A dietary staple in Latin America, jicama is a root vegetable that looks like a turnip with thin gray, tan, or brown skin and a white, fleshy interior. Raw jicama tastes similar to an apple crossed with a potato. Best of all, this healthy food is low in calories and fat, but high in fiber.
A 60 g serving of jicama (about ½ cup) has only 25 calories, 5 g of carbohydrates, 3 g of dietary fiber, and 1 g of sugar–and is completely fat-free. In fact, jicama is 90 percent water.
Jicama is available year-round in your supermarket’s produce section. Choose tubers that are firm and have dry roots and make sure it is not blemished or bruised. Jicama can be stored in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for up to two weeks.
So how can you incorporate jicama into your diet?
Jicama can be baked or broiled like a potato (although it is not nearly as starchy). But I find the best way to eat it is raw.
To prepare the raw jicama, peel it with a vegetable peeler, then halve from top to bottom and lay it cut side down on the board (this keeps it from rolling). Then cut the halves into slices about 1/4-inch thick. Add a hint of fresh limejuice and sprinkle with cayenne pepper for a tasty, Mexican-style snack. Pack in a sandwich bag or plastic container and take it with you.
Two cups of this Mexican-style jicama has only 100 calories and 12 g of fiber–that’s half the daily amount recommended by the American Dietetic Association.
And unlike apples, which turn brown when their iron-containing chemicals react with oxygen in the air, jicama does not discolor when exposed to the open air for a while. This makes jicama a perfect snack to tote and good selection for crudites.
In cooking, jicama tends to take on the flavors of the ingredients it is being combined with, which makes it a nice complement to stir-fry dishes.
Why does this matter to you? Because most of us don’t consume enough vegetables and fiber on a daily basis. If you’re in a mid-afternoon snack rut, snap out of it by packing Mexican-style jicama a couple of times a week. It’s a snack that’s packed with calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, A and beta-carotene!