Enjoying our Meat-Free Month Challenge with a bowl of Winter Vegetable Soup

For the month of January hubby and I have gone meat-free. I haven’t talked about it yet, I think part of me didn’t want to talk about it because I was worried that if I talked about it too much I might build it up and then not have the follow through that I needed. I already knew that I had two meat posts that were scheduled for this month so I wondered if it wouldn’t make sense to say I am going meat-free this month. But those meat dishes were cooked and eaten before this month so I guess I can let it slide.

Why meat free?

Well there are two parts to that answer. Hubby and I put on some weight last year and we have been wanting to eat healthier. It isn’t that I feel meat is unhealthy although too much of it is. But I have found that giving myself a challenge like this has forced me to get creative with our meals. And having to pay more attention with coming up with this many meals that are meat-free has helped me focus on keeping it healthier.

The second part is to do with Small Wallet, Big Appetite. You see I talk a lot about cutting down your food budget but I feel like I don’t do enough to show examples of how to do that. One thing that helps immensely is to not include meat for every meal. Normally we try to keep our meat dishes to only 3 times a week. Making this change a few years ago made a huge impact to our food budget. But I noticed as I started working on a better recipe archive, my current one is terrible I know, I noticed how few meat free dishes I really had. I feel that in order to encourage you to cut down on your meat dishes that I needed to do a better job of actually giving you recipes in order to do so.

I have to say I am really glad I took on this challenge because, while it has been harder than I thought it would be, it has brought back my creativity. And we are feeling a lot healthier, especially after all the heavy meals we are during the Holidays. Giving up meat won’t be a permanent change for us but it is inspiring us to go meat-free during the week more often. At the end of the month I will talk more about the financial aspect of the challenge.

This soup is perfect for this cold weather, filling, yet not too heavy and very healthy. Perfect for a cold winter day.

Winter Vegetable Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large leek, rinsed and sliced
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large swede (rutabaga), peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
900ml (12fl oz) vegetable stock
4-5 tablespoons milk
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried parsley
Salt, black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to taste

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Mashed Rutabaga (Mashed Swede)

Have you ever walked into a grocery store and seen something that you had no clue what it was, let alone what you are meant to do with it? The average person doesn’t have the time or money to waste buy something that they are unfamiliar with. But I want to share with you the amazing flavors of some of these things because I believe they can and should be more familiar in our kitchens.

The first food item I would like to share with you is the Rutabaga, also known as Swede. This wonderful root vegetable is often neglected and is so filled with wonderful nutritional value and a sweet, delicious taste that I think people are missing out on. They are a very good source of vitamin C, have no cholesterol, very little calories and have less starch and carbohydrates then white potatoes. They can be steamed, boiled and mashed, sauteed, baked or roasted.

One of my husband’s favorite ways to eat Rutabagas/Swede is mashed. So tonight I decided to prepare a spin on an English classic, Bangers and Mash. (Sausages and Mashed Potatoes)

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