The goal for a healthy late night snack is to avoid going overboard, eating just enough calories to quell hunger without keeping you awake or filling you up, says Lauren Thomas, nutritionist at Nutrition Energy.
There are two important rules to a healthy late-night snack: 1) Eat mostly complex carbohydrates, with minimal fat and protein, which can take longer to digest and 2) Choose small portions of whole foods like seasonal fruits.
While choosing a proper late-night snack is important, consider timing as well, especially if you’re susceptible to heartburn, which can be exacerbated by eating too close to bedtime, says Samantha Hua, holistic health coach and owner of Happy Food.
Whether you should or you shouldn’t, everyone grabs a late-night snack every once in a while. These are the best foods to munch on if you’re feeling hungry after dinner.
Baked Apple with Walnuts1 of 10
Toss together walnuts with cinnamon and a pinch of brown sugar. Core an apple and fill it with your nut mixture and bake until the apple skin is rippling. This provides a balance of fruit, fiber and protein without sacrificing taste.
Ricotta and Figs2 of 10
Mix 1/2 cup of low-fat ricotta cheese with chopped figs and a drizzle of honey. This nutrient-dense snack pairs a small helping of high-protein food with an easily digested carbohydrate to fill you up without going overboard.
Cucumbers and Hummus3 of 10
Slice one quarter of a cucumber and dip it in hummus. This snack is versatile—you can choose any hummus you like—and light so you won't feel heavy when you head to bed.
Air-Popped Popcorn4 of 10
Pour two teaspoons of coconut oil into a pot and place it on the stove. When the oil heats, add two tablespoons of popcorn kernels to the pot and cover. Shake the pot (cover on) until the kernels start popping. Continue this motion until popping slows. Stop when there is one minute between each pop.
Toss one cup with cinnamon, cayenne pepper, basil, salt and pepper. Put the rest aside for another night.
Dates and Nut Butter5 of 10
Cut two medjool dates in half and spread almond or sunflower seed butter in the middle of each side. "Balancing the carbohydrate and healthy fat here will satisfy your hunger without being too much on your stomach before bedtime," Thomas says.
Plain Yogurt with Fruit6 of 10
Mix one cup of plain yogurt with 1/4 cup of dried or fresh fruit. Be sure that the dried fruit isn't prepared with extra sugar or preservatives. This late-night snack is sweet enough to give it that dessert feel.
Coconut Date Bars7 of 10
Combine a quarter cup of two nut varieties (macadamia, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts) with 10 dates, 1/3 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes and two tablespoons of coconut oil in your food processor. Blend, adding water until the mixture becomes moldable. Flatten on a pan or plate and let cool for 30 minutes.
Healthy-Gut Smoothie8 of 10
Blend kefir or Greek yogurt with frozen fruit and ice. A smoothie makes snack time longer because you can savor it for a while, Thomas says. She adds that this particular mix provides healthy gut bacteria, which aids in digestion.
Banana and Cashew Butter Bites9 of 10
Slice a banana into 10 small rounds. Place a dollop of cashew butter on five of them and then top each one with the rest of the banana pieces to make mini sandwiches.