By Annessa Chumbley, RD
If there’s one food you should chew more of this year, I have the one! It’s sweet, chewy….tastes like candy (thankfully my kids think so, whew!), but it does not contain any added sugar. It’s….CALIFORNIA PRUNES! To me, prunes are like the little unsung heroes in the food & nutrition world. But give them a crown and a cape, because they truly are superheroes for the body. Just take a look at the benefits:
- Digestion. Think of California Prunes as your digestion-helper. With 3 grams of fiber in a serving, including soluble and insoluble fiber, they are great to include daily. Fiber is a nutrient almost all of us need more of. Fiber helps us feel full, and, not having it can lead to a host of unwanted health conditions. I like to call fiber “your body’s broom” ….and no one wants a dusty house!
- Bone Health. They are an excellent source of vitamin K – 20% of your daily need in fact! Vitamin K is important for many reasons, and two of the most talked about are its role in blood clotting and bone metabolism.
- No added sugar, no cholesterol and no fat
- Magnesium, riboflavin, niacin and B6.
- Also, prunes contain sorbitol and polyphenols (those are good things for your gut lol)…in short, they have the potential to change the gut microbiome!
And – a little bit of science for you – thanks to California’s growing conditions, prunes are sweet, plump, juicy, and retain their moisture well. California growers have invested more than 150 years in perfecting the growing and harvesting techniques! I love knowing the story behind the fruit I’m adding to my diet…I hope you do too.
California Prunes are a great snack for kiddos or even during pregnancy. I often take prunes as a snack, just by throwing them in a zip-top baggie in my purse. I find that kids love the sweetness of prunes and I love that there’s no added sugar! They are also such an easy on-the-go snack option, they are great for busy mornings or during long car trips. I also find myself reaching for prunes as a snack more and more during this pregnancy. They keep me feeling full longer and I feel good eating them based on all the added nutritional benefits!
Another great way to eat them is by making my Homemade California Prune Granola Bars…there’s no added sugar in them (thanks for the prunes!), with exception for the bit that is in the dark chocolate chips you choose. You can also chop prunes up and add them to a salad, on top of oats or other cereals…or even throw them in the crockpot with a pork roast!
Homemade California Prune Energy Bars
Prunes are plump, chewy, and naturally sweet thanks to California’s world renown growing conditions. They make the perfect naturally sweet base for homemade bars – offering tons of good-for-the-gut and filling fiber, too. Also, dark chocolate contains potentially mood-boosting flavonoids. These bars are the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.
Makes: 12 bars
- 1 cup California Prunes
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut or almond milk
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened natural peanut butter
- 1 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350°. Spray an 8×8 pan with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
- In a food processor, add prunes and process into small pieces, about 20 seconds. Add egg, milk, and salt, and process until creamy. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the food processor. Add peanut butter and pulse briefly to incorporate.
- Pour mixture into a bowl, scraping down the sides of the food processor. Add oats, sunflower seeds, pecans, and chocolate chips. Stir until everything is evenly mixed together.
- Spread mixture into pan evenly. Bake for 30 –35 minutes, until bars are no longer glossy. Remove and let cool fully, then cut into 12 bars. Store in an airtight container.
Nutrition per Serving: Calories 185, Total Fat 9.9 g, Saturated Fat 3.5 g, Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g, Monounsaturated Fat 0.4 g, Cholesterol 15.5 mg, Sodium 126.1 mg, Potassium 81.7 mg, Total Carbohydrate 21.3 g, Dietary Fiber 3.5g, Sugars 10.9 g, Protein 5.2 g Annessa RD
So, the bottom line is, eat 4-5 California Prunes a day this year. See if it doesn’t make a difference for you. I often recommend a serving of prunes a day to my friends, family and clients, not only to benefit their digestion and gut health, but it also helps kick that afternoon sweet tooth!
For more delicious ways to use California Prunes, visit californiaprunes.org/recipes or on their social pages at @CAprunes.
Annessa Chumbley, RDN
Annessa Chumbley is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, a mom, a part-time lifestyle morning show host, a nutrition news contributor, a recipe creator, a food writer, and a brand endorser for food retailer – Albertsons and Safeway. Annessa has also created recipes, cooking/wellness segments, commercials, voiceovers, TV and cooking classes for many food brands, grocery stores, and pharmaceutical companies, including Allergan, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, WISH-TV, Carmel City Magazine, Tandoor Chef, Whole Foods, among others. Follow @annessachumbleyrd