Category Archives: Understanding Food

What Is Veggie Chow-Chow?

veggie chow-chow at laughing planet

When I say, “veggie chow-chow,” what comes to mind? No, it’s not a vegetarian dog. It’s actually a type of relish made from picked veggies. If you’ve lived in the South or the Appalachians, you probably have at least a passing familiarity with the stuff. If you’re a lifelong west-coaster, then you may not have heard of it.

It’s not quite clear how chow-chow got its name. Some claim that it’s because of the Chayote, an edible gourd native to Mexico. Others say the name came from Chinese rail workers in the old west, who imported pickles and spices from home. Still others insist that the name comes from the French word for cabbage, chou, or that the name originally hails from India.

While we might not be clear on the obscure historical machinery behind its nomenclature, we are quite certain that it is tasty. We have tested this theory again and again, always with the same results. It’s good. Really good.

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Profile on Agua Fresca

agua fresca laughing planet

Agua Fresca: the very name sounds like the epitome of refreshment. Aguas frescas (or “fresh waters” in Spanish) are delicious and thirst-quenching drinks made from fruits, seeds, flowers, nuts, and cereal grains.

The most popular variety of agua fresca is probably horchata, a creamy, sweet beverage served throughout Latin America, Spain, and the US. There are several types of horchata, but most recipes call for cinnamon and sugar. Horchata can be made from almonds, sesame seeds, rice, barley or tigernuts.

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What Is Quinoa?

profile on quinoa

If you keep up on the latest superfoods, then you’ve undoubtedly heard of quinoa. Pronounced “keen-wah,” this nutrient-rich staple has been popular among healthy eaters for years, but these days it’s becoming more and more mainstream. Chances are good that a coffeehouse near you is serving up quinoa bagels as we speak, and it’s also been showing up in cereals, chips, pastas, and even chocolate bars and whiskey. So, what is this nutritional powerhouse, and why all the fuss?

It’s a Grain. It’s a Vegetable. It’s Quinoa!

Quinoa is often used as a substitute for grains such as rice and barley, but it’s actually more closely related to spinach and tumbleweeds than any of the cereals it typically stands in for.

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All About Summer Squash

summer squash

We love summertime. Everyone’s out enjoying the sunshine, the parks are filled with laughing children, and even strangers on the street seem happy to see you. And of course, it’s peak season for one of our favorite foods: summer squash. The summer squash family includes Yellow Crookneck Squash, Pattypan Squash, Zuchetta, Yellow Summer Squash, and Zucchini.

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All About Kombucha

kombucha profile

Kombucha has a long and storied history in China, where it has been enjoyed for more than 2,000 years. From there, it was spread throughout India and Russia by traveling traders. It has been called the Tea of Immortality, and was a favorite beverage of Japanese nobility and samurai.

Recently, here in the US, drinking kombucha has started crossing over into the mainstream. These days, in urban cities you can find a bottle of the stuff just about anywhere, from your local health food store to big chain supermarkets.

So what is kombucha, exactly? Why has it been attracting so many recent devotees? And, is there anything to the health claims made by proponents?

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