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

50% of all New Year’s Resolutions Fail – Will yours?

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, January 08, 2020

This New Year, why not resolve to do something a little bit different? You could resolve to treat yourself well with delicious food that is super-nourishing, too. You could resolve to create a plan of activity for your family that is, primarily, fun. And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, this year's resolutions will be the ones that you'll actually keep!

How to move your New Year’s resolutions into the 50% that succeed!

How many times have we all proclaimed (almost brazenly!) – to ourselves and to friends - lists of positive, well intentioned New Year's Resolutions which we ‘resolve to include in our lives with energy, spirit, enthusiasm, passion and intent, and yet, statistically many resolutions are set to fail, before they’ve actually commenced! An American study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology estimated that, every New Year, some 50 percent of the population makes resolutions around things like weight loss, exercise, smoking and finances but 6-8 weeks later their promises are backsliding.

And yet, thankfully, Hope Springs Eternal.

So what can we do, to give ourselves a better chance of maintaining our resolve?

Create an ‘Area of Focus

Peter Bregman, writing in the Harvard Business Review, has offered insights into why the setting of specific goals often fail; ‘we’re taught to make them very specific, very measurable and time-bound .... but it turns out that those very characteristics are precisely the reasons goals can backfire’. Indeed, 6-8 weeks on when we haven’t met those high achieving goals we confidently proclaimed at the start of the New Year, we frequently begin to cheat, bluff ourselves, and lose momentum!

Bergman proposes: ‘Instead of identifying goals, consider identifying Areas of Focus’.

  • an Area of Focus establishes activities you want to spend your time doing; a goal defines an outcome you want to achieve.
  • an Area of Focus is a path; a goal is a result.
  • an Area of Focus settles you into the present; a goal points to a future you intend to reach.

And the beauty of the final outcome is that by narrowing the focus, our resolve becomes real and habit forming.

And we can certainly see the benefits of aiming to maintain a healthy lifestyle rather than introducing harsh exercise regimes and punitive crash diets. It makes sense for healthy habits to be an everyday part of life rather than things that are introduced in a panic on the first of January only to be abandoned a short time later. Having a buddy to support you  in your healthy endeavours is an excellent idea, too. You can share hints and tips. You can celebrate successes and learn from failures. You can cheer each other on, to keep focused and stay committed, when the going gets tough.

Five inspirational tips

If you're in need of a little inspiration, our Healthy Living Guide is an excellent place to start.
If you rely on your motivation alone, that life-affirming, energy-boosting, healthy-weight-maintaining exercise session may never happen! So here are 5 tips on creating a winter activity plan that will help you keep to your Area of Focus in check. 

  1. Change your behaviour by changing your thinking – exercise isn't a chore, it's fun!
  2. Dig out the high-vis, a brisk walk can be refreshing on a cold and crisp evening.
  3. Discover your inner child. If we're lucky enough to have snow, get out there and play!
  4. Sign up for a course. Something fun, like a jive class. Something soothing, like yoga. Whatever floats your boat.
  5. And finally, if the weather really is too foul to leave the house, YouTube is chock-full of workout videos for all ages, tastes and fitness levels.

Prune-power in a glass! You can never have too many scrummy smoothie recipes

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Combining avocado, apple and spinach leaves and flavoured with honey, lemon, ginger and super-sweet prune juice this is a smoothie that packs a powerfully nutritious punch. And it’s an easy way to get lots of healthy fruit and veg into the family’s fussiest eaters!

Ingredients

½ an avocado
A small apple, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
A handful of spinach leaves, washed
A tablespoon of honey
The juice of ½ a lemon
A knob of ginger, about 2cm long – peeled
300 ml Prune juice

Instructions

  1. Place all of the ingredients except for the ginger and the Prune juice, into the blender.
  2. I like to grate my ginger with a fine grater, so if you have one I recommend you do the same; if you don’t have one then simply chop the ginger as finely as you can and add it.
  3. Pour in enough prune juice to barely cover the ingredients, then simply blend everything well.

Tip-top digestion: it’s what everybody wants for Christmas!

Posted by Sunsweet - Monday, December 23, 2019

Most of us don’t give a second thought to our digestive systems, until they start to get out of sync. And then it’s hard to think about anything else… Be kind to your tum, this Christmas. Tucking into Sunsweet prunes and prune juice is a simple way to start!

OK, we understand that digestion isn’t the most festive of topics. But it’s at this time of year, when the food that we eat gets richer and more plentiful and – apart from dashing frenetically from shop-to-shop - our lifestyles become more sedentary, that we really need to keep on top of things, digestion-wise. Digestion is a complex chemical and physical process and a healthy digestive system can play an important role in our overall sense of well-being. If our digestion gets out of synch, the entire body can feel its effects with symptoms like bloating, reflux, constipation and diarrhoea.

It’s hard not to overindulge at Christmas. Most of us are guilty of stocking up our homes with deliciously tempting – but not always healthy! – food and drink. Traditional yuletide treats are typically low in fibre and they can be richer and more protein-packed than we’re used to, too. This - in combination with a higher intake of alcohol, a lower rate of physical activity and sky-high stress levels - can place extra demands on the digestive system.

Top Tips for Improving digestion

There is good news, though! Read on for some quick tips on improving digestion:

  • We know it’s hard but try to take some regular time out of the ‘busy-ness’ to simply relax. Walking with a friend, some gentle yoga stretches, listening to music, whatever helps you to unwind.
  • Be mindful of what you’re eating, especially when you’re busy and distracted. Chew well and eat slowly so that you’re more likely to stop eating before you get too full.
  • It makes sense to avoid ice-cold drinks while eating, because they can contribute to a sluggish digestion.
  • And try eating prunes and drinking prune juice daily!

Why prunes?

For years, prunes and prune juice have been associated, anecdotally, with digestive health. But now there are scientific findings to extoll the benefits of prunes. Prunes help to promote normal bowel function just as well as fibre supplements and they should be considered as a first line therapy when it comes to maintaining a healthy bowel.

So, the inclusion of Sunsweet prunes and prune juice in your everyday diet certainly makes a lot of sense! 100% natural, our products can be enjoyed by the whole family including children, pregnant women and the elderly. Prunes are surprisingly versatile and can add a nutritious boost to family meals at any time of the year. Their flavour can add depth and richness to comfort foods, like tempting mousses and slow-cooked stews. They can even add a fresh and fruity note to salads and smoothies, too.

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.

Decanted into pretty jars, the perfect Christmas gift

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, December 19, 2019

Our Prune Biscotti with White Chocolate are sure to be appreciated by foodie friends. However they take their coffee, these Biscotti will be the perfect accompaniment and – drizzled attractively with white chocolate - they make a really pretty gift! Best eaten within 4 weeks, they can be stored in a sealed container for up to 8 weeks. But we’re pretty sure they won’t last that long!

Ingredients

280 g flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 pinch salt
160 g sugar
90 g butter (molten)
2 eggs
1½ tsp. bourbon vanilla sugar
100 g Sunsweet prunes, finely chopped
60 g almonds, ground
1 egg white (large)
80 g white chocolate
80 g mixed nuts, coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. Sieve flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and mix well. Combine sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla sugar and chopped prunes in another large bowl and mix. Add flour mix and stir well with a wooden spoon. Add almonds.
  2. Divide dough into halves. Flour hands and shape 2 logs, each approx. 10 cm long. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place logs on it. Space logs well apart.
  3. Beat egg white in a cup until frothy. Paint the logs with the egg white.
  4. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170 °C (not suitable for convection ovens) for 35 minutes on the centre rack. Remove baking sheet from the oven and let logs cool completely. Melt chocolate. Coarsely chop nuts.
  5. Remove logs from baking sheet and cut diagonally into slices using a serrated knife. Place slices on the baking sheet (with parchment paper) and bake for another 12 minutes. Turn slices and bake for 8 more minutes. Remove to a rack and cool. Decorate with melted chocolate and sprinkle with chopped nuts. Wait until chocolate has solidified and wrap as a gift.

Don't let stress play havoc with your health, this Christmas!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, December 12, 2019

Stress. An inevitable part of modern life, especially at Christmas? Or something that we can – and should – take steps to influence and improve? Slow down the pace, this Christmas, and - you never know – you might actually enjoy it! Check out our tips on reducing those health-impacting stresses to enjoy more precious time with family and friends.

Can you make this Christmas your happiest and healthiest yet?

There's a school of thought that stress is an inevitable aspect of contemporary life. And we all know that Christmas can be an emotionally challenging time; a heady combination of family ‘differences’, money worries, general fatigue and the slipping of healthy habits, , can play havoc with our stress levels.

Stress – a widespread issue

The World Health Organisation defines stress as “the reaction people may have when presented with demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope”. Most of us can relate, in some way, to those feelings, especially at Christmas. Expectations are sky-high but with so much going on, often the energy levels and resources, required to deliver on those expectations, can be low. So what can you do to help reduce stress in your life?

Stress-busting tips

Here are three things that you could try, today,:

  1. Try to figure out the source of your stress, if you can. It could be your place of work. It could be your home. The places where we spend most of our time are good places to start in tracking down that source.
  2. Where possible, identify the steps that you could take to effect positive changes. And then make those steps. Start with small changes, at first, especially if you're feeling vulnerable.
  3. Make sure that you have some stress-busting strategies at your fingertips. Listen to soothing music. Practice mindfulness. Chat to a friend. Go for a walk. Take a long, hot bath. These are all excellent methods of de-stressing and couldn't be more simple.

Stress and tummy troubles

Digestion is a super-sensitive process, all too easily compromised by the stresses and strains of contemporary living. Stress can exacerbate a range of symptoms – including poor appetite and tummy troubles. These vary from person to person, but when the digestive system gets out of step – for whatever reason - the entire body can feel its unwelcome effects like bloating, constipation and indigestion.

Prunes can help!

Prunes have long been associated with digestive health and now there are scientific findings to support this. Research suggests that prunes should be considered as “a first line therapy” to maintain a healthy bowel. The research found that when 100g of prunes were eaten on a daily basis, they helped to support normal bowel function.

Why not check out our Digestion 101, too, to discover more hints and tips on maintaining a healthy digestive system?

With our very best wishes for a healthy, happy and stress-free Christmas!

Spicy Hot Apple Cider with Prune Juice

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, December 05, 2019

There are few aromas more festive than that of mulled wine. But what about a glass of Christmas cheer without the alcohol? Our alcohol-free Spicy Hot Apple Cider with Prune Juice is a lovely alternative that the whole family will love. It makes a nice change from hot chocolate, too!

Ingredients

2 cups (480ml) Sunsweet® Prune Juice
2 cups (480ml) apple juice
2 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine prune juice, apple juice, cinnamon sticks and cloves; bring to the boil.
  2. Reduce heat; simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove and discard cinnamon and cloves.

Hygge: Taking home comforts to a whole new level!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, November 28, 2019

Have you heard of Hygge? Pronounced hoo-guh, it is the Danish one word phenomenon that has taken the entire world by storm. Despite it having previously been deemed untranslatable, it was voted as one of 2016’s words of the year by both the Oxford Dictionary and the Collins Dictionary. But what exactly does it mean?

The definition of hygge

Well, descriptions of hygge vary. Some people would describe it as a feeling of comfort, indulgence, contentment and cosiness. Others would describe it as transforming those regular, everyday moments into something more meaningful; creating a sense of ceremony around your after-work cookie and cuppa, for example, by digging out your best china, lighting a pretty candle and getting your feet up. And still others would describe hygge as something close to a philosophy, a way of slowing things down and taking some time out of a relentlessly hectic schedule to unwind.

Susanne Nilsson, a Danish lecturer at London's Morley College, attempted to explain the etymology of hygge to the BBC, "We have long, cold winters in Denmark. That influences things. Hygge doesn't have to be a winter-only thing, but the weather isn't that good for much of the year. Hygge could be families and friends getting together for a meal, with the lighting dimmed, or it could be time spent on your own reading a good book. It works best when there's not too large an empty space around the person or people."

Making hygge your own

Danish winters may be long and dark and cold but that’s a reality that many of us can relate to! And part of the essence of hygge - creating a warm and inviting environment, gathering friends and family together and sharing food and drink with them, by candlelight – might just be the perfect antidote. So, this winter, why not try making hygge your own? Give yourself the time and the space to do… nothing! Stock up on the tealights, the comforting throws and the super-warm socks and revel in cosy.

But the really good news?  Hygge and a healthy balanced lifestyle don’t have to be contradictions in terms. Think gentle exercise routines at home – yoga, pilates and tai chi are all excellent options. Think comfort foods – like hearty soups and warming stews – that are nutritionally-balanced and nourishing. Think warming, fruit-based drinks with a mulled-wine vibe. Think deep and meaningful rather than fast and furious. We don’t know about you but we could really get used to this hyggelig way of life!

Recipes with added hygge

PS: Why not check out the following super-scrummy, super-comforting and yet super-healthy ideas from our recipe pages? A lovely – and tasty – way to get that hygge-feeling!

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 warm and comforting brekkie with the feel-good factor, no fat-laden breakfast butties, here!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, November 21, 2019

Our warm poached prunes with yogurt make a wonderfully comforting and satisfying morning dish – just perfect as part of a relaxed, weekend brunch. The whole family will love this sweet and creamy dish. And it makes a lovely sweet-treat to complete a mid-week dinner, too – delicious!

Ingredients

8 ready-to-eat Prunes
100ml Prune juice
1 cup of strong tea (I love Redbush tea)
Zest of an orange
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
200g natural yoghurt

Instructions

  1. Place all of the ingredients, except for the yoghurt, in a heavy-based pan, place over a high heat, and bring to the boil.
  2. Reduce the heat, cover, and leave to simmer for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave to cool.
  3. Divide the yoghurt between two bowls. Scoop out the prunes with a slotted spoon and place half on top of each helping of yoghurt.
  4. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of the fragrant liquid, and eat immediately.

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.