If you're looking for a veggie that's a bit like a potato but with a lot fewer carbs, the jicama might be for you.
The jicama plant grows mostly in Mexico and Central America on a long vine. But the part you eat is the root.
On the outside, the jicama looks like a light brown beet. Inside, it looks and feels like a raw potato. But it doesn't taste like one. It's crisp and slightly sweet, like an apple. But jicama doesn't brown like an apple after you cut it.
These bad boys can grow up to 50 pounds! But don't worry about heaving one into your car at the farmers market. The small ones are the best to eat.
Jicama is pronounced HEE-kuh-muh orHIH-kuh-muh, and goes by many other names, including:
- Chinese potato
- Mexican potato
- Mexican yam
- Mexican yam bean
- Mexican water chestnut
- Mexican turnip
Nutrients per Serving
One medium-sized jicama has:
- 250 calories
- 32 grams of fiber
- 12 grams of sugar
- 4 grams of protein
- 15%-19% of your daily recommended vitamin C
Jicama's Health Benefits
Tater twin. People often compare jicama to potatoes because their flesh is similar. But jicama is much healthier and has far fewer carbohydrates.
Fun way to get fiber. Instead of an apple, peel and slice a jicama and dip it in a nut butter. It's a fiber-packed snack that prevents constipation, lowers cholesterol, and lowers your chances of getting colon cancer and heart disease.
Vitamin C. This vitamin gives a big boost to the immune system -- your body's defense against germs. It's also good for your eyes and skin. And it lessens inflammation in your body, which can cause arthritis and other diseases.
Helps with hydration. Jicama is 85% water. Use it to help you stay hydrated, especially when it's hot outside.
Safe for blood sugar. If you're watching your blood sugar and insulin, jicama is a safe snack. It has carbs, but they have a low glycemic load, which means the carbs don't affect your blood sugar very much.
How to choose a good one. Look for a jicama that's small, heavy, and firm and has smooth skin.
How to clean and peel it. Wash it well and cut off any roots. Then use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to remove the skin of your jicama completely, including the paper-like layer underneath.
How to cut it. After you peel it, cut a jicama in half to make it more manageable. You can cut it into cubes, sticks, and slices, or you can shred it.
How to eat it. The most popular way to eat jicama is raw with salt, lemon or lime juice, and chili powder sprinkled on top. You can also:
- Pickle it.
- Make a slaw out of it.
- Use it to add crunch and extra vitamins to salads.
- Serve it like cucumber on vegetable platters or with sushi.
- Add it to stews, soups, or stir-fries.
- Cook and mash it like a potato.
- Cut it into long strips, toss with oil, and french-fry it.
But never eat the skin. Though its flesh is safe to eat, jicama's skin, along with the leaves and seeds, contains rotenone, a natural insecticide that's poisonous to humans.
How to store it. Keep whole, unpeeled jicama dry and unwrapped in a cool area for 2 to 3 weeks. Once you cut it, wrap your jicama up tight and store it in the refrigerator for a week.