Playing with your food can be good for you

Summer time means plenty of play time — so why not play with your food? Finding creative ways to enjoy healthy foods like watermelon is a great way to encourage the whole family to eat well — and have fun while doing it.

Here are three ways you can get the whole family in on some fun and healthy eating:

  • The wetter, the better — Playing hard on a hot summer day can take a lot out of you. In addition to drinking plenty of water, look for foods that can help you keep hydrated. Watermelon is 92 percent water — so keep some slices or cubes in the refrigerator for a handy, hydrating snack. For a fun, kid-friendly twist, use cookie cutters to cut watermelon into fun shapes. 
  • Get colorful — For a real nutritional boost, serve plenty of colorful, deeply pigmented produce. For example, red peppers, carrots, broccoli and grapes are packed with minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. In addition to vitamins A and C, watermelon has a higher level of the antioxidant lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable. Let the kids use an ice cream scooper or melon-baller to scoop out watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew to make a colorful and nutritious dessert.
  • Think outside the recipe box — Look for fun and unusual ways to serve healthy foods. These recipes from the National Watermelon Promotion Board, for example, are creative enough to appeal to kids and grownups, and easy enough for just about anyone to make.
  • Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring at all — it just takes a little creative thinking to get everyone in the family playing with their food.
  • You can find more deliciously fun ways to enjoy watermelon, and sign up for a free newsletter, at

Pick a Good Watermelon. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3

  1. Look the watermelon over.
  2. You are looking for a firm, symmetrical watermelon that is free from bruises, cuts or dents.
  3. Lift it up. The watermelon should be heavy for its size. Watermelon is 92 percent water.
  4. Turn it over. The underside of the watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun. 

Surf Wave:

  • Oval or round shaped watermelon
  • Kitchen and paring knives
  • Cutting board
  • Green dry-erase marker (preferably washable)
  • Large bowl and spoon
  • Brown sugar or raw sugar
  • Small dolls or beach themed toys
  1. Wash watermelon under cool running water and pat dry.
  2. On a cutting board, place watermelon on its side and cut off 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the stem end, being careful not to cut too deep into the white part of the rind. This will provide a sturdy base.
  3. Using the dry-erase marker, draw a wave from the top of the watermelon halfway down, similar to a backwards C. Repeat on the other side to form a wave.
  4. Use the knife to carefully cut away the parts of the watermelon that you will not be using. Use the spoon to hollow out the watermelon, reserving the inside watermelon to cut up and serve.
  5. Place the carving on a serving platter covered with brown sugar. Decorate with toys and shells and fill your carving with fruit. 

Helpful Carving Hints

  • Read through the directions before you start.
  • Have the watermelon at room temperature when you carve. That makes it easier to cut.
  • Drain cut watermelon and other fruit before placing it in the carving.
  • When removing excess flesh, try to leave it in big pieces. It’s easier for making melon balls or cubes.
  • Use a green dry erase marker, then wipe off excess marker after making cuts.

Watermelon Strawberry Shake and Frozen Smoothie Pops – Makes 4:

Watermelon Strawberry Shake

  • 1  container (8 ounces) lemon nonfat yogurt
  • 2  cups cubed, seeded watermelon
  • 1  pint fresh strawberries, cleaned and hulled
  • 1  medium banana, peeled and sliced

In blender or food processor, process yogurt, watermelon, strawberries and banana until smooth and frothy. Serve immediately.

Frozen Smoothie Pops

  • Strawberry Shake
  • Small paper cups
  • Popsicle sticks

Pour prepared Watermelon Strawberry Shake into small paper cups. Freeze, inserting popsicle sticks or plastic spoons when mixture is partially frozen. Or, pour Watermelon Strawberry Shake into ice cream machine. Set and enjoy.

Watermelon Pizza Supreme – Serves 6:

  • 1  slice watermelon (8 to 10 inches around and 1 inch thick), drained to remove excess moisture
  • 1  cup strawberry preserves
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2  cup raisins
  • 1/2  cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Place watermelon slice on a serving platter and cut into 6 wedges, leaving them in the shape of a pizza. Spread preserves over watermelon and sprinkle toppings over the top.

Ice Cream Cone Sundaes – Serves 8:

  • 8  ice cream cones of choice
  • 8  tablespoons pineapple cream cheese frosting (recipes available online)
  • 1/2  cup dried Craisins
  • 1/2  cup vanilla yogurt
  • 8   scoops seedless watermelon (use an ice cream scooper)

 Additional toppings of your choice: sprinkles, pineapple chunks, chocolate chips or coconut flakes

Pipe a tablespoon of the frosting into the bottom of each cone. Divide Craisins over frosting. Top Craisins with yogurt. Place an ice cream scoop of watermelon on top of each cone. Top with additional toppings as desired and serve.