February is National Snack Food Month — so let’s snack healthy

Then-8-year-old Emma Cox eats a carrot with hummus during the last meeting of Generation C, a program that incorporated physical activity and nutritional education held in 2010 at Clearview Elementary School Chanceford Township. Photo by York Daily Record/Sunday News — Kate Penn.

In 1989, some leaders of the snack food industry might have thought cheese curls and cookies weren’t getting enough play. That year, the Snack Food Association and the National Potato Promotion Board deemed February National Snack Food Month.

Flash forward to 2013. Americans are bombarded with unhealthy snack foods every day — to the point where snacking now accounts for 20 percent of a person’s daily intake of food, according to a recent report by the NDP Group.

Heck, we live in the Snack Food Capital of the World. It’s pretty clear, by rising obesity rates and more chronic illness, the last thing we need is the promotion of manufactured junk food.

The aforementioned associations started National Snack Food Month to increase consumption of food products, such as potato chips, at a time when sales were at a lull. So after the Superbowl and a month of holiday treats and before a summer full of picnic foods. Got it.

For today’s busy society, snacking has become a way of life — to sustain our energy in between meals and to avoid overeating at our next meal. If we’re going to celebrate it, let’s do it right.

The NDP Group also reported that fresh fruit is the No. 1 snack among Americans. That’s a refreshing sign.

In honor of National Snack Food Month, here are some foods and tips to encourage responsible snacking.

1. Kelly Marsteller, registered dietitian at Memorial Hospital, said adults should have one to two snacks per day, and children two to three. Snacks should contain fewer than 200 calories.

2. Be sure to take into account serving size to avoid mindless snacking.

3. Reach for fruit. It’s high in fiber — more filling — and low in fat. A serving ranges from 50 to 130 calories, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Association.

4. Food is made up of macronutrients — carbohydrates, fat and protein. Marsteller said to try to pair macronutrients when snacking.

Healthy snacks
1. Peanut butter and celery
2. Low-fat yogurt with fruit
3. String cheese and carrots
4. Hummus on a whole-wheat tortilla
5. Trail mix
6. Low-fat popcorn
7. High-fiber, low-sugar cereal with low-fat milk
8. Turkey with spicy mustard rolled up in romaine lettuce
9. Fruit or veggie smoothie
10. Low-fat veggie dip with mixed veggies, high-fiber crackers

Craving something crunchy, cheesy or breaded? Try this recipe for baked Zucchini Chips.

What’s your go-to healthy snack?

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