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

To Snack is Human- To Enjoy Healthy Snacks is Divine

Posted by Sunsweet - Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Snacking is here to stay and has become a fact of modern life. If snacking in between meals is part of your busy lifestyle, it’s good to know that dietitians today will give you their good nutrition stamp of approval. That is, of course, if the foods and beverages you pick are healthful choices! To find out what those healthy choices might be we enlisted the help of nutritionist Carolyn O'Neil, MS, RD.  


Healthy snacking on a budget


The following tips should help us select guilt free snacks while keeping more of our hard earned cash in our pockets:

Reach for Shelf-Stable Snacks
Fresh fruits and vegetables play an important part in healthy snacking. It's best  to plan around what's currently in season because out-of-season fruits and vegetables are sometimes imported, expensive and often tasteless. Dried fruit provides a nutritious and more shelf-stable option year round, which could save money on spoiled food.

Energy
It's easy to grab a biscuit or a muffin when our energy wanes at the office. They may deliver a scrumptious quick fix, but as a habit, they take a big bite out of our budget and our energy reserves. Choosing complex carbohydrates containing fiber helps to keep our energy revved up so we can make it to the gym, the Boardroom, or wherever our energy needs us to go.

Antioxidants
Antioxidants are important vitamin-like compounds that help support our immune system, promote a healthy heart and slow the aging process. Some antioxidants (water –soluble antioxidants) are not stored by the body and remain in our system for only 4 to 6 hours. It's important to replenish our body with these nutrients throughout the day - including snack time.

Curb Your Appetite
Skipping meals causes us to lose touch with our body’s natural hunger cues. When meal time finally arrives we tend to eat too much and choose the wrong things (because we are so hungry). Factoring in small snacks between meals helps keep our appetite in check, our hunger satisfied, and helps us to make healthier choices at all of our meals.

Stabilise and Energise
Fueling our body with meals and snacks at regular intervals is necessary to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Stable blood sugar not only helps us control hunger cravings, it reduces our risk for diabetes and even helps promote fat loss. The ultimate even blood sugar snack should include complex carbohydrates, along with a little protein and fat.

Calcium
Most  people simply aren't getting enough of this bone-building nutrient. Drinking milk with our meals is one option. Calcium-rich snacks are a valuable back-up plan.

You can learn more about healthy eating by visiting the nutrition section of our website.

5 ways to master the art of healthy snacking

Over the years we have looked at lots of research on snacking behaviours.  We have come to the conclusion that rather than trying to avoid snacks we should just try and pick healthy choices when we feel the urge.  The following tips should help:

Plan Mini-Meals
Think of a snack as a mini-meal and an opportunity to add servings of healthy foods to your day. For instance, three or four whole wheat crackers topped with low fat cheddar cheese and sliced apple provides needed nutrients from the grain, dairy and fruit groups. Adding a protein source (such as cheese, yogurt, or nuts) will help tame hunger longer.

Make it Convenient
Since you are often grabbing a snack because you’re hungry and in a hurry, plan to have healthy grab and go options close at hand. Dried fruit such as Sunsweet prunes can be stashed in your desk drawer, your purse or your car so that you easily enjoy something sweet on the go.  Or how about an individually wrapped humzinger – Who says they are just for kids!

Enjoy What You Crave
But do it the smart way. If you’ve got to have something savoury and crunchy, choose options that meet that need without a lot of fat and calories. If your snack-tooth craves something sweet, reach for fruit instead of sweets or chocolate. Want something smooth and creamy? Choose lowfat or nonfat yogurts instead of ice cream. You’ll get more calcium per serving and save big time on fat and calories.

Keep Size in Mind
Portion control is just as important when planning snacks. So, remember this is just a few bites to tide you over until mealtime. Try to limit snacks to about 100 calories. That could be 1 cup of celery sticks with 2 tablespoons of hummus dip or the sweet indulgence of savouring 4 Sunsweet prunes.

Think About Drinks
Drinks (non alcoholic of course!) can contribute to good nutrition, too. Nonfat milk and vegetable juices are a liquid source of vitamins, minerals and in the case of fruit juices, they can be a source of dietary fiber. So, when choosing a drink for a snack, think about its health benefits, too.

Step into Spring! And be inspired by our article to breathe new life into that fitness regime.

Posted by Sunsweet - Tuesday, April 07, 2015

According to a recent YouGov study, our resolutions are usually focused on exercise, weight and health. Other health related issues, like giving up smoking and cutting back on alcohol consumption, are the next most popular resolutions. And resolutions of a more altruistic nature - spending more time with the family, undertaking charity work – are a little further down the list. All good stuff. But how do you keep yourself motivated and ensure that you meet your very worthwhile goals?

1) Be clear, be realistic and be good to yourself

It’s important to be really clear about what you want to achieve. “Getting Healthy”, for example, is probably too vague to be meaningful. Think about what “healthy” actually means to you; is it about fitness, weight, energy, mood… Once you've decided on a long-term goal - a vision - it’s useful to set yourself a series of smaller milestones, too. These need to be actionable and achievable. And – when you've ticked them off – their accomplishment is a fabulous excuse for a mini celebration, along the way! If you haven’t exercised for years, for example, simply being active every day - for 30 days – is far more realistic than signing yourself up for a half-marathon. Check out this TED talk, for inspiration: 

2) Get support

When our resolve is flagging or when we face unforeseen hurdles in the meeting of our goals, it can be helpful to have somebody on our side, cheering us on from the side-lines. Identify other people who can help you to keep on track. This could be a supportive friend, an online group or even something like The Sunsweet 14-Day Challenge.

3) Use your technology

Don’t forget that technology can be an ally, too. You could create a simple spread sheet that helps you to keep track of your training progress, for example. You could create some homemade posters – with inspirational quotations and images - that you can distribute throughout your home and office, to help to keep you motivated. And whether your New Year’s resolution is to have a change of career (Jobcentreplus), to stop smoking (Cessation Nation) or to put an end to aimless net surfing (Self Control), as the saying goes, there’s an app for that!  

4) Boost your energy

New regimes can be tiring, both emotionally and physically. Prunes are a source of vitamin B6, which can help you to feel less tired. And vitamin B6 – along with copper and manganese, of which prunes are also a source – supports the normal release of energy from foods.  So grab yourself a handful of prunes. A sweet and tasty way to top up those energy levels! 

Easter Craft Activities

Posted by Sunsweet - Tuesday, March 31, 2015

With a trio of projects to choose from, your creative kids will be spoilt for choice. Hop along and Download our free PDF to check out: Our Baby Chick Easter Decoration Our Bunny Rabbit Pen and Pencil Holder And our Bunny Box




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.

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.