You like munching on something as you wind down the day with TV. But you’d rather not binge on calories late in the day.
What are some late-night snack options you won’t regret? Our dietitians share their personal favorites:
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 Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD, CDE. A splash of unsweetened almond milk takes the bitter edge off the unsweetened tea.
She pairs it with an individually wrapped half-ounce square of 86 percent 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. It boasts more flavonoids, too, 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,” says Ms. Taylor.
The sweet and chewy apricots provide some potassium as a bonus. “And I love how the flavor of the apricots and dark chocolate complement each other,” she notes.
2. Creamy nut butter (dark chocolate chips optional)
“If I’m hungry, I enjoy a spoonful of creamy almond butter that I freeze ahead of time,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD. “When a late night craving hits, it fills you up with healthy monounsaturated fats — without the carbs you’d find in chips.”
She puts a heaping scoop of unsweetened almond butter on a regular spoon, covers it in wax paper, and sticks it in the freezer.
“If you hanker for something sweeter, throw a few dark chocolate chips into the almond butter,” she adds.
3. Dark chocolate (with a kick) and almond milk
“I tend to crave something sweet, so my favorite snack is one ounce of 70 percent cacao dark chocolate with one-half to one cup of unsweetened almond milk,” says Julia Zumpano, RD, LD.
“And I like dark chocolate with a kick, so I usually choose one with cayenne or chili.” The dark chocolate contains heart-healthy antioxidants, while the spice helps control cravings for more.
“Some studies find that chili increases your metabolism and helps control blood sugar and lipids,” she says.
4. Cashew butter spread on apple slices with herbal tea
For her go-to late-night snack, Brigid Titgemeier, MS, RDN, LD, tops 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, she adds. Turmeric tea, cinnamon tea and Peruvian spiced berry tea are her favorites, 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.