Early dinners or lots of activity in the evenings can trigger hunger pangs — and while plenty of diets may discourage eating at night, there's no reason to steer clear of an evening snack. In fact, fitting a PM snack into your meal plan gives you another chance to include more vegetables in your diet, not to mention healthy proteins and fats that support your general health and help you manage your diabetes. Too-large or unhealthy snacks, though, can mess with both your weight and your blood sugar. Stick with one of these nine yummy nighttime snacks to stick to your balanced meal plan (and get in a few extra nutrients along the way!).
A Veggie-Packed Smoothie
Smoothies might seem like more of a breakfast thing, but they're perfect for a nighttime snack, too. For one thing, it's easy to mini-size your portion and save the rest for the morning, so you don't overeat before bed. And a smoothie packs in plenty of fiber, which will help keep your blood sugar levels stable as you sleep. Keep the sugar low including just a half-cup of fruit in your smoothie, and focusing on lower-sugar options, like Granny Smith apples or mixed berries. Some unsweetened almond milk, berries, a handful of spinach and a sprinkle of cinnamon makes for a delicious snack.
Apples with Almond Butter and Cinnamon
If you're not into too much late-night meal prep (who is??) going for simple apple slices can curb your hunger without dirtying many dishes. Drizzle your apple slices with 2 teaspoons of warmed almond butter to add flavor — plus protein to keep you feeling full through the night — and a sprinkle of cinnamon to make an otherwise basic snack feel a little more fancy. Cinnamon is great for controlling your diabetes, too. Research shows it has the potential to complement other diabetes treatments to keep your blood sugar in check. Try this homemade almond butter recipe -- it's surprisingly easy to make!
Spicy Avocado Toast
Whipping up a simple avocado toast takes just a couple minutes — and it means your snack will also be Instagram-friendly. Avocado comes loaded with dietary fiber, which means it's good for stabilizing your blood sugar overnight — and all the healthy fats in avocado slow down digestion, further protecting you from blood sugar spikes. Keep your avo toast diabetes-friendly by serving it on a whole-grain toast (we love whole-wheat sourdough!). Add a dash of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, or a drizzle of sriracha. Not only will you get more heat, but some evidence suggests that capsaicin — the compound that gives their spice — may help protect people with diabetes from cardiovascular disease.
Cherries with Cacao Nibs
Got a chocolate craving? Get your cocoa fix by eating cacao nibs, which are incredibly healthy and packed with chocolate flavor. Cacao nibs are pieces of the roasted cocoa pod, which is normally used to make chocolate — so you end up eating concentrated cocoa solids, and all the nutrients and antioxidants to go along with them, but lose the sugar found in chocolate candy. Cherries have fiber and slow-digesting natural sugars that make them diabetes-friendly, and they're also a source of melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep. Make your snack by combining a cup of halved, pitted cherries with a teaspoon of nibs, and top it with a sprinkling of cinnamon if you want "black forest"-inspired flavor.
We love salon salad for easy and nutritious weekday sandwiches, but it's great as a nighttime snack, too. Salmon's high protein content means you'll stay full well into the night. And emerging evidence shows that the omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon might help control your blood sugar, too. Make your salad by combining canned salmon with cottage cheese and your favorite seasoning, and serve on a bed of baby spinach (because extra veggies are always a good thing). Or try this delicious salmon salad wraps recipe.
Turkey Tortilla Wrap
Let's face it — night-time hunger pangs often involve carb cravings. And while it's important to regulate your carb intake to keep your diabetes in check, you can still include carbs in your nighttime snack. There's no easier way to do that than to make a whole-wheat turkey tortilla. Simply place slices of low-sodium deli turkey, low-sodium dill pickles and baby spinach on a 6-inch wheat tortilla, add a squirt of mustard (or your favorite low-cal sauce) and roll! If you'd like a warm snack, simply place in a nonstick pan and cook on medium-low until heated through.
Mini Miso Soup
Cozying up with a book (or your Netflix queue)? Make a warming and comforting snack to match. Miso soup is among the most customizable snacks on our list, and it's also seriously healthy. A fermented paste made from legumes or grains like chickpeas, barley or soybeans, miso is loaded with probiotics (aka healthy bacteria). Make the broth by adding a spoonful of miso to a cup of reduced sodium chicken, beef or veggie broth, then stir to combine. Add frozen veggies and a spoonful of whole-grain rice to make the soup a bit more hearty, and add fresh grated ginger and turmeric for even more antioxidants and flavor. And if you're worried about the high sodium content of most broths, fear not — research shows that miso might mitigate some of the blood pressure-boosting effects of sodium.
Seasoned Hard-Boiled Eggs
Keeping hard-boiled eggs on hand makes it easy to address a surprise snack attack. And because eggs are virtually carb-free, they're perfect for snacking on if you've already eaten your carbs for the day. Make plain hard-boiled eggs more interesting by adding herbs and spices. A sprinkle of curry powder gives your eggs Southeast Asian-inspired flare, while a dash of paprika adds pleasant smokiness. And if whole hard-boiled eggs aren't your thing, mash the egg with your fork and stir in a spoonful of nonfat plain Greek yogurt and your favorite seasonings for healthier egg salad. Make your hard-boiled eggs in bulk with this genius hack.
A DIY Chai Latte
We generally recommend against drinking your calories — the truth is, calories from drinks simply won't fill you up like calories from food — we make an exception for spiced sugar-free lattes. That's because the strong flavor of spices can help you feel more sated than, say, a sugary cola, and a DIY latte offers legit health benefits. For one, you'll get plenty of protein to support your active lifestyle and help with blood sugar control, and several spices used in chai lattes — including cinnamon and ginger — help with blood sugar control, too. Make your latte by adding a cup of low-fat milk and two bags of black tea to a saucepan. Add a cinnamon stick, a dash of ginger, a few cardamom pods, two or three black peppercorns and 2 star anise pods to the pot, and cook over medium heat until warm throughout. Strain into a mug and enjoy!