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

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.

A side order of body confidence – just in time for summer!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, May 05, 2016

Poor body image; it can be a barrier to both happiness and health, so why not play to your strengths and bag yourself a whole load of body confidence .... just in time for summer. And we'll let you into a little secret: it's as much about your mind as it is about your body!

Embracing diversity – even in the toy world

After decades of criticism about promoting a body shape that is, without drastic surgery, unattainable to most, Mattel have finally given into pressure and released a range of Barbie dolls that more accurately represent the bodies of real women. The new range includes different body types - tall, curvy and petite – and a broader mix of skin tones, hair colours and textures. The changes are long overdue. An opinion piece in Time magazine commented that there have been times when the lack of body diversity in the Barbie range has seemed, at best, outdated and, at worst, downright offensive. And how people feel about their bodies matters.

Body image matters

The way that we feel about the size and shape and overall appearance of our bodies can have an impact, either positively or negatively, on our overall confidence levels. Low confidence, about any aspect of ourselves, can affect our self-esteem making it more difficult for us to try new things. Even if those new things could ultimately end up with us feeling better about our bodies! Things like trying out a selection of healthy, new recipes or giving a fun, high energy exercise class a go.

So poor body image can be a barrier to both happiness and health but, conversely, a report from gov.uk found that having a positive body image is associated with:

  • Making healthy choices, eating and exercising well
  • Treating your body with respect
  • Being self-protective, e.g: avoiding websites/ magazines that promote idealised beauty

But how exactly can that be achieved?

The positive psychology movement

Martin Seligman is a mover and shaker in the field of positive psychology. He has an impressive body of work that focuses on the promotion of good mental health to live a life that is as meaningful as possible. By focusing on our personal strengths, according to Seligman, we can help to boost our esteem thus making it easier for us to make healthy lifestyle choices – including trying those all-important new things! He suggests thinking about what makes you feel excited, what makes you feel invigorated rather than exhausted, what makes you feel joyful and enthusiastic and focusing on those.

Playing to your strengths

So, with summer just around the corner, here are our top three tips for getting yourself a whole load of body confidence. And guess what? It's as much about your mind as it is about your body!

  1. Ignore, if at all possible, societal pressure about body conformity: without personal stylists, flattering lighting and heavy-handed airbrushing, even the cover girls wouldn't look like cover girls!
  2. Embrace your uniqueness, celebrate it, aim to be you at your very best and remember that if you feel good, you'll exude confidence and there's nothing more attractive than that!
  3. Eat well so that you're bursting with energy and, that way, you'll feel more inclined to exercise. And do you know what? You'll glow!

Good luck!

PS: Don't forget to check out our fab healthy recipe collection. And be inspired to try something new.

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.

Exercise: the “miracle” cure. Tips on how to make it work for you!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, March 17, 2016

They call it the ‘miracle cure’...it’s free, has immediate effect, it’s sociable, fun, suitable for all ages, good weather, bad weather, and, there’s now scientific evidence to prove it can help not only reduce your risk of succumbing to major illness but also help you lead a healthier and ever happier life. It's...exercise! Did that come as something of a surprise?

“If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented,” so says Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant.

The many benefits of regular exercise

And it's true that the positive arguments for regular exercise certainly cannot be overstated. People who exercise typically experience health benefits in the following areas, amongst many others, meaning that they can enjoy a healthier and even happier life:

  • Digestive health
  • Coronary heart disease and stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Osteoarthritis, hip fracture and falls (in older adults)
  • Depression
  • Dementia

*Source: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/whybeactive.aspx

How much should we be getting?

Although daily activity is important, adults should generally be aiming for a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise over the course of a typical week. Over the winter though, when the days are short, the weather is lousy and – at Christmas, in particular – the demands on our time are dizzying, it can be all too easy to let healthy habits slide. But spring is the perfect time for a fresh start, to overhaul routines for healthy living, to shake off that sense of winter sluggishness – both mental and physical - and to step towards the summer with confidence, positivity and bags of energy. So what are you waiting for?

5 tips to get you moving!

  1. Choose something that you really enjoy whether that's running or cycling or bopping around the house like a teenager!
  2. Team up with similarly enthusiastic people, you'll up the fun quotient and be much more likely to stick to the arrangements that you've made.
  3. Multi-task. We're all busy, these days, so bundling activities together might help to boost your motivation. Spend time with the kids, exercise the dog and get yourself hot and sweaty by organising a high-intensity kick-about in the park. Roll up your sleeves, pump up the stereo and spring clean the house. You get the idea!
  4. Make moving your body an integral part of your day-to-day life. If you need to make an extra special effort, you might find that you start to make excuses or that exercise slips off your priority list.
  5. And finally... Try not to make excuses. Yes, our lives are generally more sedentary these days. Yes, we are increasingly tied to our technology. But if you're not going to take responsibility for your own health, then who is?

Fuel that workout!

For a nutrient-packed and perfectly portable pre-workout snack, why not consider the not-so-humble prune? Naturally sweet, prunes have a low GI meaning that they release their energy relatively slowly to satisfy your sweetie-cravings without giving you the short-term energy rush and sugar-crash of so many other snacks. Prunes are scientifically-proven to help with digestion, a great way to help overcome sensations of inner sluggishness. You might be interested in our Digestion 101, too, to discover more about the health boosting properties of prunes.

Have a 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.

Peppered Lamb Fillet with Balsamic Tomatoes

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, February 25, 2016

The weather outside may still be Oh so wintry. But don't worry! Wintry nights are the perfect excuse to stay at home, get cosy with the people you love and serve up something special. With its deliciously sweet and fruity sauce, our Peppered Lamb Fillets couldn't be more perfect. Bon appetit!

Ingredients

3 tbsp. black pepper 
3 tbsp. coriander seeds
4 lamb fillets
7 tbsp. olive oil 
2 cloves of garlic 
2 sprigs of rosemary 
7 tbsp. of honey 
80 ml balsamic vinegar 
100 g cherry tomatoes, halved 
100 g California prunes, coarsely chopped 
250 g polenta semolina
½ bunch of parsley 
2 sprigs of sage 
40 g Parmesan cheese (grated) 
Salt 

Instructions

  1. Finely chop pepper and coriander. Wash lamb fillets, pat dry and season with pepper and coriander. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil with crushed garlic and rosemary. Add the lamb fillets and fry on each side for 2 minutes. Then wrap the meat with garlic and rosemary in tinfoil and bake on a baking tray in a preheated oven at 160° C for 15 minutes (convection oven 140° C).
  2. Add honey and balsamic vinegar to a pan. Allow to boil for 5 minutes, add cherry tomatoes and prunes, then remove from heat.
  3. Bring 1 litre of water to a boil together with 1 teaspoon of salt and the remaining olive oil. Stir in polenta and leave to simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat. Finely chop parsley and sage and stir into the polenta semolina. Fold in Parmesan cheese.
  4. Take lamb out of the oven, let it rest for 2 minutes and cut into slices. Serve lamb with polenta and balsamic tomatoes.

Tip: baby spinach salad works well as a side dish.


Linzer Prune Cookies

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Keep things simple this Christmas and make your entertaining fuss-free so that you can focus on the important things; like having fun and spending quality time with your family and friends! Our Linzer Prune Cookies are super-festive whether you decide to serve them with mulled wine, hot chocolate or a glass of milk. And the enticing aroma of freshly-baked cookies couldn't be more welcoming for guests!

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. 

Prune Chutney

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, December 10, 2015

Why not get back to basics, this Christmas, and make mouth-watering edible gifts that your foodie friends and family are certain to love? Our Prune Chutney - packed full of scrummy Christmassy spices - is a festive hug in a jar. You can rope in the kids, too, and make personalised labels for the Chutney to boost the cuteness factor and make a truly unique gift.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon peanut and vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped finely
250g SUNSWEET® prunes, chopped
1 tablespoon freshly grated root ginger
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 small bay leaf
75g soft brown sugar
100ml cider (or rice wine vinegar)
½ teaspoons ground allspice
salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over a low heat
  2. Add the onion, a little salt and pepper, and all the allspice
  3. Cook for 10 minutes, or until soft, stirring occasionally
  4. Add the prunes, ginger, garlic and bay leaf and cook gently for about 10-12 minutes.
  5. Add the sugar and vinegar and cook until the chutney is the consistency of a chunky applesauce.
  6. Season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

Serve warm or leave to cool. Will keep for several weeks in the fridge.

Great with savoury foods and as an accompaniment to cheese.

Have we forgotten the real meaning of Christmas?

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, December 03, 2015

This year, why not tune out of what the media – and everybody else - tells you about the perfect, family Christmas? You might just be able to conjure up a Christmas – with much less pressure, that suits your family down to the ground. Also, read our tips on keeping the whole family moving, even when the TV and choccies call!

Have we forgotten the real meaning of Christmas?

At Christmas, we can feel under more pressure than ever to be living the perfect life. Perfectly grateful children, patiently taking turns to open their perfectly chosen gifts. A perfect meal - home-cooked from scratch and festooned with everyone's favourite trimmings – being tucked into with gusto from a perfectly decorated table. A perfectly flambeed Christmas pudding... OK, you get the idea. And it's lovely, in theory. But the pressure – for the person who's expected to conjure up this vision of Christmas perfection, often single-handedly – can become too much.

Real Meaning

This Christmas, why not resolve to cut yourself some slack? Think about what Christmas means to you. Ask your family what Christmas means to them. Tailor-make a Christmas that's packed full of meaning for your family. And forget about everything else. There is no gold standard for the perfect Christmas. What's perfect for you, is perfect for you. (And there's a lot to be said for pre-peeled spuds!)

Keeping Active

We all know that physical activity – even if it's the last thing we feel like doing – can make us feel more energetic and generally improve our sense of wellbeing . So, even on the big day, make sure that you give your family plenty of opportunities to get moving.

  • For older kids, turn clearing the table and washing the dishes into a race-against-the-clock.
  • Younger kids can organise each person's present piles – into bags or boxes – so that you can at least see the living room floor or, better still, so that they can be transported to the respective rooms.
  • Even the tiniest of tots can be put in charge of sorting wrapping paper and packaging for recycling.
  • And if tempers and tears seem inevitable – and not just amongst the toddlers! - it's time for some fresh air and a change of scenery. Bundle everybody up. Set off for a brisk stroll around the block. You'll have rosy cheeks – and sweeter moods – in no time.

Light Prune Focaccia

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, November 12, 2015

Our Light Prune Focaccia combines the wonderfully aromatic flavours of rosemary sprigs, sea salt and cherry tomatoes with sweet, versatile and super- scrumptious prunes. Made with gluten-free flour, our Light Prune Focaccia is a great option for anybody who is avoiding gluten. But it's also a great option for anybody who simply loves fresh, home-made bread. Our Focaccia is the perfect, Italian-style accompaniment to a range of healthy soups and salads. Delicious!

Ingredients

7 g dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
40 ml olive oil
350 g gluten-free flour
3 sprigs of rosemary, 2 of them chopped
100 g California prunes
12 cherry tomatoes
Coarse sea salt

Other:
Ovenproof pan 26 cm

Instructions

  1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in 250 ml lukewarm water. Add 30 ml of olive oil. Mix flour with salt, chopped rosemary and prunes. Add the dissolved yeast and stir until smooth. Pour dough into a bowl and let rise for about 1 hour until it has doubled.
  2. Knead the dough again and form a shape that fits into the pan. Using your knuckle, make indentations in the dough, then prick with fork. Brush the pan with some of the olive oil and place the dough inside. Press cherry tomatoes into the dough. Drizzle with the remaining oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary.
  3. Place into the preheated oven at 180° C (convection oven 160° C) and bake for 35 minutes. Cut the focaccia into pieces and serve.

Tip: Focaccia goes particularly well with rocket pesto.