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

The key to keeping well in winter? Keeping warm!

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The key to keeping well in winter? Keeping warm!

Being cold can have a negative impact on health, causing colds and flus and even things like heart problems and depression; that's according to Live Well, healthy living advice from the NHS. So read on, for our top four keeping toasty tips.

  1. A study by the Yale School of Medicine found that wrapping up warm, snuggling that nose into a cosy scarf, may help to keep colds at bay. That's because the common cold virus is able to multiply more readily when temperatures drop. Professor Akiko Iwasaki says, “If you can prevent the airway temperature from getting lower, it’s probably a good thing." What a fabulous excuse for stocking up on a chic scarf or two!
  2. Drawing the curtains after nightfall, keeping drafts to a minimum by closing internal doors, using hot water bottles to air your bed... Simple, old-fashioned and cost-effective tips for a cosy home. Try to keep active, even when you're planning to stay in the house. By moving around and dressing in cosy layers, you can help to stop your body's core temperature from plummeting.
  3. Choosing hearty, nourishing and warming dishes – like soups and stews – can help to stop the body from feeling chilly. Choose ingredients that punch above their weight when it comes to nutrition. Prunes, for example are a source of vitamin B6 and copper which support a healthy immune system. Oats are rich in fibre and release energy slowly. Combine the two – with water or milk - to make a deliciously fruity and satisfying porridge that the whole family will enjoy. An excellent way to kick-start the day, no matter how wintry the morning.
  4. Hot drinks - enjoyed regularly throughout the day - have an important role to play, too, in keeping warm. Research at the Common Cold Centre, at Cardiff University, studied the effect of hot drinks on colds. Professor Ron Eccles found that, “Both drinks were beneficial, but the hot drink was much more beneficial.” Why not try adding mulled wine spices to prune juice before gently warming it? Delicious!

5 Steps to a Healthier Lunch

Posted by Sunsweet - Tuesday, February 17, 2015

5 Steps to a Healthier Lunch 


1. Get organised

To eat healthier you need to make your life as easy as possible. Before you even consider what to make for lunch, check your selection of lunchboxes, containers and beakers and think of what else you might need. A large traditional lunch box is great for sandwiches, but if you are hoping to be more adventurous, you might consider purchasing a flask or range of smaller clip boxes for soups, fruit and of course dried fruits such as Sunsweet prunes. Plan your lunches for the week at the weekend and include your ingredients as part of your weekly shop. 


2. Vary your offering

You wouldn't want to eat the same thing for dinner every day, so why do the same with lunch? Too often we get stuck in a rut of making or indeed ordering the same sandwiches every day. Try a wrap, an open sandwich, a pasta salad or a baked potato to vary it up. If cooking the evening before, think of how you could use some of those leftover vegetables, meat or fish to make your lunch the next day. This will add variety into your diet and save you money too. Try out our vegetarian tortilla wrap  to liven up your lunch box. 


3. Soup glorious soup

It's cold out, so what is more satisfying at lunchtime than a bowl of hot nourishing soup? For the carnivores among you, making stock out of your next roast chicken will ensure any soup you make will be flavoursome. Or just buy pre-prepared stock cubes or liquids as the basis of your soup, add some dinner leftovers and vegetables and you are good to go. For increased protein, add chickpeas or bacon pieces and to enhance the flavour, a dash of olive oil, a teaspoon of parmesan cheese, or a sprinkling of fresh herbs is all you need. 


4. Include some proteins

Protein is essential for filling you up for longer and balancing blood sugar levels and therefore is essential to eat at regular intervals throughout the day. Good sources of protein include meat, fish, cheese, nuts and tofu which can often get left out with the traditional bread based lunch. Add to sandwiches, salads, or serve as a side but make sure to include some in your lunch. For kids' lunches, you could go American and try out some peanut or almond butter. Served on wholegrain bread with either bananas or jam, these nut butters will provide some healthy midday protein.   


5. Drink, drink, drink

For those who don't have access to a kitchen or water cooler in work or school, don't forget to bring a bottle of water with you. We all know we should be drinking two litres per day but unless it is at your desk beside you it is easy to forget. While obviously fizzy and sweetened drinks are to be avoided, fruit juices and even tea and coffee in moderation can all count towards your required daily fluid intake.

No Time to work out?

Posted by Sunsweet - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

You might not have time to go to the gym or do a fitness class, but that doesn't mean you cannot get fit. The trick is to try and bring fitness into your everyday life and disguise your exercise by doing things you enjoy. Do you like to dance, cycle, walk the dog or does vigorous housework de-stress you?   All these things are exercise – they get your heart pumping and burn calories.

So no more excuses, everyone can increase their fitness by incorporating these small changes.

Here are our top ten tips:

  1. Don't use the "I've no time to go to the gym" as an excuse. Never has home exercise been so accessible or affordable. If you have a games console already, invest in a Wii Fit or chose from one of the multitude of fitness DVD's available. Just 30 minutes 3 times a week would make a big difference to your fitness levels.
  2. Take public transport and leave the car at home. While it may mean timing your event more carefully, it saves fuel, money and is better for the environment. Also, get off one stop early and walk the rest of the way.
  3. Remember exercise does not have to mean sport. Housework, shopping or gardening can also count towards your daily exercise intake.
  4. When you encounter a stairs and an escalator side by side, chose the stairs. Yes it's easier to stand than walk but walking up stairs is a great mini workout to incorporate into your daily routine.
  5. When going to the cinema, shopping centre or any other place with a large car park, make a habit of parking furthest from the door. In the time spent looking for the "optimum" spot near the door, you will have already walked across the car park and had a little fresh air and exercise.
  6. Walk! It's free, healthy, weight bearing and can be done anywhere. You don't need special equipment other than sensible walking shoes or runners and can take place from right outside your front door.
  7. Don't waste your precious time going to an expensive gym on the edge of town. Find a local class near you by looking at the list of events in your local community centre or church hall.   As well as getting fit, you may even get to know some of your neighbours as you salsa, step or zumba together.
  8. Find a fitness buddy. Instead of catching up with friends over a coffee, tie those laces, put on those jackets and walk and talk.
  9. Forget the car for short journeys - make a habit of walking to your local shop, school or friend's house.
  10. Create more time. If you truly feel that you have no extra time for exercise, then create some!  Get up a half an hour earlier, or turn off your television in the evening for a half an hour or make a decision to go to bed a little later after your evening walk.

Exercising your right to healthy digestion

Posted by Sunsweet - Friday, January 09, 2015

Any exercise, as long as it is not to the extreme, will increase intestinal contractions and improve your digestive health. Getting your outside moving tends to get things moving inside too.

But not all exercises were created equal and some are better for your digestive health than others. Regular moderate intensity physical activity – such as walking, cycling or participating in sports – has significant benefits for health. It can, for instance reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, colon and breast cancer, and depression. Even simple changes to the way you go about your daily life such as taking the stairs instead of the lift can help you and your digestive system to move more.

Exercises considered good for digestion

All exercise is good for your internal and external fitness, and according to the World Health Organisation, adults should get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise every week. Depending on an individual's relative level of fitness, examples of moderate physical activity could include: brisk walking, dancing or doing the housework. Some exercises in particular are considered more beneficial for your digestive health. So if you are trying to improve your inner as well as external fitness, make sure to include some of the following into your weekly regime:

Aerobic Activities

As aerobic exercise increases the blood flow to all the organs of our body it also increases the blood flow to the digestive tract. The increased blood supply to these areas results in greater intestinal contractions, which in turn releases more digestive enzymes. This makes it easier for food waste to move through the colon and out of the body.

Post dinner walk

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, include at least a 30 minute walk after lunch or dinner. Your digestion will thank you for it.

Yoga – standing and inverted poses

If you think of yoga like a massage for your insides you can imagine how good your body feels after you put it through some simple positions. Quite apart from its proven stress boosting benefits, certain standing poses and inverted yoga poses in particular are good for digestion. If you don't have a class near you or cannot commit time wise, buy a beginners DVD or download an app to get started.

With all exercise be mindful of the fact that digestion does take quite a bit of energy and therefore make sure to allow adequate time after meals before starting exercise. Remember also to always listen to your body's signals, in particular when embarking on a new exercise regime. Your body is a highly tuned machine – if something is not working well – it will let you know!  If you find that one type of exercise doesn't suit you or your digestion, you might consider a different type of exercise such as cycling or swimming until your digestive health is in better shape, and then try it again.

Note: This information is not intended as a substitute for consulting with your Doctor.

We very much fancy a slice of this Dense Chocolate Cake

Posted by Sunsweet - Friday, October 25, 2002

Our Dense Chocolate Cake is wonderfully moist, super chocolatey and surprisingly simple to make. But there’s something that’s even more surprising. Our cake is a gluten-free bake and each delicious slice contains fewer than 400 calories. And it smells amazing while baking!

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.

Try Something New This Christmas!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, December 21, 2000

This year, at Christmas time, why not try something new? Like putting yourself first. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup! It may be a cliché but it’s no less true because of that. And who knows? If you take a little time out to reflect on what really matters to you - and your family – at Christmastime, you might just make this Christmas your best ever!


Everybody’s priorities are different. A formal feast with fabulous friends is festive heaven for some people. While others prefer a quieter more intimate affair. And, for some, children about the place makes anything elaborate or overly structured just one stress too far.

Decide what’s important to you: is it having a houseful of friends, relaxing with close family or something in between? If you’re honest about what constitutes your perfect Christmas, you’ll give yourself the best chance of getting it!

Letting off steam, on the big day

Don’t overlook the restorative properties of physical activity, even in the midst of all the festivities. With a bit of strategic delegation, you’ll be able to keep even the youngest members of the household occupied while ticking an item or two off your task list. Draw up a list of what needs to be done - from peeling the sprouts to bagging up the wrapping-paper for recycling – and make sure that everyone gets stuck in. There could even be a fun league table with prizes to be won, for “The Most Cheerful Helper” perhaps or “The Speediest Table Clearer”. Have fun together and make sure you’re not shouldering the Christmas workload alone.

Stress and tummy trouble

Digestion is a sensitive process that can be compromised by stress. And – with the best will in the world – Christmas can be stressful! When the digestive system gets out of synch, the whole body can feel its unwelcome effects with symptoms like bloating, constipation and indigestion. But the great news is that prunes can help. They’ve long been associated, anecdotally, with digestive health. But new research suggests that prunes should be considered “a first line therapy” because - when 100g of prunes are eaten on a daily basis - they can help to support normal bowel function. Our Digestion 101 is packed with hints and tips for maintaining a healthy digestive system.

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude

Christmas is a great opportunity for counting your blessings. We know, it can be hard! But research by the University of Berkeley found that being grateful has lots of potential health benefits. It can:

  • have a positive impact on our emotional wellbeing and on our relationships
  • reduce our likelihood of becoming depressed
  • increase our resilience when faced with life's many and inevitable challenges

So take a look at your home and your loved ones, in all their messy, imperfect and beautiful glory, raise a glass and give thanks. Happy Christmas!

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.

Bakes with a yummy Christmassy flavour.

Posted by Sunsweet - Tuesday, December 28, 1999

These cinnamon-infused prune bakes will fill the house with the wonderfully evocative aroma of Christmas. They can be enjoyed with a cuppa or a glass of milk at any time of the day. But how wonderful it would be to wake up to a tray of these, warm from the oven, on Christmas morning?

Ingredients

For the yeast dough:
70 g butter
180 ml low-fat milk
350 g wheat flour
1 package of dry yeast
40 g sugar
60 g walnuts
40 g sugar
20 g vanilla sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 medium egg white
40 g soft butter
280 g Sunsweet prunes
Icing sugar

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter and add milk. Mix flour and dry yeast in a bowl. Add the butter/milk mix and knead into smooth dough with a dough hook. Cover the dough and allow to rise for approx. 30 minutes in a warm spot.
  2. Finely chop the walnuts and mix with sugar, vanilla sugar and cinnamon. Work in egg white.
  3. Divide dough into four portions. Roll out each portion to a narrow rectangle of about 12 x 24 cm. Apply each rectangle with a quarter of the butter and the walnut mixture. Cut the rectangles in approx. 4 cm wide strips. Wrap one prune into each strip.
  4. Put the rolls on a backing tray covered with parchment paper. Bake in pre-heated oven at 180° C (Gas: 2-3, Convection: 160° C) for 15-20 minutes. If desired, sprinkle with icing sugar.