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

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

A Beginner's Guide to...Breakfast

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, April 21, 2016

Skipping breakfast. It's the obvious way to cut back on calories, isn't it? Well, think again. Skipping a meal can lead to less energy, reduced levels of physical activity and – ultimately – weight gain. Read on and let our Beginner's Guide to Breakfast help you – and your family - to get every day off to a Sunsweet start!

Breakfast – what's the big deal?

America's National Weight Control Registry investigates weight loss programmes on a statistically significant scale. And registered dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick observed, from the Registry's findings, that “more than 70 percent of people who have lost weight and kept it off include eating breakfast among their daily habits”. Evidence published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who ate breakfast, in a clinical trial, used more energy through physical activity than those who skipped the meal.

But can skipping meals be a way to aid weight loss?

Skipping meals, any meal, is not a good idea because it can result in tiredness - making you less likely to have the energy for physical activity, feeling over-hungry and make you more likely to choose unhealthy snacks to fill up on. If we're honest with ourselves, we innately know that to maintain a healthy weight, you need to balance the number of calories you consume through food, with the number of calories you burn off through exercise. It's pretty straightforward, really!

Prunes; a welcome boost towards your five-a-day

Our diet has an enormous impact on both our physical and our emotional wellbeing and a common-sense attitude towards healthy eating is crucial. Breakfast is an excellent opportunity to squeeze in a few extra portions of fruit and veg and this can give the boost towards five-a-day that many of us so desperately need!

Sweet and super-tasty, prunes are high in fibre, virtually fat-free, contain only naturally occurring sugars and are an excellent source of many nutrients making a valuable contribution towards a healthy, balanced diet. When time is short and you have no real choice but to eat your breakfast on the run, prunes – enjoyed straight from the pack – offer a convenient, and yet healthy, option. And, when time is on your side, prunes can really come into their own at breakfast-time.

Wow the family at breakfast-time – with prunes!

  • A handful of prunes – roughly chopped – make a deliciously fruity addition to your family's favourite breakfast cereals. They'll help to up your nutrient quota, early doors, and be a great start towards your five-a-day goal.
  • Pureeing the fruit and spreading it on warm toast makes for a simple, satisfying and super-tasty start to the day.
  • Whizzed together with your choice from a selection of fresh fruits, yogurts, juices and dairy or non-dairy milks, prunes can bring a wonderful depth of flavour to smoothies.

You can find more delicious Breakfast recipe inspiration by searching under the Breakfast category on our recipe page.

Now doesn't that sound worth leaping out of bed for?

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 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.

Exercising your right to healthy digestion

Posted by Sunsweet - Friday, January 09, 2015

Any exercise, as long as it is not to the extreme, will increase intestinal contractions and improve your digestive health. Getting your outside moving tends to get things moving inside too.

But not all exercises were created equal and some are better for your digestive health than others. Regular moderate intensity physical activity – such as walking, cycling or participating in sports – has significant benefits for health. It can, for instance reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, colon and breast cancer, and depression. Even simple changes to the way you go about your daily life such as taking the stairs instead of the lift can help you and your digestive system to move more.

Exercises considered good for digestion

All exercise is good for your internal and external fitness, and according to the World Health Organisation, adults should get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise every week. Depending on an individual's relative level of fitness, examples of moderate physical activity could include: brisk walking, dancing or doing the housework. Some exercises in particular are considered more beneficial for your digestive health. So if you are trying to improve your inner as well as external fitness, make sure to include some of the following into your weekly regime:

Aerobic Activities

As aerobic exercise increases the blood flow to all the organs of our body it also increases the blood flow to the digestive tract. The increased blood supply to these areas results in greater intestinal contractions, which in turn releases more digestive enzymes. This makes it easier for food waste to move through the colon and out of the body.

Post dinner walk

A gentle walk after your main meal is a great habit to get into as it encourages the circulation of blood and oxygen around the body helping to keep things moving inside as you move gently outside. Even if you have no other exercise planned for the day, include at least a 30 minute walk after lunch or dinner. Your digestion will thank you for it.

Yoga – standing and inverted poses

If you think of yoga like a massage for your insides you can imagine how good your body feels after you put it through some simple positions. Quite apart from its proven stress boosting benefits, certain standing poses and inverted yoga poses in particular are good for digestion. If you don't have a class near you or cannot commit time wise, buy a beginners DVD or download an app to get started.

With all exercise be mindful of the fact that digestion does take quite a bit of energy and therefore make sure to allow adequate time after meals before starting exercise. Remember also to always listen to your body's signals, in particular when embarking on a new exercise regime. Your body is a highly tuned machine – if something is not working well – it will let you know!  If you find that one type of exercise doesn't suit you or your digestion, you might consider a different type of exercise such as cycling or swimming until your digestive health is in better shape, and then try it again.

Note: This information is not intended as a substitute for consulting with your Doctor.