By Alison Needham for California Prunes
Easy to Prepare, Healthy Meals with California Prunes
Easy to prepare, healthy meals have been trending for quite some time. With harried schedules more the norm now than ever, it’s a trend that’s not going away anytime soon. Although prunes are most often touted for their gut-health benefits, many home cooks and chefs alike are discovering that the recipes that include California Prunes and Prune Purée can help get a healthy, delicious meal on the table – and quickly!
Because California Prunes are naturally sweet, they are an excellent replacement for refined sugar in baked goods, as well as sauces and salad dressings. But besides being sweet and tasty, prunes have a ton of health benefits that will boost the nutritional profile of your meals including:
- Gut health – A serving of 4-5 prunes has 3 grams of both soluble and insoluble fiber which helps you maintain good digestive health.
- Antioxidants – Prunes are high in polyphenols, which include the antioxidants that protect DNA against damage, decrease inflammation and may help prevent cancer.
- Blood sugar control – Because they are a low-glycemic food, prunes can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Plus, because prunes are high in fiber, they help maintain fullness, can lower cholesterol, and help regulate blood sugar levels.
- Bone health – Prunes contain many bone-strengthening vitamins and minerals including boron, potassium, and Vitamin K, as well as phenolic compounds which may inhibit bone resorption and stimulate bone formation.
- Cholesterol – There have been several studies that highlight adding fiber to the diet as a way of reducing cholesterol. A study out of UC Davis found that eating 10-12 prunes a day lowered both overall cholesterol levels, and LDL cholesterol.
Expert Tips for Healthier Meals
When blogger/food personality/kitchen maven Teri Turner from No Crumbs Left began to explore using prunes in her cooking she was thrilled. “It’s official: California prunes are taking their name back. They are not only sumptuous, but they’re also filled with fiber and potassium, and good for gut health, digestive issues, your heart, and your bones…they are just plain delicious!”
Chef Daniele Uditi of Pizzana in Los Angeles uses prunes to add depth of flavor as well as sweetness: “prunes, to me, can taste like a really good aged fine wine.” Check out his Pizza with Prune Jam + Bacon recipe for a deliciously non-traditional way to top your next pie.
Beyond their natural sweetness and wonderful health benefits, adding California Prunes to your dishes also adds flavor, color, and texture. Whether you’re making a creamy salad dressing, refined-sugar-free barbecue sauce, an easy sheet pan bake, or one of Teri’s famous “Magic Elixirs,” California Prunes are quickly becoming a top not-so-secret ingredient of creative cooks everywhere!
Healthy Family Dinner Ideas
If you’re wondering how to get started with adding more California Prunes to your meals, we’ve got you covered! Here are a few easy healthy family dinner ideas from some of our favorite bloggers:
Creamy Clementine Dressing Magic Elixir™ – + Chopped Salad
This Creamy Clementine Dressing is so delicious and luscious. It’s perfect on just about everything, including this Citrus Chopped Salad. Plus, it’s Whole30! Teri is known for her Whole30 Magic Elixirs, and prunes have become a go-to ingredient for her. They are sweet, delicious, and packed with antioxidants. What could be better than that? This dressing is great for a salad, but it would also be delicious over chicken or a side of vegetables. It’s the perfect combination of creamy, tangy, and sweet to make everything delicious!
This Quick and Easy Sheet Pan Chicken Marbella recipe is made with sweet prunes, briny green olives, and capers. This retro redo is a healthy family dinner idea that packs BIG, BOLD flavor with minimal effort. Whether you plan ahead to marinate overnight for maximum Marbella flavor or you just want to get a delicious dinner on the table with only a few minutes of prep time to spare, Meg’s Sheet Pan Chicken Marbella tastes great with almost zero hassle.
We would like to make the case for cheese board as dinner – and we think you’ll agree that this showstopper would make an amazing meal. Here, Sarah has added whole California Prunes to the cheese board for a punch of flavor, but prunes really shine in her Prune Pinot Jam, a subtly sweet fruit spread based on sun-ripened prunes and infused with red wine. We want to spread this on just about everything! (Leftovers should 100% go on a sandwich, toast or a stack of pancakes.)
This meal comes together in minutes but tastes like it simmered for hours, thanks to the Instant Pot. Make the California Prune BBQ Sauce ahead of time (it keeps for up to a month in the fridge) and you’ll have this easy-to-prepare, healthy meal on the table in less than 30 minutes! If you’re more the set-it-and-forget-it style of cook, the pulled chicken can be made in a slow cooker too.
Sandwiches for dinner? Yes, please! In this delicious, comforting recipe Teri adds prunes to caramelized onions to add an incredible depth of flavor to what would otherwise be a standard grilled cheese sandwich. Teri also recommends using this delicious Sweet & Savory Magic Elixir™ to top grilled chicken breasts or a baked potato. Yum!
Why order takeout when you can have Chicken Teriyaki Bowls on the table in under a half-hour? Make the prune-sweetened teriyaki sauce ahead of time and keep it on hand to create a variety of quick and easy weeknight meals. Since the chicken and broccoli both cook on a sheet pan, there’s less clean-up, too. What more could you ask for?