Snacking can totally be considered a favorite activity, especially if you enjoy your popcorn or cookies while lounging on the couch. However, some snacks aren’t as healthy as you think they are and could derail your diet if you’re not careful.
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Dietitian Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD, CDE, shares some delicious, healthy late-night snack options you won’t regret.
1. Dark chocolate with dried apricots and tea
“I love to sip on a comforting mug of hot decaf Earl Grey and read at night,” says Taylor. “A splash of unsweetened almond milk takes the bitter edge off the unsweetened tea.”
Pair it with an individually wrapped half-ounce square of 86% cacao dark chocolate — which has only 60 calories and less than 2 grams of sugar — and three dried apricots. The dark chocolate is much lower in sugar than milk chocolate and boasts more flavonoids, which protect your cells from damage.
“Dark chocolate’s intense flavor satisfies my sweet tooth and doesn’t leave me craving more like a candy bar would,” she says.
The sweet and chewy apricots provide some potassium as a bonus and the flavor of the apricots and dark chocolate complement each other, too.
2. Creamy nut butter (dark chocolate chips optional)
Another delicious snack option is a spoonful of almond butter straight from the freezer. To prep this hearty snack, put a heaping scoop of unsweetened almond butter on a regular spoon, cover it in wax paper and stick it in the freezer.
“When a late night craving hits, it fills you up with healthy monounsaturated fats without the carbs you’d find in chips,” says Taylor. “If you hanker for something sweeter, throw a few dark chocolate chips into the almond butter.”
3. Roasted chickpeas
Rinse and drain a can of chickpeas well and then pat dry. Add one tablespoon of olive oil and a dash of cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Mix well. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet, then roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until crunchy, or about 20 minutes. One can of chickpeas makes 4 servings (120 calories per serving).
“This is an addictive, delicious snack, so portion it out before enjoying,” she says.
4. Cashew butter spread on apple slices with herbal tea
Who says snacking on apples has to be boring? It’s time to get creative — try topping apple slices with a spread made from canned pumpkin, cashew butter, coconut, chia seeds, ground flaxseed and cinnamon.
“This hits the spot for cravings while delivering a rich source of heart-healthy fats,” she says. “Healthy fats are the perfect late night snack because they help boost your serotonin levels. This makes for a better sleep while curbing your sugar cravings.”
Nothing goes better with apples and cashew spread than herbal tea. Sip on some turmeric tea, cinnamon tea or Peruvian spiced berry tea with unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk as creamer.
The next time you have an urge to splurge on calories at night, consider these options. They’ll nourish your body without damaging your diet.