Earlier this week I had the absolute pleasure of traveling to Sacramento and then onto Sonoma for a press trip with California Prunes. You probably saw some of my stories on Instagram and I’m already plotting our next trip back to Sonoma. It’s easily one of my favorite places to visit!
After touring the orchards and visiting the prune drying facilities, I left with a whole new appreciation for the food I buy each week. Hearing the grower’s stories made me realize just how much hard work and love goes into their product and it was so inspiring to see how passionate they were about what they do.
Fun fact! I used to think that prunes were actually plums until they were dried, but all the growers said that this variety is so different from the rounder fresh plums you’d buy in the grocery store, that it was okay to call them California Prunes from start to finish!
I’m so grateful for opportunities like this to meet with the makers, understand more about what they do and to also meet other inspiring bloggers from all across the country—so many new friends after this trip!
I loved learning about the process from start to finish. And, lastly, I LOVED hearing about the nutritional value of this little fruit as well as how to eat more of them, so I can share it with you!
Health Benefits of Prunes
You might not really start thinking about your bone health until you’re older, but the California Prunes Registered Dietician (RD), Leslie Bonci (she was a hoot!), told us that if you wait to do something about your bones until you’re having issues, it’s too late. We have to start eating the right things to keep them healthy and strong now, so that we don’t have to worry about being frail later in life!
Prunes are high in manganese and magnesium which are critical for bone health! And, if you’re like me and don’t eat a lot of dairy, this is a great thing to add to your diet. They’re also dense in potassium, vitamin K, polyphenols (packed with antioxidants!) and phytonutrients.
Did you know that the #1 reason for absence in the workplace is gut related issues? I talk a lot about gut health, how our gut health is directly tied to our immune system and our brain, and if your gut health is out of whack, you just don’t feel great. Trust me, I’ve been there and it’s pretty awful.
Keeps you Regular: You’ve probably heard this one, and maybe it’s the reason you’ve stayed away from them, ha! Prunes naturally contain sorbitol which is a natural laxative and can help if you struggle with constipation. They’re also high in fiber which helps with this too. Most Americans don’t get enough fiber, and this is an easy way to add more fiber to your diet.
Prebiotic: We all know about probiotics, but if we don’t have prebiotics—the food for probiotics to eat—they’re not as effective. Prunes are great prebiotics, so snack on them before you take your probiotic!
Slow Burn Energy
Unlike some fruits or dried fruits, prunes have a low glycemic index. They won’t spike your blood sugar and help keep it level over time. It burns slowly, so you don’t get that sugar high and then crash, which is great for energy levels throughout the day.
Energy is still something I struggle with off and on, so I was excited to learn that this could help keep my blood sugar levels even and prevent those terrible crashes and brain fog.
Why California Prunes
Support U.S. Farmers: Whenever I can, I try to buy things that were grown in the United States. California grows 99% of the prunes in the United States and 40% of the world supply, so chances are you’ll be getting California Prunes when you buy them, but be sure to check the label. We got the opportunity to meet several of the growers while we were there and hearing their family stories was so special—many of them grew up on prune orchards and decided to come back to their family business.
Higher standards: I was surprised by how many prunes were on the ground around each tree, and the grower told us it’s because they only take the larger fruits because the sugar content is higher and makes them better for drying. Other countries are not as discerning with their process, which leaves you with drier, tougher and smaller prunes.
How to Use Them Daily
Straight Outta the Bag: The easiest way to grab them and eat them is to just put 5 in a bowl and snack on them. They’re so yummy and sweet and the perfect amount of chewiness. Leslie, the RD, said that just 5 a day is enough to boost your gut health!
Add them to salads: Chop them up and toss with your salad for an extra superfood hit. They’ll add a nice sweetness and good texture.
Blend them in smoothies: If you’re in a hurry, pop them into your smoothie. Again, they add such a nice sweetness to a smoothie with more savory ingredients.
Add to granola: They gave us granola with California Prunes on our first morning for breakfast and it was delicious! If you make granola at home, this is a great way to cut down on the amount of sugar you have to use because prunes are naturally sweet!
Energy Balls: I’m actually so excited to make these and when I do, I’ll share the recipe! Any recipe where you may have used dates, swap California Prunes in their place!
Four Points Bars: We met the founder, Kevin Webber, of the Four Points Energy Bar on our trip as well. They’re the first energy bar to use California Prunes and it’s actually genius because of that low glycemic index and slow burning energy I talked about earlier. You won’t get the crash like you do from some bars! They also taste really good! I’m keeping our pantry stocked with these for when I’m in a pinch!
It was a quick trip, but such a fun one! I learned so much, met so many amazing, talented and kind people and came home refreshed and ready to get back into my own healthy routines now that summer is over!
If you haven’t tried a California Prune, do yourself a favor and go buy a bag—they’re so delicious and as you now know, have a TON of amazing health benefits!
Be sure to check out California Prunes online at www.CaliforniaPrunes.org and on social media @CAprunes.
Thanks to California Prunes for sponsoring this post! Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Fox & She possible!