Do you want to make healthy Halloween snacks for your kids' class party?  Are you tired of all the unhealthy orange, purple and green cupcake frosting that your kids consume at their school Halloween party before going out and getting a sack full of candy?  Are you scared they’ll never speak to you again if you’re “that mom” who brings apples?  If you’ve got some artistic flair and a strong grip, you can make a fun, spooky, healthy Halloween snacks with just a watermelon, knife, and potato peeler.

Safety First:

  • A wet watermelon is slippery, which is not ideal when you're going at it with a sharp knife.  At any point if you wash the watermelon or notice it slipping, pat it dry with a paper towel. 
  • Consider wearing goggles.
  • Because you are going to be carving at odd angles, you really need to think before you make every cut.  Stop, check where your other thumb and fingers are, and make sure they are no where near the path where you're about to drag that blade. 

Step 1:  Decide on the size of the watermelon you need.  There are full sized ones if you’re having a large group or if it will be the only food being served for your party.  However, if there will be other treats there, a mini watermelon should be enough for a small classroom. 

How to Make Healthy Halloween Snacks for Kids: watermelon brainsCredit: Amberdawn 2011Step 2:  Peel that bad boy.  It took me about a half hour to get the tough green rind off of the entire mini watermelon.  Be prepared to work smaller than you’re used to with potatoes, carrots or apples because the rind is so much thicker than them.  Like you would do with wood, “work with the grain.”  If you see that the faint stripes on the watermelon are going vertically, peel vertically as well.  And if all else fails, guide the peeler with the thumb on your opposite hand so that you make small arches.  Watermelons can have an especially rough spot, and this is the best way to tackle it.

Step 3:  I promise it gets easier from this point on.

You might notice that the white rind you’ve exposed still has some greenish bits.  Go back and peel another thin later to clear off the green.  It does not need to be perfect (in fact, depending on the melon you chose, there might not be a layer of TRUE white). 

How to Make Healthy Halloween Snacks for KidsCredit: Amberdawn 2011Step 4:  Rinse off the melon if there are any green bits left on it.  Slice a thin section off of a side, which will become the “bottom.”  That is, you don’t want to slice off an end where the stem was.  You want the watermelon to appear to be “laying down” not “standing up.”  Slicing a base is going to give your watermelon a foundation so it doesn’t roll around while you work.  Also, once your “brain” is finished and you put it on display you don’t want it rolling then either.  Note that the photo to the left shows you the piece you should discard.

How to Make Healthy Halloween Snacks for Kids: watermelon brains(68291)Credit: Amberdawn 2011Step 5:  Create the “hemispheres” of the brain.  Run your knife down the center, along one of the stripes.  You want to cut just over 1/8 inch to start.  Then, you’re going to cut a line alongside it about 1/8 inch away, but you should angle your knife toward the first line.  If you angled the knife enough, you should be able to pull out that piece you cut.  However, if you didn’t, simply cut along one of those same lines going a little deeper. 

Step 6:  Evaluate your cut.  Can you see enough of the red flesh for your liking?  If so, make the rest of your cuts the way you made this one.  If not, go back over your cut either a little wider, a little deeper, or both. 

Step 7:  Take a look at a picture of a cartoon brain.  Notice how the rest of the lines are arranged into arches and branch out.  Also notice there is some symmetry, but it’s not a perfect mirror image.  Draw lines with a chopstick or similar implement as a “rough draft” before you make the rest of your cuts.

Step 8:  Start slicing.  Cut the lines out at the same depth and angle as in step 6.  As much as possible, use a "dragging" motion with the knife to create smooth lines.  Avoid "sawing" up and down as you cut, because this will create jagged lines and gouges in the red flesh.

How to Make Healthy Halloween Snacks for Kids: watermelon brains(68292)Credit: Amberdawn 2011Step 9:  If you like, go back over each line with the intent of “rounding” off the edges.  You don’t HAVE to do this step if you want a rough, almost “Jack o latern” sort of look for your brains.  But if you want a slightly more polished, “realistic” brain, rounding those edges will help. 

Step 10:  Step back and admire your healthy Halloween snacks for a moment before it’s devoured.  Then serve your culinary artwork with your best zombie impression.