March is National Nutrition Month let’s talk about the nutritional benefits of prunes! What do you think of when you think of prunes? I’ll tell you what I think of when I think of prunes – good for your digestion, low in sugar, flavorful, juicy, good for your overall wellness, and simply delicious. If you’ve not tried the prunes that I have been eating, the D’Noir Prunes, then you’re in for a decadent and essential treat. They are one of my most favorite go-to healthy snacks, and I even add to dishes like chicken and casseroles, because they give them an extra flavorful burst as well as a delicious texture. Makes the dishes really beautiful, too. I just love them, and they’re good for me, too.

But maybe not all prunes are created equal? I didn’t really recall liking prunes as much growing up, but I don’t think I had tried these before. I first came across them at a produce show, and I was able to sample them, and I was really surprised, to be honest. It wasn’t at all what I had remembered. Ever since, I have gravitated towards the D’Noir prunes, which took 100 years in the making to create prune perfection. These prunes have been grown in California over the last 100 years, and it became Sunsweet’s goal to make the most flavorful, sweet prunes that anyone can find. And they did it.

Image Courtesy of Sunsweet

Prunes are just plums that have been dried to preserve the health benefits of a fresh plum, and the D’Noir prunes have been dried without preservatives or added sugars so all of that healthy ‘plum' goodness is still alive and well. They’re super sweet, tender, and not at all ‘dry’ tasting. That’s why I’m loving them.

Many of us are concerned with food waste, and so in the food industry, companies are taking extra steps to make sure that they’re using their food in an efficient, and ‘smart’ sustainable way. Sunsweet is using 100% of prune by-product for livestock feed versus wasting it. And, I’ve learned that they’re doing a lot on the ‘green’ front as well. Sunsweet also uses co-generated steam power, which eliminates more than 30 tons of greenhouse gasses every year (this is the equivalent to the annual energy use of nearly 10,000 households).

Image Courtesy of Sunsweet

With California being in such a problematic area for water, I thought it was terrific that Sunsweet returns 80% of the water used, after treatment, to their city water supply. As the worldwide leader in dried fruits, they are looked at to be leaders in sustainability, and I discovered that they recycle as much plastic, cardboard, and metal as they possibly can. And, in one year, Sunsweet recycled over 100 tons of plastic, 20 tons of metal, and almost 1,000 tons of cardboard. Impressive.

And, back to Nutrition Month. As I mentioned, prunes are dried plums, (although they don’t taste very dry to me), containing all the benefits of plums, and plums rank among the top 10 fresh fruits with the most antioxidant potential.

Sunsweet says it best, "At only 100 calories per serving (40 grams or about 4 whole prunes), prunes contain 3 grams of dietary fiber and no fat. Compared to other dried fruits, prunes are lower in sugar and have a low glycemic index of only 29. This means they are digested and absorbed slowly by the body, which helps to sustain energy over a longer period of time compared to foods with a higher glycemic index.”

While D’Noir Prunes are a satisfying snack on their own, we got a little creative with them and combined them with our favorite nuts, seeds, and some dark chocolate for our healthy homemade trail mix. Of course, there are so many other ways to enjoy them, and that’s the fun in being creative in the kitchen!

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