Shutting down for the day but your appetite has hit the reboot button leaving you guilty of raiding the fridge for leftovers or heading to bed with a jar of namkeen?
There are several reasons why you may find yourself craving a midnight snack. Ironically, many of them have nothing to do with actual hunger. It could be because you haven’t had enough sleep. Lack of sleep impacts the body’s hormonal balance, which in turn triggers hunger pangs. Stress and boredom are two other factors that can cause you to feel peckish at night. A study from Oregon Health & Science University and Harvard University found that the body’s internal clock — the circadian system — causes late-night cravings for sweet, starchy and salty foods.
Either way, increased hunger at night is one of the leading causes of weight gain, mostly because people choose the wrong kinds of food to snack on in the wee hours. So if you do feel the need to munch on something before bed, check out these snack recipes that are rich in sleep-inducing nutrients like tryptophan, melatonin, protein, and carbohydrates.
Warm Honey Milk
Milk is a complete food and has all the nutrients our body needs, while honey contains the essential amino acids. A glass of warm milk at night will leave you feeling sleepy and calm, more so when it contains a dash of nutmeg, which is a good natural sleep-aid.
- 1 cup of milk
- 2 tsp-1 tbsp honey, depending on your sweetness preference
- A pinch of ground nutmeg
Warm the milk until it’s a little hotter than you would comfortably drink, and stir in the honey. Sprinkle the ground nutmeg. Drink it about 30 minutes before you go to bed.
Caramelized Bananas with Frozen Yoghurt
If you’re longing for a warm, gooey treat, skip the brownies and have baked fruit instead. Bananas are high-fiber and contain minerals like potassium and magnesium that prevent muscle cramps at night.
- 2 medium-sized bananas, peeled and cut in half, lengthwise
- ½ tablespoon butter
- 3 tbsp light brown sugar
- ¼ cup orange juice
- ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup frozen yoghurt
- Melt butter in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar and lay the banana slices on top, cut side up. Cook for 20 seconds.
- Add orange juice and cinnamon. Cook for 10 seconds, then turn bananas carefully and cook for 45 to 60 seconds more, basting with the pan sauce. Serve immediately, with a scoop of frozen yoghurt. Drizzle the dish with the sauce from the pan.
Vegetables with Hummus
Hummus is made of chana, which is packed with vitamin B6 that can help improve your sleep cycle. Raw vegetables like cucumber, broccoli and carrots are low in calories while being nutrient dense.
- 1 cup chickpeas, cooked and drained
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp jeera (cumin) powder
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- Salt to taste
- In a mixer, combine all the ingredients and puree until smooth and creamy. You can alter the measures of garlic, paprika and oil to suit your food pallette.
- Transfer into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and paprika and serve with carrot and cucumber sticks, or any other raw/steamed vegetables of your choice.
Paneer On Whole Wheat Toast
Paneer is a great source of calcium. It also contains slow-digesting proteins, which will keep you from getting hungry in the middle of the night. Egg eaters can substitute the paneer topping in this recipe with scrambled eggs, another excellent source of protein.
- 1 slice of multi-grain bread
- ½ cup paneer, crumbled
- ¼ onion, chopped
- ¼ tomato, chopped
- Coriander and mint leaves to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Toast the bread lightly on a pan.
- Mix the paneer and remaining ingredients to make a topping that you can spoon over the toast.
Almond Trail Mix
Almonds are a rich source of protein, tryptophan and magnesium. While the former will keep you full at night, the other nutrients possess sleep-enhancing properties.
- 2 cups baby pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup almonds, slivered
- ¾ cup raw sunflower seeds
- 6 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 cup dried cherries or cranberries
- Salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Toss the pumpkin seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds and syrup in a large bowl until everything is evenly coated. Spread the nuts and seeds out in an even, single layer on the lined baking sheets. Season with salt to taste.
- Bake the nuts for about 20 minutes or until golden, stirring several times with a spatula. Remove from the oven and cool.
- Once the nuts have cooled, add the cherries and toss to combine. Store the mix in an airtight container at room temperature.
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