Wednesday, 3 September 2014

10 Simple Hacks For Healthy Late Night Snacks

That ill-advised tub of caramel ice cream doesn’t make for a great sleep aid (late-night food coma notwithstanding) and we’re afraid it doesn’t do much for your health either. Step away from your spoon and try one of nutrition-blogger Nikki Sharp’s simple DIY snacks instead; all you need is a freezer, a blender and an appetite. These recipes are low in calories, but high in lip-smacking satisfaction – you can take our word for it.

1. Sweet & sour almonds
If, like us, you easily succumb to the temptation of picking, you’d may as well pick at something full of protein, healthy fats and skin-clearing vitamin E. Boil 4tbsp cinnamon in 200ml water and reduce down, then throw in a large handful of almonds and the juice from 1 lemon. Toss in 1tbsp honey with the zest from the lemon, and bake for 15 minutes. Simple, quick, delicious.
2. Mint choc chip ‘ice cream’
Don’t adjust your screen; this is actually as good as it looks. Blend two frozen bananas with a handful of mint. Add a dash of vanilla extract and vigorously mix with cacao nibs. These small-but-mighty nibs are one of the best dietary sources of magnesium, the mineral that powers hundreds of biochemical processes in your body. Think of that while you devour them tonight.
3. Guilt-free white chocolate
You read that correctly. Instead of the high-calorie, high-carb treat that usually fuels your box-set evenings, create your own, nutritious version in a blender. Mix a large handful of desiccated coconut, 2tbsp honey, 1tsp vanilla extract and then blend until smooth; freeze for a naughty but nice treat. Now, who’s for a <Breaking Bad> marathon?
4. Fruit ‘n’ nut chocolate bites
Great for both entertaining guests and those pyjama parties for one. Fire up your stove and heat 8tbsp coconut butter (available at most local health food shops, but feel free to substitute with 6tbsp pumpkin puree), 4tbsp honey, 8tbsp cup cocoa powder. Mix over a low heat and add chopped nuts and dried fruit. This is super healthy (especially if you use manuka honey and raw cacao powder). Freeze in a shallow dish for a couple of hours, then all that’s left is to do is smash the tray up – and get chocolate all over your face, of course.
5. Pimped out water
Something refreshing to accompany your sweet treats: chop up cucumber and mint, add to a jug with water, let it sit overnight. Simple. For lemonade add sparkling water, fresh lemon juice and stevia or honey. Both of these make staying hydrated and healthy much less of a chore.
6. Green smoothie popsiclesIf you’re looking for an excuse to indulge in ice-lollies this summer, here’s one that the, erm, kids will love (just play along…). The colour is more than just an eye-catcher: the nutrients that create the green tint have an anti-oxidising effect on your body, keeping your immune system in check. Simply blend your favourite fruits and green veg, and freeze in lolly moulds (aim for two part fruit, one part veg).
7. Banana lollies
Looks too good to be true, tastes too good to be healthy. Chop bananas into thirds and place them onto skewers before dipping into melted dark chocolate; roll in crushed walnuts and freeze. Aside from being a fun snack that kills cravings, these also offer some serious health benefits: eating walnuts regularly has been linked to a longer lifespan, as has – wait for it – eating dark chocolate. You’re welcome. 

8. Frozen yoghurt bites
If simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, this is the most-sophisticated snack around. Grab a bunch of grapes (we recommend red, if you’re into the disease-fighting effects of the resveratol in their skin). Mix them into low fat yoghurt and arrange neatly on a freezable dish. Throw them in the freezer and remove after a few hours. Et voila, a surprisingly delicious snack for those hot evenings - and equally good for ‘British’ weather. Speaking of which… 

9. Bedtime latte
Brew yourself a comforting hot drink to knock you out during the colder evenings. Make up a decaf espresso, then blend 1tbsp coconut oil, 200ml coconut milk, 1tsp cinnamon and 1/4tsp chilli powder, then add the coffee to the mixture. This creates a frothy drink just like a latte, which warms you from the inside out with its rich, spicy flavour. It’s also brimming with healthy fats, which help you to better absorb vitamins, in case you needed another reason. 
10. Pie, but not as you know it
Now we’re going to get utterly indulgent. Blend equal parts nuts or seeds (almonds or walnuts work best) with dates, and press firmly into a baking dish. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the crust begins to brown. Now for the fun part: fill it with whatever tickles your fancy – berries, dried fruits, the choice is yours. Drizzle with honey for a sweet solution to all of your cravings – minus the guilt, of course.

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