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

How can good digestive health keep you feeling fabulous?

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, March 27, 2019


Let's be honest - when it comes to discussing digestive health, most of us would rather steer clear of the topic altogether. But now more than ever, it is important to realize that digestion plays a significant role in your overall health! You may know that the primary function of the digestive tract is to break down the food we eat so that it can be used as fuel by the body. What is less well-known is the importance of the GI (gastrointestinal) tract to your immune system and your total body's health. In fact, the GI tract is often referred to as the body's "second line of defense" against potentially harmful pathogens that cause disease (the first defense being the skin!). You've been pampering your skin for years, but have you been making the right dietary decisions to promote a healthy GI tract? Probably not.

The digestive system is stronger than you think - for example, few bacteria can survive the acidic environment of the stomach. It may not sound pretty, but the fact is the abundant mucous and digestive enzymes secreted by the digestive tract helps destroy potentially harmful microorganisms. This "good bacteria" keeps the "bad bacteria" at bay, so we essentially have a classic case of good versus evil on our hands, and it is your job to join forces with the good by maintaining a healthy digestive system. This is not only necessary from a nutritional standpoint but also for optimizing your body's overall immunity.

Today we are overwhelmed by many products targeted toward improving digestive health. As a snack or an ingredient, prunes and prune juice make it easier to bring added nutrition into your everyday diet and make a valuable contribution to our health

A sophisticated salad, perfect for ladies who lunch!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, March 21, 2019

Summer days and simple salads are perfect partners. But for those occasions – like entertaining friends - when something just a little fancier is called for, our Duck Salad with Prunes, Goats Cheese and Mustard Dressing is just the job. Many elements of this dish can be prepped ahead of time leaving you free to enjoy the company of friends.

Ingredients

200 g roast duck
150 g prunes
100 g goat cheese
2 pears
100 g mixed salad, like chicory, rocket and beet leaves
100 g kale
Mustard dressing:
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp coarse ground mustard
1 dl white wine vinegar
1 tbsp liquid honey
1 dl olive oil
1 dl grape seed oil
Salt
Black pepper

Instructions

  1. Whisk together mustard, vinegar and honey.
  2. Whisk in oil very slowly until it thickens and becomes a creamy dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Dice the duck and prunes, cut the pears into thin slices, and carefully mix it with the salad.
  4. Arrange the salad with diced goat cheese and mustard dressing. Serve with whole grain bread.

Tip: The salad can also be made with chicken and red cabbage.

Boost your happiness and wellbeing by spreading some Gratitude. It’s scientifically proven!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, March 14, 2019

Super simple ways to significantly – and sustainably - boost your happiness levels and enhance your physical and emotional wellbeing, in the process. Read on for research-based evidence about accentuating the positive and getting grateful. Start small and – before you know it – you'll have a whole heap of happy!

Start loving the Gratitude!

The Spring can be a great time for an overhaul. A chance to rid ourselves – once and for all - of the old habits that no longer serve us and to embrace some healthy, new ones. Habits like acknowledging events - like Mother's Day and Easter - and commemorating them, in a way that feels meaningful to you. Habits like celebrating successes large and small. Habits like noticing the positives, however tiny they may be, and expressing gratitude for them. And there's research-based evidence about the value – from both an emotional and a physical point of view – for making these super-simple step changes to your everyday habits.

The Science of Celebration

The Greater Good Science Center (GGSC), at the University of Berkeley, offers up some compelling reasons for all of us to get into the gratitude habit. Because according to Juliana Breines, writing on the organisation's website, happiness research – spanning some 20 years – has one key message for us all: give thanks.

After analysing the results of countless scientific studies, the GGSC found that developing an attitude of gratitude can, amongst other things:

  • 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

Grumbling and thinking negatively can, all too easily, become a habit. If you look at the messages that we're bombarded with - from the myriad 24/7 news channels, for example - the vibe is predominantly downbeat. But there's no need to panic. The GGSC have come up with four simple tips that should help you to cultivate a healthy sense of gratitude, no matter what life throws at you!

Get Grateful: In 4 Simple Steps

  1. Count your blessings

    Remember that even on the very worst of days, something positive will have happened. Spend a few minutes jotting down these good things, however small or insignificant they may seem. According to a study by the Positive Psychology Center, at the University of Pennsylvania, “completing this exercise every day for one week led to increases in happiness that persisted for six months”. Impressive stuff!

  2. Mental subtraction

    Without stressing yourself out too much in the process … imagine that something you currently have is gone. Applied to possessions, to jobs and even to people, this simple trick alone might be just enough to make you appreciate those things and to stop taking them for granted!

  3. Savour

    In their book, “Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience”, Fred B. Bryant and Joseph Veroff extol the virtues of a regular “Savoring Walk”. Walking for just 20 minutes, on your own, every week and paying hyper-close attention to the sights, smells and so on of your surroundings can – the authors found - have a positive effect on your happiness levels, a full week later.

  4. Say “Thank You”

    Really, could it get much more simple than that? And just imagine the warm glow that the recipients of your gratitude will experience, too. Now, that's what we call a win-win.

Reasons to feel grateful – think prunes!

And while we're feeling celebratory and expressing gratitude for the small things, let's hear it for the prunes!

Prunes; A super-quick and fruity snack. A rich, indulgent note in an elaborate feast. And lots of things in-between. Convenient, natural and a wonderfully versatile addition to a range of dishes, both sweet and savoury - really do deserve a dollop of gratitude.

So, we've acknowledged that prunes are delicious but did you know that they're actually pretty good for you, too? Follow the link to discover even more reasons for you to be grateful for Sunsweet prunes!

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.

It’s never too late for a fresh start!

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, February 27, 2019

With spring time not a million miles away, February can actually be a great time of the year to breathe fresh, new and healthy life into those daily routines of ours. Check out our tips that’ll help you switch from a fixed to a growth mindset and give your wellbeing goals the very best chance of success!

So, February is here. And – for many of us – the resolutions with which we kicked-off the New Year will already be a hazy memory. Perhaps even a guilty one. Many of us have the desire to be fitter, healthier, happier. Many of us struggle to muster the motivation to achieve that. And many of us feel bad about that!

But the Christmas craziness has long gone. And Spring is just around the corner. This can actually be the perfect time of the year to clean up your act and kick-start some excellent lifestyle routines. So this month, why not be inspired by St Valentine? Ditch the negative self-talk, get into the health and fitness habit and show yourself some love!

Mindset Theory

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right.” Henry Ford was, perhaps unwittingly, an early exponent of mindset theory. But modern psychologists, like Carol Dweck, are now proving the truth behind such sentiments: our beliefs have a strong influence on our behaviour and contribute to our success - or otherwise - in many aspects of our lives.

  • “I’m not interested in cooking and, anyway, ready-meals are just so much more convenient.”
  • “I don’t have the time to exercise, during the week. I guess it’ll just have to wait till the kids have grown up a bit.”
  • “In the middle of a busy week, I just snack and run. Healthy food goes out of the window.”

We all have stories that we tell ourselves, that we use as excuses. But when eating healthily and taking regular exercise have proven health benefits, can we really afford not to make them a priority – no matter how busy our lives are?

Reserving the right to change our minds

Our beliefs and our behaviour can become ingrained over the years. But they don’t have to define us forever. According to writer and orator Dr. Tim Elmore by following just a handful of steps, significant changes can be made:

  1. Believe that your brain works like a muscle: This can help us to stop making excuses and to get brutally honest with ourselves about the decisions that we’re making.
  2. Use the word “yet.”: This can go a long way towards helping us to see life as a series of growth opportunities. “I haven’t run a marathon. Yet.”
  3. Affirm variables that are in our control: “I worked really hard to run that 3K” rather than “I’m naturally athletic”.
  4. Surround yourself with “growth mindset” people: We tend to become the people that we spend the most time with so choose wisely!

So now that you have the theory down, about switching to a growth mindset, it's time to arm yourself with some practical tips to achieve those goals. We've pulled together a 32-page Healthy Living Guide to help you do just that. Take the first step towards changing your mindset and download the guide, today!

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.

4 powerful tips to keep you motivated and meet your goals.

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, February 14, 2019

New regimes are often focused on exercise, weight and health. 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
  2. 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

  3. Get support
  4. 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 like a supportive friend or perhaps an online group.

  5. Use your technology
  6. 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 aim is to have a change of career, 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!

  7. Boost your energy
  8. 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!

No Time to work out?

Posted by Sunsweet - Tuesday, January 22, 2019

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.

Chicken and Prune Quiche

Posted by Sunsweet - Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Wonderfully versatile and absolutely delicious, our Chicken and Prune Quiche makes a show-stopping starter, light lunch and is perfect for picnics. Sunsweet prunes lend both rich and fruity notes to this family classic. Served simply, with a generous helping of lightly-dressed seasonal salad leaves and herbs, this lovely recipe lets you serve up springtime on a plate!

Ingredients

150 g streaky bacon
350 g chicken breast 
200 g button mushrooms, sliced  
½ bunch of sage, chopped
150 g California prunes
½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped 
6 eggs 
200 ml coconut milk 
Salt & pepper 

Instructions

  1. Cut bacon into strips and fry in a non-stick pan, add chicken strips and sauté for 5 minutes while turning. Add mushrooms, sage, prunes, and parsley and sauté 2 minutes longer.
  2. Whisk eggs and coconut milk in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Thinly brush baking pan with oil, spread the chicken mixture evenly into the dish and cover with the egg mixture. Place dish in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes at 180° C (fan assisted oven 160° C).
  4. Allow quiche to cool and serve with a green salad.

The not-so-skinny on sugar

Posted by Sunsweet - Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Sugar. It's something that we should all be attempting to cut back on. But does that mean that we have to cut back on fruit, too – like prunes – that make a sweet and tasty contribution towards our 5-a-day? What does the science say, are all sugars created equal?

The introduction of a sugar tax

World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines recommend that we eat around 25 grams of sugar each day - about 6 teaspoons. But consumption in most countries exceeds this. Currently, Western European adults consume an average of 101 grams of sugar per day ….. that’s about 25 teaspoons!

In a Euromonitor study, Germany was ranked the second-most sugar-loving nation in the world with people eating 103 grams on average. In Ireland, which ranks fourth on the list, sugar intake falls just short of 97 grams, the UK comes in seventh at 93 grams and the Italians consume 57 grams per day.

With rising obesity levels on a European and global level being blamed on an over-reliance on energy-dense foods, several countries have called for the introduction of measures to help curb the intake of sugary foods; health warnings, sales taxes, banning junk foods in schools, restrictions on advertising to children and reduced portion sizes among others.

Variations on a sugar tax have already been introduced in Denmark, France, Finland, Hungary, Mexico and India. As recently as March 2016, the British Chancellor, George Osborne, made the decision to introduce a tax on sugary drinks. Moves like these have been welcomed by those with a keen professional interest in the topic. Chris Askew, for example, chief executive of Diabetes UK said: “We have been campaigning for this... as we are all consuming too much sugar."

But what's so bad about sugar?

Sugary foods and drink products that are high in refined sugars may be calorie-rich, nutrient-poor and contribute towards health issues like tooth decay and weight gain. According to advice from WHO, being overweight can lead to:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis)

So what about the naturally-occurring sugars in fruit, like prunes?

Well, prunes are simply dried plums. One plum becomes one prune, just with the water removed, so that the calorie content remains the same. They contain the same natural fructose, glucose and minimal sucrose sugar content as their fresh counterparts. Having only low levels of sucrose is a bonus because sucrose is the fruit sugar that bacteria utilise to produce harmful acids and dental plaque. Additionally, you often see sorbitol as an active anti-plaque ingredient in chewing gum. But, of course, the sorbitol that prunes contain occurs naturally!

Prunes are whole fruit so can contribute towards achieving your 5-a-day, as well as boosting your daily fibre intake. They can make a really useful addition to a healthy, balanced diet. And recent research indicates that prunes do not negatively effect weight. Because, as with all fruit, prunes appear to help with satiety - feelings of fullness - which is an important factor in controlling overeating and making healthy choices.

Common Perceptions: True or False

  • Prunes are full of sugar: False 
  • Prunes contain no added sugar. During the plum-prune drying process, sucrose is hydrolysed to glucose and fructose so prunes contain minimal sucrose: True
  • Prunes are harmful to teeth because dried fruit sticks to the teeth and increases the risk of caries (tooth decay): False 
  • Prunes contain significant sorbitol which is non cariogenic: True

Sugar-Free Month

So, what do you think, could you take the challenge to limit your intake to just naturally occurring sugars for a month? We'd love to hear how you get on. Good luck!

And why not take a moment to discover more of the nutritional facts about Sunsweet prunes, 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.

Delicious Christmas gifts for the Foodie in your life

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, December 12, 2018

We hate to have to break it to you, but Christmas is just around the corner! So what do you reckon, could this be the year that – with a little forward planning - you manage to minimise the stress, maximise the joy and makes lots of happy, family memories along the way?

In the age of technology, the pressure to create a flawless and fashionable family Christmas can start to mount. Social media is awash with sumptuous and stylish images that are far beyond the reaches of most of us. But before you get swept away and dispirited by unattainable standards, why not take a little time to get to the bottom of what the spirit of Christmas actually means for your family? If you’re anything like us, family and friends, festive foods and fun will certainly come close to the top of the list!

So this year, why not get organised ahead of time and set aside a day or so to rustle up some delicious foodie gifts for your nearest and dearest? Get the whole family involved because kids of all ages really do have a part to play. Even the tiniest of tots can help to decorate the labels for bottles and jars, for example. And what a wonderfully creative way to spend a gloomy autumnal weekend; filling your own home with aromas that will conjure up the festive season while creating unique and scrumptious gifts that have a truly personal touch!

The positive psychology behind homemade gifts

According to Allison Pugh, a sociologist at the University of Virginia, gift-giving is “an expression of truly seeing the other person and knowing what they want." And who wouldn’t want a festive spiced Christmas cake, jewel-coloured jars of chutneys and preserves or – for the more decadent people on your gift list – bottles of alcohol-marinated fruits? Home-made foodie treats make for Christmas gifts that go on giving long into the New Year. A study published in the Journal of Marketing discovered that people felt that homemade items showed more love and that – generally speaking - love is the message that people wanted to express. The study’s authors found that handmade products were perceived to be, “literally imbued with love." And Allison Pugh is in agreement, “If gifts are about expressing and forging love, one of the best ways to do that is with your own time. That will always be a really powerful gift." We couldn’t agree more!

Delicious edible gifts

Our easy-to-make Prune and Orange Marmalade and fragrant Prune Chutney are excellent places to start. Why not make a double batch and pop a jar of each into everybody’s stocking? If you fancy trying your hand at something a little more challenging, our Prune Biscotti with White Chocolate and Prune Stollen are well worth the effort! Although biscotti are best eaten within 4 weeks, they can be stored in a sealed container for up to 8 weeks. And stollen will last for several weeks if covered and kept in a cool, dry place. In fact, the loaves actually become more moist and flavourful as they age. Decant your bakes into pretty bags or boxes just before gifting. Getting your little ones to create hand-written labels with serving suggestions is a lovely finishing touch. The Prune Stollen, for example, is delicious toasted and served warm with a generous dollop of our Prune and Orange Marmalade.

Enjoy!

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.

Have a healthy, happy and home-made Christmas!

Posted by Sunsweet - Friday, December 07, 2018

Could this be the year that you make Christmas your own and make lots of magical family memories along the way? Try to remember that there’s no such thing as an identikit, one-size-fits-all Christmas. What's perfect for you and your family, is perfect for you and your family. Forget about trying to recreate the fashionable festive tableaux that are splashed across social media. Forget about blowing your budget on overly-commercial gifts with little meaning that will be discarded by Boxing Day. Forget everything you’ve ever told yourself about not being creative and get making!


The real meaning of Christmas

There’s something about a home-made gift, whatever the time of year, but particularly at Christmas. When all of our lives are so busy, a unique and personal gift that’s taken time and effort to make feels heartfelt. And isn’t that what Christmas is all about? So, set aside a weekend in December, decide who you’ll be making gifts for, search the internet for inspiration, get the whole family involved and have fun! Quick tips for fabulous home-made gifts.

Foodie treats are always a popular choice, at Christmastime. Make sure that you check the recipe, first, but many gifts can be enjoyed by the recipient long into January and beyond. For example, our Spicy Prune BBQ Sauce keeps for up to four weeks. And many preserves will last for up to a year. It’d be a nice touch to add an "enjoy before date" to your handwritten labels.

Take a look at our recipe pages for some scrummy sweet ideas. Who wouldn’t love a Dark Chocolate Bar with Prunes and Almonds or Chocolate Covered Nut-Stuffed Prunes? Pack the edible goodies into pretty gift bags or boxes and don’t forget the gift-tag! Personalised, hand-made labels make a lovely finishing touch.

Pinecones are the ultimate starting point for a whole host of Christmas crafting projects. Add googly eyes, brown felt triangles for ears and mini red pompoms to create – you guessed it – super-cute Rudolphs. Pop cones into mini plant-pots – fixing them securely with modelling clay – to create tiny trees, all ready for decorating. The possibilities are endless!

Maybe you have somebody on your list who is either short on time (a new mum, perhaps) or doesn’t get much company (an elderly neighbour, perhaps, who lives alone). A voucher for a home-made meal – to be redeemed in the New Year – can make a thoughtful gift. You could use our recipe pages as inspiration, to draw up a menu for the lucky recipient.

Enjoy your fabulously crafty weekend. But don’t forget to make an extra batch or two. It’s the chef’s privilege, after all.

With very best wishes – from all of us - for a very healthy, happy and home-made 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.