Dark chocolate

Dealing with insomnia? Chances are, it’s related to the foods you’re eating before bedtime.

The study of which foods interfere with sleep is an inexact science, but most experts agree it’s best to stop eating or just eat lightly 2 hours before bedtime to avoid acid reflux and other indigestion related to lying prone. Possible food culprits, according to MayoClinic.org:

— Chicken, pork and beef: Meat (except for turkey) may require heavy-duty processing by your body.

— Alcohol: The depressant can fragment sleep cycles as it metabolizes.

— Dark chocolate: Its caffeine and theobromine can stimulate the nervous system.

— Tomatoes, onions, garlic and spicy foods: Their high acid content can spur acid reflux.

— Fatty foods: The result can be stomach acid, inflammation and/or heartburn.

— Crudites: Raw veggies can put your digestion into overdrive.

— Sugar: Sweets typically generate energy by boosting blood sugar.

— Oranges: Citrus fruits can boost alertness just by their scent.

HEALTHY EATING

Boost your brain power with these foods

A 2015 study published in JAMA International Medicine found that supplementing the Mediterranean diet with additional servings of olive oil and nuts — both of which boast inflammation-fighting unsaturated fats — enhances memory and information processing. Here are some foods that promote brain health, as reported by AARP:

— Olive oil, green tea, leafy greens. These antioxidant superfoods help fight inflammation. While inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury, uncontrolled inflammation over time can damage the brain.

— Beets, tomatoes, avocados. These darkly hued foods help ensure your brain receives the blood it needs to stay sharp.

— Fish, blueberries, grapes, coffee, dark chocolate. These have been shown to increase the level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein that supports the growth of new neurons.

FOOD FUN

Think ice cube trays are only for making ice? Think again. These trays can be your go-to for making a variety of items in your kitchen. Here are some surprising uses for ice cube trays from livingly.com:

— Dried fruit and nut chocolate bites: Fill each slot with melted chocolate, top with fruit and nuts, let set and enjoy bite-sized pieces.

— Fruit juice cubes: Fill your tray with fruit juice instead of water and freeze. Use for flavored waters or top with Champagne.

— Bacon fat: Don’t let those drippings go to waste. Freeze in tray slots and you’ll always have some on hand for cooking needs.

— Garbage disposal fresheners: Freeze vinegar and a slice of lemon in trays for an instant refresher to your garbage disposal.

— Chicken stock: Freeze leftover chicken stock for future use. Each cube equals about one ounce.

EASY RECIPE

Frozen yogurt pops to the rescue

When temperatures rise, sometimes the only food that sounds appetizing is a frozen treat. Use this recipe from Betty Crocker to create a delicious, easy snack that you and your kids will love. Bonus: the recipe is so easy, your kids may even want to help.

Ingredients (serves 6)

2 containers (6 oz each) vanilla yogurt

2 cups cut-up fresh fruit of your choice

1 tablespoon honey

Place all ingredients in blender and cover; blend until smooth.

Divide mixture among 6 (5 oz) paper cups. Cover cups with foil, and insert craft stick into center of each pop. Freeze about 6 hours or until frozen.

—Brandpoint