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Quick, plant-based snacks for midnight hunger pangs

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Do you often sneak into the kitchen and raid the fridge late at night, indulging on snacks or anything available in the kitchen? We all do that right!

The urge for midnight snacking or sudden food cravings usually happens when you have an early dinner and sleep late. Certain health reasons such as dehydration, low sugar or salt levels, lack of proteins, stress etc. also contribute to midnight hunger pangs. And, eating just about anything unconsciously usually leads to intake of higher calories and bulging waistline.

Instead of resigning yourself to raiding the kitchen for whatever leftovers you can find, you can satisfy your cravings with healthier options.

Plant- based healthy snack ideas to satiate your late-night cravings
If you are following a plant-based lifestyle, you have umpteen green choices that can keep you healthy and satiated. A late-night plant-based snack does not necessarily have to be high in calories and fattening.

Try these guilt-free bites for satisfying your late midnight hunger pangs:
Popcorn
Popcorns are excellent healthy midnight snack for those who crave for something crunchy in the middle of the night. It is a whole grain, low in calories and high in fiber. Dietary fibers take more time to digest and will keep you fuller for a long time.
Being sugar-free, fat-free, low on calories, and easy to cook, one can munch on air-popped popcorns; the recommended portion size of popcorn is around 25-30g.

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Oatmeal
Oats with fruits are usually had as a healthy breakfast, however, it can be the savior of your midnight hunger as well. This healthy vegetarian meal is rich in carbohydrates, fiber, copper, zinc, and vitamins such as B1 and B5. According to a Columbia University study, the carbohydrates work with your brain to release the neurotransmitter serotonin, which soothes you into a tranquil state and helps your body produce melatonin to improve sleep efficiency.
You can have oatmeal as a midnight snack with bananas and cherries to relax your body and keep yourself satisfied.

Foxnuts or Makhanas
Fox nuts, also popularly known as makhana, make a perfect healthy midnight snack to munch on. These little powerhouses of nutrition are rich in carbohydrates and proteins. Proteins help prevent overeating and satisfy cravings while carbohydrates improve sleep efficiency. These crispy and delicious balls are low in cholesterol, fat, and sodium, and are gluten-free. Makhanas can be eaten grounded or roasted. Instead of grabbing fried snacks, pick a handful of foxnuts to satisfy your midnight hunger pangs.

Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are low-calorie, nutrient-dense choice for late-night snacking. According to the American Sleep Association, pumpkins are excellent source of magnesium and amino acid tryptophan which promotes serotonin production that can help you to get a good sleep. The slight saltiness of roasted pumpkin seeds curbs your salty-snack cravings. So, roast them and keep it handy!

Nuts
A handful of nuts can be a healthy alternative to chips and saltines. Nuts, being rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats, can make a great snack option to be munched during the night hours. So, mix up some cashews, almonds, pistachios, and walnuts and store them in an airtight bowl near your bed.
Just be sure you grab a handful of it (not more than 200 calories) as too much of nuts may be bad for health.

Fresh veggies
For those who feel extra ambitious, try filling up on veggies. A combination of raw veggies such as carrots, asparagus, bell pepper cucumber, zucchini, and tomatoes can help curb your midnight hunger. This fresh, crunchy snack is a great alternative to chips and will keep you full and satisfied until your next meal.
You can include dips like tahini, vegan yoghurts to add more flavors and to enjoy these healthy snacks.

Fruits
Those who have a sweet tooth can opt for fruits such as grapes, cherries, apples and bananas. They are rich in fiber that keep you fuller for long.
A bowl of fruits and nuts makes a perfect combination for a filling midnight snack. Studies showed that snacking on a banana dipped in almond or peanut butter may help increase your body’s melatonin levels to support a good night sleep.

Even though, late-night snacking are linked to weight gain and other health conditions , studies showed that choosing the right and healthy foods can not only fulfill those late-night cravings but may also improve sleep quality.

Reference:
The Best Plant-Based Foods to Eat (and Avoid) Before Bed for a Better Sleep. https://www.mondaycampaigns.org/meatless-monday/best-plant-based-foods-to-eat-and-avoid-before-bed-for-a-better-sleep. Accessed on 20-11-2020.
Vegan Snacks to Curb Your Hunger and Stay Healthy. https://sentientmedia.org/vegan-snacks/ . Accessed on 20-11-2020.
St-Onge MP, Mikic A, Pietrolungo CE. Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality. Adv Nutr. 2016;7(5):938-949. Published 2016 Sep 15.

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