The Realistic Dietitian #17: Late Night Eats

The Realistic Dietitian #17: Late Night Eats

I don’t know about you, but later weeknight meals are very common in our household. Busy schedules mean we don’t often have time to sit down and eat dinner before 8pm. Late night meals are not ideal because you have less time to burn off the calories before you go to bed, but you also do not want to skip dinner entirely. So what do you do? Stick to lean proteins and veggies, smaller portions, and less carbohydrates and fat. Carbohydrates are essential for energy and brain function, but you need less of them if your bedtime is going to be about two hours after dinner (it’s a good rule of thumb to stop eating about two hours before bedtime). Smaller portions of whole grains or starchy vegetables are fine, but limit carb-centric meals, simple carbohydrates like processed white bread, and meals/snacks high in sugar. Healthy fats are also essential, but greasy, cheesy, heavy fats right before bed will make your digestive system work overtime when it should be relaxing and settling down for the evening. Not to mention large, high-fat meals right before bed will likely leave you feeling sluggish and blah (technical term) in the morning. Go at to see more about this.

So to summarize, focus on a smaller portion of lean proteins, veggies, and fruits, and stay away from larger meals higher in fat, calories, and simple carbohydrates. The meals below are good options for late night eats. These recipes for Grilled Chicken with Tomato-Avocado Salad, Crustless Broccoli Cheddar Quiche, and Lightened-up Curried Chicken Salad are all good high protein, low/moderate carbohydrate, and low fat meal options.

Grilled Chicken with Tomato-Avocado-Corn Salad

This meal is summer on a plate! Find a farmers market near you to pick up some fresh corn and tomatoes and this dish will be even more amazing.

Grilled chicken with tomato, corn, avocado saladServings: 4

Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 1 6oz chicken breast or 1/4 block tofu, 2 slices of tomato, 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, 1 cup mixed greens, 1/2 oz goat cheese, 1/4th of an avocado, 1/2 ear of corn, 1 1/2 Tbsp buttermilk dressing


1/4 cup nonfat buttermilk (or make your own with 1/4 cup nonfat milk plus 1/4 Tbsp lemon juice –combine and let sit for 5 minutes)
3 Tbsp fat free plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
1 Tbsp shallots, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 tsp cider vinegar
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1 garlic clove, minced
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breasts (or 1 block tofu, cut in fourths lengthwise and pressed)
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chile powder
2 ears yellow corn, shucked
1 yellow heirloom tomatoes, cut into 4 slices
1 red heirloom tomatoes, cut into 4 slices
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 sliced peeled ripe avocado
4 cups mixed Greens
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled


  1. Preheat grill (or griddler/Foreman grill) to high heat. If using Griddler or Foreman, spray well with cooking spray.
  2. Combine first 9 ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Chill buttermilk mixture until ready to serve.
  3. Combine oil, onion powder, cumin, 1/4 tsp salt, and chipotle; rub evenly over chicken (or tofu). Coat corn and onion with cooking spray. Arrange chicken and corn on grill rack; grill 8 minutes or until done, turning chicken once and corn occasionally. Remove from grill; let stand 5 minutes. Cut corn kernels from cobs.
  4. Slice chicken. Arrange 1 breast on each of 4 plates. Arrange 1 yellow and 1 red tomato slices on each plate. Top each serving with 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes. Divide mixed greens, corn and avocado evenly among plates. Drizzle about 1 1/2 Tbsp dressing over each salad and sprinkle with goat cheese.

Nutrition Facts (with chicken): 375 calories, 16g fat, 105mg cholesterol, 468mg sodium, 24g carbs, 6g fiber, 44g protein, 7g sugar

Nutrition Facts (with tofu): 310 calories, 18g fat, 7mg cholesterol, 288mg sodium, 7g fiber, 20g protein, 7g sugar

*Adapted from My Recipes

Crustless Broccoli Cheddar Quiche

Broccoli cheddar crustless quicheThis recipe was so simple. I came home from work and literally threw the ingredients in the pan within five minutes of walking in the door, threw it in the oven, got my workout in, and dinner was served within an hour. Easy peasy and a great option for a post workout meal. I chose to use egg whites for this dish, but you could also do eight whole eggs. OR you could do four whole eggs and one cup egg whites to keep some of the egg yolk flavor, but cut some fat, cholesterol, and calories. And don’t be afraid of the cottage cheese. It makes it creamy, increases the protein, and is completely undetectable once it’s all cooked.

Serves: 4

Time: 50 minutes (only about 5 minutes hands on time)

Serving Size: 1/4th of the Quiche


1 cup 2% cottage cheese
2 cups liquid egg whites (cage free!)
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped
1/2 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese, plus 2 Tbsp to sprinkle on top
1/4 tsp black pepper 


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl to combine
  3. Pour mixture into a 9 inch pie dish, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray
  4. Bake for 45 minutes or until the center is set
  5. Heat the broiler and sprinkle remaining 2 Tbsp of cheese over top. Place dish under broiler and cook for about 1 minute to let it crisp.
  6. Cut into fourths and enjoy!

Slice of Crustless Quiche

Nutrition Facts: 175 calories, 5g fat, 9.5mg cholesterol, 529mg sodium, 5g carbs, 1g fiber, 25g protein, 2g sugar

*Adapted from Skinny Mom

Lightened-up Curried Chicken Salad

(With a delicious vegetarian version)

This picture shows the vegetarian version.

This picture shows the vegetarian version.

This recipe goes out to my momma who asked for a healthier chicken salad option. Here you go mom! This can be served over a green salad, on wheat bread, or stuffed in a wheat pita, liked I did. This lighter version is about 200 calories and 20g fat less than a traditional, heavy chicken salad!

Serves: 4

Time: 15 minutes

Serving Size: About 1 cup of mixture


(For both versions)

4 Tbsp fat free plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp light mayonnaise (olive or canola oil based)
2 Tbsp mango chutney (like Patak’s Sweet Mango Chutney –found in the Indian food section of the grocery store)
1/4 tsp salt
Black pepper, to taste
1 cup red grapes, sliced in half
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Chicken version

2 (4oz) chicken breasts cooked (grilled or baked) and chopped or shredded

Vegetarian Version

1 14oz package extra-firm tofu, drained and crumbled


Wisk yogurt, mayonnaise, chutney, curry powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in tofu or chicken, grapes, scallions, and walnuts. And serve!

Nutrition Facts (with chicken): 193 calories, 8g fat, 35mg cholesterol, 409mg sodium, 17g carbs, 1g fiber, 15g protein, 14g sugar

Nutrition Facts (with tofu): 216 calories, 11g fat, 3mg cholesterol, 383mg sodium, 19g carbs, 1g fiber, 12g protein, 14g sugar

*Adapted from Eating Well

Sleep well my friends! See you next week.

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