Thursday, March 15, 2012

my less serious tips: on healthy evening snacking

I always have dessert, but during the work week I try to be especially mindful about my evening treats. Today's tips: how to create a sweet tooth-fulfilling and nutritious evening 'dessert'.

Figure 1. Greek yogurt, honey, and chocolate sprinkles.

Tip #1. Re-define sweet. Sweet doesn't have to mean a sugar-laden candy bar. Think natural sweeteners, like agave nectar, honey, fruit, or dark chocolate. These products won't send you running through the house in a mad sugar rush in your PJ's right before bedtime.

Tip #2. Add protein. Adding protein to your 'dessert' will help maintain your blood sugar to keep you satisfied and deter you from unnecessary splurges. My favorite dessert protein sources include: Greek yogurt, nut butter, and nuts.

Figure 2. Cereal and chocolate chips.

Tip #3. Keep calories in check. Unless I am notably hungry from a heavy day of exercise or light dinner, I try to keep my evening snacks around 200 calories.

Tip #4. Identify your craving before you hit the pantry. I always pause and think about what I really want and what my body needs before I get up to prepare my dessert. Usually I want sweet, but sometimes I want salty. Do I want crunchy or chewy? Does my body need carbs or protein or another serving of fruit? Make sure you identify this first and it will help avoid those moments where you end up on the floor with open and empty bags of Oreos and pretzels scattered on the floor and peanut butter smeared all over your face.

Figure 3. Chocolate pudding and almond butter.

Tip #5. It is okay to indulge. Let's face it. Sometimes I want a brownie on a Tuesday night and if, once I pause and evaluate my craving, I still want that brownie - that is what I'll eat. Read: healthy living is all about balance.

And finally, here are some of my favorite healthy 'dessert' combinations:

  • Cereal with chocolate chips or nuts
  • Popcorn with cinnamon (+ agave nectar, nuts, coconut, and/or chocolate chips)  
  • Greek yogurt with honey or agave nectar (+ cereal, chocolate chips, granola, and/or nuts) 
  • Chocolate pudding with almond butter 
  • Fiber One brownies or granola bars 
  • Dark chocolate 
  • Chocolate-covered or cocoa-dusted almonds
  • Apple and peanut butter 
  • Microwaved apples with cinnamon, oats, and peanut butter

46 comments:

  1. i loved this post!! all of your ideas sound delicious. sometimes i'll have a spoonful of almond butter with chocolate chips, a tortilla with nut butter, or greek yogurt. but if i want the ice cream or a candy bar, i'll have it (as long as the craving's not coming up every day!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks, julianna. i know after i posted this list of favorites i could think of so many more. almond butter with chocolate chips sounds awesome! and yes, you have to indulge those cravings every once and awhile. :)

      Delete
  2. I was feeling "dessert" after lunch yesterday - a bowl of greek yogurt, a sliced up banana, and some melted PB drizzled oh so beautifully over it all. It was fancy looking - and AMAZING.

    ...I also want that pudding, like, right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yum that sounds great! lunch 'dessert' sometimes is in order!

      Delete
  3. Great tips! Last month I was really into dessert yogurt--I'd mix greek yogurt with cocoa powder and the swirl in raspberry jam and top it with chocolate chips.
    Also, your last photo has me craving chocolate pudding!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oooh! last night i mixed greek yogurt with cocoa powder (plus a bit of vanilla extract and maple syrup) for the first time and used it as a dip for apples. it was so great i was almost sad i didn't add it to this list!

      Delete
  4. Love your tips and ideas! Last night, I got home really late and was craving a big, calorie-laden dessert, but really didn't have anything around (it is for this exact reason that I don't keep such things around!), so instead, I mixed about 1/3 c. plain greek yogurt with a banana a dark chocolate vita top and a tbsp of natural PB. It was delicious and totally satisfied my sweet craving without leaving me in a sugar coma!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i swear you guys are giving me such great 'dessert' ideas. it is amazing how something as healthy as yogurt can satisfy those raging sweet tooth cravings. i love to crumble chocolate fiber one brownies in my yogurt too. great idea!

      Delete
  5. Love it!!! I for sure need some healthier dessert ideas, thanks :)

    Jen@FoodFamilyFitness

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you are quite welcome jen! i hope you find something you like and would love to see it on your blog! (which, by the way, i am loving and sooo glad you are back).

      Delete
  6. All of these tips are so awesome, Sara...snacking is inevitable (for me, at least) so it's great to have these in mind when I get that itch!

    My fave healthy-ish evening snack is a cheesecake pudding - 1 tbsp cream cheese (I use the vegan stuff), 1 tsp peanut butter, a dash of cocoa powder and honey or maple syrup...whipped with a mix master until it's fluffy and garnished with some fresh berries. YUM!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes, i am a snacker, that is for sure. i love this cheesecake pudding idea - i think i need to give that a try i have all those ingredients already (although not mix master, what is that?)

      Delete
  7. I couldn't agree with you more on this one! Listening to your body and not cutting out sweets completely, just reevaluating them really helps people stick to a healthy lifestyle - That chocolate pudding and almond butter looks incredible!! These are great options =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I can't live life without sweet things. Balance, balance, balance.

      Delete
  8. yes those all sound so yummy! I guess I should give up my ice cream and chocolate chex combo :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. um, well ice cream and chocolate chex sounds freakin' awesome. you are giving me a craving! just not every night and you are good!

      Delete
  9. You have some great ideas here! I've noticed that if I get hungry later on in the day and dont have a snack with protein, I'll STAY hungry.

    Protein it is!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes, protein is key especially if i am feeling hungry. otherwise i tend to wake up in the middle of the night hungry and not be able to sleep. that is the worst!

      Delete
  10. it makes me hungry!!:)
    kisses from prague
    http://sienastyle.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hey siena! long time no see! thanks for stopping by - sorry to make you hungry. :) go get a snack :)

      Delete
  11. These are some great tips! I have been eating chia pudding a lot lately as in the evening for desert. I also will sometime make a fruity protein shake for a naturally sweet, protein-filled snack.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks, laura. i've never made chia pudding - but have always wanted to try. a great healthy 'dessert' option for sure.

      Delete
  12. Great snack ideas and I could agree with your suggestions more. I also like ricotta with stevia and chocolate chips (it tastes like a canoli).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i meant "couldn't" eek. proofreading fail.

      Delete
    2. ricotta and chocolate chips sounds amazing!

      Delete
  13. I totally agree with you- healthy living is all about balance! Sometimes you should just treat yourself to a Tuesday Brownie ;)

    I love your suggestions for a healthier dessert!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tuesday brownies are totally called for every now and then. :)

      Delete
  14. I love the "identify the cravings before you hit the pantry" tip. Sometimes I go overboard when I can't decide what I want!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i know! i just scrounge around and keep tasting if i haven't thought about it. this tip really works well for me.

      Delete
  15. I love the idea of chocolate pudding and almond butter. Sounds like creamy goodness!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it is, indeed creamy goodness minty!

      Delete
  16. Love this! I think identifying what you're craving is crucial, no matter what meal you're talking about. If you ignore your cravings and eat something else, they only intensify. At least that's what happens to me!
    Cereal, nuts, and vegan chocolate chips is one of my favorite combinations for a nighttime snack, I get crunchy, salty, AND sweet all in one. (:

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i agree with you, emily. being in tune with what your body wants/needs and fulfilling that is something that took me years to learn. so important!

      Delete
  17. Can you suggest some salty snacks for those of us with a salty tooth?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PJ! I honestly hardly ever ger salty cravings. If I am going for a more savory snack - it is usualy raw veggies with hummus. But, some ideas for a salty snack would be

      1) salty kale chips
      2) popcorn (the 100 calorie packs are great) plain or sprinkled with nutritional yeast (tastes like cheese!)
      3) pretzels and nuts

      i hope that helps!

      Delete
  18. My typical dessert is either popcorn or an apple with butter. Thanks for giving me some ideas for other great, healthy snacks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you are quite welcome, megan. apple makes a great snack. Pink Lady's are my favorite!

      Delete
  19. Some really great ideas and tips! I ALWAYS need a little dessert, too, but try and keep myself from just putting a hand into the chocolate chip bag and coming out 1000 chocolate chips later! I actually wrote a similar post -

    http://notyetamommyblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/beating-sweet-addiction.html

    with some other ideas as well. Dried fruit is actually one of my favorites because it can be chewy and sweet but is all-natural and healthy (as long as you get unsweetened versions)

    have a great day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i eat a lot of dried fruit during the day - but you are right, that would make a great 'dessert' option when i'm craving chewy. great blog post on your site too by they way!

      Delete
  20. Sprinkles makes everything feel more dessert-y, so Greek yogurt with sprinkles and vanilla extract is one of my favorite desserts.

    ReplyDelete
  21. These are really great tips! I loved number 4, mainly because I have done that! It is completely about balance and that is the best thing about a healthy lifestyle. You don't have to starve yourself to live a healthy lifestyle... you actually can eat more!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i was wondering when someone was going to admit that they've done number 4. surely i'm not the only one...

      Delete
  22. I really really want your pudding with almond butter. It looks awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I usually eat a dark chocolate + sea salt bar or rice cakes with honey, peanut butter, and chocolate chips. Sometimes I omit the rice cake and just dig in the peanut butter jar with a spoon and sprinkle the chocolate chips so I get a couple in every bite. But my all time favorite desserts are recipes I come up with a try out and they turn out awesome :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Love all these ideas. I am just like you I have to have dessert every night. I usually try to have some fruit with either greek yogurt or cottage cheese and then a peice of dark chocolate.

    ReplyDelete