

50% of all New Year’s Resolutions Fail – Will yours?

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, January 07, 2016

This New Year, why not resolve to do something a little bit different? You could resolve to treat yourself well with delicious food that is super-nourishing, too. You could resolve to create a plan of activity for your family that is, primarily, fun. And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, this year's resolutions will be the ones that you'll actually keep!

How to move your New Year’s resolutions into the 50% that succeed!

How many times have we all proclaimed (almost brazenly!) – to ourselves and to friends - lists of positive, well intentioned New Year's Resolutions which we ‘resolve to include in our lives with energy, spirit, enthusiasm, passion and intent, and yet, statistically many resolutions are set to fail, before they’ve actually commenced! An American study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology estimated that, every New Year, some 50 percent of the population makes resolutions around things like weight loss, exercise, smoking and finances but 6-8 weeks later their promises are backsliding.

And yet, thankfully, Hope Springs Eternal.

So what can we do, to give ourselves a better chance of maintaining our resolve?

Create an ‘Area of Focus

Peter Bregman, writing in the Harvard Business Review, has offered insights into why the setting of specific goals often fail; ‘we’re taught to make them very specific, very measurable and time-bound .... but it turns out that those very characteristics are precisely the reasons goals can backfire’. Indeed, 6-8 weeks on when we haven’t met those high achieving goals we confidently proclaimed at the start of the New Year, we frequently begin to cheat, bluff ourselves, and lose momentum!

Bergman proposes: ‘Instead of identifying goals, consider identifying Areas of Focus’.

  • an Area of Focus establishes activities you want to spend your time doing; a goal defines an outcome you want to achieve.
  • an Area of Focus is a path; a goal is a result.
  • an Area of Focus settles you into the present; a goal points to a future you intend to reach.

And the beauty of the final outcome is that by narrowing the focus, our resolve becomes real and habit forming.

And we can certainly see the benefits of aiming to maintain a healthy lifestyle rather than introducing harsh exercise regimes and punitive crash diets. It makes sense for healthy habits to be an everyday part of life rather than things that are introduced in a panic on the first of January only to be abandoned a short time later. Having a buddy to support you  in your healthy endeavours is an excellent idea, too. You can share hints and tips. You can celebrate successes and learn from failures. You can cheer each other on, to keep focused and stay committed, when the going gets tough.

Five inspirational tips

If you're in need of a little inspiration, our Healthy Living Guide is an excellent place to start.
If you rely on your motivation alone, that life-affirming, energy-boosting, healthy-weight-maintaining exercise session may never happen! So here are 5 tips on creating a winter activity plan that will help you keep to your Area of Focus in check. 

  1. Change your behaviour by changing your thinking – exercise isn't a chore, it's fun!
  2. Dig out the high-vis, a brisk walk can be refreshing on a cold and crisp evening.
  3. Discover your inner child. If we're lucky enough to have snow, get out there and play!
  4. Sign up for a course. Something fun, like a jive class. Something soothing, like yoga. Whatever floats your boat.
  5. And finally, if the weather really is too foul to leave the house, YouTube is chock-full of workout videos for all ages, tastes and fitness levels.

Linzer Prune Cookies

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Keep things simple this Christmas and make your entertaining fuss-free so that you can focus on the important things; like having fun and spending quality time with your family and friends! Our Linzer Prune Cookies are super-festive whether you decide to serve them with mulled wine, hot chocolate or a glass of milk. And the enticing aroma of freshly-baked cookies couldn't be more welcoming for guests!

Ingredients

80 g Sunsweet prunes
3 tablespoons water
280-300 g flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons ginger spice
50 g brown sugar
100 g butter, softened
1 medium egg 
For the filling:
80 g quince or red currant jam
2 tablespoons water
100 g Sunsweet prunes


To Serve:
Some icing sugar for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C and puree prunes for the cookie dough with water.
  2. Mix baking powder with flour, ginger spice and sugar. Whisk in butter cubes, egg and plum puree with a hand mixer. Use kneader of hand mixer to knit the dough until smooth. Wrap the dough in foil and place for 30 min in the refrigerator.
  3. Boil water for 2 minutes with the jam. Add the prunes and puree and mix well.
  4. Roll out the dough on floured surface, until 2-3 mm thick. Cut out 36 round cookies (approx. 6cm diameter). Bake half of the cookies for 12 minutes. Cut out little stars (2,5-3cm diameter) from center of the uncooked cookies and bake. Also bake the little stars but take them out a few minutes earlier than the other cookies.
  5. Spread prune filling sparingly but evenly on the round cookies, then place a dab of the filling in the centre and place the cookies with star cut out on it. Press gently. Sift icing sugar over cookies. 

Don't let stress play havoc with your health, this Christmas!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, December 17, 2015

Stress. An inevitable part of modern life, especially at Christmas? Or something that we can – and should – take steps to influence and improve? Slow down the pace, this Christmas, and - you never know – you might actually enjoy it! Check out our tips on reducing those health-impacting stresses to enjoy more precious time with family and friends.

Can you make this Christmas your happiest and healthiest yet?

There's a school of thought that stress is an inevitable aspect of contemporary life. And we all know that Christmas can be an emotionally challenging time; a heady combination of family ‘differences’, money worries, general fatigue and the slipping of healthy habits, , can play havoc with our stress levels.

Stress – a widespread issue

The World Health Organisation defines stress as “the reaction people may have when presented with demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope”. Most of us can relate, in some way, to those feelings, especially at Christmas. Expectations are sky-high but with so much going on, often the energy levels and resources, required to deliver on those expectations, can be low. So what can you do to help reduce stress in your life?

Stress-busting tips

Here are three things that you could try, today,:

  1. Try to figure out the source of your stress, if you can. It could be your place of work. It could be your home. The places where we spend most of our time are good places to start in tracking down that source.
  2. Where possible, identify the steps that you could take to effect positive changes. And then make those steps. Start with small changes, at first, especially if you're feeling vulnerable.
  3. Make sure that you have some stress-busting strategies at your fingertips. Listen to soothing music. Practice mindfulness. Chat to a friend. Go for a walk. Take a long, hot bath. These are all excellent methods of de-stressing and couldn't be more simple.

Stress and tummy troubles

Digestion is a super-sensitive process, all too easily compromised by the stresses and strains of contemporary living. Stress can exacerbate a range of symptoms – including poor appetite and tummy troubles. These vary from person to person, but when the digestive system gets out of step – for whatever reason - the entire body can feel its unwelcome effects like bloating, constipation and indigestion.

Prunes can help!

Prunes have long been associated with digestive health and now there are scientific findings to support this. Research suggests that prunes should be considered as “a first line therapy” to maintain a healthy bowel. The research found that when 100g of prunes were eaten on a daily basis, they helped to support normal bowel function.

Why not check out our Digestion 101, too, to discover more hints and tips on maintaining a healthy digestive system?

With our very best wishes for a healthy, happy and stress-free Christmas!

Prune Chutney

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, December 10, 2015

Why not get back to basics, this Christmas, and make mouth-watering edible gifts that your foodie friends and family are certain to love? Our Prune Chutney - packed full of scrummy Christmassy spices - is a festive hug in a jar. You can rope in the kids, too, and make personalised labels for the Chutney to boost the cuteness factor and make a truly unique gift.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon peanut and vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped finely
250g SUNSWEET® prunes, chopped
1 tablespoon freshly grated root ginger
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 small bay leaf
75g soft brown sugar
100ml cider (or rice wine vinegar)
½ teaspoons ground allspice
salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over a low heat
  2. Add the onion, a little salt and pepper, and all the allspice
  3. Cook for 10 minutes, or until soft, stirring occasionally
  4. Add the prunes, ginger, garlic and bay leaf and cook gently for about 10-12 minutes.
  5. Add the sugar and vinegar and cook until the chutney is the consistency of a chunky applesauce.
  6. Season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

Serve warm or leave to cool. Will keep for several weeks in the fridge.

Great with savoury foods and as an accompaniment to cheese.