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

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

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, August 23, 2018

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.

Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome with constipation

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, August 09, 2018

Irritable Bowel Syndrome with constipation is surprisingly common. And with a range of distressing – and potentially life-limiting – symptoms, it's something that you're going to want to nip in the bud. Fast. But don't worry. Help is out there. And there are a number of simple, self-care solutions that might just do the trick.

The Surprising Prevalence of IBS

If you are suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) you are not alone. According to the IFFGD (*), 10-15% of the World's population suffer from this common complaint. Women, interestingly, are twice as likely to be affected by the syndrome as men. 40% of people have mild IBS, 35% of people have moderate IBS and 25% of people have severe IBS. And yet many people don't recognise their symptoms

(*) International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorder

What is IBS and what causes it?

IBS is a condition that relates to symptoms - otherwise unexplained – that affect the digestive system. Symptoms can vary dramatically in their severity and duration and they can also come and go. Although the specific causes of IBS are not clear, psychological factors like stress can be a trigger factor for bringing on symptoms. Diet, food and eating can also affect symptoms with many sufferers noticing that their symptoms appear worse after a meal leading them to speculate about potential food allergies or intolerances. IBS has been subcategorised based on the symptoms: IBS with diarrhoea; IBS with constipation: or mixed, which includes both diarrheal and constipation traits.

Sufferers from IBS with Constipation (IBS-C), suffer from constipation.

Prunes and Normal Bowel Function

Prunes are high in fibre and contribute to normal bowel function when 100g prunes are eaten daily and as part of a varied and balanced diet and active lifestyle. And unlike many juices, prune Juice is a source of fibre.

Managing the Symptoms of IBS-C

The symptoms of IBS-C can often be managed by making dietary and lifestyle changes. People with IBS-C can take steps to alleviate their symptoms by modifying the amount of fibre that they include in their diet. The two main types of fibre are soluble (that the body can digest) and insoluble (that the body can't). Soluble fibre foods include oats, fruit and vegetables. Insoluble fibre foods include wholegrain bread and cereals. If you suffer from IBS-C, it makes sense to try to boost the amount of fibre in your diet and also the amount of fluids that you take in. The IBS Network, in the UK. echo traditional dietary advice for treating constipation and advocate:

  • Boosting the amount of fibre in the diet, adding linseed to cereals and so on.
  • Eating oats with dried fruit – especially prunes and apricots – for breakfast each morning
  • Upping your fruit and veg intake, prunes and beetroot are particularly helpful.

Is there support available for people suffering from IBS-C?

You'll be relieved to hear that there is some excellent support out there. In fact, we've collaborated with The IBS Network UK – the country's national charity for sufferers of the syndrome - to produce a comprehensive, fact-based document packed full of up-to-date info and useful advice about managing IBS-C. The Network aims to facilitate a programme of self-care for sufferers by providing them with good quality information and support.

Why not download the 'Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Constipation' booklet to find out about:

  • Dietary hints and tips
  • The importance of fibre in the management of IBS-C
  • Foods to include
  • Foods to avoid
  • An example of a daily food plan

PS: Looking for more info on digestion-related topics? Check out our Digestion 101.

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.

Don’t let your travels upset your tum!

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, June 27, 2018

With holiday season well under way, we’ve all heard our fair share of anecdotes about travellers’ tummy troubles. Each of them more “TMI” than the last. But did you know that, by following just a few simple steps, it’s possible to dramatically improve the chances of you – and your family - maintaining good digestive health while travelling?

Concerns about food safety issues and the likelihood of subsequent, unpleasant illness. The digestive system getting out of synch. And a relaxed family holiday, memorable for all the right reasons. Are these three things something of a paradox, perhaps, a contradiction in terms? Because a survey by CondéNet and the California Dried Plum Board, found that digestive health problems were far from uncommon amongst holiday-makers.

  • More than 75% experienced occasional digestive problems while traveling
  • 42% suffered from constipation

What causes ‘travelers’ tummy’?

When travelling, it’s important to be sensible and aware about food safety and health. But you need to balance this caution; becoming paranoid about every morsel could just as easily spoil your holiday!

Simple precautions include:

  • Checking if the local tap water is safe to drink. If in doubt, opt for bottled water.
  • Holding-off on ice cubes (salads, deserts and drinks) if you think the local water could be an issue.
  • Sticking to cooked food that has been freshly cooked and served piping hot.
  • Choosing the more popular cafes and restaurants; locals are likely to avoid the duds!
  • Using wipes and antibacterial gels - they can be really useful for keeping the family’s hands clean, when you’re on the go.

If you’re unlucky, don’t panic. Take in plenty of fluids. Chamomile and raspberry leaf tea are natural remedies that you can try, to gently relieve diarrhea. And crystallized ginger is said to help alleviate nausea.

And what about the opposite side of the coin, Constipation?

Letting healthy eating habits slip, while on the road. Grabbing convenience food and snacks that are far from optimum, nutritionally. Not getting enough sleep. Not getting enough to drink. Struggling to get used to dramatic changes in temperature. Finding it stressful, the whole experience of being away from home. Getting used to unfamiliar ingredients and new flavours. There are a whole host of reasons why the fine-tuning of the digestive system may end up a little out-of-whack.

"The disruption of one's normal routine/schedule is inevitable when one travels. But eating poorly is controllable by the individual. People really need to look at their food choices either while traveling or at home. They don't realize that there are simple preventative solutions which may help alleviate bouts of digestive discomfort that can occur on the road," says Leslie Bonci, M.P.H., R.D., director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Where possible, include plenty of fresh fruit and veg in your holiday diet. But make sure that you pack some non-perishable dried fruit, too – like Sunsweet prunes. Prunes are known to help maintain good digestive health. And the whole family will love their super-sweet flavour.

Good digestive health – it’s what we do!

At Sunsweet, we’re passionate about good digestive health and we’re more than delighted to share our expert insights. Check out our top four tips for good digestive health and Simple Health Tips for People on the Go.

And – for even more comprehensive info - why not download our Healthy Living Guide ?

Bon Voyage!

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.

Summertime and the living is easy

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, June 14, 2018

Summer weekends are a brilliant opportunity for catching up and chilling out. There’s one very simple trick that you can have up your sleeve, to ensure that you have as much fun during your get-togethers as your guests: advance planning!


Keep your menu simple

A showstopper dish – like a marinated whole chicken or a side of salmon with a herby crust - can be put in the oven and left to its own devices. And then around an hour before your meat or fish is ready, pop some baby new potatoes into the oven, too. Keep the potatoes whole and unpeeled and toss them in oil, herbs - rosemary works well – and a little sea-salt. Simple and delicious.

Enlist help

Guests often ask if they can bring something to gatherings so don’t be too shy to answer, “yes, please!”. Give each guest a theme, for a salad, and leave them to it. A green salad, maybe, or something tomato-based or involving mixed beans. You could even ask them to bring a fruit salad, for pudding. And – if they’re stuck - you can always signpost them to our recipe pages, for inspiration!

Keep everyone moving

A great way to break the ice at summer events – especially when there are little people involved – is to ask each family to share their favourite outdoor game idea. Tag. Hide and Seek. Pretty much anything involving bubbles or balloons. The fun factor will be boosted instantly. You’ll all work up an appetite for that yummy, healthy meal. And the kids will have bonded well enough to continue the fun, after the food, while the adults enjoy a well-deserved rest.

When it comes to summer celebrations, prunes are something of an unsung hero. And yet they can add a fruity scrumptiousness to a range of dishes and drinks. For sweet and savoury nibbles, think prunes baked with chorizo or – even simpler – flavoured mixed nuts (most supermarkets stock an interesting selection) combined with chopped prunes. As part of a fruity marinade or BBQ sauce, prunes add a rich flavour that complements a range of meat and fish and livens up grilled veggie kebabs. Prunes make a zingy addition to salads – both savoury and sweet. The fruit is the perfect partner for choc-themed puds – prune brownies, anyone? And prune juice makes a fabulously flavourful base for a range of drinks from smoothies to mocktails, from fruity cocktails that are strictly for the grown-ups to refreshing frozen treats that the whole family will love.

Our recipe pages are full of ideas for you to follow or be inspired by. And our comprehensive guide to entertaining is packed full of tips to help your summer celebrations sparkle!

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.

Get Healthy. Get Motivated. Get Sociable.

Posted by Sunsweet - Friday, June 08, 2018

It’s the perfect time of year to establish those healthy foundations that will help you to sail through the winter. But if you're concerned about your resolve and motivation for regular exercise slipping, why not get a group of friends and family together?

Having the support of friends and family is a very strong motivator to lacing up those runners and to get going! Not only is being sociable written into our DNA but studies have found that exercising with a friend is more fun, helps you to stay in shape and gets you out of the house. A study of 1000 women found that 31 per cent consider their friends to be the motivation they need to stay in shape! And, what’s more, there can be a lot of truth in the cliché, “Friends and Families who play together, stay together”. So, when you consider the stats about how much more motivating it is to exercise with a buddy or two, it really does make sense to get a posse together. It’s all good - No excuse!

Four tips to getting a posse of friends together!

  1. Get sociable and start to recruit your motivator posse
  2. The school gates. The office. The gym. Your friends on Social media. These are all rich sources for members of your gang. In fact, anywhere is. Be inclusive. Ask people to invite a friend. And a friend of a friend. When it comes to your posse going, the more, the merrier!

  3. Get creative and brainstorm ideas for trips out and activities
  4. Perhaps there's a park near you, with a walking trail. (Tea room a bonus!). Zumba class, swimming, Yoga, boot camp, lunchtime or evening brisk walk, hiking, cycling, dance classes, Pilates. Or what about staging an old fashioned sports day in the local park? Rounders. Egg and spoon races. Tag. All excellent fun, whatever your age.

  5. Get picnicking
  6. There's something so scrumptious about food eaten out of doors, when you've done a bit of exercise to work up a healthy appetite! Check out our recipes pages for yummy and portable, prune-related ideas.

  7. Get planning
  8. When are you going to meet? Every month? Every fortnight? Every week? Get some dates in the diary. Make sure that you're all committed to sticking to those dates. After all, a few spots of rain never hurt anybody!

Carpe Diem

Autumn is the perfect time of the year to establish some solid foundations – around diet and exercise and all-round healthy living – that will help to see you glide, effortlessly and healthily, through the long, winter months ahead. What’s more, there are often a few quieter weeks to be savoured, in the Autumn - a welcome little breathing space between the stresses and strains of our summer travels and the coming chaos of all-things Christmas.

So, with a little help and motivation from our friends, the perfect time is right now to, Seize the Moment!

Make friends with technology

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, April 19, 2018

In the last decade, our use of the internet has skyrocketed. It’s been blamed for many things including our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. And yet it remains a significant part of our everyday lives despite all of the negative and downright fear-mongering headlines. But can technology actually have a role to play, in helping us to create balanced, happy and healthy lives?

Despite being a huge part of modern lives, the online world often gets a bad rap. If you believe what you read in the press, we’ve replaced couch potato habits for mouse potato habits – equally sedentary and unhealthy - and spend every spare moment surfing the net. Social media – in all its iterations - has been blamed for poor body image and low self-esteem across the entire range of demographic groups. And there seems to be a grain of truth behind the fear.

In England alone, according to the UK communications regulator, Ofcom, people now spend twice as much time online compared with 10 years ago and it would be safe to assume that it is a similar story all across Europe. Much of that time, of course, is spent immobile. And stats from the medical journal, The Lancet, suggest that inadequate exercise is responsible for more than 5 million deaths globally each year. Sobering stuff.

But is there a silver lining to the techno cloud?

At its very best, the internet offers a diverse resource of up-to-date, educational material that is both entertainingly written and accessible. Much of it is absolutely free. And our blog, of course, is an excellent example! Whether you choose apps or websites, social media or online newsletters, there’s lots of content out there to support you in your quest for a healthier lifestyle. Check out our top 3 techno tips, be selective and get informed.

  1. Newsletters – Choose reputable sources

    Sign up to a couple of lifestyle-related online newsletters. Choose ones from trusted sources, that cover topics that interest you – info overload is not our goal, here – and get inspired with everything from recipes for healthy and speedy mid-week dinners to tips on keeping active, whatever the time of year.

  2. Workout Videos Online

    Don't let good habits around physical activity slip. It’s far better to maintain an exercise programme throughout the year so that it becomes just another part of your daily routine, something that’s as automatic as brushing your teeth. And this is another area where technology can be your ally. Whatever form of exercise you enjoy – from boxercise to yogalates – you’ll be sure to find an online workout that floats your boat. Bung a one-pot-wonder into the oven – remember to keep things healthy! – and, while it cooks, pop on your workout video of choice and get moving.

  3. Monitoring Fitness Progress

    Whether it’s monitoring your daily calorie intake with sophisticated food diaries, tracking your levels of physical activity, learning relaxation techniques like mindfulness or even keeping an eye on your menstrual cycle, there’s an app for that! Speaking to Fox News, Scott Snyder – an innovator in the field – said, “The ultimate goal of most of these apps is to change behaviour. Small changes are a big overall win for health.” We couldn’t agree more!

As with most things, getting a good balance is crucially important. Everything in moderation – including technology – and you won’t go far wrong!

Looking for more inspiration? Why not check out our Healthy Living Guide?

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.

The Top 6 Questions We’re Asked About Prunes

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, March 22, 2018

Everything you ever wanted to know about prunes – and, quite possibly, a little bit more besides - all in one place! Check out our official, super-informative Q&A on all things Sunsweet prune-related. The Top 6 Questions We’re Asked About Prunes.

  1. Are prunes gluten-free?
  2. Reports suggest that – for a whole host of reasons - as many as one in four of us are now attempting to live gluten free. Gluten is the protein that is found in grains like wheat. And with things like bread, pasta and cereal being such a staple of everyday meal planning, going gluten free isn’t easy. But the good news? All fruit is naturally gluten free and so a serving of prunes or a glass of prune juice can be enjoyed whenever you like. You can even add them to your favourite coeliac-friendly recipes to give them a sweet and fruity twist.

  3. Are prunes suitable for people with diabetes?
  4. Experts recommend that to keep blood sugar levels steady, we aim for a diet with an overall GI of 50 or less. But, happily, that doesn’t mean that sweet and tasty snacks like Sunsweet prunes are a no-no. Harvard Medical School found that the GI of pitted prunes is around 29 making them a low-GI fruit that doesn't dramatically affect blood sugar and insulin levels.

  5. Do prunes contain sugar?
  6. Prunes contain no added sugar. They are simply dried plums: one plum becomes one prune, just with the water removed. During the plum-prune drying process, sucrose is hydrolysed to glucose and fructose so prunes contain minimal sucrose. And prunes are classed as whole fruit so they can contribute towards achieving your 5-a-day, as well as boosting your daily fibre intake.

  7. What effect do prunes have on the digestive system?
  8. For centuries, prunes – and prune juice - have been associated with good digestive health. But now there are scientific findings to support that association, too. Research has shown that - when 100g of prunes are eaten daily, as part of a varied and balanced diet and an active lifestyle – they can assist with normal bowel function just as much as fibre supplements. In fact, prunes should be considered as a first line therapy when it comes to maintaining a healthy bowel.

  9. What is the connection between prunes and strong bones?
  10. Research suggests that prunes, due to the nutrients they provide, could be beneficial for bone health. Prunes contain vitamin K and manganese that - among other functions - have direct benefits for bone health. Prunes are also a source of vitamin B6 which helps make healthy blood cells in our bone marrow and maintain normal hormone levels including those involved in bone health.

  11. And, our favourite, just how exactly does a plum become a prune?
  12. It’s simple, really. Sunsweet prunes are a special variety of sun-ripened plums that have been dried to remove some of the water. A variety with an exceptionally high sugar content, these "Improved French" variety of plums give Sunsweet prunes their distinctively delicious taste; rich and fruity with notes of creamy vanilla. The dried fruit contains similar levels of nutrients – such as fibre - to fresh plums, while offering the added benefit of year-round availability and a long shelf life.

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.

Is five-a-day still enough? When it comes to fruit and veg, more is definitely more.

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, March 15, 2018

With scientific studies now suggesting that five-a-day may no longer be enough, how can we ensure that our family are getting the fruit and veg that they need, for optimum health, while keeping things interesting – and tasty – at mealtimes?

Summer is a great opportunity to finally step into the sunny season with confidence, positivity and gratitude. Phew! And the perfect fuel for all of that? Delicious fruit and veg and plenty of it!

So, is five-a-day still enough?

Based on the World Health Organisation's recommendations, the five-a-day fruit and veg guidelines were introduced in 1990 with the aim of lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Almost a third of us struggle to regularly get our five-a-day. But a 12-year study, 2001 – 2013, by University College London has found that we may benefit from actually doubling-up on the official guidelines and aiming for ten portions of fruit and veg a day instead, to significantly lower the risk of premature death. The study’s lead author, Dr Oyinlola Oyebode, went on record to say: “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.”

Variety – the spice of a healthy life

Whether your fruit and veg is tinned, fresh, frozen or dried – like scrummy Sunsweet prunes – it all counts towards your five-a-day. Great news, especially if you're aiming for the more ambitious ten daily portions! The trick is to keep things interesting, so that you and your family don't get bored. And a really great way to do that is to try – for as many of your meals as possible – to have a seasonable focus to the ingredients that you choose.

Did you know that just three prunes count for one of your daily portions? This is great news, especially if you're aiming for the more ambitious ten daily portions! The trick is to keep things interesting, so that you and your family don't get bored. A really great way to do that is to try – for as many of your meals as possible – to have a seasonable focus to the ingredients that you choose. Our recipes pages have lots of inspirational breakfast, mains, salads, desert & sweet treats, salads etc ideas to help you on your way.

Seasonable Treats

With the changing of the seasons, there's something lovely about taking advantage of the natural diversity – the flavours, the textures, the scents and the colours – of seasonable foods. And it's a great way for you and your family to ring the changes at meal-times and to try lots of different foodstuffs throughout the year. Wild garlic, morels and salad staples like spring onions, watercress and rocket are all excellent at this time of the year and make superb foundations for the lighter dishes of springtime as we naturally gravitate away from winter stodge. And if you're feeling inspired by all-things seasonable, why not try growing your own?

Grow your own!

Growing your own is easier than you might think. Vegetable gardening – with a raised bed or even just a handful of pots – is a great excuse to get the whole family out into the fresh air. And eating healthful foods - that you have watched grow from seed – can help to tempt even the fussiest of eaters into trying new things. There really is something magical – for kids of all ages – in the transformation from seeds to shoots to something scrummy. Salads are a super-simple starting point. A sunny spot. Plenty of water. And you really can't go wrong.

And finally...

You can check out Sunsweet's eco credentials, 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.

Have a healthy, happy and home-made Christmas!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, December 07, 2017

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.

A hearty winter one-pot, just perfect for cooler days.

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, November 22, 2017

You can never have too many mid-week wonders, one-pot meals up your sleeve and our Spiced Braised Beef with Chickpeas, Prunes and Kale is one such wonder! This versatile dish is sure to become a firm family favourite but spruced up with a few sophisticated sides, it makes a tasty dinner party dish, too!

Ingredients

900g beef stew meat, 1 1/2" cubes
2 1/2 tsp salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
120ml red wine
1 can (400g) chopped tomatoes
240ml water
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp garam masala
1 can (400g) chickpeas, drained
100g SUNSWEET prunes, halved
1 bunch lacinato kale, thinly sliced, thick stems removed
1 tsp red wine vinegar
800g cooked Israeli couscous, for serving

Instructions

  1. Season meat with 1 tsp salt and pepper and place in large, deep sauce pan or Dutch oven. Scatter butter, carrots and garlic on top; drizzle with olive oil. Turn heat to medium-high, cook without stirring for 12–15 minutes to sear the meat.
  2. Pour in wine, raise heat to high; cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, water, bay leaves, cinnamon, garam masala and remaining 1/2 tsp salt; bring to a boil. Lower to gentle simmer, cover and let cook, stirring occasionally for 35 minutes.
  4. Remove lid, stir in chickpeas. Cover and simmer for 1 5 minutes. Uncover, remove cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Stir in prunes, kale and vinegar. Simmer until meat is tender when pierced with a fork, 10–15 minutes.
  5. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving, allowing flavors to meld. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with couscous.