Serving you with

the freshest news
Sunsweet is an agricultural cooperative

Sunsweet Prunes

Blog

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

Rediscovering the joys of festive entertaining

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, December 08, 2016

Why not see if you can make this Christmas the one where you actually get to enjoy your festive entertaining with family and friends? We’ll let you into a little secret... With a trick or two up your sleeve – and just a little help from Sunsweet - it might just be possible!

Christmas. A time of wall-to-wall joy and gratitude and good will to all men. Hmmm. According to stats reported in Psychology Today, a sense of dread and even depression can be more prevalent during the festive season. The reasons behind seasonal doom and gloom can be myriad. Things like Seasonal Affective Disorder. Feeling under pressure – from an emotional point of view – to have everything just-so. Financial strain. The prospect of yet another commercially-focused Christmas that’s going to leave us feeling like we have lost sight of its true meaning…

If you’re feeling really down, it’s certainly worth chatting things over with a health-care professional. But if yours is more a case of seasonal overwhelm, then read on. The stresses and strains of the season – especially when it comes to entertaining - can be alleviated by having a trick or two up your sleeve and with just a little forward planning. It is the season to be jolly, after all!

Expect the unexpected

Make friends with advance preparation over the Christmas period. Rustle up soups and stews in large batches, ahead of time, but then freeze them as individual portions. Then, if you have unexpected lunch or supper guests, you can simply defrost as many portions as you need. You’ll have a hot meal ready in super-quick time and with precisely zero fuss. Leaving you free to enjoy the company of your impromptu guests. Because life’s too short to spend it hidden away in the kitchen when there’s fun to be had!

Store-cupboard super-stars

A well-stocked fridge and a carefully-planned store-cupboard can also be useful allies in the battle against seasonal stress. Most of us usually have plenty of staple ingredients like bacon, cheese, dried fruit and nuts in the house. In little more than the time it takes to warm through some mulled wine, bacon - of any sort - and a packet of prunes can be transformed into Devils on Horseback. And if you have even less time – or you’re short of space in the oven - how about this no-cook variation? Slice prunes lengthwise and fill them with soft cheese – a combination of goats’ cheese and gorgonzola works really well - and add a walnut. Wrap the stuffed prunes with prosciutto, secure them with a cocktail stick, pile onto a pretty serving dish and enjoy!

Be inspired!

Whether it’s a fun family get together or something more formal, our “Let’s Party!” guide is super-inspiring. From indulgent baked cheeses to crisp, fresh salads. From flavourful savoury tarts to scrumptious chocolate mousses. Our ideas are both deceptively simple and downright delicious. A winning combination when it comes to festive entertaining! Lots of the recipes can be prepped beforehand and many of them can be eaten with the fingers – cutting down on the dreaded washing-up!

What better way to spend a wintry evening than by gathering your friends and family around your fireside and serving them a festive feast? Follow our tips and maybe – just maybe – you’ll get to enjoy the party, 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.

Christmas Cake with Apples, Prunes and Walnuts

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, November 24, 2016

Our Christmas Cake with Apples, Prunes and Walnuts is a lighter, more contemporary twist on heavier, more traditional versions. Plentiful fruits – both fresh and dried - and delicious nuts make for a wonderfully flavourful bake. Our Christmas Cake will keep for several days, stored in an air-tight tin but it freezes well, too. Fill your home with the scent of Christmas – and enjoy!

Ingredients

250 g butter 
250 g sugar 
3 egg size M / L 
2.5 cups milk 
300 g of wheat flour 
1 sachet baking powder brown 
1 large apple cut into small cubes
100 g Sunsweet Prunes chopped
50 g of walnut
1 large cake tin approx. 23 cm diameter /4 cm high

Instructions

  1. Stir butter and sugar until soft.
  2. Beat the eggs in one at a time. Beat each egg for at least 2 minutes.
  3. Add wheat flour and baking powder into the batter and stir together with milk.
  4. Finally, stir in the, apple, coarsely chopped prunes and walnuts.
  5. Put the dough in the greased sponge cake tin.
  6. Bake at 175 ° C for approx. 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours.  Put a fork into the cake and if it comes out clean, without any mixture on it, the cake is done.  
  7. Let the cake cool completely before serving. it keeps well in a sealed container up to 5 days. 

Tip! Serve with sour cream.

Chocolate Mousse with Plums

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, November 10, 2016

No kids allowed! Our decadent chocolate mousses – flavoured with Cointreau-marinated prunes and fresh orange – are strictly for the grown-ups. Perfect for those moments when only the sweetest of treats will do, these delicious little mousse delights are deceptively simple to make. Served in pretty glasses, our Chocolate Mousses with Plums, are special enough for the most elegant of dinner parties.

Ingredients

175g Sunsweet pitted prunes, chopped 
4 tablespoons Cointreau 
150g dark chocolate 
5 egg whites 
2 egg yolks 
1 orange rind, grated 
25g sugar 

Instructions

  1. Allow the prunes to marinate for an hour in Cointreau.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a saucepan.
  3. Beat the egg whites until stiff, add sugar and continue to beat until you have a meringue texture
  4. Add the melted chocolate, orange zest and egg yolks, add the meringue gently
  5. Divide the prunes in 6 glasses and pour the chocolate mousse.
  6. Leave in the fridge for at least an hour.

An unlikely store cupboard super-star: prunes!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, November 03, 2016

Prunes can make a fruity and flavourful addition to a range of recipes, both sweet and savoury.  And prunes can be equally delicious enjoyed straight from the pack, as a healthy and convenient snack. As a store-cupboard staple – one that’s both tasty and nutritious - prunes punch way above their weight.

Whether you…

  • Are pregnant and trying to combat constipation and nausea, naturally 
  • Have a baby to whom you’re trying to introduce new flavours and textures 
  • Are attempting to feed - healthily - a houseful of constantly snacking kids 
  • Are relentlessly busy and looking for super-speedy, mid-week meal solutions but want to avoid fat-laden takeaways or nutrition-poor ready-meals 
  • Are retired and have the time – and the interest - to experiment with sophisticated dishes … 

Read on, get inspired and - next time you’re out shopping - grab yourself a couple of packs of prunes

Scrummy Snacks

When it comes to speedy snacks, there’s nothing quicker than grabbing a handful of super-sweet prunes to munch on - pureeing the fruit and spreading it on to warm toast makes for a slightly more substantial snack, Yum! But when you have a little more time, prunes have a delicious depth that can enhance a whole host of smoothie flavour combos. For dark berry fruitiness, whizz a handful of blueberries, blackberries, prunes and prune juice for a jewel-coloured treat. For dessert-flavoured yumminess, bananas, chocolate milk and prunes are sublime. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

Did you know that just three prunes count for one of your 5-a-day fruit and veg portions?

Healthier Bakes

For home-baking, adding prunes to family favourites - like flapjacks and muffins – to up your fruit and veg intake and to boost nutrition is pretty straightforward. But did you know that prune puree can be used as a replacement for butter, too? The fruit’s rich flavour - with its notes of caramel and vanilla - lends itself particularly well to chocolate recipes. Just swap the butter for prune puree - weight for weight - and enjoy! 

Mealtime Magic

And at mealtimes, whether you’re looking for a super-quick snack, an elaborate feast, or something in-between, prunes make a good starting point. They can add depth to the flavour of soups, interest to the texture of salads, and their rich, dark colour adds a wonderful contrast in stir fries. They make a fruity addition to a range of meat dishes, too, their flavour working particularly well with pork and game. And if you’re feeling just a little naughty? Check out our wonderfully indulgent choccy recipes.

Feeling inspired? Check out our guide to cooking with prunes and download our smoothie recipes booklet and breathe some delicious new life into your repertoire of recipes.

A note on nutrition

Dried fruits do have some nutrition benefits, compared with their fresh counterparts, not least that their goodness is condensed into a tiny package! A report from the European Food Information Council found that dried fruits, including prunes, contain high amounts of beta carotene, vitamin E, niacin, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. Dried fruits are a good source of fibre too, essential for a healthily functioning digestive system. Dried fruit trumps fresh when it comes to convenience, too. Sunsweet prunes will last for 18 months from their date of production. And with no need for refrigeration, they’re so portable, making them perfect for munching on-the-go.

So don’t forget to add convenient, versatile, natural – and most importantly, delicious - prunes to your shopping list.

They really do deserve a starring role!

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.

Chicken filled with Prunes

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, October 27, 2016

You can never have too many chicken dish recipes in your family’s repertoire. So why not make friends with our Chicken filled with Prunes? Stylish enough to be a dinner party main and simple enough to be a mid-week meal, this recipe is super-versatile. Sage, prunes and gouda cheese add a tasty twist. And a side of your family’s favourite veggies – we suggest carrots and kohlrabi - make for a scrummy, complete meal.

Ingredients

4 chicken breast fillets (approx. 250 g)
Salt and pepper
4 stems of sage 
80 g of medium-aged gouda cheese
150 g Sunsweet prunes
Small wooden skewers
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
200 ml chicken stock 
400 g carrots
1 large kohlrabi
30 g Butter

Instructions

  1. Rinse chicken breast fillets and blot them dry. Cut a slit lengthways in each chicken breast. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Place 2 sage leaves in each of the slits. Cut the gouda cheese into 4 thin pieces. Place a piece of gouda cheese and 2 prunes in each slit. Use the small wooden skewers to pin the slits closed.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil and fry the chicken breast fillets until they are brown on all sides. Pour chicken stock onto the fried meat. Cover the chicken breast fillets with a lid and braise them for approx. 18-20 minutes. In the last few minutes put the remaining prunes and the rest of the sage leaves in the stock and braise them with the other ingredients. Season the meat stock with salt and pepper.
  3. Peel, clean and rinse the carrots, and cut them into slices. Peel the kohlrabi and finely dice it. Simmer the carrots and kohlrabi in salt water for approx. 10-12 minutes. Strain the vegetables. Melt the butter in the pan and stir the vegetables in it. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cut the chicken breast fillets and arrange them together with the vegetable stock, prunes and vegetables. 

Sweet Potato Ragout with Prunes

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sweet potato, prunes and accents of warming chili, this is a dish that everyone will love. But did you know that prunes contain nutrients like vitamin K and manganese that can help to maintain healthy bones. Research suggests that - because of the nutrients that they provide - the fruits may well have bone health boosting benefits. So tuck in!

Ingredients

300 g sweet potatoes
2 onions
½ bunch of sage
5 parsley sprigs
2 red chilli peppers
50 g almonds, sliced
350 g Capellini (angel hair pasta (thinner) OR vermicelli (thicker) )
3 tbsp. olive oil
200 ml vegetable stock
250 g ricotta cheese
150 g California prunes
Nutmeg
3 tbsp. lime juice
Salt, pepper

Instructions

  1. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1 cm cubes. Peel and dice onions. Finely chop sage and parsley. Cut chilli into rings. Roast almonds in a pan without oil. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Add the potato cubes and sauté over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes. Add onions and herbs and sauté for 2 more minutes. Deglaze with vegetable stock. Add ricotta and prunes and simmer 1 minute longer. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  3. Add pasta and lime juice. Serve sprinkled with almonds.

Tip: Sauté sage leaves in a little bit of oil until crispy and serve with the pasta.

The Benefits of Exercise and Bone Strength

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, October 06, 2016

Osteoporosis is a global issue, affecting up to one in three women and one in five men. Genetic factors have a role to play in determining an individual’s likelihood of developing osteoporosis but lifestyle factors also have an influence. Simple steps can be taken – like a routine of weight-bearing, muscle-strengthening exercise - to help improve bone-health.


But how prevalent is osteoporosis?

The condition causes bones to weaken so that they break more easily. According to the IOF, up to one in three women and one in five men (aged 50+) will suffer an osteoporotic fracture. These fractures can prove painful, cause long-term disability or even be life-threatening.

Can anything be done, to help prevent osteoporosis?

Although genetic factors do have a role to play in determining an individual’s likelihood of developing osteoporosis, lifestyle factors can also have an influence. And fortunately there are some simple steps that can be taken, to improve bone-health no matter what your gender, life-stage or bone-health status. These steps include:

  • A routine of weight-bearing, muscle-strengthening exercise
  • A balanced diet, rich in nutrients like calcium, protein and vitamin D
  • Cutting out the cigarettes and limiting alcohol consumption

The role of exercise

Building and maintaining bone health is essential for both genders and at all life-stages. And exercise really is an excellent starting point, to build and maintain bone and muscle strength. Adults who get insufficient exercise lose bone density more quickly than their fit-as-a-fiddle counterparts. And sedentary older people are far more likely to suffer fractures. According to the IOF, this is because bones respond and strengthen when they are 'stressed' and the best way to achieve this? By getting plenty of weight bearing exercise.

What is weight-bearing exercise?

Weight-bearing exercise – the kind that’s good for your bones – is any form of exercise that requires you to work against gravity. Swimming and cycling, for example, would not be weight-bearing but good examples of weight-bearing activities include:

  • Weight training
  • Hiking
  • Running
  • Tennis
  • Dancing

So, what are you waiting for? Your bones - not to mention the rest of your body - will thank you for a good-old workout.

And why are Sunsweet involved with the campaign?

Plenty of fruit and veg, as part of a nutritious diet, simple things that are bound to have a positive impact on overall health. And bone health is no exception. Did you know that prunes can be an ally when it comes to bone health management? Research suggests that the nutrients in them – things like vitamin K and manganese – can help to maintain normal bones. Yet more reasons to stock up on these tiny – and scrummy – nutritional power-houses!

More info:

If you’d like to find out more about bone health, please do take a look at the Prunes and Bone Health section of our website. Or visit our dedicated Bone Health library where you can download informative and yet simple-to-read whitepapers including the following:

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.

Dietary Fibre 101

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, September 15, 2016

What exactly is fibre? Why does the body - every body - need it? What happens to our body if we don’t get enough of it? And how can we ensure that we keep getting plenty of it? Read on for everything you - and your family - need to know about dietary fibre.

Our Dietary Fibre 101

OK. We admit that as health topics go, dietary fibre - and the role that it can play in contributing towards a healthy and normally functioning body – is far from being a glamorous one. And yet, dietary fibre is an important health topic. With a seemingly endless increase of pressure on our time and the proliferation of quick, convenient and very nutrient-poor meals, many of us simply do not get enough fibre from the food we eat on a regular basis.

But what is dietary fibre?

In a nutshell, dietary fibre is the tiny parts of things like cereal, vegetables and fruit that cannot be digested in the small intestine. Instead, this dietary fibre passes further along in the digestive system before most of it gets broken down by bacterial action in the colon. Increasing dietary fibre – as part of a healthy and balanced diet - can help to soften stools, making them easier to pass and helping to keep the complex cogs of the digestive system moving!

If you would like a more detailed understanding of how the digestive system works then our 'whistle stop tour of the digestive system' will be of interest to you.

And it seems that fibre has an even more crucial role to play, too. The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) reckon that dietary fibre is protective against bowel cancer. Around 12% of bowel cancers in the UK are linked to eating insufficient fibre, less than 23 grams a day.

Types of dietary fibre

Dietary fibre is typically divided into two groups:

  1. Insoluble Fibre:

    This is made up of the skins of fruits, the stalks and leaves of vegetables and the husks and hard coats of seeds. Insoluble fibre is more slowly broken down and its bulk helps with the evacuation of stools.

  2. Soluble Fibre:

    This is more completely fermented in the colon, it retains fluid, softening the stools and making them easier to pass.

Many plant components contain both soluble and insoluble components of dietary fibre. For example, the skins of prunes are composed of insoluble fibre and the pulp and juice are composed of soluble fibre

Dealing with constipation

If you do become constipated, it is even more important than ever to aim for at least 5 portions of fruit or vegetables a day. Fibre-packed dried fruits and natural, unsweetened juices can both count towards this target. Just three prunes a day count for one of your ‘5-a-day’ portions!

Highly processed foods are best avoided as these tend to be higher in fat, salt and sugar and are often lower in fibre. Get into the home-cooking habit. Our recipe pages are a great place to look, for healthy inspiration.

The role of fluids

To help to keep things moving, digestively-speaking, it’s important to make sure that you drink plenty of fluid. If you’re actively taking steps to increase the amount of fibre in your diet, be sure to increase the amount of fluid that you drink, too. The body is super-efficient at extracting fluid from the colon when it is needed for bodily functions. And even slight dehydration can lead to harder stools that are more difficult to pass. Six to eight glasses of fluid a day - water or diluted fruit juices are good choices – is a useful rule of thumb.

If you’d like to find out more about the role of dietary fibre – especially if you suffer from IBS with constipation – please do take a look at our booklet. It’s packed with expert hints and tips:

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.

Prune and Chocolate Macaroons

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, September 08, 2016

Wow your guests with these super stylish teatime treats. Piled high on your prettiest serving plate, these Prune and Chocolate Macaroons won’t last for long. They are beyond delicious so make sure that you keep a few reserve Macaroons in the kitchen, just for you … it’s the cook’s privilege, after all!

Ingredients

180g Icing sugar 
180g Ground almonds 
180g Caster sugar 
4 egg whites 
3 tblsp water 
Drop of lemon juice 
20 prunes 
100g good quality dark chocolate 
Purple food colouring

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 
  2. Mix the icing sugar, almonds and 2 of the egg whites into a paste. 
  3. In a small pan bring to the boil the caster sugar and water. 
  4. Whisk the remaining 2 egg whites on medium to high speed to a stiff peak. 
  5. Once the sugar and water mixture has boiled and become syrupy add this to the egg whites – add food colouring at this stage until you have desired colour. 
  6. Whisk on a high speed for 1-2 minutes. 
  7. Gently fold this into the paste mixture and put into a piping bag. 
  8. Line 2 large trays with greaseproof paper and pipe small circles of the mixture – try to make similar in size. 
  9. Bake in the oven for 10-13 minutes until cooked and remove and cool on a wire rack. 
  10. Melt the chocolate on a bain marie – meanwhile in a food processor whizz up the prunes to form a paste. 
  11. Combine the prune paste with the melted chocolate – allow to cool slightly. 
  12. Once the macaroons and the paste have cooled sandwich together 2 macaroons by piping the chocolate and prune ganache in the middle. 

Heavenly Prune Yogurt Tiramisu

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, August 25, 2016

Why is it that so many desert recipes mean kissing goodbye to your resolve to eat more healthily? Well, give a big ‘hello’ our Heavenly Prune Yogurt Tiramisu! Sure to become a firm favourite with the whole family, this super delicious desert is proof positive that watching your calorie intake doesn’t have to mean eliminating treats. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 vanilla pod 
150 g California prunes  
250 g low fat yoghurt
200 g cream cheese 
7 tbsp. agave syrup 
100 ml espresso, brewed 
6 tbsp. rum (optional) 
200 g sponge fingers (finger shaped sponge biscuits) 
Unsweetened cocoa powder for sprinkling
Chocolate shavings and mint for garnishing
Other: springform pan, approx. 35 x 23.5 cm

Instructions

  1. Cut vanilla pod in half and scrape out seeds. Cut prunes into chunks and mix with yoghurt, cream cheese, agave syrup, vanilla seeds and 5 tablespoons espresso until smooth. Combine the remaining espresso with rum.
  2. Place half of the sponge fingers into the springform pan and generously soak with the espresso-rum mixture. Then spread half of the yoghurt cream on top, place remaining biscuits onto the cream, and sprinkle with remaining espresso. Spread remaining cream on biscuits and smooth. Refrigerate tiramisu for at least 4 hours to soak through.
  3. Then generously sprinkle cocoa powder on top of the tiramisu and serve garnished with chocolate shavings and mint.