Blair A La Carte: Healthy late-night snacking

Blair Dunbar, Columnist

Retirement homes and Northwestern have one striking similarity: their meal times. Dinner begins at 4:45 p.m., and although the dining halls remain open until 7 or 8 p.m., every NU veteran knows the best food is gone by 6:30 p.m.

Although NU students have early dinner times, we certainly don’t have early bedtimes — most students don’t go to bed before 11 p.m. — which means if you ate dinner at 5 p.m., your stomach will most likely begin to growl by 10 p.m. Most dietitians will say it’s not a good idea to eat an after-dinner pizza, but what’s a stressed-out, hungry college student to do? I did some research, and here is some advice on healthy late-night snacking.

The key is protein. Protein makes you feel fuller for longer without giving you all the calories and sugars found in carbohydrate-rich food. Two foods full of protein that are a staple of the NU crew team’s diet are peanut butter and nuts. Both are nutritious, filling and high in protein. You can spread some peanut butter on a slice of bread for a quick snack or add the peanut butter to an apple or banana. When purchasing nuts, skip the ones covered in sugar. Go to the store and buy a package of dry-roasted almonds instead. You could also purchase some regular protein bars by Special K or Fiber One. However, these also tend to be high in sugar.

Another food that frequently came up in my research was yogurt, particularly Greek yogurt, which is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. For those who don’t care for Greek yogurt, you can purchase Dannon Light and Fit or Yoplait Light. Top off your yogurt with some fruit such as raspberries, blueberries or pomegranates to give it some added flavor and nutritional value.

Magazines like Shape and Men’s Fitness recommend dark chocolate to satisfy your late-night sweet tooth. Dark chocolate, according to Shape, actually has antioxidants that can help improve blood pressure. As a substitute for that salty potato chip craving, you can also try multigrain pretzels or crackers.

My personal favorite after-dinner snack? Milk. My dad actually used to serve my brother and me a glass of milk before bedtime. Milk is rich in calcium, an important nutrient women typically lack, and it’s also filling. Although I wouldn’t necessarily drink a glass of whole milk, 2 percent or skim milk provides a quick, drinkable late-night snack.

Next time you are starving at midnight writing a paper, go ahead and eat. Just think before grabbing whatever is most available and eat some almonds instead of going to Cheesie’s Pub & Grub.