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

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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!

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!