WE ALWAYS seem to veer a little more toward the naughty than the nice once the sun sets. Our iron-clad discipline starts to wane, our cravings come out to play, and those “naughty” treats begin to take on a whole new appeal. A quart of ice cream with a box of cookies start to seem like a good idea…and soon enough we are left with melted chocolate on our fingers, crumbs in our bed, and a restless night’s sleep. Upon waking, the guilt forms like a cloud over our heads, leaving us regretful about decisions made.
While the guilt of eating naughty foods is bad enough, the food itself does a number on its own. The foods that we choose – if they’re loaded with refined sugar, trans-fatty acids, sodium, or chemicals – are usually difficult to digest. Here’s the deal: once the body goes into sleep mode, its goal is to focus on repairing and cleansing, not on digesting. Therefore, the consumption of hard-to-process foods taxes the system, pushing the body into stress mode. The food is often not properly digested, which creates a slew of toxins in the system. Blood sugar is spiked, adrenaline is released, toxins are stored in adipose tissue (fat), and rebuilding and detoxifying processes are impaired. As a result, weight gain and bloating ensue, sleep issues begin, and the stage is set for a list of nagging symptoms and ailments.
The consequences of poorly chosen late-night snacks are far more distressing than expected, but here’s the good news: you don’t have to quit your nighttime snacking habit, just tweak it a bit. Choosing foods that are easy to digest, naturally sweetened, and full of whole nutrients can actually help the body repair and cleanse. Take a look at our top ten healthy late-night snacks that will undoubtedly satisfy your belly without expanding your waistline…
If you haven’t tried this combination yet, boy are you in for a treat! The natural sweet and gooey nature of the date pairs perfectly with the salty and crunchy nature of the nut butter, coming together to create the best late-night snack ever. Simply cut a date open in half, pull out the pit, and stuff a tablespoon or so of your favorite nut butter inside. Close up the date and enjoy!
In case you didn’t know, most popcorn is made with GMO corn and is laced with a slew of harmful fats, colorings and chemicals. So be sure to ditch these 9 top offenders, and go au naturel. We love the brand Quinn, or make your own at home. Simply purchase organic popcorn kernels and coat the bottom of a large skillet with coconut oil. Turn the heat on medium, and once the oil begins heating up, add the popcorn and cover. Shake the skillet to prevent burning, and heat until corn is popped. Once done, add to a bowl and mix with your favorite toppings including nutritional yeast, sea salt, or garlic powder.
AVOCADO PUDDINGA health-food revelation, avocado pudding is one of the best things to hit the scene other than banana ice cream, of course (see below). Made with unrefined cacao powder and avocado, this “pudding” has a wide range of healthy fats to help with hormone production and soft skin, as well as minerals to help ease you into a deep relaxing sleep. Simply add the flesh of 1/2 of an avocado to 2 tablespoons cacao powder, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt. Sweeten with stevia, and blend. If needed, add almond milk to thin, and enjoy!
BANANA ICE CREAM
Banana ice cream… you may be wondering why this is on our healthy hit list, and rightfully so, but it’s not ice cream in the proper sense at all. It is made of frozen bananas and possibly a little almond milk to thin it out, and that’s it. The genius thing about this is that it takes on the texture of ice cream, tricking us into thinking we are really indulging when we are not. All you need to do is to take a super ripe large banana, cut it into pieces and freeze. Once frozen for at least 2 hours, add it to a food processor and blend. Blend and blend and blend until it turns into ice cream. Eat immediately or throw back into the freezer for later use.
HOMEMADE NUT MILK
Just like your grandmother used to say, all you need is a warm glass of milk to help you to fall asleep. Tip: Instead of cow’s milk, whip up a batch of homemade hemp milk, or grab a bottle of date-sweetened Pressed Juicery Almond Milk. Add it to a small sauce pan and heat on low for a couple of minutes. Add a small dash of cinnamon to warm the flavor, and drink. The healthy fats in the nut milk will act as building blocks for the body, helping to rebuild all tissues overnight such as muscle, brain and skin.
GREEN PROTEIN SHAKE
Missed out on your daily dose of health-building and lean-body-promoting nutrients? Then get in a quick green protein shake before bedtime. The combination of easily accessible vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from the greens with the amino acids from the protein will go straight to work in the body. This will help you to clear toxins, repair damage and build lean muscle tissue while you sleep, getting you that much closer to your health goals. All you need to do is to add a large handful of leafy greens or your choice of agreens powder to an organic whey or plant-based protein powder with 6 ounces of Pressed Juicery’s Almond Milk. Spin in a blender on high, and enjoy.
If you are not a fan of sweet, but crave all things salty, ditch the white potato and corn chips and eat veggie chips instead. With so many vegetables to choose from, you can make veggie chips out of practically anything. From kale and sweet potato, to beet and carrots, homemade veggie chips are the way to go. Just slice your chosen vegetable into thin rounds, or small leafy pieces, and coat with grapeseed oil. Then season with sea salt, a little pepper, and any other spices you like. Throw them onto a greased baking sheet, and cook at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until crisp. Simple as that!
COCOROONSIf the absence of a box of cookies at night is nearly impossible to bear, we have the solution for you. Cocoroons. While they are technically macaroons, they are better termed cocoroons to highlight their healthy nature. Made with coconut butter, unrefined coconut shreds, a natural sweetener and sea salt, these are as healthy as a proper dessert can get. Plus they are tiny in size, preventing a sugar overload before you hit the hay. There are many raw brands to choose from, but you can also make your own. Add 2 cups shredded coconut, 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1/4 cup raw honey, 1/2 teaspon vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt to a food processor. Blend until a dough. Then roll into small balls and freeze. That’s it!
SEAWEED SNACKSAnother go-to salty and crunchy late-night snack we always reach for is toasted seaweed crisps. They are thin sheets of nori seaweed that are toasted in sesame oil and seasoned with sea salt. Seaweed is an excellent source of iodine, which is a mineral most people are deficient in. Iodine is essential for proper thyroid functioning, which in turn promotes the burning of fat, a happy mood and also prevents fatigue. Iodine can also protect the body against radiation exposure, which is ubiquitous at this point. Grab a packet of SeaSnax, or make some at home. Take 4 sheets of organic toasted nori and cut them into small squares. Place them on a greased baking sheet and coat the front and back with olive oil (a pastry brush is useful here). Then sprinkle a little sea salt on them, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 250 degrees. Let them cool, and enjoy.
This list is not complete until we mention chia. Chia is a superfood seed that miraculously turns itself into a gel, making it a great addition to so many vegan recipes including burgers, muffins andsuperfood bars. But the one we love the most, especially to quell late-night hunger pangs is chia pudding.