So, let’s not beat around the bush. Prunes are a food most of us associate with keeping us, ahem, regular. They’re high in fibre, meaning that eating just 100g of prunes a day will keep your bowels functioning normally.
Which is great, but there’s way more to prunes than that. I had the pleasure of attending a morning to learn about prunes courtesy of California Prunes hosted by chefs Rosemary Shrager and Peter Sidwell as well as dietician and nutritionist Hala El-Shafie.
I learnt so much, and ate so much. I like to think off myself as fairly knowledgable regarding food and nutrition (ha – listen to me!) but was genuinely surprised to hear that new research suggests a daily serving of prunes (about 5 – 6) may be useful for bone health by acting to slow bone loss. They’re still exploring exactly why and how, but think it’s connected to prunes being high in vitamin K and a source of manganese which both support the maintenance of normal bones. Many of you know from my social media accounts that I was diagnosed with an early menopause last year so this is especially interesting to me, given my bones are at greater risk than the average 38 year old woman. (I was also informed that astronauts are given a serving of prunes when in space EVERY DAY because of their association with slowing bone loss. Apparently being in space is not terribly good for your bones you see).
Now I do like a bit of geeky nutritional information, so I thought I’d share what eating prunes (which are dried plums – might be obvious to some, maybe not to others) gives your body. One serving of 100g (that’s between 8 – 12 prunes) gives you:
- 229 calories
- Absolutely no fat or salt
- 57g carbohydrates (38g of which sugars)
- 7.1g fibre
- 2.2g protein
- 79% of your daily vitamin K intake – good for blood clotting
- 15% of your vitamin B6 intake – good for normal red blood cell formation, boosts immune system, contributes to normal psychological function and helps you feel less tired
- 37% of your potassium intake – protects cells from stress, good for nervous system, muscle function and blood pressure
- 28% of your copper intake – protects cells from stress, boosts immune system, good for skin, hair and iron transportation
- 15% of your manganese intake – protects cells from stress
So what’s so special about Californian prunes? Well, they’re widely recognised for their superior quality and flavour. There are over 900 plum growers in sunny California dedicated to growing plums purely for prune production.
And I can confirm they do taste delicious (I sat and ate a snack pack whilst listening and watching the spelt pancake and prune compote demos and was kind of surprised at how sweet and tasty they are give I rarely eat them alone).
Now I use them in fruit cake recipes and have been known to soak them in boiling water before pureeing and adding to oat bakes to bind them, rather than use golden syrup and sugar. Other than that I’ve chucked them into the odd tagine and popped them into lunchboxes too over the years. Well, Rosemary and Peter were way more creative with them and made everyone a delicious lunch. Have a look at this:
The first of these lovely recipes (and please do excuse the photos I took with my phone) is a Moroccan chicken tagine by Peter Sidwell which was beyond delicious. I urge you to try it. The recipe (and many others) can be found here. I am also going to be blogging more prune recipes over the coming weeks.
- 8 chicken thighs
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bulb of garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp. ground cumin
- 1 red chilli, chopped
- 1 tbsp. dried mint
- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp. tomato puree
- 1 lemon
- 1 chicken stock cube in 400mls boiling water
- 300mls California Prune Juice
- 6 dried apricots
- 6 California Prunes
- 10 large green olives
- 1 handful fresh mint
- 40g flaked/crushed almonds
Preheat the oven to 160C.
Place the chicken, dried mint and cumin into an oven proof dish and mix together. Add in the chopped onion and salt. Add in the tinned tomatoes, chicken stock and California Prune juice. Add the zest from the lemon and the chilli.
Mix the whole dish together and place in the oven for 1 hour. Leaving the lid off the dish will reduce and intensify the flavour.
When the chicken is soft and tender remove from the oven. Add in the apricots, California Prunes and olives, stir through the tagine.
Finally before serving scatter with chopped fresh mint and a good squeeze of lemon. You can also top with roasted crushed almonds for extra crunch.
This post was supported by California Prunes.
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