We’ve all been there: It’s late, we’re hungry, and the drive-through window is beckoning. But before you grab the keys (or call for delivery) check out this list of less food-coma inducing late-night fare. It may require a little more work than swinging through a fast food joint, but the payoff is the seriously delicious satisfaction of knowing you’re feeding yourself well (and making healthy leftovers for tomorrow).
Instead of a fast-food burger, make:
1. Bean-Kale Burger with Sweet Potato Wedges
For the vegetarians among us, here’s a healthy recipe that provides balanced nutrition from superfood kale, sweet potato, and pinto beans. The recipe calls for pepper jack cheese, but this can be omitted if you’re vegan or dairy-free.
2. Amazing Cheddar Sliders
While double-decker cheeseburgers are certainly delicious, they aren’t the best “snack” if you’re looking to stay awake for an all-nighter. This slider recipe cuts down on portion size while still packing flavor. To make this recipe even healthier, use a whole-wheat bun or skip it in favor of lettuce for added crunch.
Instead of a diner omelet, make:
3. Garden Vegetable Omelet
While omelettes may appear to be the healthiest option on the late-night diner menu, the serving sizes leave something to be desired in the health department. Make your own healthier version at home by tosssing in a whole bunch of veggies.
4. Caprese Omelet
Quality is key here, as juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil all shine at the peak of their freshness.
Instead of French fries, make:
5. Healthy Baked Sweet Potato Fries
French fries are undoubtedly addictive, especially the ones served at late-night eateries. This recipe calls for baking, not frying (without sacrificing any flavor!). Sweet potato fries, in particular, pack someserious vitamin A, which gives your eyes a boost at the end of a long day.
6. Spicy Baked Fries
The seasoning on these thick potato wedges is so tasty, you won’t even realize they’ve avoided the fryer. As the recipe suggests, alter the ratio of paprika or cayenne pepper to amp up the spice.
Instead of delivery or frozen pizza, make:
7. Homemade Bagel Bites
No matter how much we wish for it, pizza isn’t exactly a vegetable—but it’s still possible to make a healthy version of the perennial favorite, bagel bites, for a midnight snack! Built-in portion control does these snacks good. To make them even healthier, use whole-wheat bagels, and top with herbs and veggies.
8. Cauliflower Crust Pizza
While the taste won’t exactly parallel doughy pizza, this recipe is a savory, healthful, and unique alternative to classic delivery options. Be warned: Making this crust thick will result in more of a shepherd’s pie than a pizza; while not quite the same texture, it’s still delicious!
Instead of a drive-through breakfast sandwich, make:
10. Egg Sandwich with Wilted Spinach
Eggs and veggies on toast make an excellent, balanced snack or meal (especially when they’re made with whole ingredients rather than obtained via the drive-thru). This healthy option will satisfy your tummy and, thanks to the protein, give you a surge of energy, to boot.
Instead of drive-through quesadillas, tacos, and burritos, make:
11. Chicken Burrito Bowl
Losing the tortilla in favor of a burrito bowl makes for a lighter (and, depending on what you fill the bowl with, gluten-free) alternative to gigantic burritos. Besides, the combination of rice, beans, and lean protein in this recipe need no additions (and ensure long-lasting energy).
12. Healthy Veggie Burritos
Enormous, Mission-style burritos are absolutely fantastic. But given that they often weigh as much as a small child, they can leave us feeling pretty sluggish the next morning. Cook up this healthy veggie burrito instead.
13. Black Bean Quesadillas
When they’re homemade, quesadillas are healthy meals (or snacks!) that can be stuffed with virtually every combination of ingredients, whether sweet or savory. This recipe provides a healthy vegetarian dish that can be cooked up in a flash.
14. Avocado Quesadillas
Avocado plus melted cheese equals healthy fats, protein, and (thanks to the tortilla) carbs. To make this recipe even healthier, choose a whole-grain tortilla and keep portions in check.
15. Weeknight Black Bean Tacos
Don’t let the concept of a vegan taco deter you from this recipe. The spicy seasoning mixed with piquante lime will tempt even die-hard ground beef fans!
16. Vegetarian: Tacos De Hongo, Chile Poblano Y Cebolla
Like vegan tacos, vegetarian tacos seem like something of an oxymoron. But this recipe packs plenty of authentic flavor thanks to the poblano chiles.
Instead of store-bought grilled cheese, make:
17. Spinach and Artichoke Grilled Cheese
This is another recipe for which the quality of ingredients is key (and will really enable this sandwich to shine). Feel free to omit the sour cream if you’re dairy-free or counting calories.
18. Grilled Portobello, Bell Pepper, and Goat Cheese Sandwich
The meatiness of the portobello and the creaminess of the goat cheese mean that a small sandwich will feel much more indulgent than its size. If you’re Paleo, roast two whole portobello caps ahead of time and use them as buns instead! (Pro tip: If making the Paleo version, try assembling the sandwiches and then melting the cheese in the oven, as pan-frying quickly becomes messy.)
Instead of potato chips and French onion dip, make:
19. Baked Kale Chips
It’s easy to eat a whole tray of these superfoods in one sitting—but hey, that just means you’re stocking up on vitamin K! The best part about kale chips (besides their addictive crunchiness) is that they can take on any type of flavor, from lemon to garlic to miso, and still be completely wonderful.
20. Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Nutrient-rich red peppers, onion, superfood garlic, heart-healthyolive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper combine for a healthy, savory dip that will have you coming back for seconds (and thirds, and fourths… ).
21. Healthy Baba Ghanoush (Eggplant Dip)
Baba Ghanoush can prove even more addictive than hummus, but given that many store-bought versions include more mayonnaise than eggplant, it’s not always the healthiest choice of dip. While this homemade version still calls for some mayo, feel free to swap in more tahini. Plenty of eggplant provides vitamins K and B6, thiamin, folate, potassium, manganese, and fiber.
22. Roasted Garlic, Sun-Dried Tomato, and White Bean Dip
The rich flavors of this bean dip will shine on any dipping “instrument,” from whole-grain chips to red pepper slices. The creaminess of the white beans pairs beautifully with the savory flavors of the sun-dried tomatoes and garlic.
Instead of the Chinese buffet, make:
23. Healthy General Tso’s Chicken Recipe
The sweet-sticky sauce covering General Tso’s chicken is understandably addictive, but it most likely has unpronounceable ingredients. Stir-frying the chicken is healthier than sticking it in the deep fryer, while your mind can rest easy with this sauce made from whole, natural ingredients.
24. Tofu That Tastes Good: Stir Fry
The texture of tofu can be off-putting for many, but baking and then stir-frying it in a sweet teriyaki sauce will make it much more firm. This recipe would be delicious with any mixture of vegetables.
25. Light and Healthy Vegetarian Lo Mein
Lo mein is such a wonderful mix of textures that its ingredient list should be just as lovely! To avoid the mystery of take-out lo mein, make a homemade version. This recipe is vegetarian, but stir-fried beef or shrimp would make delicious additions.
Instead of mac ‘n cheese from a box, make:
26. Mac ‘N Cheese (Vegan and Gluten Free)
While vegan and gluten-free mac ‘n cheese sounds nigh on impossible to achieve, this recipe will leave you pleasantly surprised. The addition of cauliflower or white beans enables an even creamier texture and many more nutrients than a powdered cheese packet.
27. Creamy Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese
For a slightly gourmet twist on mac ‘n cheese, this butternut squash version, with its combination of Gruyere and Romano cheese and crunchy Panko breadcrumbs, is exceptional. The butternut squash adds plenty of nutrition while tinting the dish a vibrant yellow.
Instead of store-bought chicken wings, make:
28. Crispy Baked Chicken Wings
This classic party food can be a stomachache in the making thanks to heavy amounts of oil and spicy sauces. This homemade version will leave you feeling satisfied, not sick, as its crispiness is achieved via the oven rather than the deep fryer.
Instead of traditional PB&J, make:
29. Fried Peanut Butter Banana Sandwich
It was Elvis’s favorite sandwich, but that doesn’t mean we can’t “healthify” it a bit—and this version still provides plenty of crunch.