Serving you with

the freshest news
Sunsweet is an agricultural cooperative

Sunsweet Prunes

Blog

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

Have we forgotten the real meaning of Christmas?

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, December 03, 2015

This year, why not tune out of what the media – and everybody else - tells you about the perfect, family Christmas? You might just be able to conjure up a Christmas – with much less pressure, that suits your family down to the ground. Also, read our tips on keeping the whole family moving, even when the TV and choccies call!

Have we forgotten the real meaning of Christmas?

At Christmas, we can feel under more pressure than ever to be living the perfect life. Perfectly grateful children, patiently taking turns to open their perfectly chosen gifts. A perfect meal - home-cooked from scratch and festooned with everyone's favourite trimmings – being tucked into with gusto from a perfectly decorated table. A perfectly flambeed Christmas pudding... OK, you get the idea. And it's lovely, in theory. But the pressure – for the person who's expected to conjure up this vision of Christmas perfection, often single-handedly – can become too much.

Real Meaning

This Christmas, why not resolve to cut yourself some slack? Think about what Christmas means to you. Ask your family what Christmas means to them. Tailor-make a Christmas that's packed full of meaning for your family. And forget about everything else. There is no gold standard for the perfect Christmas. What's perfect for you, is perfect for you. (And there's a lot to be said for pre-peeled spuds!)

Keeping Active

We all know that physical activity – even if it's the last thing we feel like doing – can make us feel more energetic and generally improve our sense of wellbeing . So, even on the big day, make sure that you give your family plenty of opportunities to get moving.

  • For older kids, turn clearing the table and washing the dishes into a race-against-the-clock.
  • Younger kids can organise each person's present piles – into bags or boxes – so that you can at least see the living room floor or, better still, so that they can be transported to the respective rooms.
  • Even the tiniest of tots can be put in charge of sorting wrapping paper and packaging for recycling.
  • And if tempers and tears seem inevitable – and not just amongst the toddlers! - it's time for some fresh air and a change of scenery. Bundle everybody up. Set off for a brisk stroll around the block. You'll have rosy cheeks – and sweeter moods – in no time.

Pumpkin Soup with Prunes

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, November 26, 2015

Sweet and scrumptious with delicious accents of warming ginger and zingy lime, the whole family are sure to love our Pumpkin Soup with Prunes. Rustle up a pot before heading out for an afternoon stroll. You'll return to a home filled with the comforting aroma of Autumn. Hearty, tasty and full of healthy vegetables and fruit, serve this soup with our gluten free focaccia. It's what Autumn is all about. This soup keeps well, too, so make plenty!

Ingredients

300 g pumpkin 
200 g carrots
1 walnut-sized piece of ginger
1 onion
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
800 ml vegetable stock 
Salt and pepper
Cayenne pepper
1 organic lime
120 g Sunsweet prunes
100 ml whipping cream
4 small stems of celery with green leaves

Instructions

  1. Rinse and dice pumpkin. Peel, clean and rinse the carrots cut them into small pieces. Peel and dice the ginger. Peel and dice the onion.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan. Briefly braise the onion, pumpkin, carrots and ginger in the hot oil. Pour in the vegetable stock and boil the vegetables with the lid on the pan for approx. 25-30 minutes until they are soft. Puree everything in a food processor. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.
  3. Rinse the lime and strip its peel off with a zester. Squeeze out the lime juice. Add the lime juice, lime peel and prunes (halved if you want) to the soup and briefly heat it again. Whisk the cream until it is semi thick. 
  4. Serve the soup in cups or glasses with a celery stem and a spot of cream.

Light Prune Focaccia

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, November 12, 2015

Our Light Prune Focaccia combines the wonderfully aromatic flavours of rosemary sprigs, sea salt and cherry tomatoes with sweet, versatile and super- scrumptious prunes. Made with gluten-free flour, our Light Prune Focaccia is a great option for anybody who is avoiding gluten. But it's also a great option for anybody who simply loves fresh, home-made bread. Our Focaccia is the perfect, Italian-style accompaniment to a range of healthy soups and salads. Delicious!

Ingredients

7 g dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
40 ml olive oil
350 g gluten-free flour
3 sprigs of rosemary, 2 of them chopped
100 g California prunes
12 cherry tomatoes
Coarse sea salt

Other:
Ovenproof pan 26 cm

Instructions

  1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in 250 ml lukewarm water. Add 30 ml of olive oil. Mix flour with salt, chopped rosemary and prunes. Add the dissolved yeast and stir until smooth. Pour dough into a bowl and let rise for about 1 hour until it has doubled.
  2. Knead the dough again and form a shape that fits into the pan. Using your knuckle, make indentations in the dough, then prick with fork. Brush the pan with some of the olive oil and place the dough inside. Press cherry tomatoes into the dough. Drizzle with the remaining oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary.
  3. Place into the preheated oven at 180° C (convection oven 160° C) and bake for 35 minutes. Cut the focaccia into pieces and serve.

Tip: Focaccia goes particularly well with rocket pesto.

Gluten Free Living

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, November 05, 2015

Following a gluten free diet has become much more popular and widespread, over recent years. A report by USA Today, for example, found that as many as one in four people were now attempting to live gluten free. In this feature, we will explore the differences between gluten sensitivity and coeliac disease and take a look at hints and tips for living gluten free, with the minimum of fuss.

What is Gluten?

But, first, what exactly is this gluten that we hear so much about? Gluten is the protein that is found in the grains – like wheat and barley and rye – that feature heavily in the everyday diets of so many of us. Think of all the bread and pasta and breakfast cereals that our families consume on a daily basis.

Many people report feeling bloated and sluggish after a particularly gluten rich meal, leading them to make a lifestyle choice of avoiding the protein wherever possible. Experts now believe that mild symptoms, like these, could be due to a sensitivity to gluten. The British Medical Journal does warn against self-diagnosis, though, because such symptoms could be down to something more serious, like coeliac disease.

Coeliac Disease

For people with coeliac disease - an autoimmune response to gluten – exclusion, for life, is the only treatment for the condition. It is estimated that around one percent of the population is affected by the condition. According to the NHS, “Reported cases of coeliac disease are two to three times higher in women than men and can develop at any age, although symptoms are most likely to develop during early childhood and in later adulthood.”

Coeliac disease – because it irritates and then subsequently damages the lining of the gut - causes painful diarrhoea that, in turn, can lead to weight loss, anaemia, extreme tiredness and even osteoporosis. (Why not take a look at our features on bone health, to find out more about this?). A gluten free diet allows the gut to heal and for the symptoms to improve.

Gluten Free Choices

The good news is that a gluten free diet doesn't have to be too restrictive. Many foods – like meat and fish, rice and potatoes, vegetables and fruit – can still be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Cafes and restaurants are now much more geared up towards offering a gluten free choice. And the even better news is that prunes are a naturally gluten free food – a serving of prunes or a glass of prune juice can be included in a gluten free diet. You can also add them to your favourite coeliac-friendly recipes for a sweet and fruity twist.

Need some inspiration?

Check out our recipe pages where we’ve recently added new gluten free recipes like Light Prune Focaccia, Dense Chocolate Cake, Homemade Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake … no need to compromise on taste 

We recommend you seek medical advice before making dietary changes.

Keeping the Family Healthy this Autumn

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, October 14, 2015

It may be autumn but it's important to make sure that you don't let the family's healthy habits slope off into hibernation just yet! Our fun tips - on diet and exercise - will make sure that you all stay on top form, well into the winter.

Diet

Avoid calorie-heavy and nutrition-light meals by planning ahead. Our website has loads of warming and yet healthy recipe ideas that are just perfect as the cooler weather and darker nights start to set in. Many of the recipes can be made in bulk and a few portions popped into the freezer for ready-meals with the x-factor.

Try adding extra portions of fruit and veg into every meal. Prunes, bananas and milled seeds, for example, can be buzzed into milk for a satisfying breakfast or for a snack that packs a nutritious punch. And the nutritional value of your family's favourite bakes can be boosted with dried fruit. Chopped Sunsweet prunes, for example, will transform a flapjack.

Use the hedgerows as your larder! A handful of blackberries whizzed up with prunes makes a deliciously fruity compote. Use the compote to add a fruity twist to a bowl of creamy, natural yogurt or enjoy it spread on warm, wholemeal toast. Delicious!

Exercise

Use the garden as your gym! Autumn is the perfect time to get things ship-shape, outside. Clear those weeds, sweep those leaves, dig over those beds. The whole family will have a healthy glow in no time and you'll have the satisfaction of an impressively tidy garden, to boot.

Make a date for an activity – a walk with friends in the country-side, perhaps – put it on the calendar and make sure that you stick to it. There really is no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothing. Invest in some waterproofs, get the whole family wrapped up warm and get out there. Enjoy!

Never let yourself reach the point of being ravenous, no matter how busy your day turns out to be. It is far better to keep yourself topped up by enjoying small and healthy snacks throughout the day than it is to deprive yourself and, ultimately, end up bingeing on more unhealthy options when you are running on empty. A handful of Sunsweet prunes makes for a quick and tasty snack. Prunes are perfectly portable, too, a good choice for those days when you simply don't have time to stop.

Check out our recipe pages for healthy, and tasty, snacking inspiration!

Happy Autumn!

Simple steps to boost your bone health

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, October 01, 2015

October 20th is World Osteoporosis Day. Incredibly, some one in three women and one in five men will be affected by the disease during their lifetimes. Osteoporosis has a weakening effect on the bones and it can lead to painful fractures and even to severe disability. Organised by the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), World Osteoporosis Day launches a rolling, year-long programme of activity to raise awareness of the condition and effect positive change for sufferers.

Maintaining strong and healthy bones, throughout your lifetime, is an excellent foundation for enjoying an active lifestyle well into old age. And simple steps like combining a good diet with weight-bearing exercise can help to boost bone health – whatever your age – and reduce the likelihood of developing osteoporosis in later life.

According to the IOF, micronutrients are substances - with ongoing research into their benefits – that can be important in maintaining bone health. The IOF actually recommend snacking on prunes because they are high in micronutrients, Vitamin K. And, on our website, we have recipes for some truly scrumptious prune-related treats. By tucking into delicious goodies like Prune Cookies, Creamy Vanilla Prune Popsicles and Prune Parfait, you'll be doing your tummy and your tastebuds a favour, as well as your bones!

Steps can be taken to prevent osteoporosis and the IOF, on the World Osteoporosis Day website, offer the following top tips for building strong bones:

  • Regular exercise
  • Bone healthy nutrients
  • Avoid negative lifestyle habits
  • Identify your risk factors
  • Take osteoporosis medicine if prescribed

On the Sunsweet website – where you'll find the recipes for those super-tempting treats that we mentioned earlier - we have a section dedicated entirely to prunes and bone health. There really is a wealth of information including hints and tips for boosting bone strength and some important pointers from the IOF. Did you know, for example, that a 10% increase in peak bone mineral density - an indicator of strength - could delay the development of osteoporosis by up to 13 years?

From the Prunes and Bone Health section of our website, you can download informative and yet simple-to-read whitepapers on the following topics:

And, on the 8th October, we are delighted to be featuring an exclusive blog about the topic – appropriately entitled “Love Your Bones!”. The blog is certain to be an informative and enjoyable read so do make sure that you check it out.

PS: Don't forget to grab a few extra packs of those delicious Sunsweet prunes on your next shop, too!

The Low-Down on Low GI

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, September 09, 2015

It can be tricky, when you're trying to eat healthily, to keep up with all of the latest buzzwords and acronyms. But don't worry. At Sunsweet, we make it our business to stay ahead in the healthy-eating game.

Ever wondered just what GI means, for example?

Well, in a nutshell, GI – the glycaemic index - measures the effects of carbohydrates on the body's blood sugar. Carbs that are rapidly broken down, during digestion, rapidly release glucose into the bloodstream. And these carbs have a high GI. Carbs that are broken down more gradually, release glucose more gradually and these carbs have a low GI.

Recent studies from Harvard School of Public Health indicate that the risks of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease are strongly related to the GI of the overall diet.

What’s recommended?

Experts recommend that - to maintain weight and keep blood sugar levels steady - we aim for a diet with an overall GI of 50 or less.

And so sweet and tasty snacks are out, right? Not so, happily. In fact, Sunsweet prunes make an excellent choice. 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. Excellent news!

Easy entertaining inspired by Sunsweet prunes

Posted by Sunsweet - Tuesday, July 14, 2015

These days, life is busy! The weeks – and sometimes even the months – can slip by without us having had the opportunity to spend any quality time with our friends and family. However, the summer holidays – with their promise of longer, sunnier days - can be a wonderful chance for a catch up.

Brunch is a contemporary and informal way to get together with loved ones. Brunch parties usually start in the late morning but often continue long into the afternoon. Plan ahead and let the aroma of freshly baked brownies and muffins – packed with Sunsweet prunes for a tasty and nutritious twist – tempt your guests, as they arrive. Dress your table with a stylish tablecloth and napkins – paper ones are perfect and the ultimate in convenience – before piling it high with nibbles and drinks and letting the day unfold. It really couldn't be simpler!

Sunsweet prunes are the surprising inspiration behind a whole range of party dishes. They are perfect for every occasion, from a fun-filled family party to a more formal get-together. Whether the venue is the beach, the garden or the dining room - after a last minute, rain-drenched relocation - the pace for your summer party should be slow. It's your holiday, too, and - after the hustle and bustle of the rest of the year – it really is time to be taking things easy.

  • Keep your party menu simple with just a handful of show-stopping dishes. Check out our deceptively easy recipe ideas in the next section
  • Serve light and tasty food that is simple for you to make. Why not have a go at our refreshing sorbet and super-healthy sushi recipes?
  • Select finger foods so that you can cut down on the washing up. Our Thai chicken skewers are a scrumptious example!
  • Prepare as much as you possibly can, before your guests arrive
  • Delegate. Rope in the kids to help make the party table look pretty; tea-lights in little glass jars and fresh flowers from the garden are very effective. Take up your guests' offers, to contribute – a freshly baked loaf, a home-grown salad, an interesting artisan cheese will complement most menus
  • And finally…

  • Sit back, relax and enjoy the delicious fruits of your labour. Cheers!

We Are What (And How) We Eat

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Most of us have heard the phrase “you are what you eat”. However Dr. Nick Read, gives us a fresh perspective on this old saying including - “you are how you eat”.

Professor Nick Read is a consultant gastroenterologist and analytical psychotherapist. He uses both of these disciplines in combination to investigate and treat patients with mind-body diseases, particularly those with functional gastrointestinal disorders.

Dr. Read is currently the Chair of the IBS Network in the UK, an independent charity dedicated to support, inform and advise people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

While encouraging us to make the 5-a-day an integral part of our daily nutrition plans, he also draws our attention to the environment and manner in which we consume food. Relaxation, company and liking what you eat, for instance, all contribute to digestive health and overall well-being.

Maintaining the right fibre intake can also help many of our digestion and bowel problems. Dr. Read recommends natural prune juice (like Sunsweet®) as a nutritious and stimulating addition to the daily diet. It contributes to the veggie and fruit intake and also helps the digestive system.

Watch our Eating and Drinking Well video and hear what Dr. Read has to say about the positive impact of a healthy diet on constipation and his recommendations on natural treatments and preventative measures.

Refresh and Rejuvenate Your Travel Days

Posted by Sunsweet - Monday, June 29, 2015

Is travelling a digestion nightmare? You’re not alone. Dehydration, changes in diet, uncomfortable postures and lack of movement have been known to upset bodily functions often resulting in a sluggish digestion. Lack of fibre has also been proven to be a significant cause. And just when your system gets back in gear, it’s time to take off again. So how do you beat the travel blues and stay healthy even while you’re on the go and away from home?

Making healthy choices wherever possible (and walking about every couple of hours) can ease some of the imbalance, discomfort and anxiety. Sunsweet ® Prunes are a great solution. Prunes are proven to promote healthy digestion and the best part is, you can take the prunes with you wherever you go! Drinking naturally sweetened Sunsweet® Prune Juice is another easy healthy choice and it quenches your thirst and tastes great.

Whether you are suffering from a sensitive digestive system or blessed with a very strong one, disruptive sleep patterns, changing time zones, unhealthy food or new foods, dehydration, and the stress associated with travelling can take its toll on you. Frequent travellers often find it hard to get their health on track. Take a look at our travel tips below to help maintain your good health and reduce digestion problems.

Simple Health Tips for People on the Go
  • Take healthy on-the-go snacks whenever you leave home. prunes are easy to carry along.
  • Try to get the right amount of fluids; fruit and vegetable juices quench your thirst and contribute to good nutrition.
  • In a restaurant, ask the waiter questions about the menu to help you make healthy food choices.
  • For a long stay, find a local store to stock-up on some favourite healthy foods.
  • When travelling to a non-English speaking country, find a translation of your food preferences and intolerances, or search the Internet for this type of information prior to your departure.
  • Keep exercise in your day even if your routine changes.
    • Pack exercise bands or empty water bottles in your suitcase. You can fill the bottles with water when you reach your destination and use them for strength training exercises in your hotel room.
    • If possible, choose a hotel that caters to your wellness regimen. Today, many hotels have gyms, saunas and/or pools.
    • Download an exercise app onto your phone and do a quick workout in your hotel room.
  • Give yourself a chance to relax and digest your food before you exercise.
  • Reduce stress and digestive problems with lifestyle and stress management strategies. Remember it's not stress itself that causes health issues, but how you handle it. Find ways to unwind that work for you!

A sluggish digestion can become a regular issue forcing you to keep away from many foods you enjoy as well as causing discomfort and anxiety on a daily basis. Sunsweet® Prunes and Prune Juice are a delicious and effective way to combat your travel woes.