The water chestnut, originating in Southeast Asia, is the root of an aquatic plant that grows in freshwater streams, marshes, ponds, lakes and slow moving rivers. Most commonly associated with Chinese cuisine, the water chestnut is gaining popularity as a cooking ingredient in many kitchens around the globe. Its firm and crisp texture is perfect in stir-fries, salads, rice or stuffing. Water chestnuts are a healthy and delicious snack, containing little fat and about 135 calories per cup.