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

Healthier Snacking for Busy Families

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, April 20, 2017

Time pressures, for many of us, seem to be rising both exponentially and relentlessly. Families with young children, in particular, seem to be constantly on the move with even the tiniest of tots having a packed schedule. Meals eaten together, up at the table, have become more of a special occasion thing than an everyday thing. And snacking has become just a regular part of our time-strapped, modern lives. Not all snacks are created equally, though!

With so much of the food that we consume being eaten “on the hoof”, it’s important to opt – wherever possible - for snacks that pack a nutritious punch without piling on the pounds.

The stats on obesity, from the World Health Organisation, are startling:

  • Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980.
  • By 2014, almost 40% of the world’s adult population was deemed overweight.
  • And obesity is preventable.

Planning Ahead

Used tactically, and as part of a generally healthy and balanced diet, snacks can help to manage hunger and reduce the likelihood of bingeing, at mealtimes. But it really does pay to plan ahead. Why not try pulling together a menu of easily-prepared snacks, that the whole family will love, and that can be enjoyed on a myriad of snacking occasions? Think lunchboxes, pre-exercise pick-me-ups, breakfast on-the-run...

Healthy Choices

Naturally, it makes nutritional sense – apart from when having a very occasional treat – to make healthy choices, to avoid snacks that are high in added sugar, fat and salt. We do understand, though, that it can be tricky to work out what is healthy and what isn’t when it comes to snacks. For example, processed fruit snacks – some of which actually have added sugar - are blurring the boundary between confectionery and traditional, unprocessed dried fruits. But the great news is that sweet and tasty treats are far from being an absolute no-no. “Traditional dried fruits have historically been considered a nutritious snack choice in parts of the world where abundant sunshine enabled drying fruits for preservation, such as the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. They all provide dietary fibre, are virtually fat and salt-free and each provide a range of essential micronutrients, such as potassium, copper, manganese, iron and vitamins A, E, K and niacin.”, says Jennette Higgs, Consultant Dietitian at the California Prune Board.

Recipe Ideas

And prunes are an excellent example of these traditional dried fruits. They can be enjoyed on their own, straight from the pack, but they’re also the basis for a whole host of super-satisfying goodies. Our website is a brilliant resource with countless healthy-snacking recipe ideas. Why not have a look and bookmark a few that take your fancy? And if you’re a YouTube kind of person, check out our video for a step-by-step guide to making Energy Balls. They’re perfectly portable, flavour-packed and sure to be a big hit with the whole family!

Mums-to-Be

And did you know that snacking is especially important for mums-to-be? It can:

  • Boost those flagging energy levels
  • Help to keep nausea at bay
  • And, when high-fibre options are chosen, help to alleviate constipation

Why not take a look at our dedicated pregnancy website for lots more 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.

Join us as we celebrate 100 years of history!

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, April 19, 2017

For an entire century, Sunsweet has been inspiring consumers to eat well and to enjoy a healthy, balanced lifestyle. The company has a rich heritage and deep roots within the growers’ valley of California. But where did it all start?

Once upon a time in California…

Believe it or not, the Sunsweet story began with just one man, Louis Pellier, who imported prune orchard stock from France to California. Louis Pellier introduced Agen prunes to the region in 1850. But it wasn’t until 1917 that Sunsweet was formed. A group of farmers founded and named it the Sunsweet California Prune and Apricot Growers Association. In that first year alone, they handled 43% of the state crop. Today, the company is 250 growers strong, producing 40,000 cases of fruit and juice every single day and exporting to more than 45 countries around the world. In fact, the Sunsweet Growers, as it is now known, is one of the world’s most successful agricultural cooperatives!

Generational Experience and Innovation

Many growers within the cooperative are from family businesses and bring generations of expertise to the craft of cultivating prunes. While building on learnings from the past, Sunsweet has always had an eye on the future too, striving for innovation and improvement. In 1966, for example, Sunsweet patented a unique pitting system. No other prunes in the world are pitted with the same precision and care as Sunsweet prunes, resulting in fruit that is rounder, plumper and more flavourful. The ‘Smart Pitter’ has been improved over the years and remains patented to this day. No doubt, the original Sunsweet farmers, of 1917, would be proud that their cooperative continues to grow, innovate, improve and deliver the best prunes possible to customers.

When plums are dried into prunes, the dehydration concentrates their flavour. The prune becomes about one third of its original size but retains its nutritional value. Did you know that Sunsweet prunes:

  • Contain just over 7g fibre per 100g, that’s about a quarter of your daily needs.
  • Are a source of vitamins like B6 that can help you feel less tired and Vitamin K that supports the maintenance of normal bones.
  • Count towards your 5-a-day with just 4/5 prunes classed as a serving.

A very special place

Sunsweet growers know good farmland when they see it. Sunsweet prune plum orchards are only planted, in the rich soil of lush regions, with rain-free summers and cool but not freezing winters. There are only a handful of places like that on earth and the birthplace of the Sunsweet prune - the San Joaquin Valley - is one of the very best.

It goes without saying, that Sunsweet farmers have strong ties to the land and so it’s only natural for them to be committed to the preservation of nature and to lead the way in green innovation. You can find out more about Sunsweet’s green credentials on the website.

A very special company

Despite the passing of 100 years, Sunsweet’s passion for all-things prune has remained undiminished. The company has an award-winning commitment to quality and customer service and is always investing to ensure the best quality prunes in the world. And the good news for you? All of these measures help Sunsweet to grow prunes that are deliciously plump, succulent and tasty for you to enjoy.

Here’s to the next 100 years!

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.

Spring into a Healthier Lifestyle

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, April 06, 2017

Spring has well and truly sprung and the Easter holidays are very nearly upon us. This is a time of year when many of us - over the long, bank-holiday weekends - can take a well-earned break and enjoy the (hopefully!) improved weather. There really is no better season than the spring for laying new foundations for a healthier lifestyle for the months to come.

Outdoor Fun

The onset of brighter and warmer and longer days makes the great outdoors feel even more appealing than ever. Having the support of your friends and family is a very strong motivator for getting – and staying – active. But, let’s face it, getting active with a gaggle of buddies is just more fun! Exercise really doesn’t feel like exercise when it involves gathering together a fun-loving group – the more the merrier - and larking about outside. All you need to do is tailor your activities to suit the age and agility of your group and get stuck in. From horse-riding to hide and seek. From golf to geocaching. From tree-climbing to tennis. From surfing to sand-castle building. The only real rules? Have lots and lots of fun!

Our top three tips for alfresco exercise:

  1. Ring the Changes:

    Get together with your getting-active group – ahead of time - to brainstorm ideas for activities, to keep things fresh and fun.

  2. Get Scheduling:

    Synchronise calendars, set a date and a time and stick to it – no matter what the weather. A few spots of rain should definitely not stop play!

  3. Fuel the Fun:

    There’s nothing like exercising out-of-doors to work up an appetite! Why not check out our recipes pages for a whole host of yummy and portable, prune-related ideas?

Rainy Day Activities

And if the weather lets you down? Buzz on over to our Easter section where you’ll find a trio of Easter-themed projects to choose from. Kids of all ages will just love our colourful craft activities. There are printable templates and easy-to-follow instructions to create Baby Chick Easter Decorations, Bunny Rabbit Pen and Pencil Holders and Bunny Boxes. And if you find yourself with some spare time over the bank-holiday weekend? You could always rustle up a batch of sweeties – check out our recipe pages for inspiration – and present them, as gifts, in one of our Bunny Boxes.

Prunes – the surprising star of the kitchen!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, March 16, 2017

There’s nothing humble about prunes. In fact, when it comes to stocking up on convenient, long-life and yet completely natural foodstuffs, prunes deserve to take pride of place on your shopping list.

The fruits are surprisingly versatile. They can be enjoyed by the handful, straight from the pack. They can be whizzed – either on their own or with ingredients like cocoa powder and ground nuts – to make super-tasty toast-toppers. They can be used to lend sweetness and depth to the flavour of your family’s favourite fruit smoothies. And they can also make a delicious and nutritious addition to a range of more elaborate dishes, both sweet and savoury.

Healthier Treats

As we all know, a life without treats is a life that’s, well, a little bit miserable! So it’s good to know that prunes can make a sweet and tasty foundation for a range of healthier nibbles. Trail mix – combining nuts and seeds and dried fruit – couldn’t be simpler to prepare. Prunes can be added to baked family favourites, like flapjack, to boost their nutritional value. And did you know that prunes can even be used to replace the sugar and fats in recipes for bakes? Tests by the California Prune Board – that swapped refined sugar for prune puree in a range of recipes – reduced the overall sugar content by up to 35%. And prune puree can be used as a replacement for butter, too. The fruit – with its caramelized flavour and overtones of vanilla - lends itself particularly well to chocolate recipes. Just swap the butter for prune puree - weight for weight - and enjoy!

Super Savouries

Sunsweet prunes have a delicious fruitiness that enhances many other flavours. They are a classic complement to a range of meat dishes – delicious with pork and perfect with game, for example – and they can add texture, moistness and a depth and richness of flavour. Combined with teriyaki sauce in a marinade, prune juice helps to transform ribs into melt-in-the-mouth scrumminess. And prunes are a useful addition to that staple of every family’s meal-time repertoire: the mid-week one-pot supper. Think Spicy Squash Soup with Chorizo and Prunes. Think Beef Stew with seasonable root veg and flavourful prunes. Simply delicious!

Whether you’re looking for a super-quick snack, an elaborate feast, or something in-between, prunes are an excellent starting point. There are lots of ways to include delicious and nutritious Sunsweet prunes - and their juice - in your everyday diet. So why not keep a pack or two handy, in the store cupboard?

Feeling inspired? Why not get creative in the kitchen and try some of our delicious recipe ideas?

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.

Raspberry Prune Frozen Yoghurt, a super-healthy alternative to ice-cream!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, March 09, 2017

We all crave a sweet treat, at times. And yet opting for refined sugar and fat-laden versions can leave us feeling sluggish and guilty. So say “hello” to our Raspberry Prune Frozen Yoghurt. It’s a super-healthy alternative to ice-cream. And with just three ingredients – raspberries, yogurt and prunes – this delicious treat couldn’t be more simple to make.

Ingredients

200 g natural yoghurt, mild (3.5 % fat)
100-125 g Sunsweet prunes
250 g frozen raspberries, unthawed

If desired:
4 waffles

Instructions

  1. First put yoghurt and then prunes and raspberries into the beaker of a smoothie mixer. First mix at slow speed, then finely mix at medium speed, repeatedly pushing the raspberries downwards with the pestle. If the ice cream is not firm enough, divide the mass into portions in dessert glasses and leave to refreeze for 30 to 60 minutes in the freezer. Otherwise, immediately divide the mass into portions in dessert glasses or if desired divide into portions in ice cream waffles.

Vegan variant: soya yoghurt can be used instead of yoghurt.

Tip: a powerful smoothie mixer makes the ice cream particularly creamy. A hand-held blender is only suitable to a certain extent. If there is only a hand-held blender available, first thaw raspberries, then finely mix all ingredients together. Freeze the mass in an ice cream maker (in accordance with operating instructions) or let it freeze in the freezer. For freezing, divide the mass into portions in 4 silicone muffin moulds and place in the freezer for 1-3 hours (do not let the mass get too hard). Before serving, remove pieces of ice cream from the moulds and put them on a plate. 


It’s Spring – and there’s a sense of celebration in the air!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, March 02, 2017

Don’t forget that the clocks change on the 26th March. What better excuse is there to burst out of hibernation, to shake off the very last dregs of winter sluggishness and to spring forward with confidence and positivity and gratitude?

There really is something so special about the beginning of the spring. It just seems to feel like the perfect season to take a fresh look at our daily routines, to make the small adjustments that are needed to get our health and our wellbeing goals back on track and to take the time out to really celebrate the results.

Life is for living, after all. It’s certainly way too short and too precious to get hung up on counting every calorie or to beat yourself up for skipping a session at the gym. At the end of the day, if our diets are generally healthy with just the occasional well-earned treat and our lifestyles are generally active with just the occasional couch-potato day, we’re actually not doing too badly. And being able to enjoy a busy and vibrant life – fuelled by a varied and nutritious diet – is something to celebrate!

In California – the home of Sunsweet’s extensive prune plum orchards – the spring is a particularly beautiful time of the year. In early March, the orchards become covered in a fragrant blanket of pretty, white blossoms. It’s a truly magical sight! But the beauty is as short-lived as it is spectacular. After just a week or so, the blossoms gently drift to the ground and the orchards’ palette shifts to a deep chartreuse as new fruit forms and tender leaf buds burst.

And that leads us neatly on to new beginnings… It’s hard to believe that it’s one hundred years since the Sunsweet Growers Association was founded making this year a really special one for us, as we’ll be celebrating our centenary! The original Sunsweet farmers were passionate about delivering delicious and nourishing prunes of the very highest quality. And we think that they would be very proud of the fact that the Sunsweet brand is now enjoyed in more than 45 countries and that their legacy - of delivering the best possible prunes to customers – continues. If you’re interested in finding out more, you can watch the fascinating Sunsweet story.  Let the festivities begin!

And last – but by no means least - March offers us two opportunities to celebrate the special women in our lives. The 8th March is International Women’s Day followed by Mother’s Day on the 26th March. Our recipe pages are packed with yummy ideas for starters and mains, puddings and treats. We hope that they’ll prove inspirational for you, as you plan all those special, celebratory meals. Bon appetit!

And Happy Spring!

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.

Do your bit on World Cancer Day: Because the fight against cancer isn’t over

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, February 16, 2017

The experts reckon that up to a third of the most common types of cancer could be prevented by taking two very simple steps. Can you really afford not to find out more? Get informed and do your bit to improve your lifestyle and reduce the risk for you and your family.

World Cancer Day

Established at the World Summit Against Cancer, in Paris, on 4 February 2000, World Cancer Day has become a truly global movement. And the main aims of the day are simple:

  • To unite the world’s population in the fight against cancer.
  • To save millions of preventable deaths, annually.
  • To raise awareness about cancer both in the media and in people’s minds.
  • To share up-to-date information about the disease, its causes and the steps that can be taken to help to prevent it.
  • To inspire individuals, health organisations and governments around the world to take action.

Cancer: The Stats

The stats on cancer make for pretty sobering reading. Worldwide, more than 8 million people die of the disease each year. Half of those – some 4 million people - are the premature deaths of people aged between 30 and 69. The number of cases of cancer is only expected to rise in the years to come.

Doing our bit

And yet despite all the stats, there are still plenty of reasons for us all to feel positive and hopeful. Research published by the organisers of World Cancer Day suggests that up to a third of the most common types of cancer could be prevented by taking two very simple steps:

  1. By having a balanced and nutritious diet thus maintaining a healthy weight.
  2. By taking regular exercise.

The role of 5-a-day

The five-a-day fruit and veg guidelines were based on World Health Organisation recommendations and introduced in 1990 with the aim of improving the health of the global population. Many of us already struggle to achieve five-a-day. And yet a study by University College London found that there could be health benefits from doubling that target. Dr Oyinlola Oyebode, the study’s author, says, “The clear message here is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age. My advice would be however much you are eating now, eat more.”

The good news is that whether your fruit and veg intake is tinned, fresh, frozen or dried – like scrummy Sunsweet prunes – it all counts towards your five-a-day. And our recipe pages are chock-full of fruit and veggie-based inspiration!

Keeping active

An active lifestyle – with lots of movement throughout the day - is really important and adults should aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise during an average week. But with busy lifestyles – where every moment of our week is accounted for - this can sometimes be easier said than done. With a little bit of planning, though, it doesn’t have to be impossible.

Rather than “a coffee and cake catch-up” with a friend, arrange to have a weekly “walk and talk” instead.

Make friends with one-pot meals: while they’re cooking, the entire family can get outside for a walk around the block, a spot of gardening or a high-energy kick-around. Or better still, all three!

Get-together with family and friends and book some activities that will drag you out of your comfort zone. Climbing walls, indoor skiing, jiving classes… There’s so much out there, for you to try!

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.

Mulled Wine

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, January 12, 2017

Because January just seems too early to kiss goodbye to mulled wine, our flavour-packed recipe adds a few lovely twists to ring the changes. Flaked almonds and chopped prunes add texture and rum, schnapps or port – the choice is yours! - add a kick. Cheers!

Ingredients

75 g Sunsweet prunes - chopped 
1 cup rum, schnapps or port 
50g flaked almonds 
1 liter of finished mulled wine

Instructions

  1. Soak, chopped prunes in rum overnight.
  2. Heat rum with prunes, to boiling point together with flaked almonds and mulled wine. Do not boil.

Tip! Serve mulled wine with prunes and blue cheese


Linzer Prunes Cookies

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, December 15, 2016

Spoil Santa this Christmas with a plate of our Linzer Prune Cookies to accompany his glass of sherry. You’ll be sure to guarantee yourself a place on his “nice” list! The delicious Cookies make a really lovely gift for foodie friends, too - if you can bear to give them away that is!

Ingredients

80 g Sunsweet prunes
3 tablespoons water
280-300 g flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons ginger spice
50 g brown sugar
100 g butter, softened
1 medium egg 
For the filling:
80 g quince or red currant jam
2 tablespoons water
100 g Sunsweet prunes


To Serve:
Some icing sugar for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C and puree prunes for the cookie dough with water.
  2. Mix baking powder with flour, ginger spice and sugar. Whisk in butter cubes, egg and plum puree with a hand mixer. Use kneader of hand mixer to knit the dough until smooth. Wrap the dough in foil and place for 30 min in the refrigerator.
  3. Boil water for 2 minutes with the jam. Add the prunes and puree and mix well.
  4. Roll out the dough on floured surface, until 2-3 mm thick. Cut out 36 round cookies (approx. 6cm diameter). Bake half of the cookies for 12 minutes. Cut out little stars (2,5-3cm diameter) from center of the uncooked cookies and bake. Also bake the little stars but take them out a few minutes earlier than the other cookies.
  5. Spread prune filling sparingly but evenly on the round cookies, then place a dab of the filling in the centre and place the cookies with star cut out on it. Press gently. Sift icing sugar over cookies. 

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.