If we weren't meant to eat late at night, why is there a light inside the refrigerator? Besides, there are times when you’ve just gotta have something. The trick is to be prepared. Because the main problem with nighttime nibbles has less to do with when you're eating than with what you tend to eat after hours. Instead of reaching for a pint of mint-chocolate-chip or a slice of day-old pizza, stock up on the following -- there's something here for every midnight muncher.
If you're burning the midnight oil . . . You could mainline coffee to get your PowerPoint project done overnight, but that'll just leave you with a world-class case of jitters the next morning, when it's time to run your project by the boss. A better bet, believe it or not: a salad of dark greens and chopped veggies. The complex carbs in the veggies will give you energy, and they're full of folate, which new research suggests helps your brain work faster.
If you're just tossing and turning . . . Starchy carbs may help you nod off. Why? Foods that quickly raise your blood sugar also raise blood levels of the amino acid tryptophan, which the brain converts to mind-soothing serotonin. So unless you have diabetes, try microwaving a potato, warming up some instant rice, or popping an English muffin into the toaster, and then wait for the ZZZs to happen.
If you're on a diet, or you’re just plain hungry . . . Give that rumbling tummy a little protein, such as a low-fat cheese stick, some lean turkey, or even an egg-white omelet. Getting about one-third of your daily calories from lean protein keeps you feeling full, and there's new evidence that it may also help you burn a few extra calories while you sleep.
If you're stressed to the max . . . Rich, sugary comfort foods actually do short-circuit stress, but they also contribute to belly fat. So try to resist the chocolate chip cookies and grab a handful of unsalted almonds instead. The satisfying crunch will help you work off your anxiety, while the B vitamins and magnesium help your brain make relaxing serotonin. And at only 160 calories for about 22 almonds, you won't add weight worries to your woes.
~Snack Smackdown: The 10 Healthiest 100-Calorie Treats~
Those 100-calorie snack packs are tasty, convenient, and perfectly portioned for calorie counters -- and they're selling like iPhones on opening day. But what's nutritious about a handful of Cheese Nips or Oreo Thins (even with no creamy centers to lick)? Instead, try these 10 far healthier 100-calorie treats. Stash them in your desk drawer, fridge, or car -- wherever hunger pangs hit you. The best part: Most will curb your appetite for hours because they're high in filling fiber or satisfying protein.
1. Midmorning Fill-Up: Just add hot water to a 100-calorie packet of McCann's Instant Cinnamon Roll Irish Oatmeal, which smells ahh-mazing and comes sweetened with Splenda. No doughnut guilt, and there's a bonus: 3 grams of filling, cholesterol-fighting oat fiber.
2. Peanut Butter and Crackers: Make sandwiches out of six All-Bran Multi-Grain Crackers (45 deliciously crunchy calories) and 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut butter (45 smooth calories). You'll get about 2 grams of fiber and a little healthy fat.
3. Apple Mousse: Mix a cup of unsweetened applesauce (50 calories) with 3 tablespoons of fat-free nondairy topping (45 calories), and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. Make a batch and refrigerate in portable snack cups. Supplies 20% of your daily vitamin C and counts as one serving of fruit. Sweet.
4. Veggies and Dip: Flavor ready-to-eat veggies from the produce section -- which have almost no calories -- with a dip: 2 tablespoons of hummus (60 calories) or light ranch dressing (80 calories). For the veggies, think broccoli and cauliflower florets, baby carrots, snap peas, pepper strips, baby squash -- all of them filled with fiber, vitamins, and protective phytonutrients.
5. Cafe Mocha: Stir a packet of Swiss Miss No Sugar Added Hot Chocolate mix (60 calories) into hot coffee for an instant afternoon pick-me-up that only tastes decadent. It actually delivers 30% of your calcium, 6% of your iron, and even a gram of fiber. Add a splash of milk for more goodness. Compare that to 200 calories for the smallest Starbucks Caffe Mocha (2% milk, no whip), with 6 grams of fat.
6. Mexican Potato: Microwave a medium potato and slice in half (80 calories). Save one piece for tomorrow. Mash the other half inside the potato skin and top it with 2 tablespoons of salsa (10 calories). Eat the whole thing, including the skin. Warm, spicy, satisfying and 2 grams each of protein and fiber, some vitamin C, plus a little iron.
7. Finger Food: Munch edamame like nuts. 1/2 cup of these quick-cooked frozen soybeans (about 95 calories) makes a great nibble. That’s why they're a staple at hip bars -- which probably don't care that they're serving you 8 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and lots of minerals.
8. Snack on a Minimeal: When you're starving but trying to hold back, try this: Wrap a Morningstar Farms Vegan Burger (100 calories), a tomato slice, hamburger pickles, and a little mustard or ketchup in lettuce leaves instead of bread. The 10 grams of protein will keep you filled till it's really mealtime.
9. Happy Hour Combo: Mix 1/2 cup of tomato juice (22 calories) with 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 2 drops of Tabasco sauce, and a dash of lemon juice. Serve over ice with a celery stick and about a dozen dry roasted peanuts (about 60 calories). Have a second "drink" if you like -- no biggie!
10. Healthy Confetti Crisps: If chips are your downfall, make a batch of these RealAge crisps and divide into 6 portions (95 calories each). Munch through a bag while sipping your club soda and lime. Remember to enjoy the good fat from the olive oil and the fiber and vitamins in the veggies -- these taste so good, you may forget they're healthy.
CONFETTI CRISPS 6 servings, 95 calories each
2 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed 1/8 teaspoon pepper 1 cup each of peeled and thinly sliced purple potatoes, carrots, and parsnips
Mix the oil and seasonings together, add the vegetables, and toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20–25 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.
"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." --Confucius
"Be not afraid of going slow, be afraid only of standing still."...Chinese Proverb
SparkPeople, SparkCoach, SparkPages, SparkPoints, SparkDiet, SparkAmerica, SparkRecipes, DailySpark, and other marks are trademarks of SparkPeople, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
SPARKPEOPLE is a registered trademark of SparkPeople, Inc. in the United States, European Union, Canada, and Australia. All rights reserved.