Jicama, pronounced “hee-ka-ma,” is a root vegetable native to Mexico. It is a member of the morning glory family and is related to the sweet potato, but more closely resembles water chestnuts in color, texture and flavor.
All About Jicama – Nutritional Highlights
A cup of raw, sliced jicama, provides 46 calories, 0 g fat, 11 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 2 g sugar and 1 g protein.
The soluble fiber found in jicama, inulin, is a beneficial prebiotic food that stimulates the activity of healthy bacteria growth in the digestive system. Prebiotics are something many don’t get enough of, especially those of us living a low-carb lifestyle. This is discussed at length in the book, Beyond Antibiotics. The author, Michael Schmidt, PhD, states, “when healthy gut bacteria are starved of carbohydrates, they do not produce enough butyrate to keep colon cells healthy. While the rationale for reducing carbohydrates is sound, it is important that carbohydrate in the form of soluble fiber not be reduced.”
A one cup serving of jicama also provides 40% of the RDI of vitamin C and is a good source of potassium and the trace mineral molybdenum.
All About Jicama – Selecting and Storing
When purchasing jicama, choose one that is firm and heavy for its size. Jicama that is soft or shriveled or particularly large is likely to be tough and woody. Whole, uncut jicama can be kept in a cool dark place for up to two weeks or up to three weeks in the refrigerator. If you do not use all of the jicama, peel it, and store pieces tightly wrapped in the refrigerator crisper, where they will keep for up to one week.
All About Jicama – How to Prepare
When preparing jicama always remove the peel. It is inedible. Peel with a veggie peeler and then remove the first layer of flesh under the peel as this is often too fibrous. Then slice into uniform sticks, dice it or even shred it. A one-pound jicama will yield about 3 cups of chopped or shredded flesh.
All About Jicama – Serving Ideas
Jicama is commonly added raw to salads or sliced into strips like carrots and added to a crudité platter.
Peel and slice jicama, sprinkle with lime juice and chili powder then serve with salsa and guacamole.
Cut jicama into matchsticks, toss with a balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil then top with slices of avocado, a squeeze of lime juice, and a little minced red onion.
Use jicama as a substitute for water chestnuts in Asian dishes. Jicama retains its crispness when cooked and adds texture when stir-fried with other vegetables.