Shrubs – a great “waist” reducer


March’s “Food in Jars” Mastery challenge was either jellies or shrubs.  Now, if you’re like me, you probably thought “I know what a jelly is, but why would I want to eat a low-lying bush”.  I quickly discovered through some research that a “shrub” is another word for a drinking vinegar.  I was intrigued and decided to explore shrubs a bit more.

March was a particularly busy month for me with a 2-year project at work finishing up, followed by a family trip to Disney, and then two weeks of teaching out of town.  I was glad to see that shrubs are quick to make, and even better, they can be made to use up fruits that are going soft.

Organic strawberries were on sale this past month so I decided to make a strawberry balsamic shrub  (recipe in the link).  I was worried that the balsamic vinegar would overwhelm the strawberries, and was pleased to find that over time, the smell changed from vinegar, to vinegar smelling strawberries.  I mixed the finished product with mineral water and found it to be a refreshing drink that wasn’t sweet!  Bonus!

Today in the kitchen while I was drinking my shrub and puttering around, I decided to make another shrub.  I dug around in the fridge and found  a carton of strawberries, 2 kiwis and some mint that were starting to go soft.  I chopped them all up, mixed in some Bragg’s apple cider vinegar (the best brand to go with), added coconut sugar and left it lightly covered on the counter.  Fingers crossed that it turns out.  I realized after that I wasn’t supposed to add the vinegar right away, so only time will tell if it still works out.

As I was putting today’s shrub together, I started thinking about all the health benefits of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and decided to share this information with you.  There are tons of websites promising all kinds of health benefits to ACV, and it turns out that they’re not all wrong.  Looking into my main resource, based on Eastern medicine, (“Healing with Whole Foods”), I discovered the following:

  • vinegar helps release toxins accumulated from a rich diet
  • vinegar can be helpful in reducing weight, edema and excess mucous
  • vinegar can help improve mood
  • the best types of vinegars to use are organic and naturally brewed, unfiltered and unpateurized – apple cider, brown rice wine, white wine and umeboshi.

Here are some  Western medicine based web resources:

Video highlighting the benefits of apple cider vinegar

Healthy benefits of Vinegar

Reader’s Digest – 13 health benefits of ACV

Convinced?  Want to try to make your own?  Here are some resources to check out:


History of drinking vinegars

Food in Jars mastery round up – jellies and shrubs (with recipe links)

Drop me a line if you make a shrub and let me know how it went!


Cashew Cheese -Part 2 (quick and easy)

If you looked wistfully at my first post and thought “That looks interesting Leta, but I don’t have a milk bag, and I want my cheese now!”, then this follow-up post is for you!

There’s a quick and easy way to make a soft, cream cheese-like cashew “cheese” that is great for spreading on cucumber slices, celery, crackers, bagels etc.


My recipe is a modification of Meghan Telpner’s Ginger Cashew Cheese recipe found in her book, The Undiet Cookbook.  I have a love for all things lemon and dill, so I reduced the ginger, and added lemon zest and dill.

Lemon Garlic Cashew Cheese

From: Leta’s Creative Kitchen (For a printable PDF version: lemon-garlic-cashew-cheese)


  • 1 cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked and rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ tsp dried dill
  • Juice from ½ to 1 lemon
  • Grated lemon peel from ½ an organic lemon
  • ½ piece of fresh or frozen ginger, grated (I leave the peel on)
  • sea salt to taste

Tools needed:

  • high speed blender or food processor with small cup (like a Ninja)
  • Food rasp or small zester for ginger and lemon peel


  1. Drain and rinse the cashews
  2. Place all the ingredients into your food blender and mix until smooth
  3. Enjoy!


  • Start with ½ the lemon juice the first time you make this so that you can adjust your consistency.  It won’t be runny with the full amount of juice, but the texture is smoother and may be too smooth for some.
  • Be careful when blending to not overhead the mix.  Stop frequently to push the contents back down towards the blade.  You can do this with a full-size blender jar, but I find it’s hard to get it smooth with the small amount of the recipe.
  • You can try this with almonds and raw pumpkin seeds as well, but the end result won’t be quite as creamy


I’m so Excited!

When I first started changing up the way I looked at food, I would never have imagined how these little changes would spark such a passion for learning more about making my own healthy food at home.  After all, I have been mostly gluten and dairy free for over 5 years, what else could I change?

I’ll write my story about how I got here on another page, and won’t bore you with the details here.  What I will tell you is that over the past year or so I have learned so much about what fats to cook with, how to cook plant based meals that even my husband enjoys, and how to play with preserving food through canning, smoking, salting and dehydrating.

This past Christmas I shared many of my new creations with family and friends and their feedback was amazing.  They have been bugging my for recipes and asking me to share what I’ve learned so that they can do the same for their own families.  So here I am!

My plan over the next few months to a year is to post twice a month.  One of the posts will share information and/or a technique that I have already learned during my journey over the last year or two.  The second post will be related to an online challenge that I have joined at Food In Jars.  Each month, Marisa has given members a different preserving challenge to explore.  I’ll share what I’m making, and hopefully will have a recipe to go with the preserved food.  I’m trying to have fun with this challenge and Marisa and the members are coming up with some very interesting projects.  I have already completed January’s Mastery Challenge, marmalade, and February’s challenge is in the works.

So, welcome and come join in the fun!  Pop on over to Food In Jars, and check out their Facebook group Food In Jars Community.  You’ll see me there posting from time to time and I’d love to see what you’re doing too!

Alimentally yours,