As the weekend begins, you will probably be staying up later than normal. If your like me, you will try to stay up late, but being exhausted from starting the day before 5am thanks to my tiny yet loud alarm clock named Joey, I probably won’t make it very long. But what I find happens is as I start to get tired, I find myself reaching for something to munch on to help me stay awake. It’s so hard to resist late night snacking. I struggle with it and I am sure you do to! Sometimes it happens because you are too tired, sometimes it happens due to boredom, and sometimes you just can’t resist that sweet or salty craving (especially after a glass of wine, am I right?).
The urge to snack late at night can come on for many reasons, and it may not even be the same reason each night. But these excess calories can really add up. So what can you do about it? First you need to identify if you are truly hungry or if your desire to snack is coming from boredom or emotional reasons. Before reaching for that snack, ask yourself if you are truly hungry. Is your stomach growling? If you aren’t sure, a good strategy is to wait 15 minutes before reaching for a snack. If you are still feeling the need to eat after this time, you are most likely hungry whereas a craving would typically pass. Another strategy is to allow yourself to snack on only vegetables or fruit. If you are truly hungry, any food choice will help to fill you up. If you are just craving a snack or “sweet treat” for emotional reasons or due to boredom, the idea of having produce may not be as appealing as the cookie you have been eyeing.
If hunger is the cause of your need to snack at night, look at your current dinner choices and see how you can improve them to make your meal more filling. Can you add an extra serving of vegetables to boost fiber without adding many calories? Can you increase your serving of lean protein to improve your feeling of fullness or drink an extra glass of water with your meal? Changes like this will not elevate blood sugar levels, but will help to leave you more satisfied so you can pass on that nighttime snack.
If you have boosted your intake at dinner and find you are still hungry at night, it’s fine to have a healthy snack. Choices that contain a balance of lean protein and healthy fat along with a complex carbohydrate are your best bet. Some options include:
- Almond butter on apple slices
- One ounce of low fat cheese with a handful of nuts
- 3 cups of air popped popcorn
- Carrot sticks and hummus
- ½ cup low fat cottage cheese with fresh berries
If you are craving something salty and sweet and just can’t shake it, try making my favorite no-guilt nighttime snack:
Chocolate Popcorn Trail Mix
- 3 cups air popped popcorn
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- ¼ cup raisins
- 2 Tbs dark chocolate chips
Mix together, serve, and enjoy! Makes 2 servings.
Whenever you snack in the evening, make sure to practice mindful eating habits to help fight against boredom eating which can lead to excess calorie intake and elevate blood sugar levels. To do this, when you snack, make sure to focus on the food you are eating and remove all distractions. Turn off the TV and the computer and sit down to eat your food on a plate. Make sure you focus on what you are eating and involve all of your senses. What does the food taste like? Smell like? What is the texture of the food? The more you ‘experience’ the food instead of quickly gobbling it up, the more satisfied you will feel and the less likely you will be tempted to go back for more.
My favorite way to tell if you truly need to eat because you are hungry or just because you feel like it is to tell yourself the only snack option available is a vegetable. If your truly hungry, that vegetable snack will sound really appealing. If you just felt like snacking, you may notice you aren’t as tempted 😉
Happy 4th of July! As we celebrate our freedom and remember all of those who have worked so hard to protect our great country (extra thank you to my amazing Daddy for his service!!), it’s also important to express your ability to party! Just don’t get too crazy ☺ And remember, you can celebrate in a healthy, but still delicious way. If you want to sip on a festive cocktail that isn’t packed full of sugar this weekend, try this easy-to-make option that can be either kid-friendly or adult friendly. After this busy week, I know which option I’m choosing! Red-White-and HELLO Tasty Cocktail (or Mocktail) 1 oz cranberry juice ¾ cup seltzer 1 shot vodka (for the adult version) Mix together, top with crushed ice and fresh blueberries and serve chilled. Enjoy!
I really enjoy mango and just found a large bag of frozen mango in the back of my freezer. Instead of making yet another smoothie or throwing it into yogurt, I was trying to think about other ways to enjoy mango. So I came up with this. It’s similar to a healthy apple crisp, but with mango instead. And since they are bite-sized, it’s perfect for the whole family!
- ¾ cup rolled oats
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 Tbs cinnamon
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup low fat milk
- ¾ cup mago, cubed
Mix together oats, sugar, cinnamon, and baking powder and grind together in food processor to create a fine flour. Add in egg and milk and mix to create a batter. Bring a lightly greased skillet over medium heat. Dip mango cubes into batter and place on skillet. Allow to brown evenly on both sides. Serve warm and enjoy!
Tip: This batter can be used with any fruit, so try out banana slices, apple slices, or even pineapples!
My Recipe for the Welch’s Recipe Contest
I was thrilled to be asked to participate in Welch’s Recipe Contest looking for family-friendly recipes by RDs. I love Welch’s 100% Grape Juice and was brainstorming ways to incorporate it into recipes other than the typical smoothie or popsicle. And then it hit me- PB&J in a new way! Well to be honest, my first idea was a banana grape muffin. I loved how they came out, but my family wasn’t as thrilled. So, I scratched that idea. Then my husband actually came up with the PB&J idea and it hit me- Peanut Butter and Jelly Pancakes with Grape Syrup! How could you not love that? And, thankfully, this time the recipe was a hit!
Not only are these pancakes simple to make with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, but they are also packed full of protein (thanks to the extra boost from the egg and Greek yogurt) and are even gluten free!
- 1/3 cup 100% Welch’s Grape Juice
- 1 ¼ cup rolled oats
- ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup peanut butter, melted
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup 100% Welch’s Grape Juice
- 1 Tbs plus 1 tsp cornstarch
In a food processor or blender, quickly grind rolled oats for 30 seconds. In a large bowl whisk egg and add in yogurt. Stir together and add in melted peanut butter, juice, and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients until smooth. Add dry ingredients into liquid, stirring consistently, to create pancake batter. Heat a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Pour ¼ cupfuls of batter onto skillet and cook until bubbles form on the surface. Flip with a spatula and cook until browned on the other side.
While batter is cooking, pour 1 cup grape cup into a small pot over medium heat. Add in cornstarch and stir frequently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool, stir every 30 seconds until mixture thickens into a syrup consistency.
Pour the grape juice syrup on top of the pancakes and serve warm. Enjoy!
Disclosure: I received coupons from Welch’s for a complimentary purchase of their 100% grape juice products for this contest.