Satisfy your late-night cravings without any guilt. (Photo: gojak/ milanfoto/ msheldrake/ iStock)
Eating after 8 p.m. gets a bad rap. But in reality, the reason you may have gained (or been unable to lose) weight probably has more to do with what you’re eating and how much you’re eating, rather than the time of day when you are eating it. Eating at night, if done healthily, can offer surprising benefits. Eating the right protein at night can help you build muscle while you sleep; eating low-glycemic carbs at night can help you control blood sugar the next day and even help you regulate your appetite.
Read on to find out about 9 snacks that are OK to eat at night. Some are not-so-guilty pleasures, some are great snacks to have after a light dinner and others make fantastic post-workout snacks (for those of you who work out at night).
1. Chocolate Peanut Butter Cottage Cheese The combination of chocolate and peanut butter is one of the best flavors that exists. This simple snack combines those two great flavors along with a creamy texture from cottage cheese. In addition, it provides a high dose of casein protein. Casein is the slower-digesting milk protein (whey being the other milk protein) which has been shown to boost recovery while you sleep when taken later at night. In a bowl, combine 2/3 cup of cottage cheese, 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter, ½ scoop of chocolate casein protein powder and 2 tsps of dark unsweetened chocolate powder. Mix thoroughly and enjoy.
2. Raspberry Greek Yogurt Pops Popsicles are a simple after-dinner snack, but if you buy them at the grocery store they’re essentially sugar and food dye. With this simple recipe for frozen Greek yogurt pops, you can do much better; it’s a nutritional treat with minimal prep. Greek yogurt is regular yogurt’s nutritionally superior sibling, with double the protein and half the carbs per serving. To make frozen Greek yogurt pops, mash ¾ cup of raspberries in 2 cups of 2% plain Greek yogurt. Portion this mixture into popsicle molds and place in the freezer for several hours until completely frozen.
3. Strawberry Banana ‘Ice Cream’ Ice cream is a great late-night treat, but with a half cup packing almost 200 calories, this treat becomes off-limits fast. A great alternative to traditional ice cream is to make it with frozen bananas. Mashed frozen bananas provide an ice cream-like consistency without the added sugars, fat and calories.
Here’s the simple recipe: Slice up 2 very ripe bananas and 1 cup of strawberries. Place them in the freezer until frozen. Once frozen, place strawberries and bananas in a food processor and process on high until an ice cream-like consistency is achieved – voila, vegan ice cream.
4. BCAA Slushy A slushy is a classic childhood treat, but as adults we may tend to avoid these high-sugar concoctions laden with questionable food dye. Here’s a better, no-added sugar version that contains branched chain amino acids (BCAA), which can help decrease muscle soreness and stimulate muscle growth. Mix 10 grams of flavored BCAA powder in 4 oz. water until completely dissolved. Add BCAA mixture to a blender with 2 cups of ice. Blend until ice is crushed to desired consistency. Pour into a bowl and enjoy with a spoon.
5. High-Protein “Cake Batter” Everyone loves cake batter — the delicious creamy and rich consistency is coveted by dieters everywhere. But this indulgence doesn’t need to be off-limits. Here is a high-protein version that will satisfy the strongest late-night cravings – and it packs in the protein! To make it, use 1 ½ scoops vanilla protein powder, 3 tbsp heavy cream, ½ tsp pumpkin spice. Combine in a bowl, and mix with a fork until thoroughly mixed. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water as needed to reach the desired consistency.
6. Dark Chocolate Chocolate is often seen as a forbidden food — but not all chocolate is created equal. There is a big nutritional difference between your average convenience store chocolate candy and cacao-rich dark chocolate. The dark chocolate lacks the high added sugar content of traditional chocolate and instead provides you an antioxidant punch that has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, fight inflammation and improve your mood. Next time you need to wind down at night, have an ounce of your favorite dark chocolate (70% cacao or greater).
7. Frozen Blueberries The cold sweetness of frozen blueberries is very refreshing at the end of the day. Frozen blueberries are packed with just as many high-powered antioxidants as their fresh counterparts, because they are flash frozen at peak ripeness. Blueberries are one of the best foods that you can eat for your health. Research has shown that the nutrients in blueberries can help improve brain function and heart health. If your diet can afford the extra calories, adding 2 tbsp of cream adds to the richness and sweetness of the treat.
Related: Common Weight-Loss Myths Debunked
8. Pumpkin Seeds The hallmark of a good nighttime snack is a food that will help fulfill a nagging craving while at the same time help you relax, unwind and get ready for bed. Roasted pumpkin seeds meet this challenge. One serving of pumpkin seeds contains almost 50% of your recommended intake of magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral that is used in over 300 reactions in your body. One key area that magnesium addresses is relaxation. Magnesium is a relaxant and high magnesium snacks are ideal for helping you unwind at night. The slight saltiness of roasted pumpkin seeds curbs your salty snack craving that is usually reserved for potato chips. Next time you want to snack on something while watching your favorite TV show, reach for a quarter cup of roasted pumpkin seeds.
9. No-Bake Honey Peanut Butter Cookies These simple to make no-bake cookies contain the great flavor combination of peanut butter and chocolate, along with a little hint of sweetness from honey. The addition of oats adds a punch of fiber and plant protein that makes them very satisfying. Combine the following ingredients in a bowl: 2 ½ cup rolled oats, 1/3 cup natural peanut butter, 3 tbsp honey, ½ cup dark chocolate chips. Mix thoroughly and then use a muffin tin as the mold to form the cookies. This recipe works really well with miniature muffin tins as well. It makes about eight 250-calorie cookies – so one tin is more than enough. Tip: To cut down on calories, you can make 16 cookies instead.
The original article “16 Snacks That Are OK to Eat at Night“ appeared on LIVESTRONG.COM.
By Mike Roussell
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