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

Prunes - the Smart Choice for a Healthier Lifestyle

Posted by Sunsweet - Friday, November 15, 2019

Having a healthier lifestyle does not have to involve going to extremes. Start with clearly defined goals, get support for healthier habits and you’ll soon be on the path to success. We’ve put together some helpful tips to get you started if you’re trying to get more exercise or maintain a healthy weight. 

Set “SMART” Goals

Are the goals you are setting for yourself Specific, Measurable and Achievable? Are they Relevant to your life and Time-bound – have you set a deadline to reach them? There is an art to goal setting: if you make it too easy then you’re not pushing yourself enough; too unrealistic and you’ll give up! Some examples of SMART goals might be:
  • Exercising for 30 minutes three times a week, for example, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
  • Trying one new recipe every weekend.
  • Making sure to eat your five a day every day for a week.

Find an exercise you enjoy

If you prefer the great outdoors to noisy gyms then make walking or running outside a regular part of your life. Find friends to go with you or join a local walking or running group. Having a friend to hold you accountable can encourage you to show up when you’d prefer to stay home! Joining an exercise class can also be a fun way to stay fit – there are so many to choose from - circuits, boxercise, or even tap-dancing. Find a time and location that fits into your existing schedule and make it part of your weekly routine. Don’t forget to use the gift of technology and log your exercises using an app – they’ll help you feel great for those small successes and keep your motivation going!

Top tip: turn your walk or run into more fun with an audiobook!

Just add prunes!

Prunes are delicious straight from the pack as a sweet treat, but their versatility makes them a great addition to a range of savoury and sweet recipes. Whip up a batch of Prune Energy Balls to have on hand for after the gym or when you feel the call of the vending machine. Why not also boost the start of your day with a smoothie made with prunes or a chilled glass of prune juice?

If you’re trying to cut down on added fat, making prune purée may help! Try it as an alternative to butter, replacing it by gram equivalent, and see if you taste the extra succulent sweetness! Making it is easy - all you need are prunes, hot water and a food processor. Even better, it keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month! So why not try baking with prunes and see what difference it could make to your sweet treats?

Experiment with recipes you already use or find inspiration by viewing our own dishes. Prunes sweet, fruity flavour contrasts beautifully with spices, citrus flavours and cheeses – for example check out our Asian Fish Curry or Feta, Lentil and Spelt Salad with Orange Dressing dishes. You can even use prunes to make marinade for your favourite meat, fish or tofu dishes. For more confident cooks who prefer doing their own thing rather than following recipes, we’ve put together this flavour pairing guide too. Use it as a starting point to create your own recipes with whatever ingredients you have to hand!

Even if you don’t have much time to cook during the week you can easily add prunes to your diet by stirring chopped prunes into your porridge or cereal each morning. Along with their naturally sweet flavour, they’re packed with fibre and vital nutrients. Just four prunes provide you with 11% of your recommended daily value of fibre, and 20% of your daily Vitamin K . It’s a great way to start your day as you mean to continue – healthily!

The science of satiety and weight loss

Satiety is the feeling of fullness we get after eating. In a study at the University of Liverpool, eating prunes was found to help with weight loss by keeping people feeling fuller for longer. The research involved over 100 people (both men and women) being tested over a 3-month period, and eating the fruit as part of a weight loss diet. Greater weight loss was found in those who ate the prunes than the control group during the last four weeks of the study. After week eight the people eating prunes felt fuller for longer! Dr Jo Harrold, who led the research, said: "Prunes may be beneficial to dieters by tackling hunger and satisfying appetite; a major challenge when you are trying to maintain weight loss."

So here’s a SMART goal to get you started to a healthier lifestyle: walk to your nearest supermarket today, pop a packet of Sunsweet prunes in your shopping basket and try one of our delicious recipes this week! 

Suffering from ‘tummy trouble’ and a sluggish digestion? Prunes can help!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, November 14, 2019

For whatever the reason, when the digestive system gets out of whack the entire body can start to feel its effects. Lethargy. Bloating. Sluggishness. And even some pretty acute pain. There's good news, though. A sluggish digestion doesn't have to be endured, as just 'one of those things'. There are lots of tips for you to try, here. And the even better news? They're easy!

The discomfort and inconvenience of suffering from digestive problems, especially when you have previously been able to take a healthy digestive system for granted, can be tough to handle. There are lots of different factors that can affect digestion; from experiencing busy and stressful periods in your life, to hormonal changes triggered by pregnancy, to the natural and inevitable physical changes that go hand in hand with the aging process. Whatever the reason, if the digestive system has become chronically sluggish the entire body can wind up feeling below par, as a result.

The aging process

Digestion problems can crop up at any life stage and at any age. But according to the online medical resource, WebMD almost 40% of older adults have at least one digestive issue annually. Constipation is one of the more commonly-cited digestive complaints and with sufferers experiencing symptoms like the ones listed below, it really is no joke:

  • Reduced frequency of bowel movements
  • Sensations of sluggishness and bloatedness
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Increased risk of developing piles

Common conditions

Constipation can be caused by a whole host of factors including age-related changes in the digestive system, medication and the effects of undertaking reduced levels of physical activity and not drinking adequate fluids or eating enough fibre.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease – a condition that can be responsible for causing unpleasant and even painful symptoms like heartburn - is pretty common, too. The condition can be exacerbated by eating rich foods, by eating late at night and by generally eating too much because being overweight can be a trigger for the onset of the condition's symptoms.

As you age, it's important to schedule regular health checks with your doctor to discuss any symptoms that might worry you. And, of course, any sudden changes in your body should always be thoroughly investigated by your GP. As with many issues, though, preventing digestive problems – before they become chronic - is far preferable to having to treat those issues medically.

Now for the good news!

And there's some good news. Because simple and common-sense steps like maintaining a healthy weight by eating well – choosing a diet with plenty of fibre and fluids, for example - and exercising regularly are excellent starting points. Having a good understanding of the digestive basics – like opting for gut-friendly foods - can go a long way towards nipping potential problems in the bud, too. Here are our top 3 digestion-boosting tips for you to try. And they really couldn't be more simple. You can check out a more comprehensive list of easy, digestion-boosting tips, here. And there's even a whistle-stop tour of the digestive system, too!

  • Mindfulness at mealtimes: sit up at the table, switch off your phone and savour your food.
  • Drink plenty: water, herbal tea and fruit juices are all good choices. Avoid ice-cold drinks at mealtimes, though, they can make digestion sluggish.
  • Snack on prunes: they're sweet, super-tasty and a source of fibre and sorbitol.

Here's to maintaining good digestive health, whatever your age!

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.

Pumpkin Soup with Prunes

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, November 07, 2019

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.

The Top 6 Questions We’re Asked About Prunes

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, October 24, 2019

Everything you ever wanted to know about prunes – and, quite possibly, a little bit more besides - all in one place! Check out our official, super-informative Q&A on all things Sunsweet prune-related. The Top 6 Questions We’re Asked About Prunes.

  1. Are prunes gluten-free?
  2. Reports suggest that – for a whole host of reasons - as many as one in four of us are now attempting to live gluten free. Gluten is the protein that is found in grains like wheat. And with things like bread, pasta and cereal being such a staple of everyday meal planning, going gluten free isn’t easy. But the good news? All fruit is naturally gluten free and so a serving of prunes or a glass of prune juice can be enjoyed whenever you like. You can even add them to your favourite coeliac-friendly recipes to give them a sweet and fruity twist.

  3. Are prunes suitable for people with diabetes?
  4. Experts recommend that to keep blood sugar levels steady, we aim for a diet with an overall GI of 50 or less. But, happily, that doesn’t mean that sweet and tasty snacks like Sunsweet prunes are a no-no. 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.

  5. Do prunes contain sugar?
  6. Prunes contain no added sugar. They are simply dried plums: one plum becomes one prune, just with the water removed. During the plum-prune drying process, sucrose is hydrolysed to glucose and fructose so prunes contain minimal sucrose. And prunes are classed as whole fruit so they can contribute towards achieving your 5-a-day, as well as boosting your daily fibre intake.

  7. What effect do prunes have on the digestive system?
  8. For centuries, prunes – and prune juice - have been associated with good digestive health. But now there are scientific findings to support that association, too. Research has shown that - when 100g of prunes are eaten daily, as part of a varied and balanced diet and an active lifestyle – they can assist with normal bowel function just as much as fibre supplements. In fact, prunes should be considered as a first line therapy when it comes to maintaining a healthy bowel.

  9. What is the connection between prunes and strong bones?
  10. Research suggests that prunes, due to the nutrients they provide, could be beneficial for bone health. Prunes contain vitamin K and manganese that - among other functions - have direct benefits for bone health. Prunes are also a source of vitamin B6 which helps make healthy blood cells in our bone marrow and maintain normal hormone levels including those involved in bone health.

  11. And, our favourite, just how exactly does a plum become a prune?
  12. It’s simple, really. Sunsweet prunes are a special variety of sun-ripened plums that have been dried to remove some of the water. A variety with an exceptionally high sugar content, these "Improved French" variety of plums give Sunsweet prunes their distinctively delicious taste; rich and fruity with notes of creamy vanilla. The dried fruit contains similar levels of nutrients – such as fibre - to fresh plums, while offering the added benefit of year-round availability and a long shelf life.

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.

Spicy Squash Soup with Chorizo

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, October 17, 2019

The very best soups fill the house with tempting aromas as they cook: our Spicy Squash Soup with Chorizo is no exception! Ginger, rosemary and smoked paprika combine to tempt the taste-buds. With squash, chorizo and scrummy Sunsweet prunes, this is a hearty and flavourful recipe just perfect for still-chilly February.

Ingredients

600 g butternut squash
30 g ginger root 2 onions
3 tbsp. oil
2 tbsp. smoked paprika powder
300 ml white wine
400 ml chicken stock  
4 chorizo sausages (Spanish paprika sausage)
200 g Sunsweet prunes
30 g pumpkin seeds
2 sprigs of rosemary
3 tbsp. sour cream
Salt, pepper

Instructions

  1. Peel squash and ginger and dice finely. Dice the onions into large pieces. Heat oil in a pot, add squash, onions, paprika powder and ginger and sauté for 5 minutes. Deglaze with white wine and stock and boil at a medium heat for 15 minutes. Cut chorizo sausage into slices. Cut prunes into large pieces. Toast pumpkin seeds in a dry pan.
  2. Grind squash in a blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add prunes and keep hot. Fry chorizo slices in a dry pan for 5 minutes on each side at a medium heat. Chop rosemary and sprinkle onto the sausage.
  3. Pour soup into a bowl. Serve with sausage, sour cream and pumpkin seeds.

Tip: Optionally sprinkle some of the chorizo oil from the pan onto the soup.


4-Ingredient Prune Cookies

Posted by Sunsweet - Friday, October 04, 2019

Quick to make, super-yummy and with no added sugar. What's not to love about these 4 Ingredient Prune Cookies? But would it surprise you to discover that these delicious cookies are bone friendly too? Research suggests that - because of the nutrients that they provide - the fruits may well have bone health boosting benefits. So tuck in!

View our collection of delicious Bone Friendly Recipes

Ingredients

16 SUNSWEET prunes
2 tablespoons hot water
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a food processor, pulse SUNSWEET prunes and hot water until smooth. Pulse in oats and walnuts until a sticky dough forms.
  3. Roll dough into 12 balls and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Immediately after removing from the oven, tap each of them down with a glass to form a cookie shape and let cool.

Exotic Lentil Soup with Prunes

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, October 03, 2019

You can never have too many soup recipes in your repertoire. And our Exotic Lentil Soup with Prunes is a wonderful addition, just perfect for the autumn. Colourful to look at and warming to sip – it’s a hug in a bowl! With crusty bread, it makes a satisfying supper. And, popped into a flask, it makes a healthy, on-the-go meal.

Ingredients

3 carrots
200 g celeriac 
2 red onions 
1 leek 
1 sweet potato (approx. 350 g) 
1 bunch flat parsley 
2 tbsp. oil
300 ml chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
300 g pre-soaked and cooked lentils 
300 g Sunsweet prunes
4 tbsp. apple vinegar 
Salt, pepper  

Instructions

  1. Peel carrots and slice. Dice celeriac, peel onions and cut into strips. Clean leek, cut into slices and wash. Peel potato and cut into pieces. Pull parsley leaves from the stems and chop coarsely.
  2. Heat oil in a pot. Add potato, onions, carrots and celeriac and steam for 5 minutes at medium heat. Add leek and steam for 2 more minutes. Deglaze with stock. Add lentils and simmer for 20 minutes at a medium heat. Add prunes and parsley.
  3. Season to taste with apple vinegar, salt and pepper.

Tip: Roast some almond slivers and add as topping to the soup. Serve with toasted rye bread.

Keep it up – you’re doing great!

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, September 25, 2019

As the Summer season draws - very firmly - to a close, there’s one crucially important task to undertake, to lay good foundations for the months ahead. And the nature of that task? To discover a way to keep motivated around healthy living and fitness regimes throughout the autumn and winter.


The great outdoors

With the onset of darker and colder and wetter nights, it’s hardly surprising that outdoor activities can all too quickly lose their appeal. There are a few ways around that, though, if you think creatively enough!

  • When the weather is changeable, flexibility is key. Rather than planning an outing for a specific day and time, if the weather’s dry, get yourself out there – even if it’s just for a brisk walk around the block while your one-pot dinner is cooking.
  • Instead of a midweek meal or a movie to catch up with friends, why not schedule a regular weekend walk-and-talk?
  • If you invest in some decent, weather-proof gear, a few showers won’t be able to derail your plans. And you could even flask up some hearty, homemade soup for a spot of autumnal alfresco dining!

Indoor activities that won’t break the bank

Gym membership – or even enlisting the services of a personal trainer – can prove to be money well-spent. But, with our increasingly busy lifestyles, it can be difficult to make a regular commitment to a class or a session. And there are lots more cost-effective ways to get the health benefits of physical activity.

From weights routines to rope skipping, from speedy sessions to month-long challenges, you’ll find a plethora of workouts – the vast majority of them being completely free of charge – on-line. YouTube and exercise apps are excellent starting points, for whatever floats your particular fitness boat. You may find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the array of options but – equally - you’d certainly be hard-pushed to ever feel bored!

Reaping the benefits

All forms of exercise – especially if sessions are regular and of moderate intensity – have significant benefits for health. According to the NHS, exercise can reduce the risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%.

Inside and out

Did you know that getting the outside of your body moving tends to get things moving on the inside, too?

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, why not try to include at least a 30 minute walk after lunch or dinner?

Your digestion will thank you for it!

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 balanced meal in a bowl. Warming, nutritious, substantial, delicious!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, September 19, 2019

There’s something so satisfying about a bowl of delicious soup. And our Moroccan Carrot, Lentil and Prune Soup is no exception. The soup can be pureed – perfect for picky eaters! - but it’s a more substantial bowlful if the veg is left chunky. A spicy and warming dish that’s just perfect for autumn.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried coriander
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cinnamon powder
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3 medium-sized carrots, peeled, trimmed and diced
150g dried red lentils
100g ready-to-eat Prunes, roughly chopped
400g can chopped tomatoes
600 ml vegetable or chicken stock
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tbsp chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the rapeseed oil over a medium heat. Add the onions, stir well to coat in oil, and reduce heat to low. Cover and leave to soften – about 7 minutes.
  2. Add all the spices and increase the heat slightly.
  3. Stir well, then leave for a minute or so to cook, before stirring well again.
  4. Add the carrot and the garlic, stir to cover in the spices, then reduce the heat and cover, and leave for 5 minutes to soften.
  5. Check after a couple of minutes, and if they are starting to stick to the bottom of the pan add a splash of water to loosen.
  6. Add the lentils and the prunes, mix well, then stir in the tomatoes.
  7. Bring to the boil, then add the stock and stir well to mix. Increase the heat until the soup starts to bubble, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer until all the vegetables are soft and the lentils have softened and collapsed - about 30 minutes.
  8. Stir through the coriander, parsley, and lemon juice, then taste, and season with salt and pepper as necessary.
  9. Ladle into warmed soup bowls and serve immediately.

Note: this soup can be pureed but it’s more of a meal left chunky.


The top three nutritional reasons to keep loving prunes this season

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, September 12, 2019

Did you know that there are lots of compelling reasons why prunes should be top of the class, and not just at back-to-school time? Not convinced? Well, here are our top three seasonal reasons why you – and your family - should be making friends with prunes!

Understandably, you may be reluctant to kiss goodbye to the summer. But, no matter what your life stage, the autumn is an excellent opportunity to embrace that back-to-school feeling! September is the perfect time of the year to get back to basics, from a health and fitness point-of-view. And, guess what, prunes are a great place to start!

The top three seasonal reasons to love prunes

  1. You can give your immune system a fighting chance to keep all of those annoying autumnal bugs at bay … with prunes! The dried fruit is a rich source of vitamin B6 and copper, both nutrients are able to help to support a healthy immune system.
  2. The holiday suitcase is back on top of the wardrobe for another year, the nights are getting longer, darker and colder so it’s not uncommon - or indeed surprising - for your energy and motivation levels to start to take a downward turn. But did you know that prunes can help? Vitamin B6 - which we mentioned above - can help you to feel less tired, it also supports the normal release of energy from foods and the transportation of iron in the body. Copper and manganese – both of which are found in prunes – assist in some of these functions too.
  3. Prunes have lots of heart health benefits. They’re naturally saturated fat free and reducing the consumption of saturated fat helps to maintain normal blood cholesterol levels. They’re naturally salt-free, too, and reducing the intake of salt helps to maintain normal blood pressure.

There really is a lot to love about prunes!

Want to find out more? Take a look at our online guide to the health-boosting properties of prunes or check out our FAQ

On a more serious note…

Scientific research has been undertaken into the role that prunes can play in potentially helping to prevent serious illness. And a recent study found that eating prunes regularly, may help to reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer.

Professor Dr Nancy Turner Texas A&M University said: “Through our research, we were able to show that dried plums promote retention of beneficial bacteria throughout the colon, and by doing so they may reduce the risk of colon cancer.”

According to the NHS, bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK.

That back-to-school feeling

The daily ‘little break’ and ‘big break’ for kids, and adults, are always a challenge but don’t overlook the snacking potential of prunes. With no added sugar, prunes are naturally sweet. And, let’s face it, which child isn’t on the hunt for something sweet the second they walk in the door?! Negotiating playground and office politics is hungry work after all!

Enjoyed straight from the pack, included in the family’s favourite bakes or whizzed into a smoothie, prunes make the perfect lunchbox filler or healthy after-school treat.

You can check out our delicious smoothie recipe suggestions, here:

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.