A couple of nights ago I was up late and felt a serious case of the munchies coming on. Some cupboard raiding followed, and I honestly think I would’ve eaten anything at that point. Luckily I know myself well enough to know not to keep chocolate and biscuits in the house…
I love how productive I feel when I get up early – but left to my own devices I’m definitely more of a night owl. As all true night owls know, there comes a point late in the evening when you just need something to snack on. I could write a separate post on ‘light meals for late at night…’ It would include corn cakes, quesadillas and about a hundred different things you can do with eggs! For now, I’ve stuck to late night snacks which can be thrown together in less than five minutes, with three exceptions for if you’re feeling particularly organised about your late night snacking experiences.
Worth saying that these work at almost any other time of day as well….
1.Apple slices and peanut butter
There are few things better for late night snacks than an apple chopped into eight slices (so quarter it then cut each slice in half) and used to scoop up generous dollops of peanut butter. It’s delicious, and peanut butter is high in protein which will fill you up. It also boosts serotonin, meaning you’ll go to sleep happy. It’s up to you whether you use crunchy or smooth peanut butter – my preference is smooth for this particular delight, but there’s no wrong answer here. You can also try this delicacy with almond or cashew butters too. This combination works so well that a major supermarket chain in the UK (M&S) offers apple and peanut butter snack pots to go.
2. Dark chocolate with apricot
Another satisfying snack is a couple of pieces of high quality dark chocolate and a handful of apricots (or really any other dried fruit – I have a particular thing for dried cranberries). Dark chocolate is decadent and satisfying, and has far less sugar than milk chocolate so it won’t leave you buzzing before bedtime, and apricots contain potassium which is a natural muscle relaxant and will help eventually send you off to sleep.
3. Yoghurt with honey and granola
You might think of this more as a breakfast option, and you’d be right. It also works really well as a late night snack. Yoghurt contains tryptophan, which is a natural sedative, and granola and honey also support tryptophan production. Plus it’s delicious! I’d recommend a tiny bowl or ramekin, and paring everything back so you end up with a snack-sized rather than a breakfast-sized portion.
4. Stewed apple with cinnamon and raisins
Almost all the recipes out there for stewed apple or apple compote call for sugar, so I’d avoid these completely and come up with your own version. Apples can be stewed easily in about 15 minutes – for one person, just chop up two apples into small (1cm) cubes and cook them in a saucepan with two tablespoons of water at medium-high heat with the lid left on. Use cooking apples if you want mushy stewed apple, and eating apples for something with a bit more bite and texture. Add half a teaspoonful of ground cinnamon about halfway through, and stir in a small handful of raisins at the end.
For a festive theme, you could add mixed spice or nutmeg, and if you need to sweeten it then just add a little honey, agave syrup or maple syrup right at the end to taste. You’ll have a healthy, tasty snack, and your house will smell like Christmas!
5. Baked courgette (zucchini)
There are hundreds of different versions of this recipe out there, including slow bake options which produce perfect courgette crisps, but take a couple of hours to cook. For a quicker version, heat your oven to 220oC / 425F, line a baking tray with greaseproof parchment paper, and chop one courgette / zucchini into slices about half a centimetre / quarter of an inch thick.
In a blender or smoothie maker, mix together together a couple of slices of bread, a handful of parmesan, salt, pepper, garlic powder if you have it, and a handful of fresh basil. In a bowl, mix the courgette with ½ tablespoon of olive oil, then gradually add the rest of the ingredients until the courgette is coated on both sides. Arrange the courgette in a single layer on the baking tray, and bake for 25-30 minutes until the coating is brown and crisp.
This recipe has a few more steps than some of the other ideas in this post – I promise it’s absolutely worth it. You can also change the ingredients depending on what you have in your cupboards – parsley, coriander (cilantro) and sage all work well, or you can leave out the herbs entirely and add cumin, paprika or even just lots and lots of black pepper. You can even make this without breadcrumbs, though the courgette won’t end up as crispy. If you are feeling really dedicated to crispiness, you can even press the courgette slices between sheets of kitchen paper before you bake them.
Another traditional breakfast classic, smoothies also work well late at night. They’re easy to make with little mess, and can be incredibly healthy. My go-to recipe is a small banana, handful of spinach, teaspoon of cinnamon and two tablespoons of zero fat Greek yoghurt, with a bit of water. Add peanut butter for a richer, creamier texture and nutty undertones.
Nothing’s easier than popcorn! Buy a few bags of pre-made in different flavours from a brand that specialises in healthy options (avoiding high sugar / toffee coated varieties), or make it yourself at home in a popcorn maker or in a saucepan with the lid on. Popcorn is incredibly low in calories, yet also very filling. The benefit of making it yourself is choosing exactly what flavours and ingredients go into it, to make it as healthy as possible! I love these fun ideas from Live Eat Learn, and also enjoy just adding anything I have in my spice cupboard, and even a sprinkling of parmesan.
8. Hummus with toasted pitta or crudités
Hummus is packed full of minerals and vitamins. It’s also quite high in calories, so worth enjoying in moderation, together with some lightly toasted pitta bread or – for an even healthier snack – some chopped up carrot sticks, red bell pepper, or celery. I like to accessorise my hummus, even if it’s shop bought! I usually add a tiny bit of olive oil, a pinch of salt, some smoked paprika, and some pine nuts to it to make it absolutely delicious…
9. Banana and almond butter ice cream with cinnamon
If you’re an ice cream fanatic like I am, then it pays to have some healthy recipes on hand. This one only has two ingredients and tastes absolutely amazing. Start by peeling and cutting either two or four bananas (depending on how much you want to make) into slices, then pop onto a plate or baking tray and freeze for 1 – 2 hours (you can also just put them in a freezer bag if you don’t have space for a plate or tray). Take them out and throw them into a blender or food processor, and mix until creamy and smooth.
If you’re using a smoothie maker, it’s worth taking the banana slices out of the freezer before they’re completely hard – try leaving them in for 50 minutes. Add one tablespoon of almond butter for every two bananas and puree again. You can also use peanut butter or cashew. If the mixture feels very thick, add a couple of spoons of milk to help it along.
10. Roasted pumpkin seeds and nuts
Almonds and other types of nuts are a source of melatonin which regulates your internal body clock and helps you sleep. The magnesium helps your muscles relax. Pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan, and sunflower seeds contain calcium which supports melatonin production. For a really tasty late night snack, toss a couple of handfuls of your seeds and nuts of choice in with a few teaspoons of olive or vegetable oil and some salt, pepper and smoked paprika, then bake them for 10 – 15 minutes at 200oC / 400 F. Easy!
Whatever your midnight craving, there’s a healthy, satisfying snack which will do the trick. My tip is to only keep the ingredients for healthy snack-age in the house. That way when the midnight munchies strike, you’ll be ready for them.
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