What to Eat at 1 a.m. (and Not Feel Bad About at 8 a.m.)
Savory and sweet midnight snacks that are quick, easy and indulgent—but not so heavy that you'll wake up with a food hangover.
The 20-Minute Bar
Once you've had a homemade granola bar, you'll never want to eat a packaged one again. For one, they're way simpler to make than you might think; and secondly, they're completely customizable. The basic idea is to puree dates in a food processor until they're smooth, then stir in oats, nuts, chocolate, coconut and dried fruit. Warm some honey and peanut butter on the stove, pour the mixture over everything and press into a baking dish. After 10 minutes in the freezer, it's ready to be cut into squares, rectangles or even send-me-off-to-dreamland cloud shapes.
Get the recipe: Granola Bars
A Better-Than-Cheese-and-Crackers Bite
If you're cutting back on your consumption of carbs late at night, try this creamy-crunchy finger food, which works to sate evening hunger pangs (or even as an appetizer or breakfast food). It's as easy as spreading a walnut half with goat or blue cheese, then topping it with a halved grape. You still get a satisfying crispness from the nuts, but none of the empty calories that come with many crackers.
Get the recipe: Grape-Nut Halves
Turn Bananas Into Magic
We didn't believe it until we tried it, but blitzing frozen bananas in a food processor really does transform them into a convincing alternative to soft-serve ice cream. Put the frozen fruit in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to break it up. Then, run the machine for about five minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Transfer to a different bowl and eat immediately or let the puree set up in the freezer for 15 minutes or until it's scoopable. Cinnamon, shaved dark chocolate or crushed, low-calorie ginger snaps make great toppings, as does maple syrup (try Tonewood Dark Amber
; just a small spoonful adds the perfect amount of sweetness).
Another Type of Veggie Chip
Kale chips may get all the love from healthy snackers, but we recently discovered Brussels-sprouts chips and got hooked. They're a cinch to make: All you need to do is cut the root end off each sprout, then the leaves will just fall off; toss them with some olive oil and salt and roast for 7 minutes. They're light, airy and, since they're so thin, wonderfully crisp.
Get the recipe: Roasted Brussels Sprouts Chips
Photo: Lara Robby/Studio D
Have the Pizza and the Popcorn
It sounds like the start of a bad joke: "What happened when the pizzeria and the movie theater got together?" But Cat Cora's mash-up of popcorn and pizza is seriously good. She tosses freshly popped kernels with a touch of olive oil and then mixes in grated Parmesan, dried oregano, bits of finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, garlic powder and a dash of red-pepper flakes.
Get the recipe: Pizza Popcorn
Make an Insta-Cake
A chocolate hazelnut cake might not sound like the lightest late-night sweet, but since you make it in a mug, there's no going back for seconds or thirds. Actually, this Nutella Mug Cake from Babble.com is so rich and gooey, a single serving is all you need to satisfy any craving.
Get the recipe: Nutella Mug Cake
Photo: Benchmarc Restaurants
Munch on Melty, Cheesy Pasta—in a Flash
If you're more of a savory snacker (or you just missed dinner), mac 'n' cheese might be your go-to. And while nearly everyone loves the boxed, powdered cheese stuff, the homemade version can be easier and faster to make than you might think, especially if you have leftover noodles. Bonus: This recipe doesn't involve any butter, cream or milk.
Get the recipe: Cheesy Spaghetti Pie
Skip the Sundae
Since gelato is made with just milk (and not milk and cream, like ice cream), it can be a lighter choice—but not when you cover it in chocolate sauce (that 2-tablespoon serving size can seem awfully puny). That's one reason we love affogato, which is as simple as pouring a shot of espresso (and no, you wouldn't be a wimp for using decaf) over a scoop of vanilla gelato. The hot and bitter coffee melting into the sweet frozen dessert is so heavenly, you won't miss the hot fudge.
Photo: Guerilla Culinary Brigade
Take the Shortcake Shortcut
You could spend an hour making classic American strawberry shortcake, but John Keller, chef at Co-Op Food & Drink
in New York, has figured out a way to cut the process to 10 minutes. The secret is a tube of store-bought biscuit dough—and if you serve the dessert open-face, you need just half a biscuit per serving. The only other ingredients are strawberries and whipped cream (you can even whip skim milk to a fluff if you have a good immersion blender; add a sprinkling of sugar and a splash of vanilla). Though champagne is probably the best accompaniment for this midnight snack, a hot cup of tea would work nicely too.
Get the recipe: Quick Biscuit Strawberry Shortcake
Next: 7 of the best brownie recipes ever