Serving you with

the freshest news
Sunsweet is an agricultural cooperative

Sunsweet Prunes

Blog

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

The Top 6 Questions We’re Asked About Prunes

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, February 26, 2020

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.

Dietary Fibre 101

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, February 20, 2020

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.

Our Beetroot Carpaccio with Fried Bacon Prunes makes a pretty starter!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, February 13, 2020

When it comes to entertaining, it’s handy to have a trick or two up your sleeve. Our Beetroot Carpaccio with Fried Bacon Prunes is more of an assembly job than a recipe – but it couldn’t look prettier and more impressive on the plate! Make sure you slice the beetroot finely and cook the bacon till it has a bit of crunch. The contrasting textures will combine to create a super-tasty starter.

Ingredients


125 g kitchen-ready small-leaved lamb’s lettuce
500 g precooked skinned beetroot
Freshly ground black pepper
150 g Feta
7-8 slices of bacon (125 g) (alternative: Pancetta)
100 g Sunsweet prunes
50-60 ml lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Wash lamb’s lettuce, thoroughly drip dry. Cut beetroot into wafer-thin slices, place on 4 large plates and sprinkle with a little pepper. Put lamb’s lettuce around the edges of beetroot. Crumble Feta over this.
  2. Cut bacon into 2 cm wide pieces. Halve prunes. Fry bacon in a coated pan at medium heat without adding any fat until light brown and slightly crunchy. Remove pan from stove. Add prunes, briefly stir fry and heat. Immediately spread everything with the exuded fat and arrange widely on the beetroot and lamb’s lettuce. Sprinkle with lemon juice and immediately serve.

Tip: Ciabatta or wheat bread goes well with this.

Refining: additionally sprinkle salad with Crema di Balsamico balsamic vinegar, if necessary also instead of lemon juice.

5 Top Tips on Comfort Eating ... without piling on the pounds!

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, January 15, 2020

So, what do you think…is it really possible to indulge yourself with tasty, comforting and warming food, without piling on the pounds? Or, come the summer, do you fully expect to be dieting? At Sunsweet, we believe that comfort does not necessarily have to mean calorific.

5 Top Tips on Comfort Eating...without piling on the pounds!

Gaining weight. It's something that most of us accept as “just one of those things”. The World Health Organisation reports that more than 1.4 billion adults are overweight, the findings of which could prove to be very significant.

Why do we crave Comfort Food in winter?

Comfort Foods tend to be high in carbohydrate and sugar, and there are lots of theories about why we crave these heavier foods more in the winter months. There's a school of thought that winter weight gain could be our survival instinct kicking in; that we're fattening ourselves up to get through the colder months and keep our mood buoyant. And there's another more practical thought: when the days get shorter and temperatures drop, our resolve for healthy living plummets and we descend into a circle of eating more, moving less and, ultimately, gaining weight.

So what can be done to counter the sluggishness caused by overindulging?

Our 5 top tips

Plan ahead to maximise meal-times and super-charge your snacks

  1. Seize the opportunity to stock up the store cupboard with more nutritious snack alternatives. Dried fruit – like Sunsweet prunes – keep well, pack a nutritious punch and are surprisingly versatile adding a rich, fruity depth to both sweet and savoury dishes.
  2. Plan meals ahead – and, where possible, prepare them in advance - so that “I’m starving” feeling doesn't automatically equate to grabbing something quick, calorie-laden and unhealthy. Soups and stews are nourishing and warming and if you choose your recipe wisely can be low in fat and calories, and high in taste and comfort, too. Our Minestrone with Prunes Soup is a lovely veggie option with less than 300 calories.
  3. Drinks and snacks can be tasty, little pick-me-ups. But the ‘easy-to-reach’ sugar laden snacks and super-sized coffees can be a disaster, calorie-wise. High-fibre snacks served with a warm drink – herbal teas are perfect - can help to fuel the body and keep everything moving. And an attractively presented plate of fruit, fresh or dried, couldn't be simpler or quicker.
Get savvy about treats
  1. Life would feel pretty dull without the occasional treat. And from time to time, if you really fancy something chocolatey, there's nothing sinful about giving in to temptation. Do a bit of research though to come up with healthier alternatives. Our Paleo Chocolate Pudding is an excellent example of a treat that is flavourful, tempting, looks great, and under 410 calories, too!
  2. Naturally sweet, prunes and prune juice have no added sugars, just naturally-occurring ones; a quick and easy way to keep sweet cravings at bay. Also did you know that a prune puree (blitzing the fruit with water) can be used to successfully replace fat in cakes and cookies? You can find out more, here. And, finally... A warm bath. Super-cosy PJs. Flickering candlelight. A roaring fire. And a good old-fashioned hug. Totally Comforting, Totally Indulgent. Totally Calorie Free!
  3. Enjoy!

50% of all New Year’s Resolutions Fail – Will yours?

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, January 08, 2020

This New Year, why not resolve to do something a little bit different? You could resolve to treat yourself well with delicious food that is super-nourishing, too. You could resolve to create a plan of activity for your family that is, primarily, fun. And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, this year's resolutions will be the ones that you'll actually keep!

How to move your New Year’s resolutions into the 50% that succeed!

How many times have we all proclaimed (almost brazenly!) – to ourselves and to friends - lists of positive, well intentioned New Year's Resolutions which we ‘resolve to include in our lives with energy, spirit, enthusiasm, passion and intent, and yet, statistically many resolutions are set to fail, before they’ve actually commenced! An American study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology estimated that, every New Year, some 50 percent of the population makes resolutions around things like weight loss, exercise, smoking and finances but 6-8 weeks later their promises are backsliding.

And yet, thankfully, Hope Springs Eternal.

So what can we do, to give ourselves a better chance of maintaining our resolve?

Create an ‘Area of Focus

Peter Bregman, writing in the Harvard Business Review, has offered insights into why the setting of specific goals often fail; ‘we’re taught to make them very specific, very measurable and time-bound .... but it turns out that those very characteristics are precisely the reasons goals can backfire’. Indeed, 6-8 weeks on when we haven’t met those high achieving goals we confidently proclaimed at the start of the New Year, we frequently begin to cheat, bluff ourselves, and lose momentum!

Bergman proposes: ‘Instead of identifying goals, consider identifying Areas of Focus’.

  • an Area of Focus establishes activities you want to spend your time doing; a goal defines an outcome you want to achieve.
  • an Area of Focus is a path; a goal is a result.
  • an Area of Focus settles you into the present; a goal points to a future you intend to reach.

And the beauty of the final outcome is that by narrowing the focus, our resolve becomes real and habit forming.

And we can certainly see the benefits of aiming to maintain a healthy lifestyle rather than introducing harsh exercise regimes and punitive crash diets. It makes sense for healthy habits to be an everyday part of life rather than things that are introduced in a panic on the first of January only to be abandoned a short time later. Having a buddy to support you  in your healthy endeavours is an excellent idea, too. You can share hints and tips. You can celebrate successes and learn from failures. You can cheer each other on, to keep focused and stay committed, when the going gets tough.

Five inspirational tips

If you're in need of a little inspiration, our Healthy Living Guide is an excellent place to start.
If you rely on your motivation alone, that life-affirming, energy-boosting, healthy-weight-maintaining exercise session may never happen! So here are 5 tips on creating a winter activity plan that will help you keep to your Area of Focus in check. 

  1. Change your behaviour by changing your thinking – exercise isn't a chore, it's fun!
  2. Dig out the high-vis, a brisk walk can be refreshing on a cold and crisp evening.
  3. Discover your inner child. If we're lucky enough to have snow, get out there and play!
  4. Sign up for a course. Something fun, like a jive class. Something soothing, like yoga. Whatever floats your boat.
  5. And finally, if the weather really is too foul to leave the house, YouTube is chock-full of workout videos for all ages, tastes and fitness levels.

Prune-power in a glass! You can never have too many scrummy smoothie recipes

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Combining avocado, apple and spinach leaves and flavoured with honey, lemon, ginger and super-sweet prune juice this is a smoothie that packs a powerfully nutritious punch. And it’s an easy way to get lots of healthy fruit and veg into the family’s fussiest eaters!

Ingredients

½ an avocado
A small apple, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
A handful of spinach leaves, washed
A tablespoon of honey
The juice of ½ a lemon
A knob of ginger, about 2cm long – peeled
300 ml Prune juice

Instructions

  1. Place all of the ingredients except for the ginger and the Prune juice, into the blender.
  2. I like to grate my ginger with a fine grater, so if you have one I recommend you do the same; if you don’t have one then simply chop the ginger as finely as you can and add it.
  3. Pour in enough prune juice to barely cover the ingredients, then simply blend everything well.

Tip-top digestion: it’s what everybody wants for Christmas!

Posted by Sunsweet - Monday, December 23, 2019

Most of us don’t give a second thought to our digestive systems, until they start to get out of sync. And then it’s hard to think about anything else… Be kind to your tum, this Christmas. Tucking into Sunsweet prunes and prune juice is a simple way to start!

OK, we understand that digestion isn’t the most festive of topics. But it’s at this time of year, when the food that we eat gets richer and more plentiful and – apart from dashing frenetically from shop-to-shop - our lifestyles become more sedentary, that we really need to keep on top of things, digestion-wise. Digestion is a complex chemical and physical process and a healthy digestive system can play an important role in our overall sense of well-being. If our digestion gets out of synch, the entire body can feel its effects with symptoms like bloating, reflux, constipation and diarrhoea.

It’s hard not to overindulge at Christmas. Most of us are guilty of stocking up our homes with deliciously tempting – but not always healthy! – food and drink. Traditional yuletide treats are typically low in fibre and they can be richer and more protein-packed than we’re used to, too. This - in combination with a higher intake of alcohol, a lower rate of physical activity and sky-high stress levels - can place extra demands on the digestive system.

Top Tips for Improving digestion

There is good news, though! Read on for some quick tips on improving digestion:

  • We know it’s hard but try to take some regular time out of the ‘busy-ness’ to simply relax. Walking with a friend, some gentle yoga stretches, listening to music, whatever helps you to unwind.
  • Be mindful of what you’re eating, especially when you’re busy and distracted. Chew well and eat slowly so that you’re more likely to stop eating before you get too full.
  • It makes sense to avoid ice-cold drinks while eating, because they can contribute to a sluggish digestion.
  • And try eating prunes and drinking prune juice daily!

Why prunes?

For years, prunes and prune juice have been associated, anecdotally, with digestive health. But now there are scientific findings to extoll the benefits of prunes. Prunes help to promote normal bowel function just as well as fibre supplements and they should be considered as a first line therapy when it comes to maintaining a healthy bowel.

So, the inclusion of Sunsweet prunes and prune juice in your everyday diet certainly makes a lot of sense! 100% natural, our products can be enjoyed by the whole family including children, pregnant women and the elderly. Prunes are surprisingly versatile and can add a nutritious boost to family meals at any time of the year. Their flavour can add depth and richness to comfort foods, like tempting mousses and slow-cooked stews. They can even add a fresh and fruity note to salads and smoothies, 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.

Decanted into pretty jars, the perfect Christmas gift

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, December 19, 2019

Our Prune Biscotti with White Chocolate are sure to be appreciated by foodie friends. However they take their coffee, these Biscotti will be the perfect accompaniment and – drizzled attractively with white chocolate - they make a really pretty gift! Best eaten within 4 weeks, they can be stored in a sealed container for up to 8 weeks. But we’re pretty sure they won’t last that long!

Ingredients

280 g flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 pinch salt
160 g sugar
90 g butter (molten)
2 eggs
1½ tsp. bourbon vanilla sugar
100 g Sunsweet prunes, finely chopped
60 g almonds, ground
1 egg white (large)
80 g white chocolate
80 g mixed nuts, coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. Sieve flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and mix well. Combine sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla sugar and chopped prunes in another large bowl and mix. Add flour mix and stir well with a wooden spoon. Add almonds.
  2. Divide dough into halves. Flour hands and shape 2 logs, each approx. 10 cm long. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place logs on it. Space logs well apart.
  3. Beat egg white in a cup until frothy. Paint the logs with the egg white.
  4. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170 °C (not suitable for convection ovens) for 35 minutes on the centre rack. Remove baking sheet from the oven and let logs cool completely. Melt chocolate. Coarsely chop nuts.
  5. Remove logs from baking sheet and cut diagonally into slices using a serrated knife. Place slices on the baking sheet (with parchment paper) and bake for another 12 minutes. Turn slices and bake for 8 more minutes. Remove to a rack and cool. Decorate with melted chocolate and sprinkle with chopped nuts. Wait until chocolate has solidified and wrap as a gift.

Don't let stress play havoc with your health, this Christmas!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, December 12, 2019

Stress. An inevitable part of modern life, especially at Christmas? Or something that we can – and should – take steps to influence and improve? Slow down the pace, this Christmas, and - you never know – you might actually enjoy it! Check out our tips on reducing those health-impacting stresses to enjoy more precious time with family and friends.

Can you make this Christmas your happiest and healthiest yet?

There's a school of thought that stress is an inevitable aspect of contemporary life. And we all know that Christmas can be an emotionally challenging time; a heady combination of family ‘differences’, money worries, general fatigue and the slipping of healthy habits, , can play havoc with our stress levels.

Stress – a widespread issue

The World Health Organisation defines stress as “the reaction people may have when presented with demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope”. Most of us can relate, in some way, to those feelings, especially at Christmas. Expectations are sky-high but with so much going on, often the energy levels and resources, required to deliver on those expectations, can be low. So what can you do to help reduce stress in your life?

Stress-busting tips

Here are three things that you could try, today,:

  1. Try to figure out the source of your stress, if you can. It could be your place of work. It could be your home. The places where we spend most of our time are good places to start in tracking down that source.
  2. Where possible, identify the steps that you could take to effect positive changes. And then make those steps. Start with small changes, at first, especially if you're feeling vulnerable.
  3. Make sure that you have some stress-busting strategies at your fingertips. Listen to soothing music. Practice mindfulness. Chat to a friend. Go for a walk. Take a long, hot bath. These are all excellent methods of de-stressing and couldn't be more simple.

Stress and tummy troubles

Digestion is a super-sensitive process, all too easily compromised by the stresses and strains of contemporary living. Stress can exacerbate a range of symptoms – including poor appetite and tummy troubles. These vary from person to person, but when the digestive system gets out of step – for whatever reason - the entire body can feel its unwelcome effects like bloating, constipation and indigestion.

Prunes can help!

Prunes have long been associated with digestive health and now there are scientific findings to support this. Research suggests that prunes should be considered as “a first line therapy” to maintain a healthy bowel. The research found that when 100g of prunes were eaten on a daily basis, they helped to support normal bowel function.

Why not check out our Digestion 101, too, to discover more hints and tips on maintaining a healthy digestive system?

With our very best wishes for a healthy, happy and stress-free Christmas!

Hygge: Taking home comforts to a whole new level!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, November 28, 2019

Have you heard of Hygge? Pronounced hoo-guh, it is the Danish one word phenomenon that has taken the entire world by storm. Despite it having previously been deemed untranslatable, it was voted as one of 2016’s words of the year by both the Oxford Dictionary and the Collins Dictionary. But what exactly does it mean?

The definition of hygge

Well, descriptions of hygge vary. Some people would describe it as a feeling of comfort, indulgence, contentment and cosiness. Others would describe it as transforming those regular, everyday moments into something more meaningful; creating a sense of ceremony around your after-work cookie and cuppa, for example, by digging out your best china, lighting a pretty candle and getting your feet up. And still others would describe hygge as something close to a philosophy, a way of slowing things down and taking some time out of a relentlessly hectic schedule to unwind.

Susanne Nilsson, a Danish lecturer at London's Morley College, attempted to explain the etymology of hygge to the BBC, "We have long, cold winters in Denmark. That influences things. Hygge doesn't have to be a winter-only thing, but the weather isn't that good for much of the year. Hygge could be families and friends getting together for a meal, with the lighting dimmed, or it could be time spent on your own reading a good book. It works best when there's not too large an empty space around the person or people."

Making hygge your own

Danish winters may be long and dark and cold but that’s a reality that many of us can relate to! And part of the essence of hygge - creating a warm and inviting environment, gathering friends and family together and sharing food and drink with them, by candlelight – might just be the perfect antidote. So, this winter, why not try making hygge your own? Give yourself the time and the space to do… nothing! Stock up on the tealights, the comforting throws and the super-warm socks and revel in cosy.

But the really good news?  Hygge and a healthy balanced lifestyle don’t have to be contradictions in terms. Think gentle exercise routines at home – yoga, pilates and tai chi are all excellent options. Think comfort foods – like hearty soups and warming stews – that are nutritionally-balanced and nourishing. Think warming, fruit-based drinks with a mulled-wine vibe. Think deep and meaningful rather than fast and furious. We don’t know about you but we could really get used to this hyggelig way of life!

Recipes with added hygge

PS: Why not check out the following super-scrummy, super-comforting and yet super-healthy ideas from our recipe pages? A lovely – and tasty – way to get that hygge-feeling!

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.