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Saturday, September 28, 2019

My Guest Post Over at Change Your Finances And A FREE Webinar!



My friend, Charissa, graciously asked me to write a post over at her blog, Change Your Finances. I'd love it if you'd head on over there now and read my post, "12 Frugal Ways I Cut Costs to the Bone to Pay Off Our Mortgage in 5 Short Years That Anyone Can Do".

That's right! We put the pedal to the metal and fired every penny we could at that 15 year mortgage. We cut every nickels and dimes from every category in our budget.

(My posts contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or sign up through my link, I will receive a commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you.) 


How About A FREE Masterclass? 





Charissa wants so help you get unexpected expenses under control. So, she's having a FREE Master Class on Tuesday, October 1st. She'll share three secrets to ensuring that you can handle any unexpected expense. Sign up to attend through my special affiliate link for Under the Median readers. You can sign up by clicking here. Remember, there's absolutely no cost for the Master Class and you'll gain valuable insight in how to better prepare for a rainy day.

Need personalized help? Join Charissa's Inner Circle




Charissa will help you craft a personalized plan to help you attack and eliminate debt. Her Money Builders Inner Circle has openings and is accepting new members. The Inner Circle only opens to new members twice a year. So, now is the time to act! In fact, I sometimes show up for one of Charissa's weekly live mentoring classes and share tips, strategies, and encouragement. These are private classes reserved for Inner Circle members.

Remember, there's no better time than now to get a handle on your finances and master your debt! 


If you enjoyed this post, you may also like: 









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Do all to the glory of God, 

Hope

Monday, September 23, 2019

7 Tasty, Unique Ways to Prepare Summer Squash



The zucchini and yellow summer crops are still producing in abundance! If you garden, you may be overwhelmed with them. If you shop farmers markets, you'll find these seasonal delights to be very reasonably priced. Either way, now is the time to pack as much of that seasonal goodness into our tummies and freezers as we can!


The first thing that comes to my mind with zucchini is baking bread. Now, there's nothing as delicious or tempting as a fresh loaf of zucchini quick bread. But, you can do so much more with this amazing summer vegetable! So, today, I'm going to give you SEVEN ways to use it and avoid wasting a single morsel.

(Note: My blog posts contain affiliate links. When you make a purchase through one of my links, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you.) 


1. Middle Eastern Stuffed squash


The sauce thickens as it cooks. 


Generally made with koosa squash, this traditional Middle Eastern dish can also be prepared by stuffing small green or yellow summer squash. I made it with a mixture of yellow squash and koosa squash.

The recipe calls for raw rice. I used some leftover cooked rice and packed it really well in the squash shells. I had no problem at all with the rice mixture leaking into the tomato sauce mixture as it cooked. I also added some garam masala to the rice mixture. This traditional Middle Eastern spice mixture is one of my favorite. You'll find it cheapest at your favorite locally owned Middle Eastern store. Amazon also sells an inexpensive version. The spicy, flavorful tomato sauce paired well with the firmer texture of the rice filling.


Cooking in the pan, almost submerged in the tangy sauce.

You can see that the squash is lying down in the pan, while the recipe calls for cooking them more upright in the pan. Because I used leftover cooked rice, the mixture was very firmly in the cavities and I had no problem at all with the rice mixture falling out of the squash. This recipe got two thumbs up from my family!

2. Creamy Yellow Squash Soup




Remember, my goal to to not waste a morsel of the produce. So, I used the interior of the zucchini that I had scraped out for the stuffed squash, and made this creamy yellow squash soup. I did add about a half of a large yellow squash that I had in the fridge, since the texture of the interior of the squash is quite different than that of the fleshier outer inch of the vegetable. The finished soup was creamy smooth and quite delicious. I'm guessing that it would be good served cold, but I liked it hot. I added a few drops of hot sauce before serving. Franks is my favorite because it contains no food coloring and it's very reasonably priced.

Remember, we eat with our eyes. I love the way the red looks on top of the pale yellow soup. Leave the pretty red drops of hot sauce on the top, garnish with fresh dill or another herb before serving.

3. Zucchini chips




I generally make these with gluten free almond flour for the coating. If you are watching your fat intake, then you can substitute Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 GF flour for an alternative gluten free choice. If you dip the veggies slices first in aquafaba, then it creates a thicker batter coating. You can either slice the zucchini for chips or create pickle spear shaped wedges. My boys prefer the pickle shaped wedges to the thinner chips. I like them both.


4.  Zucchini "mac and cheese"




I created this recipe to showcase my friend, Faith's amazing homemade hummus. Her recipe is hands-down the best hummus I have ever tasted. I simply thinned it, added a few more ingredients and created a cheesy, yellow, vegan sauce to be served atop a bed of cooked spiralized or grated fresh zucchini. My boys beg me to make large batches of this recipe.


5.  Oven Roasted Vegetables




Tammy, over at Nutmeg Notebook is a genius when it comes to creating tasty, flavorful recipes which use no sugar, oil, or salt. This is one, great example. I roasted two large summer squash, a pound of Brussels sprouts, and nearly a head of organic cauliflower.

To keep it interesting, I flavored each vegetable with different spices.





  • THE SQUASH: I chose a basic no-salt seasoning for the squash. I like Kirkland brand no-salt seasoning. You can purchase it at COSTCO. If you don't have a membership, no worries. I order it from Amazon for a very reasonable price and free shipping. This seasoning mix contains a nice amount of fresh cracked black pepper, while you also taste notes of the citrus peel. If you use it, I would add it first, then taste test your dish to see if you even need to add any other spices. Often I find that this spice alone is sufficient. 
  • THE CAULIFLOWER: I used a liberal sprinkling of smoked paprika and a touch of cayenne pepper on the cauliflower. I thought it would mimic the flavors of buffalo wings. It did!
  • THE BRUSSELS SPROUTS: Garlic powder, onion flakes, and a liberal drizzle of California Balsamic's Sweet Heat blend anointed the top of the sprouts. I began roasting Brussels sprouts a few years ago with a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar mixed with them. Try it! You'll never go back to plain Brussels sprouts again! My sister recently brought me a bottle of Napa Valley Naturals Grand Reserve balsamic. It is aged in oak barrels and is so thick that it pours like a syrup. Amazingly sweet and flavorful, you could even use it to top strawberries! 


On a side note, I found the cauliflower marked down to just $1.00 at my favorite ethnic market. To read all about why I recommend shopping at ethnic markets when you are trying to lower your food bills, read, "6 Reasons You Should Be Shopping at Ethnic Stores."


6.  Zucchini Casserole





Credit where credit is due. My 15 year old sous chef son designed and wrote this recipe last year when we had a glut of zucchini on the counter. It's very tasty and easy to make.  Lasagna-like layers are sandwiched between a rich tomato sauce and topped with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast.

7.  Freeze it!




Flash freezing works best for zucchini slices. If they are unusually large circles, I cut them in half before freezing. I give you step-by-step instructions for flash freezing in "Putting Food By For Winter: Freezing".  You can also spiralize or shred it and freeze it in smaller freezer bags for later use.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like: 



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Do all to the glory of God, 

Hope

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

8 Reasons You Should Buy A Small Home




My husband and I bought our first home in 1992. It had taken us four years to find a suitable house. We began the process by finding out how much the bank would loan us. We looked at this number in astonishment. We - SERIOUSLY - would never loan us that amount of money. If we had followed conventional wisdom and purchased the largest home we could for the maximum allowable amount of money, the results would have been astronomical!

We would have been "house poor". Our house payment would have been such a high percentage of our take home pay, buying things like groceries and toilet paper would have been challenging.

Instead, we mentally and emotionally cut the amount the bank would loan us by 35%. Then reality set in. Our income was so low and our price range so meager that I cried the first time I looked at the numbers on paper. Seriously!

Four years later, after saving a 20% downpayment, we finally scored a 1930, two-bedroom bungalow. We were deliriously happy. It had been built by a local contractor for his daughter and son-in-law as a wedding gift. We were the second owners and the house was in original condition.

P-O-T-E-N-T-I-A-L!


Although the house had "good bones", every single room needed an overhaul.  Yet, all my husband and I could see was "POTENTIAL" spelled out in great, big, giant letters across the vistas of our minds.

We set to work to remodel one room at a time as we saved up enough to pay cash for each project. Simultaneously, we paid every additional penny we could find toward the principle of the loan in order to annihilate that mortgage as quickly as humanly possible.

Ultimately, we paid off the mortgage five years later. That's when I proposed a great big, nearly impossible goal - to pay cash for our larger, "forever home".

We were able to leverage the fact that we were completely debt free, stayed in that tiny home, filled it with four sons, saved the equivalent of our monthly mortgage payments, and 12 years later, purchased our current home with cash.

Our average yearly income during those dozen years? $35,000!


I will never regret using the "two-step plan" for buying our dream home. 


  • Yes, it took us nearly 20 years to move up in size and location. 
  • Yes, it was hard. 
  • Yes, we had to live in a small space.
  • Yes, it was nearly impossible to not compare our lives to that of our friends.
  • But, YES, it was worth it! 

Here are 8 Reasons you should consider a starter home.


1. Smaller downpayment

Conventional wisdom, handed down from our grandparents, tells us that a minimum of 20% downpayment is the most prudent way to purchase a home. Even in this day and age, that's sound advice. For an added advantage, we decided to shoot for a 15 year mortgage.

When we began house hunting, we discovered that the price difference between a two bedroom and a three bedroom home was upwards of $25,000 - and that was 25 years ago! It's even more than that now!

2. Smaller mortgage

It clearly follows that if you buy a less expensive home, your mortgage payments will follow suit and be smaller. In fact, often a smaller mortgage means that you can afford to choose a 15 year mortgage instead of a longer, 30 year term. Living in less space often means owning that space a whole lot quicker!

3. Less expensive to heat, cool, and maintain

When it comes to heating and cooling bills, it makes sense that you can maintain a comfortable temperature inside your home for less money. In fact, even if you are cooling your home in the spring and fall using whole house fans, ceiling fans, or window fans, you can achieve comfort in less time when your home is smaller.

We replaced the roof on our first home - twice! After owning it just a couple of months it became clear that a new roof was in order. We bought 20 year shingles and thought we were done. Nope! The shingles suffered from a defect. Eight years later, they were cracking, peeling, and literally disintegrating. We did receive a prorated settlement from the manufacturer. But, the balance to, once again, replace the roof was several thousand dollars. The only comfort we received in the entire process was that if our roof's square footage had been larger, it would have cost us significantly more money.

New home owners don't often think of the cost savings they will achieve in terms of maintenance. Yes, a washer or dryer costs the same no matter what your home's square footage. However, when it comes to big ticket items like furnaces, air conditioners, roofs, and siding, smaller homes win the money race hands down!

4. Lower taxes

Our first lot measured 62 feet by 62 feet. That's it! the house took up much of the space. We had a small front yard and about four feet of back yard. The "up" side was that our yearly tax bill never exceeded $1500 for the nearly two decades that we owned the house. When we moved, our taxes more than doubled.

5. Easier to pay off early

Paying off the mortgage early is like giving yourself a big, fat raise!  In our case, we paid 20% down and chose a 15 year mortgage. Then, I set to work saving every penny I could get my hands on! By prepaying the principle, we were able to eliminate the entire mortgage in just five years. If your money is tight, don't despair!

By paying just one additional payment per year, you can pay off your mortgage several years early, saving thousands of dollars in interest. If you choose to do this, be sure to send in a separate check, marked principle only and then double check as soon at the check clears to be certain that they did not apply the money toward interest or future payments.

Here's where you just can't beat a smaller home. When your payments are already manageable, it's easier to add a little extra every month and get that debt eliminated. I will admit that we were a little haphazard and unorthodox in or prepayment schedule. Basically, whenever I had scrimped, saved, and squirreled away a few, extra thousand dollars, we sent in a check marked "principle only." It worked, but it would probably have been a smoother process if I had been more deliberate in tracking our progress and done it on a regular schedule.

6. If your fortunes reverse, it's easier to keep your home

My husband was laid off several years after we bought our home. We sort of knew that the handwriting was on the wall, so to speak. So, it didn't come as a complete surprise. When his boss called him into the office one of the first things he asked my husband was, "Will you be okay, financially?" Larry replied, "Yes, sir. Our home is completely paid for and we have a very adequate emergency fund."

Even if we had not been debt free, because of how small our mortgage was, our emergency fund would have carried us (mortgage and all) for several months. When you choose to live beneath your means, when disaster strikes, you can more easily come up with solutions for bridging financial gaps.


7. As your needs change, you can often redefine spaces




Bedroom space often becomes a problem for small home owners as their family expands. When looking at a smaller space, you can often create a third bedroom by finishing an attic, insulating a porch, or converting a family room.

We had four sons in a two bedroom home. So, we needed to come up with creative ideas and solutions for sleeping accommodations. Our first home had a walk up attic, which could have been finished into another bedroom. It would have taken several thousand dollars to raise the roof a couple of feet and add dormers, but it certainly could have been done. We chose not to do it. When we simply could not fit a fourth bed into the boys' 11 X 11 foot bedroom, our oldest sons headed to the basement and we gave up our family room, making it into a third bedroom.




8.  Paying for your next home is SO much easier when you have your first home paid for!

After you've paid off a home, honestly, you don't want to do anything but heave great sighs of relief and then spend the next several months sitting on your front porch and glorying in the fact that you really own it. For months, it seemed surreal to not owe anyone a single dime. 

However, being the crazy financial guru that I am, and being pregnant and adding three more sons to our tiny home after eliminating that mortgage, I began to dream of having more space. That's when I came up with my great big, nearly impossible goal to pay cash for our second home. 

It took us twelve years and a whole lot of sacrifice to save the difference between the sale price of our first home and the purchasing price of our second home. I will never forget the feeling of handing over that check, walking out of that house closing, and knowing that we would never have to make a single payment on our home - ever! 


If you enjoyed this post, you may also like: 

Gazelle Intensity: Saving for Home #2
Cash is King: Buy House #2
Paying for Our Home with Nickels and Dimes
Four Ways to Slash Your Budget
Ten More Ways to Slash Your Budget

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Do all to the glory of God, 

Hope

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

How to Pick the Perfect Melon



Have you ever bought a melon in January only to find that your expectations of savoring this delicious summer pleasure are instantly blunted by a perfect exterior, but a really tasteless interior? There is nothing better than a fresh-from-the-field melon. But, why is there such a difference? 

While at the farmers' market, I chatted with a local man, who clearly knew his melons! He gave me several tips on how you can spot a melon, which is ripened to perfection. 

1.  Look for the yellow spot on the bottom. 




This is called the field spot and it should look "creamy", like butter, not bright white. It's a sign that it is field ripened, rather than picked too early or shipped in from a long distance and not allowed to ripen fully.

2. Even, dull coloration. 


Unlike your new car, you don't want a shiny melon. It's a sign that it's underripe. A melon that is slightly dull should be perfection. Additionally, the skin should not contain any splotches of unusual color or areas of discoloration or pitting.

3.  It sounds "hollow" when you thump it. 






A soft "plink" when you strike it with your index finger is a sign that it has not been allowed to become overly ripe. When the interior is too ripe, the flesh becomes more compact, resulting in a "dull thud" when strummed with your forefinger.


4. Sugar spots

A farmer friend told me to look for these years ago. They appear as black lines on the bottom of melons and are a sign that the plant was pollinated properly by lots of happy bees. A melon with black lines or even lines which appear to be weeping, are the sweetest specimens. 


5. Should feel heavy. 


The biggest is not always the best. Look for a symmetrical melon. Misshapen melons haven't ripened evenly. Also, pithy produce loses its firmness. As the melon begins to rot, it will lose weight, and feel lighter than others of comparable size.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like: 









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Do all to the glory of God, 

Hope


Saturday, September 7, 2019

How to Recognize and Reduce Surcharges and Convenience Fees



This is hard to admit, but I actually made the EXACT mistake that I tell you to avoid. For years now, I have been paying extra for our life insurance and I didn't even realize that I was doing it!  

How did I get charged this fee and not know it? 


Long story short, I recently had to deal with a couple of questions on our life insurance, which we pay quarterly. A few years ago, my husband, Larry, had called to ask if  we could be moved to a yearly payment. The representative he talked to gave him misinformation. They told him that it must be paid quarterly and that there was no discount for paying it once a year. 

However, when I called this week the lady on the other end of the phone asked, "Is there anything else I can help you with, today?" I answered, "Well, I'd love to pay these policies yearly, but I understand that that is not possible." She was stunned! "Yes, it is!" She immediately offered to change the two policies to yearly and I am now saving $60 a year! 

This whole experience made me ponder convenience fees and surcharges. Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, they are very different. I had to do a bit of digging and more than a little research to get them straight in my head. But, I'm happy to pass on my findings to you, along with some tips for avoiding paying more than you need to for your bills, be they monthly or sporadic.

What are Convenience Fees? 

A convenience fee is a surcharge that a business or credit card tacks on to your existing payment. It is used when your method of payment or frequency of payment is not one which is generally used or preferred by that institution. It is also added when you are not present at the time of the transaction, buying over the phone or on the internet.

For example, if you pay your utility bill on-line with a check or credit card, then you will undoubtedly pay a convenience fee. Most people either mail in their payment or have it automatically deducted from their checking account each month. Unless customers are in a time crunch to get the bill paid on time, they don't conduct this transaction over the phone or on-line. Additionally, credit card companies generally charge merchants a fee each time they process a payment.Therefore, the utility company justifies imposing a convenience fee on the user.

What is a surcharge? 

According to Investopedia.com, a surcharge is, "an extra fee, charge, or tax that is added on to the cost of a good or service, beyond the initially quoted price. Often a surcharge is added to an existing tax and is not included in the stated price of the good or service."

These fees can masquerade under a number of different names, depending on the service or item you are purchasing.

Here are some examples: 


  • Ticketmaster is notorious for their fees, often adding $10 to $20 to the price of your ticket purchase!  In addition to the standard "convenience fee" notation, you may see thing like, "facility charge" and "shipping or mailing charge" 
  • If you pay your auto, home, or life insurance more than once a year, you will be adding an "office" or "administration fee" to an already large bill! 
  • Many businesses are beginning to add convenience fees if you ask for paper billing. Our internet company charges you an additional $5 for paper billing and $5.00 for not electing to auto-pay. 
  • Hotels are known to tack a huge variety of convenience fees onto your bill, ranging from line items like: an internet surcharge, extra towels, parking fees, groundskeeping fees, resort fees, and even telephone charges for local calls. 
  • Airlines and airports may charge a "processing fee", "baggage fee" or "parking fee". 
  • Go to an ATM machine not associated directly with your local banking institution and you will pay one or more "transaction" fees. 
  • On-line merchants can legally add "shipping and handling" or "service fees"to your bill.

These charges can vary wildly. Some are a flat fee, while others use a mathematical formula, representing a percentage of your total bill. Sadly, most of the time customers do not carefully examine each line of their bills to check for fees. We assume that we should look at the "amount due" column and simply pay that amount.
You should not! Here's why!

Tips for avoiding or lowering surcharge and convenience fees

1. Change the frequency. 


For items like life, auto, and homeowners insurance, paying yearly will often net you a rebate or rate reduction. Read the fine print. You may need to pay the total on the "amount due" line and then the company will send you a check once your payment clears the bank or they may just allow you to take the appropriate amount off of the total before sending in your payment. If you have any questions, it is best to call for clarification before sending in your payment. 

If you must wait for your rebate, be sure to keep the bill and all appropriate paperwork until you receive their check and it is cashed. Sometimes with large companies, "the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing." So, if you call customer service asking about your rebate check, you may get silence or confusion on the other end of the line. If you have all the paperwork handy, you can offer to scan and e-mail it to them or read it directly from the company correspondence. While you are on the phone, do be sure to jot down the operator's name, the date, and any notes which you take during the phone call. 

We just took advantage of an offer just like this last month! We received our annual home and auto insurance bills in the mail and noticed that was an insert announcing a new company policy. If you paid the entire amount, the company would reduce your bill by 5%. Since we were already paying just once a year, we were delighted. We promptly paid and the kept the bill until we received the 5% rebate from the company in the mail. 

2. Ask for the fees to be waived. 

It never hurts to ask. We did and it paid off! When our internet provider explained that they add on an additional $5 monthly charge for sending a paper bill and another $5 if you don't opt for auto bill pay, we very nearly said, "no" to the salesman. Since the total bill is only $50 per month, those charges would have been a 20% surcharge! Recognizing that we were not going to pay $10 extra per month on a $50 bill, he had the charges waived. Yes, we got his offer in writing.

3. Make sure you are asking the correct person. 


When you ask, if the answer they get makes no sense to you, don't be afraid to ask to talk to a supervisor. The answer didn't make any sense to me when Larry got that answer years ago and I didn't follow up on it by making another call myself. That was a mistake that cost me hundreds of dollars over the past few years!

4. Examine your bills closely!

Keep last month's bill to compare it to the one you just received in the mail. Go over it line-by-line so you can easily see if any new fees have been added. Call the company and ask if this is a convenience fee or a surcharge and how long you can expect to see it added to your bill. Some government regulatory agencies like water and sewer companies, will add fees for a short period of time to cover the costs of infrastructure upkeep. It helps to know how long the additional charge will last.

I once found an additional charge on my utility bill. I immediately called and asked about it. Although it turned out that this legitimate charge was a result of a misunderstanding on my part, the company gladly removed the charge from all future bills. 

5. If possible, go in person. 

In the case of tickets, if you are from out of town, but attending with a friend who lives near the concert venue, ask them if they could trek down to the box office or hotel during business hours and purchase the tickets in person. 

With a hotel, if your local contact can go directly to your choice of hotel, you may be able to avoid paying third party fees from places like Hotels.com or Travelocity.com. But, be sure that you double check to be certain you are getting the best deal! Sometimes, even with the third-party convenience fees, going through an alternate provider is cheaper, because they deal in volume and are passing their discount on to you.

Don't forget to check local travel agencies too. It's their business to find you rockin' deals on your next vacation! They often have access to insider information on swanky hotels who really need guests, destination specials, and flights with ultra cheap seats. 

6. Keep a log of all phone calls and e-mails. 


Before you put your money on the line, compare prices! 
  • Talk directly to the merchant in question if you can. 
  • Get the name of the person to whom you are speaking. 
  • Note the date and time that you called. 
  • For hotels and airlines, compare the price of checking in or traveling on a Thursday or Sunday as compared to a Friday or Saturday. Weekends are premium times and more costly than weekdays. 
  • Ask them to e-mail you that amazing quote so you have a written record of the officially offered final price. 

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like: 









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Get my FREE 16-page e-book, filled with 21 tips and strategies for lowering your utility bills! Just enter your e-mail address in the "follow by e-mail" link found on the right side of the blog just under my profile. 



Do all to the glory of God, 

Hope

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

EATING THE RAINBOW Is Inexpensive and Healthy!




"Eating healthy is impossible on a tight budget!" 


I've heard people repeat this statement as "fact" time and time again. Happily, it is far from the truth. Not only can you serve your family nutritious, nutrient-packed whole foods, you can do it on a very lean budget. 

Shopping and eating from the produce section is never easier than in the summer months when you can visit local farmers markets, cultivate a back yard garden, or glean excess fruits and veggies offered by your green thumb friends and neighbors. 




To help you along your journey, I've created a number of $50 weekly menu plans. These menu plans include dishes that I actually prepare for my family. Each menu plan includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks - all for $50 for 7 days! 



When cooking for my family, I deliberately create a colorful tableau, which includes a wide variety of hues. 


Why is color important when it comes to food?




The Creator designed each edible plant to contain a whole host of vitamins and minerals, insuring that your body receives essential nutrients to help you stay healthy. When you look at your plate, you should see a variety of shapes, colors, and textures. The deep color of fruits and vegetables is a telltale sign that they are powerful at fighting disease and maintaining health. As an added bonus, children will delightedly wolf down food that is displayed on their plate in a fun, attractive, unique, and playful manner. It is absolutely true that we "eat with our eyes".  

Each of the graphics below was created using a backdrop of actual fruits and vegetables from my home. I didn't go out and purchase any additional produce. This is food that I keep in my home and feed to my family. In fact, nearly all of the food was from my weekly CSA box, which is a bushel basket of locally grown, organic produce valued at $25.

Remember, my monthly grocery budget is just $400 for a family of 5 (6 when our oldest is home from college.) So, when I tell you that healthy eating is inexpensive, I live that truth out every single week!

WHITE 





It's hard to boil down all the amazing benefits of the various colors of food into a few words. Often, their properties help you body fight disease on several different levels. Such is the case with white vegetables, especially garlic and onion.

I've researched the health benefits of garlic in the past and, seriously, it seems there is not much that it is not helpful in treating. Not only does it help lower your blood pressure and protect against cancer, it is also antimicrobial. This means that it is effective in fighting bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.

The primary constituent of green tea, considered a "white" item for the purposes of this post, is polyphenols. These have been shown to protect against a large number of cancers. Additionally, green tea's antioxidant power weighs in at a full two hundred times more potent than vitamin E and five hundred times than vitamin C.

To take advantage of the medicinal qualities of green tea, consume three cups daily. You can even use matcha green tea and coconut milk to create a healthy, dairy-free, ice cream!

ORANGE




Perhaps your grandmother told you to eat your carrots, because they were good for your eyesight. Turns out, that age-old wisdom was correct. The orange color comes from specialized beta carotenes are called provitamin A carotenoids. As a rule of thumb, the deeper orange the color, the more of this amazing component that produce contains. Beta-carotene is processed by your body, becoming vitamin A, which is a crucial component of good vision.


Providentially, beta carotene is also super at fighting a number of other diseases, like cancer and heart disease. So, follow the advice of your elders and eat a carrot every day.

RED




Lycopene has become a buzz word in recent years, often synonymous with "good health". Until "experts" began to tout the value of lycopene, no one really knew or cared what gave tomatoes their luscious red color. Protection against cancer, particularly prostrate cancer, and heart disease is their main function.

If the acids in red tomatoes upset your stomach, try the milder yellow or even green version. These tomatoes still give a healthy dose of nutrients and, yet, are much lower in acid.

GREEN





Green is the color of spring. It, literally, shouts "Health!" There's a reason the bunnies munch on your tender, green, garden sprouts. They taste amazing and they are sooooo good for your digestion. The fiber allows food to move through your body, keeping your colon clean and protecting against cancer.

Chlorophyll is responsible for the green hues of fruits and vegetables. A plant uses chlorophyll in photosynthesis, producing food for itself and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. In humans, chlorophyll helps detoxify the blood, boost immunity, heal wounds, and prevent cancer.

PURPLE





Eat your berries to get a healthy dose of anthocyanidin! If you've never heard of it, don't feel badly. I hadn't either. It's a flavonoid found in berries. Thankfully, I don't have to be able to pronounce the name to understand the benefits. It's antioxidant properties rival that of two well- known vitamins. It is fifty times more powerful than vitamin C and twenty times more powerful than vitamin E!

Here's another new word for you: proanthocyanidin.  This powerful antioxidant is present in the skin and seeds of deep purple plants, like grapes, bilberries, and cranberries. It helps repair skin damage, giving you a more youthful appearance.

The final antioxidant, in the "purple family", resveratrol, is also one which has been popularized by modern science. The fact that it is present in extremely high concentrations in red grape skins and seeds, gives many license for their one, daily glass of red wine.

YELLOW





When you Google "free radicals", you get a very specific, scientific explanation of this biological phenomenon. Basically, protons and electrons like to travel around in pairs. When something unexpected happens, you lose an electron and wind up with unstable atoms. To replace that missing half, these atoms move around your body, stealing electrons from other sources, causing damage at the cellular level. Effects are wide ranging, contributing to everything from wrinkles to diabetes to heart disease. Needless to say, we want to do everything possible to keep free radicals at bay. 

One way to do this is to consume citrus fruit, which contain an almost magical ingredient: citrus bioflavanoids. This special antioxidant is like a universal blood donor. They can give up an electron, without sustaining any damage and becoming free radicals, themselves. 


Why not just take a supplement? 


Proper nutrition cannot be boiled down to a formula, like: "Eat 5 red, 3 purple, 1 white, and 3 green fruits and vegetables per day."  There are 20,000 varieties of edible plants in the world. That's just too many to come up with a single, pat answer for health. 

I have a serious concern when scientists begin pulling the components of produce out of their natural state and marketing them as a single ingredient supplement. When God created living plants, He made them synergistic. They are meant to function as whole, complete package. This leads me to believe that you cannot possibly swallow a pill and get the same life-giving qualities as simply eating an apple a day. 




FREE DOWNLOADABLE E-BOOK!


Just to thank you for being an Under the Median reader, I created a FREE, downloadable 10 page e-book, filled with all the information from this post. I've provided all my graphics and lines for you to write in your own research or a list of your favorite varieties from each color. 

You can get it absolutely free of charge by clicking on this link. All I ask is that rather than share the link directly with your friends, you send them back to this post to get their download. That way, they can see all the wonderful information, insights, tips, and encouragement that I offer each week on Under the Median. Thanks! 

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Do all to the glory of God, 

Hope