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

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.

Positive steps towards maintaining a healthy weight

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, August 18, 2016

If you believe the headlines, obesity has reached epidemic proportions. Our kids are fatter than ever. Adult health is being negatively affected by expanding waistlines with the results being a greater propensity for cancer, heart disease, diabetes. It’s enough to make you reach for a chocolate bar. But hold that thought! It’s never too late to do something positive about weight management.

Comfort Eating

The links between stress, comfort eating on high-fat, sugar-laden foodstuffs and subsequent weight gain cannot be ignored. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, a quarter of Americans rate their stress level – on a ten-point scale - as 8+. And stress certainly seems to have an adverse impact on our food preferences. When the going gets tough, we reach for the buns! And, when we’re stressed, we also sleep less, exercise less and drink more alcohol. None of which are great for the waistline.

Researchers at Harvard University offer a trio of common-sense tips for countering stress:

  • Meditation: The practice will help you to become more mindful of your moods and better able to make healthy food choices.
  • Exercise: Activities like yoga and tai chi combine exercise and meditation – a win-win!
  • Social support: A listening ear, when you need to offload, from a supportive member of your network of contacts – choose that ear wisely, it could be a friend, a family member or colleague – can also help to alleviate the symptoms of stress.

Removing Temptation

A sensible step when it comes to weight management is – wherever possible - removing temptation. Having your favourite comfort foods on tap is just asking for trouble. Stock up on fresh fruit and veg. Replace biscuits and crisps with dried fruit and nuts. Swap fizzy drinks for juices with no-added sugar. A few simple switches could make a world of difference.

How can Prunes Help with Weight Loss?

Prunes are sweet, really tasty and versatile – whether eaten straight from the pack or as a flavourful addition to a favourite recipe. But you might be surprised to read that, according to research by the University of Liverpool, eating prunes can actively help to boost weight loss.

The University’s study of 100 people (men and women) tested whether, over a 3-month period, eating the fruit - as part of a weight loss diet - helped or hindered weight control. The results were interesting, discovering that the prune eaters experienced greater weight loss than the control group during the last four weeks of the study and - after week eight – experienced greater satiety. They felt fuller. 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."

Be Prepared!

With a well-stocked fruit bowl, a selection of dried fruits and some natural juices to hand, a healthy snack is never too far away. Smoothies are sweet and satisfying and can be whizzed up in seconds. And a handful of prunes – enjoyed on their own – couldn’t be more convenient. You can check out our recipe pages too, for lots of healthy inspiration!

PS: Did you know that prunes can be included in a wide range of special diets? Whether you are gluten intolerant, diabetic, a vegan or a vegetarian, you can find out more about the health benefits of prunes, here on our FAQ pages

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.

Summery Roll

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, August 11, 2016

Kiss goodbye to the boring ham sandwich and packet of crisps combo. Elevate your packed lunches and picnics to a whole new level of healthiness and flavour with our Summery Rolls. At less than 100 calories per serving, our Summery Rolls make a light and super tasty appetiser, too.

Ingredients

60 g glass noodles (Asian supermarket) 
1 ripe mango 
2 carrots 
150 g California prunes 
1-2 bunches of Thai basil 
1 bunch of mint 
1 small romaine lettuce heart 
12 round rice paper sheets (approx. ø 20 cm)
4 tbsp. lime juice 
Salt & pepper
2 chillies, finely chopped  

Instructions

  1. Soak glass noodles according to package directions. Peel, core, and slice mango. Peel carrots and cut into slivers. Cut prunes in halves. Remove basil and mint leaves from stems. Wash lettuce and divide into large pieces.
  2. Soak rice paper sheets one by one for about 2 minutes in cold water and place on a kitchen towel, drain slightly. Drain the glass noodles and season with lime juice, salt, and chilli. Arrange 2 basil leaves and 3 mint leaves with some salad in the centre of each rice sheet. Place glass noodles, mango, carrots, and prunes on top. Fold sides a bit over filling, and then roll up.

Tip: serve with a dip of red and green chilli slices, chopped prunes, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

BBQ like a pro - hints, tips and the ultimate Spicy Prune BBQ Sauce recipe.

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, July 21, 2016

Summer is the perfect time for relaxed informal get-togethers’ with family and friends to enjoy each other's company and share some food. And the entertaining highlight of many a long and lazy summer's day? The good old BBQ grill! Read on for hints and tips and how to wow them all with the ultimate Spicy Prune BBQ Sauce recipe. 

King of the Grill!

What is it about this time of the year that sees so many men take up position as King of the Grill? Is it a throwback to the ancient days of the hunter-gatherer? Is it the ritual of lighting the fire, the thrill of an ever-so-slight risk of danger? The joy of being outdoors? Of hanging out with the rest of the menfolk? Of showcasing culinary prowess away from the limitations of the kitchen… and the obligations of the washing-up? Perhaps it’s destined to remain one of life’s unsolved little mysteries!

Whoever ends up doing the cooking, there’s so much more to BBQ food than processed burgers and well-sizzled sausages. This year, why not wow your friends and family with BBQ fare that’s tasty, easy-to-prepare and super-nutritious, too?

Keeping things healthy

BBQing is such a wonderful way to combine two of life's great pleasures: enjoying the great outdoors and eating good food with family and friends. And, with just a little bit of forward planning, healthy lifestyle choices and eating habits don't have to fall by the wayside the moment the grill is fired-up.

Choose:

  • Leaner cuts of meat – chicken, steak, chops.
  • Fish – salmon, monkfish, prawns, tuna, even a whole stuffed fish like mackerel.
  • Colourful veggie kebabs – peppers, red and white onions, mushrooms, courgette, cherry tomatoes, tofu.
  • Baked spuds – as long as you go easy on the butter! – are super-filling and low in fat.

Ditch the white bread-rolls and serve an appetising selection of fresh salads, instead. Chopped fresh and dried fruits, nuts and seeds are a great way to add texture and crunch. And when it comes to dressings, choose fruity chutneys and relishes rather than relying on those calorie-laden sour-cream and mayo options.

Our easy to prepare Spicy Prune Barbeque Sauce is the perfect accompaniment to meat, fish and veggie grills.

Ingredients

Ingredients for approx. 625 ml:
Prep time: approx. 30 min


150g Sunsweet prunes 
1 Onion (diced)
2 Garlic cloves (chopped)
1 tbsp. Oil
2 tbsp. Tomato paste
500 ml Ketchup
3 tbsp. Whiskey
5 tbsp. Worcester sauce
2 tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp. Brown sugar
1 tsp. Salt
½ - 1 tsp. Chili powder
1 tsp. Smoked paprika powder
Black pepper

Instructions

  1. Cut the prunes into small pieces. Heat oil in a pan and fry onion on medium heat until glassy.
  2. Add garlic, prunes and tomato paste and sautée lightly. Add Ketchup, Whiskey, Worcester sauce and Apple Cider Vinegar. Stir in sugar, salt, chili powder, smoked paprika and pepper.
  3. Bring sauce to a boil and let simmer for 15 min, stir occasionally. Pour into clean jars and seal when cooled. The sauce can be stored for 4 weeks.

*Sunsweet tips:Did you know that prune juice can be used to tenderise meat? The fruity flavour complements both poultry and red meats. Soak kebab skewers in water first, to stop them from spontaneously combusting.

Looking for desert and finger food recipe ideas? Check out our Free 16 page Recipe Booklet.

Keeping upset tums at bay

The very best BBQs are remembered for all the right reasons, so don’t let the fun and frivolity get in the way of food safety. According to the UK government's food safety agency, cases of food poisoning practically double during the summer months. And the main reasons for this rise are undercooked meat and bacterial cross-contamination amongst foodstuffs. Yeugh! So, this year, please make sure that you check out safefood.eu for some timely hints and tips on keeping things safe.

Have fun and eat (and stay) healthy!

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 step closer to healthier Snacking.

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, July 07, 2016

Snacking. It really is an everyday part of modern life. But, watch-out, not all snacks are created equal! So, how can you make healthy choices around the whole snacking issue and yet avoid being caught out by the convenient but calorific-loaded and nutrient-light options when the munchies strike?

The important role of healthy snacks in the diet

Overeating of any kind is likely to lead to weight gain, in the long term. And unhealthy snacks – like crisps, biscuits and fizzy drinks – should certainly be limited to being just a very occasional treat. But there is compelling scientific evidence that nutritious snacks can – and indeed should – form part of a healthy balanced diet. According to the Mayo Clinic, choosing healthy snacks can help to both manage hunger, in the short-term, and reduce the likelihood of bingeing when it comes to mealtimes. But the trick is to choose snacks that can kick hunger into touch while, at the same time, be nutritionally beneficial and keep calorie counts low.

Kids' stuff

The evidence to support the positive role of snacking is even more compelling when it comes to kids. Childhood is a time when young bodies are growing rapidly, and any parent will confirm, kids shoot up fast. But children have smaller stomachs than adults meaning that they usually feel fuller quicker. According to a 2009 study by the WHO, snacking can be a good way for children to meet their extra nutritional needs and to support normal development. Why not give our Prune Energy Balls recipe a go? They're tasty,  healthy, easily-made and can last up to a week!

Trends in snacking

In today’s on-the-run society the temptation of the quick-fix convenient snack, often in the form of the nutritional bar, may appear to be just what a hungry tummy ordered. Clever advertising may suggest health values, however, nutritionists agree that not all nutritional bars are created equal! Many are high in refined sugar and can have as much saturated fat as a regular confectionary bar.

A recent Mintel report on snacking suggests that there is a growing preference for healthy food choices. And young people - the Millennial generation of 21 to 38 year olds, for example – were likely to snack for function and focus, with 39% snacking to get an energy boost. And California prunes tick lots of these boxes.

  • Sweet (Prunes contain only naturally occurring sugars, with no added sugar.)
  • Super-tasty
  • Packed with nutrients 
  • Low Glycaemic Index (GI) of 29, which means that their sugar is released relatively slowly on digestion, helping to avoid the “rush-and-slump” that can be associated with other snacks.

It makes dietary sense to have a repertoire of easily prepared snacks up your sleeve, ideally ones that can be made advance, are suitable for the whole family and can be enjoyed whenever you're on the run. Think school lunch boxes, pre or post-exercise pick-me-ups, an office 'deskfast'. Check out our Prune Energy Balls - tasty, satisfying and nutritious.

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.

Purple Power Smoothie

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Smoothies are a summer essential. And the very best ones are tasty and satisfying while packing a nutritional punch. In our Purple Power Smoothie, prune juice, blueberries, yoghurt and just a little honey are combined to make a vibrantly coloured and flavourful thirst-quencher. This recipe is sure to become a firm family favourite!

Ingredients

1 cup SUNSWEET Prune Juice 
1 cup frozen blueberries   
1/2 cup fat-free plain yoghurt  
1 tablespoon honey  
2 ice-cubes

Instructions

Blend all ingredients together until smooth, adding more ice cubes if you prefer a thicker smoothie.

Makes one large serving


Bean Salad

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, June 09, 2016

Summer-time. The living should be easy. For people with IBS Constipation, that may not be the case. Produced with IBS Network UK, our booklet, ‘Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Constipation’ has lots of dietary tips and recipes. Like our super-flexible Bean Salad recipe. Use your favourite salad leaves, as a base. Top with a can of mixed beans. And then add chopped veggies for a multi-coloured, multi-textured meal. Easy!

Ingredients

Mixed salad leaves 
Tin mixed beans, washed
Tomato, chopped
Cucumber, chopped
Avocado, peeled pitted and diced
Carrot, grated
Feta cheese if desired
Dressing: vinegars, herbs, spices
Seeds: linseed (flax), sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, chia
Optional side: Sweet potato jacket, wholegrain rice, quinoa, couscous, wholemeal bread

Instructions

  1. Make up your own salad using any variety of what is listed and other preferred options. The beans and seeds add a great deal of fibre so go carefully at first with smaller portions to get used to your own tolerance levels.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the leaves, beans, tomato, cucumber, avocado, grated carrot and feta.
  3. Add the dressing of your choice and sprinkle seeds on top.