If you've been dissuaded from snacking after 8 p.m., you'll be glad to learn there aren't many negative effects of eating late at night — as long as you're choosing the right foods.
Prioritizing nutrient-dense foods can help promote muscle recovery, regulate appetite and control blood sugar. So, if you're craving something to munch on, try one of these nine healthy late-night snacks.
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1. Vanilla Cake Batter Bites
Although everyone likes to steal a few tastes of cake batter while they're baking, it's not necessarily the safest snack. But with this recipe, batter doesn't need to be off-limits. With cashew butter as its base, this nutrient-dense cake batter can help you feel full and support quality sleep.
Eating cashew butter before bed can actually promote better sleep because of its tryptophan content, according to the USDA. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps naturally produce serotonin and melatonin — the hormones that control sleep.
Get the Vanilla Cake Batter Bites recipe from Real Food Whole Life.
2. Chocolate Pudding
Most standard store-bought desserts are packed with sugar, which may mess with your sleep. This simple dessert uses only three ingredients to quench your chocolate cravings — banana, Greek yogurt and unsweetened cocoa powder.
You might have your doubts about eating chocolate before bed, but because the unsweetened cocoa powder doesn't have any sugar and the caffeine content is minimal in cocoa powder, your sleep shouldn't be sabotaged.
Get the Chocolate Pudding recipe from Cupcakes and Kale Chips.
3. Chocolate-Covered Snickers Dates
This simple, nutrient-dense version of a Snickers bar might make you forget the original even exists. It's the perfect sweet and savory snack made with dates, peanut butter, almonds and dark chocolate. This recipe is low in saturated fat and doesn't contain too much sugar, either.
Dates are high in fiber, containing about 7 grams per serving, per the Cleveland Clinic. Fiber is a great nutrient to incorporate into your late-night snack, as it can help keep hunger at bay. Fiber helps slow down how quickly food is broken down in your system, promoting regular digestion and fullness, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Get the Chocolate Covered Snickers Dates recipe from Nutritiously.
4. Air Fryer Popcorn Snack Mix
For those who prefer a savory snack late at night, popcorn is a satisfying go-to. Combining popcorn with pistachios and semi-sweet chocolate chips makes this a healthy and satisfying late-night snack. And this recipe keeps snacking simple with the use of an air fryer.
Add nuts like pistachios, almonds or peanuts for a source of healthy unsaturated fats, according to the Mayo Clinic. Unsaturated fat is not only filling but may even benefit your heart health by helping to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Not to mention, eating nuts has been associated with lower levels of inflammation in the body.
Get the Air Fryer Popcorn recipe from Feel Good Foodie.
5. Homemade Frozen Yogurt
Ditch the pint of ice cream and whip up this nutrient-dense blend of ingredients for a creamy and delicious frozen yogurt. You only need two ingredients: Greek yogurt and frozen fruit. And the flavor possibilities are endless (strawberry, raspberry, mango — oh my!).
Yogurt is a smart food for your digestive health, making it the perfect post-dinner dessert. A natural source of probiotics, yogurt is full of friendly bacteria, which support immune function and nutrient absorption, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Get the Frozen Yogurt recipe from Chelsea's Messy Kitchen.
6. Granola Bites
There are a few criteria that make a dessert recipe top notch: simple ingredients, fast prep and no baking. These granola bites check off all the boxes. Combining oats, nut butter, honey, flaxseed and any other mix-ins of your choice, this nutritious snack is pretty well-rounded.
The oats in these granola bites add some fiber and plant protein, which will keep you satisfied longer.
Get the Granola Bites recipe from Tastes Better From Scratch.
7. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
The hallmark of a good nighttime snack is a food that will fulfill a nagging craving while helping you relax, unwind and get ready for bed. Roasted pumpkin seeds definitely meet this challenge.
One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains about 20 percent of your recommended intake of magnesium, according to the USDA. This essential mineral is linked to promoting muscle relaxation and healthy sleep, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Also, the slight saltiness of roasted pumpkin seeds can curb your salty snack craving with less sodium and fat than other snacks, like chips.
Get the Roasted Pumpkin Seeds recipe from Love & Lemons.
8. Mixed Berry Smoothie
Smoothie recipes don't have to be reserved for breakfast. The combination of berries and cream is also a simple and satisfying dessert. This recipe is made with Greek yogurt, oats and honey, giving you a high-protein dessert with natural sweetness.
Get the Mixed Berry Smoothie recipe from Little Sunny Kitchen.
9. Baked Kale Chips
Kale chips give you that salty crunch without the fat and calories you'd get from potato or corn chips. Kale is an incredibly nutrient-dense food, high in vitamins A, C and K.
One cup of raw kale will provide more than 100 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin K, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. This vitamin helps prevent weakening of the bones over time, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Get the Baked Kale Chips recipe from Eating Bird Food.
- British Journal of Nutrition: "Night-time Consumption of Protein or Carbohydrate Results in Increased Morning Resting Energy Expenditure in Active College-Aged Men."
- USDA: "Nuts, Coconut Milk, Raw"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Sleep and Magnesium Supplements"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Fiber"
- Mayo Clinic: "Nuts and Your Heart: Eating Nuts for Heart Health"
- Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: "Protein Ingestion before Sleep Improves Postexercise Overnight Recovery"
- National Sleep Foundation: "Power (Down) Vitamins: Promote Better Sleep With Magnesium"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Health Benefits of Taking Probiotics"
- ODS: "Vitamin K"
- USDA: "Top 10 Foods Highest in Tryptophan"
- Cleveland Clinic: "The Sweet Health Benefits of Dates"
- USDA: "Seeds, pumpkin and squash seeds, whole, roasted, without salt"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Does Magnesium Help You Sleep?"