Easter is upon us, and no flower is more associated with the celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection than the lily. Traditional lore says white lilies emerged where drops of Christ’s sweat fell to the earth in his final hours on the cross. The ancient Greeks believed lilies came from the breast milk of Hera, the queen of the gods. In Roman mythology, Venus, the goddess of beauty, was jealous of the flower’s white loveliness. A European legend says if you approach an expectant mother holding a lily….
Is squash a vegetable or a fruit? You would probably call a zucchini squash a vegetable, but you would most likely call a pumpkin a fruit. The definitive answer, from a botanical view, is squash are fruits because they contain the seeds of the plant. Squash are some of the oldest cultivated crops on earth, believed to have originated in Mexico and Central America more than 10,000 years ago. The word squash comes from the Narragansett Native American word askutasquash, which means…..
One of the best-
My mother loved decorating for the holidays. From the tree in the den to the lights around all the windows and a big Santa decal on the front door, she was all in. She would also hang a sprig of (fake) mistletoe, complete with sharp-
A new year is the perfect time to try new things. Recently a friend who is into essential oils and aromatherapy told me about ylang ylang. She touted its many benefits – they range from head to toe – and offered to get some for me, but I wanted to do some research on the substance first before committing myself. Ylang ylang is becoming very popular in a wide variety of cosmetic products these days, so perhaps you’d like to learn more about it, too.
Continuing our 2018 theme of seeking out new and unusual produce and other types of foods to try, we present to you lulo. Also known as naranjilla, this exotic tropical fruit is a member of the tomato family. It is native to northwestern South America and is found primarily in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Panama. The lulo plant is a spreading herbaceous shrub with thick stems. Some of its leaves have spines, but others are spineless.
When something (or someone) is bland and unexciting, we usually say they are like vanilla. Simple, colorless, ordinary, easily overlooked – that describes vanilla accurately, right? Well, not exactly. The more you learn about vanilla – its origins, its popularity and what it takes to get it to our pantry shelves – you may refrain from ever describing anything or anyone as “just plain vanilla.”
Have you ever suffered through a bout of insomnia and had someone tell you to try drinking a cup of chamomile tea to help you sleep? Chamomile is a daisy-
Barley is one of the oldest domesticated cereal grains still being grown around the world today. It originated in Ethiopia and southeast Asia. It is most often used in bread and malted beverages such as beer (barley beer was likely one of the first alcoholic drinks humans developed). Over the centuries, barley water has been used for various medicinal purposes; it is good for clearing up urinary tract infections and is also said to be a good remedy for kidney stones.
Remember the scene in “The Wizard of Oz,” where the Cowardly Lion, awaiting his turn before Oz the Great and Powerful, sings a song about courage and asks, “Who put the ‘ape’ in ‘apricot’?” Well, thankfully, no one did. Who would eat it then? Instead we have a juicy fruit that has been around since ancient times and is enjoyed either fresh or dried. You can also indulge in apricot brandy or jam. The word “apricot” comes from a term meaning “early ripening.”
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, ginkgo biloba is one of the best-
Ginseng is one of the most popular herbal medicines in the world, according to WebMD. The plant gets its name from a Chinese term meaning “person plant root” because the root is shaped like human legs. There are 11 species of ginseng. (Many other herbs are called ginseng, but they do not contain the active ingredient ginsenosides.) Ginseng grows in North America, where it is endangered in the wild, as well as Asia and Korea. It is especially prevalent in traditional Chinese medicine and holistic healing arts.
Who didn’t grow up watching those Popeye cartoons and envying the sassy sailor his guns, which popped up from his previously puny arms right after he ate a can of spinach? And who, despite that, didn’t turn up his or her nose when Mom put a bowl of spinach on the dinner table? Luckily, we’ve come a long way from despising spinach. It has quickly evolved into a must-
Although quinoa (pronounced keenwah) is the new trendy superfood, in reality it’s been around for thousands of years. It was the “mother grain” of the ancient Andean civilization; the Incans considered it sacred. It has recently been revived as a new crop of global interest.
OK, so it’s not really beautiful, what with all its spikes (its name means “thorny fruit”) and its inside pulp with its wrinkled appearance. And it smells awful, making you question the wisdom of opening it. It’s durian, an exotic fruit from Malaysia that is slowly making inroads to the United States.
You almost have to feel sorry for school kids today. So many of them have peanut allergies, which means they are missing out on enjoying that age-
Peanuts are a great healthy snack. According to Planters.com (and they know their peanuts), eating nuts in moderation – including peanuts and most tree nuts....
If you were like most kids, you probably turned up your nose at peas when they appeared on your dinner plate – and held your nose as you ate them. Hopefully, you are now mature enough to realize how very good for you peas are, and you no longer leave them to roll around on your plate untouched.
Most likely when you think of macadamia nuts, you think of Hawaii. In reality, macadamia is a genus of trees that are native to Australia. There are at least seven species of macadamia trees, but only two of them produce fruit that is non-
When autumn arrives, the seasonal decorations come out. Among the cornstalks and scarecrows you’ll undoubtedly find see squat orange shapes and you’ll know it’s pumpkin time again.
Pumpkins, a cultivar of the squash plant, are also known as winter squash. They are native to North America, and according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the Land of Lincoln....
What would our Thanksgiving Day feasts be without cranberries? This staple of our holiday dinner has a long, proud history in the United States. According to the Cranberry Marketing Committee (uscranberries.com), Native Americans used cranberries as a food staple as early as 1550. They ate them fresh and mashed them with cornmeal and baked them into bread. They used maple sugar or honey to sweet them. They also mixed cranberries with wild game and melted fat to make pemmican.
Also known as jak or nangka, jackfruit is a member of the fig, mulberry and breadfruit family. It is native to Sri Lanka and India, where it was first cultivated about 6,000 years ago but is nowadays regarded with disdain as a poor person’s fruit. The jackfruit tree has hundreds of individual flowers and fleshy petals. As the largest tree-
Nutmeg is not a nut. It is actually the seed of an evergreen tree called Myristica fragans (fragrant nutmeg). The tree takes seven years to bear fruit, but it may produce until it is 90 years old. The seeds are dried in the sun over a period of six to eight weeks. During this time, the nutmeg shrinks away from its hard seed coat and is picked out when the shell is broken with a wooden club.
Wanting to latch onto the growing popularity of Asian cuisine, many cooks, both professional and amateur, are scouring their local produce aisles for exotic ingredients that give their dishes authenticity. Lemongrass – stems and leaves – is often used to impart a wonderful flavor not only to entrees such as curries and stir-
Despite their prickly needles and spines, cactuses are really beautiful creations. There are approximately 2,000 different species of cactus. They are found from British Columbia all the way down to Patagonia and come in numerous shapes and sizes. The largest saguaro cactus on record, nicknamed “The Grand One,” was approximately 46 feet tall. The smallest cactus is only about a centimeter in diameter. Cactus flower colors range from white to yellow to red to magenta.
While wandering around a street festival last fall, I came upon a booth where the vendor was extolling the taste and virtues of the aronia berry. Intrigued, I drew near to take a sample and see what the fuss was about. The cookies were tasty, sweet but not overly so. I wanted to learn more about aronia berries, so I checked out my usual sources, as well as some new ones.
Did you ever wonder about the wonderberry? I certainly did when I first saw the fruit mentioned briefly in a gardening article. I wondered (as you perhaps did when you saw this article): What is a wonderberry? Where did it come from? What does it taste like? My research showed me the wonderberry was developed in the early 1900s by the stellar botanist and horticulturist Luther Burbank, who (it’s been said) developed more than 800 strains and varieties of plants....
Kumquat – what a quirky word. And what a quirky fruit. Its name comes from a Cantonese word that means “golden orange.” Indeed, the kumquat looks like an orange in shape and color, but it is much smaller. And you can eat the skin of a certain type of kumquat; you can’t eat an orange peel. The kumquat plant, a slow-
Have you tried yuzu yet? This fruit that originated in Central China and Tibet is rapidly gaining popularity in the United States. It is also cultivated and used in Korea and Japan. Yuzu is mainly used as lemons are – juiced or just the zest (it’s a trifle too acidic to eat whole). In fact, yuzu is related to lemons, as well as oranges, grapefruit and limes. You’ll probably find yuzu juice rather than the fruit itself in this country; it is rarely imported and only a handful of growers are....
There aren’t many things that can cheer your heart and bring beauty to an otherwise dreary day than flowers. Everyone, it seems, has a favorite flower; perhaps the hyacinth was poet Whittier’s. Not a bad choice. Hyacinths are native to the eastern Mediterranean area of Anatolia (Turkey). The common garden hyacinth was brought to Europe in the 16th century. Hyacinths have been cultivated commercially ever since and are now mainly produced in Holland.
Although it is no longer the state tree of Kentucky (that distinction now goes to the tulip poplar tree), the Kentucky coffeetree still percolates a lot of interest in the Bluegrass State and beyond. The coffeetree was the state tree from 1976 to 1994. It actually belongs to the pea or legume family, and it isn’t confined just to Kentucky. It can be found all over the Midwest, including Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio. Several coffeetrees were grown at Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington.
These days, people are trying a variety of spices and dietary supplements to manage a variety of conditions and achieve optimum health benefits. One of these is turmeric. It has been used in India for thousands of years as both a spice and a medicinal herb. Turmeric is a perennial plant cultivated throughout Southeast Asia, China, Australia and the South Pacific.
Have you ever heard of cherimoya? It’s quite all right if you haven’t; it’s our delight to discover and describe fruits, vegetables, flowers and other bits of Nature’s Beauty for you, in the hopes you will be intrigued enough to give the featured fruit, vegetable or flower a try. No less a literary luminary than Mark Twain loved cherimoya. He called it “the most delicious fruit known to men – deliciousness itself.” A noted botanist wrote he considered the cherimoya, along with the pineapple and….
What is a pineberry? It is a recently developed strawberry cultivar that comes in such colors as pale pink, pale orange and white with red outer seeds (these are called achenes). Pineberries exposed to direct sunlight will usually have a more evident pink flush. And no, the pineberry is not a mutation or a product of genetic engineering or modification. Pineberries are related to the common domesticated garden strawberry. They are the result of crossbreeding – a hybrid of ….
Fall has arrived, and with it – in uplifting yellow, serene violet, rousing red, meditative bronze and expressive white – come the mums. Chrysanthemums are hardy perennials that effortlessly add a benevolent pop of color in the fall gardening landscape. They are available in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes. The mums I bought this year were sold by a local high school’s cheerleading squad.
You probably won’t find soursop growing in your average American back yard. Also known as graviola and Brazilian paw paw, soursop is the fruit of a small evergreen tree native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Central America and the Caribbean. Soursop is related to the custard apple. What does the prickly dark-
Not everyone has a green thumb. If you are one of those who can barely coax a weed to grow in your garden, perhaps you should investigate the endless possibilities of low-
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Remember the scene in “The Wizard of Oz,” where the Cowardly Lion, awaiting his turn before Oz the Great and Powerful, sings a song about courage and asks, “Who put the ‘ape’ in ‘apricot’?”
Well, thankfully, no one did. Who would eat it then? Instead we have a juicy fruit that has been around since ancient times and is enjoyed either fresh or dried. You can also indulge in apricot brandy or jam. The word “apricot” comes from a term meaning “early ripening.” Apricots are related to peaches and nectarines. This fruit is a drupe; it has a centrally located single pit or stone surrounded by edible flesh.
There is some dispute about whether the apricot originated from Armenia, China or India. It’s said Alexander the Great introduced the apricot to Greece. The Greeks called them “golden eggs of the sun.” English settlers who came to the New World in the 17th century brought the apricot to the colonies. Almost the entire U.S. commercial production of apricots is in California, whose climate suits them well. These trees came from seedlings carried to the West Coast by Spanish missionaries. Blending apricots with plums produces a hybrid called a plumcot, a pluot, an aprium or an apriplum.
Apricots have been used medicinally through the ages. Apricot seeds were used against tumors as early as A.D. 502, and in England in the
1800s, apricot oil was also used to cure tumors, as well as ulcers. Apricots were once considered to be an aphrodisiac. Apricot kernels are a component in traditional Chinese medicine. Back in the early 1990s, there was much excitement over a substance in apricots called laetril. It was touted as a miracle possibility for curing cancer. But in 2011, researchers said the claim that laetrile had beneficial effects for cancer patients was not supported by sound clinical data. There have been reports of serious adverse effects from cyanide poisoning after laetrile use. Cyanogenic glycosides are found in high concentration in apricot seeds.
You should nevertheless nosh on apricots once in a while. They contain many good-
Tanya Tyler is the Editor of Health & Wellness Magazine