Stave Off the Midnight Munchies

munchiesWhen I turned 25, I realized that my metabolism could no longer keep up with my late-night weekend revelries and the inevitable calorie-gaining Jack-in-the-Box junk food fests at 3 a.m. Even on stressful workdays, the most you want to do when you come home is veg on the couch with a glass of wine, watching the best kind of entertainment: Adam Levine on “The Voice.” It’s tempting not to sneak in a big bag of chips or generous scoops of ice cream, especially with all of the holiday cookies and leftovers floating around.

How does a confident lady fight back against those lazy urges?

First, take a plan of action. Like any other natural disaster plan, this plan must be proofed for loopholes and flaws. Gird your cravings with an emergency kit of health munchies, in a variety of forms, in a variety of places. Stock the main kit in your pantry with dried fruit, such as mangoes, apricots, banana chips and raisins. Buy value Costco-sized containers of nuts – buttery cashews, slightly spicy walnuts, sweet almonds, salty peanuts – and store them near your dried fruit. Try to buy snacks that can be stuffed into a handbag or grabbed on the go, such as natural granola bars, whole-wheat fig Newtons (the ones at Whole Foods are divine) and dark chocolate (in moderation). These dried snacks won’t go stale or rot quickly, so keep them around for the times you’re hungry but don’t want to cook.

The second phase of your action plan could include fresher ingredients, which rot quickly but offer oodles of nutrients. They take more time to prepare, but we promise that the extra bit of work will go a long way to a healthier lifestyle.

1. Loose leaf teas. Available at Teavana (found in most shopping malls), or specialty teashops like Tea Chai Te in Portland, loose leaf teas provide earthier, richer layers of smell to your tea. The choices can be more diverse and exotic than the local grocery market: mattes and rooibos and oolong teas. Save these teas for a little R&R time every day.

2. Juiced green smoothies. Instead of chowing down loads of extra carbs and protein you don’t need, satisfy your craving with a bottle of toxin-cleansing juice smoothies. (Check out juice cleanses from the Portland Juice Press. Ingredients are also available for each drink.) The downside: washing and cutting the vegetables, which can take a bit of time. The upside: swapping caffeine-loaded soda for an easy-to-carry thermos of nutrient-filled greens and fruit juices. When you’re hungry, drink a few gulps and you’re good to go.

3. Bite-sized pieces of veggies and fruit, paired with hummus or a light creamy dressing. You know the usual suspects: carrots, celery, broccoli. Ranch dressing. But why not try a few seasonal items from your local farmers market, such as heirloom tomatoes, radishes and purple cauliflower? You can lighten the calorie load of ranch dressing with a Dijon mustard red wine vinaigrette or freshly made hummus.

Okay, now our tummies are rumbling. What are some of your favorite alternatives to midnight munchies?

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