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When you think of prunes, do you imagine them being just for babies, the elderly, and people in gastrointestinal distress? Well, we’re here to tell you prunes are way cooler than that and can be a part of your daily routine. If you’re late to the prune game, don’t worry. Plenty of people are just discovering the latest research surrounding prunes and their potential health benefits. Prunes show promise in multiple areas of health, from weight management to bone density to gut health. Eat prunes (a serving of roughly 4 pitted prunes) and you’ll take in a plethora of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
While prunes are commonly associated with either the juice or pureed baby food form, they offer so much more potential. In fact, dried plum makes a wonderful addition to both sweet and savory recipes. According to registered dietitian Lauren Manaker, nutrition expert and author of Fueling Male Fertility, “Prunes are an easy snack to eat when on-the-go, as these fruits are perfectly portable and don’t require refrigeration.”
Try experimenting with these tasty ways to eat prunes
Sweeten smoothies Smoothies offer a convenient, portable way for Americans to get more fruits and vegetables into their daily diets. With recent data showing only about 10 percent of Americans are eating enough fruits and vegetables, it’s important to focus on simple, realistic ways that’ll make it a breeze to consume more produce. And tossing a few prunes in a smoothie is a great way to reap the benefits of this fruit while also adding natural sweetness. Plus, you can easily kill two birds with one stone and toss in the produce from your fridge that’s seen better days to reduce food waste as well! Prunes pair well with fruits like pears, apricots and apples, so consider adding these fruits into smoothies to pack a flavorful punch.
Elevate appetizers For dairy eaters, goat cheese, blue cheese, and ricotta offer a robust flavor profile that compliments prunes. You can also experiment with a variety of tangy non-diary cheeses. For a simple appetizer, consider stuffing a prune with your cheese of choice and a walnut or almond. You can also pair prunes with other complimentary appetizer fare (think apricots, walnuts, pears, and crackers) and make a charcuterie spread! Drizzling the prunes with a little honey or date syrup brings the sweetness forward.
Add to sauces and dressings Thanks to their natural sweetness, prunes work well in savory dressing and sauce recipes that pair with heartier protein dishes. Plus, their texture provides a wonderful body to these styles of recipes. A simple BBQ sauce can become transformed with a prune puree, while a salad dressing can be naturally sweetened. Balsamic dressing is taken to a whole new creamy level when you blend prunes into it.
Get savory Cultures around the world have incorporated prunes into their cuisines for years. In Morocco, prunes are cooked into both main dishes and sides, offering both sweetness and body to dishes. You’ll often find carrot-based salads complimented with prunes, as well as stews with root vegetables and prunes. Point being, prunes are easy to toss into your savory recipes, too.
Sweet treats If you’ve tried dates in your favorite homemade energy bars or bites, then consider using prunes in the same ways. Prunes can impart a similar sweetness and texture that’s just like what you’re used to from dates. When baking with prunes, since they do provide that deep, dark purple hue (hello, antioxidants!), you may want to consider using them in chocolate recipes that already have a beautiful deep, dark color. Chocolate cakes, brownies and cookies become even more moist and decadent when you add prune puree into them! Just keep in mind that prune puree works as a replacement for either part of the sugar or fat a recipe calls for, but not both.