Building better veggie meals

Youngsters make meatless dishes at Teen Thursday

Logan Matt, of Harvey, helps make a smoothie during the latest Teen Thursday, which was “Build a Better Veggie Meal.” The event took place at the Marquette Arts and Culture Center, located in the lower level of the Peter White Public Library. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

MARQUETTE — It’s possible to teach kids about vegetarian meals without being preachy, especially if they’re the ones blending strawberries and mango chunks, or slicing cucumbers.

A group of youngsters visited the Marquette Arts and Culture Center for the last “Teen Thursday” of the summer. The focus was “Build a Better Veggie Meal.”

Teen Thursdays are sponsored by the Peter White Public Library, which houses the MACC in its lower level.

Mary Schneeberger, PWPL teen services coordinator, set up all the food stations where the kids were to make quesadillas, wraps, smoothies and “cheese ball mice,” with almonds as ears and pretzels as tails.

Schneeberger didn’t go into a huge lecture on the pitfalls of the meat industry, but did have a suggestion for the kids’ diets considering they eat both meat and vegetables.

“It’s a good idea to take one meatless day,” Schneeberger said.

It helps if an educator can sell healthy vegetarian meals — which might have less appeal to a child than a hamburger and potato chips — in fun ways, like making cheese ball mice.

“Are you all hummus eaters?” Schneeberger asked the kids. If they weren’t, then they might as well be now.

Logan Matt, a fifth-grader from Harvey, was on hand last Thursday for the program in which young participants made vegetarian dishes from scratch.

Some of the youngsters used an immersion blender to grind the chick peas for the hummus, which also had cumin, garlic, olive oil, onion, lemon and organic tahini, which is ground toasted sesame seeds. Logan volunteered to squeeze lemons.

“I’ve loved lemons since I was in kindergarten,” he said.

The boy also ended up grating cheese and putting smoothie ingredients like blueberries and strawberries into a regular blender.

“Look at you go, Logan,” Schneeberger told him as he used the grater.

He was pleased with how his smoothie turned out, saying it was “really good” after putting in various fruits.

Althea Schalow, a Marquette sixth-grader, said: “I liked the veggie quesadillas because I just like the veggies and tomatoes in it, and it was just something different. It was very cheesy.”

The event wasn’t just about the taste, however.

“And I had fun making my smoothie too,” Althea said.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is