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

A side order of body confidence – just in time for summer!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, May 05, 2016

Poor body image; it can be a barrier to both happiness and health, so why not play to your strengths and bag yourself a whole load of body confidence .... just in time for summer. And we'll let you into a little secret: it's as much about your mind as it is about your body!

Embracing diversity – even in the toy world

After decades of criticism about promoting a body shape that is, without drastic surgery, unattainable to most, Mattel have finally given into pressure and released a range of Barbie dolls that more accurately represent the bodies of real women. The new range includes different body types - tall, curvy and petite – and a broader mix of skin tones, hair colours and textures. The changes are long overdue. An opinion piece in Time magazine commented that there have been times when the lack of body diversity in the Barbie range has seemed, at best, outdated and, at worst, downright offensive. And how people feel about their bodies matters.

Body image matters

The way that we feel about the size and shape and overall appearance of our bodies can have an impact, either positively or negatively, on our overall confidence levels. Low confidence, about any aspect of ourselves, can affect our self-esteem making it more difficult for us to try new things. Even if those new things could ultimately end up with us feeling better about our bodies! Things like trying out a selection of healthy, new recipes or giving a fun, high energy exercise class a go.

So poor body image can be a barrier to both happiness and health but, conversely, a report from gov.uk found that having a positive body image is associated with:

  • Making healthy choices, eating and exercising well
  • Treating your body with respect
  • Being self-protective, e.g: avoiding websites/ magazines that promote idealised beauty

But how exactly can that be achieved?

The positive psychology movement

Martin Seligman is a mover and shaker in the field of positive psychology. He has an impressive body of work that focuses on the promotion of good mental health to live a life that is as meaningful as possible. By focusing on our personal strengths, according to Seligman, we can help to boost our esteem thus making it easier for us to make healthy lifestyle choices – including trying those all-important new things! He suggests thinking about what makes you feel excited, what makes you feel invigorated rather than exhausted, what makes you feel joyful and enthusiastic and focusing on those.

Playing to your strengths

So, with summer just around the corner, here are our top three tips for getting yourself a whole load of body confidence. And guess what? It's as much about your mind as it is about your body!

  1. Ignore, if at all possible, societal pressure about body conformity: without personal stylists, flattering lighting and heavy-handed airbrushing, even the cover girls wouldn't look like cover girls!
  2. Embrace your uniqueness, celebrate it, aim to be you at your very best and remember that if you feel good, you'll exude confidence and there's nothing more attractive than that!
  3. Eat well so that you're bursting with energy and, that way, you'll feel more inclined to exercise. And do you know what? You'll glow!

Good luck!

PS: Don't forget to check out our fab healthy recipe collection. And be inspired to try something new.

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 Beginner's Guide to...Breakfast

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, April 21, 2016

Skipping breakfast. It's the obvious way to cut back on calories, isn't it? Well, think again. Skipping a meal can lead to less energy, reduced levels of physical activity and – ultimately – weight gain. Read on and let our Beginner's Guide to Breakfast help you – and your family - to get every day off to a Sunsweet start!

Breakfast – what's the big deal?

America's National Weight Control Registry investigates weight loss programmes on a statistically significant scale. And registered dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick observed, from the Registry's findings, that “more than 70 percent of people who have lost weight and kept it off include eating breakfast among their daily habits”. Evidence published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who ate breakfast, in a clinical trial, used more energy through physical activity than those who skipped the meal.

But can skipping meals be a way to aid weight loss?

Skipping meals, any meal, is not a good idea because it can result in tiredness - making you less likely to have the energy for physical activity, feeling over-hungry and make you more likely to choose unhealthy snacks to fill up on. If we're honest with ourselves, we innately know that to maintain a healthy weight, you need to balance the number of calories you consume through food, with the number of calories you burn off through exercise. It's pretty straightforward, really!

Prunes; a welcome boost towards your five-a-day

Our diet has an enormous impact on both our physical and our emotional wellbeing and a common-sense attitude towards healthy eating is crucial. Breakfast is an excellent opportunity to squeeze in a few extra portions of fruit and veg and this can give the boost towards five-a-day that many of us so desperately need!

Sweet and super-tasty, prunes are high in fibre, virtually fat-free, contain only naturally occurring sugars and are an excellent source of many nutrients making a valuable contribution towards a healthy, balanced diet. When time is short and you have no real choice but to eat your breakfast on the run, prunes – enjoyed straight from the pack – offer a convenient, and yet healthy, option. And, when time is on your side, prunes can really come into their own at breakfast-time.

Wow the family at breakfast-time – with prunes!

  • A handful of prunes – roughly chopped – make a deliciously fruity addition to your family's favourite breakfast cereals. They'll help to up your nutrient quota, early doors, and be a great start towards your five-a-day goal.
  • Pureeing the fruit and spreading it on warm toast makes for a simple, satisfying and super-tasty start to the day.
  • Whizzed together with your choice from a selection of fresh fruits, yogurts, juices and dairy or non-dairy milks, prunes can bring a wonderful depth of flavour to smoothies.

You can find more delicious Breakfast recipe inspiration by searching under the Breakfast category on our recipe page.

Now doesn't that sound worth leaping out of bed for?

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.

Vegetarian Tortillas

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, March 24, 2016

Had your fill of soggy sandwiches and paltry pastries? In the market for something fresh and flavoursome and perfectly portable? Bid farewell to boring lunch-time fayre and give our yummy Vegetarian Tortillas a go. At your desk. As part of a springtime picnic. They'll liven up your lunch-time, wherever you choose to eat them!

Ingredients

1 ripe avocado 
3-4 tablespoons of hot chilli sauce
Zest of ½ organic lemon
Salt
¼ head iceberg lettuce (approx. 150 g green leaves)
1 celery stick
4 soft tortilla wraps (58 g each)
200 g low fat cottage cheese 
200 g Sunsweet prunes

Instructions

  1. Chop iceberg lettuce into thin slices, wash and shake dry. Cut avocado in half, remove pit and spoon out the avocado meat. Mash avocado with a fork. Add hot chilli sauce and lemon zest and mix well. Season with salt. Clean and wash celery and cut lengthwise into very thin slices.
  2. Spread first the avocado mixture, then the cottage cheese on the tortilla wraps. Coat half of the wrap with iceberg lettuce. Place the prunes and celery lengthwise on the wrap. Roll up the wrap very tightly and cut diagonally in half.

Exercise: the “miracle” cure. Tips on how to make it work for you!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, March 17, 2016

They call it the ‘miracle cure’...it’s free, has immediate effect, it’s sociable, fun, suitable for all ages, good weather, bad weather, and, there’s now scientific evidence to prove it can help not only reduce your risk of succumbing to major illness but also help you lead a healthier and ever happier life. It's...exercise! Did that come as something of a surprise?

“If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented,” so says Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant.

The many benefits of regular exercise

And it's true that the positive arguments for regular exercise certainly cannot be overstated. People who exercise typically experience health benefits in the following areas, amongst many others, meaning that they can enjoy a healthier and even happier life:

  • Digestive health
  • Coronary heart disease and stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Osteoarthritis, hip fracture and falls (in older adults)
  • Depression
  • Dementia

*Source: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/whybeactive.aspx

How much should we be getting?

Although daily activity is important, adults should generally be aiming for a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise over the course of a typical week. Over the winter though, when the days are short, the weather is lousy and – at Christmas, in particular – the demands on our time are dizzying, it can be all too easy to let healthy habits slide. But spring is the perfect time for a fresh start, to overhaul routines for healthy living, to shake off that sense of winter sluggishness – both mental and physical - and to step towards the summer with confidence, positivity and bags of energy. So what are you waiting for?

5 tips to get you moving!

  1. Choose something that you really enjoy whether that's running or cycling or bopping around the house like a teenager!
  2. Team up with similarly enthusiastic people, you'll up the fun quotient and be much more likely to stick to the arrangements that you've made.
  3. Multi-task. We're all busy, these days, so bundling activities together might help to boost your motivation. Spend time with the kids, exercise the dog and get yourself hot and sweaty by organising a high-intensity kick-about in the park. Roll up your sleeves, pump up the stereo and spring clean the house. You get the idea!
  4. Make moving your body an integral part of your day-to-day life. If you need to make an extra special effort, you might find that you start to make excuses or that exercise slips off your priority list.
  5. And finally... Try not to make excuses. Yes, our lives are generally more sedentary these days. Yes, we are increasingly tied to our technology. But if you're not going to take responsibility for your own health, then who is?

Fuel that workout!

For a nutrient-packed and perfectly portable pre-workout snack, why not consider the not-so-humble prune? Naturally sweet, prunes have a low GI meaning that they release their energy relatively slowly to satisfy your sweetie-cravings without giving you the short-term energy rush and sugar-crash of so many other snacks. Prunes are scientifically-proven to help with digestion, a great way to help overcome sensations of inner sluggishness. You might be interested in our Digestion 101, too, to discover more about the health boosting properties of prunes.

Have a happy spring!

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.

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.


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.