Jicama (pronounced HICK-ah-mah) is my new FAVORITE food. It doesn’t look like much in the produce section (and my picture doesn’t make it look any better) but boy is it a treat.

If you love fruit and are trying to watch your sugar intake you know it can be very difficult. I think Jicama can help. The flavor is a cross between an apple and a potato or cucumber. It’s mild but a bit sweet. I definitely taste the apple. It’s also full of water and crunchy, so good.

Jicama is neither a fruit nor a vegetable, it’s actually a legume. I know, all you paleo people are gasping and getting ready click over to a page that has information you can actually use. Well, not so fast. Here’s a quote from Melissa at Whole30 about why Jicama is an approved food.

The potential downsides of legumes are all found in the seed. The anti-nutrients, inflammatory compounds, phytoestrogens (in the case of soy) and carbohydrate density (in the case of many legumes) are all packed into the seed.

When you eat jicama, you’re eating the root, which has none of the same issues as the seed.  (As an aside, you’d never, ever eat the seed of a jicama – it’s actually quite toxic.)  This is the same logic by which it’s okay to eat bean sprouts (the grassy part that grows out of the seed), but not the beans themselves.

The above quote from Melissa at Whole30 actually came from another blog I like called TheClothesMakeTheGirl – also a huge fan of Jicama. Melissa (I know, confusing), the blogger at TheClothesMakeTheGirl also has a new cookbook with a couple of Jicama recipes: Jicama “Potato” Salad and Jicama Homefries. Yum.

So, back to my yummy Jicama snack/fruit replacement idea. After having Jicama at a friends house, I started to do a little research. Turns out Jicama is found all over South America and really popular in Mexican food. One thing I read was that you can buy Jicama from street vendors in Mexico. They soak the Jicama in lemon juice and then sprinkle it with chili pepper. Sounded good so that’s what I did.

After cutting the Jicama in half, the tough outer layer can mostly be peeled off with your fingers. Once you have most of that off you can finish peeling with a potato peeler. It looks like an apple or a pear once it’s peeled. I then cut the Jicama into sticks/spears put them in a container with freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used a half a lemon for half the Jicama). I left the Jicama sitting in the lemon juice until I was ready to eat it. I did sprinkle it with a little salt and then chili pepper. I was nervous about the chili pepper because it’s usually too hot for me. Not on the Jicama, I had to add more I could hardly taste it. Anyway, the final verdict – YUM!

I had the second half of the Jicama the next day for lunch. I squeezed the lemon juice on but didn’t let it sit. I was to excited to eat it. It was just as good. I didn’t notice a difference between letting it sit in lemon juice and just eating it instantly. Thank goodness because I don’t usually have the patience to wait something like that out.

Here is some more information about Jicama that I think you will like.

Nutritional Facts

1 cup sliced (120 grams) – Jicama can be big. One half of my Jicama was 290 grams, oops. (source)

  • Calories 46 (apple has 53 calories)
  • Fat 0
  • Total Carbs 11 (apple has 14 carbs)
  • Fiber 6 (apple has 1 gram)
  • Sugar 2 (apple has 11 grams)
  • Protein 1
  • Glycemic Load 2 (awesome)

* info. about the apple is for 1 cup sliced (110 grams)

More good news, the soluble fiber found Jicama is inulin (IN-yew-linn).

Inulin has been the subject of intensive research in recent years, and the news adds important reasons to eat plenty of foods high in this fiber. Inulin promotes bone health by enhancing absorption of calcium from other foods, thus protecting against osteoporosis. It promotes heart health because soluble fiber decreases LDL cholesterol, and your heart will be healthier when you are an ideal weight. Inulin functions in the intestine as a prebiotic, meaning it is a food for the “good” bacteria that keep your colon healthy and balance your immunity. A study from British Journal of Nutrition in 2005 summarized very positive animal and human data on the role of inulin in preventing colon cancer. (source)

Jicama is a high fiber food so if you dive right in and eat a ton you may experience some digestive discomfort like bloating and gas. If you tend to eat a lot of fiber you will be fine but if you do experience some discomfort just eat small servings and build up slowly. I dove right in and ate the whole thing all by myself in two consecutive days and was fine. No digestive upset.

Here is some information about how to buy the best Jicama.

When choosing jicama at the store, look for medium sized, firm tubers with dry roots. Do not purchase jicama that has wet or soft spots, which may indicate rot, and don’t be drawn to overlarge examples of the tuber, because they may not be as flavorful. Jicama will keep under refrigeration for up to two weeks. (source)

So there you have it. Jicama. Go get some today, you’ll love it.

Eat Well, Feel Good, Have Fun!

 

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20 Responses to Jicama

  1. I am definitely going to go look for some, my husband and I are always looking for a healthy snacking option… all to often the not so healthy cookies and candies end up winning because we just havent found something to quench that craving

    • Nadka says:

      You can find it at your local farmers mekrat or Whole Foods. You want to pick the critters that feel firm to touch and not soggy/mushy. I’d start with three tubers for two peeps, try it and see if you like it:)

  2. amy says:

    “Quench” is the perfect word! Healthy eating with a large amount of water. I guess it’s also great in salads. I haven’t tried that. I probably won’t. I can’t see it actually making it to the salad bowl – too easy to eat during preparation : )

  3. Thanks for the shoutout to my blog! I love jicama, too… just ate some for breakfast. So sweet and cool!

  4. amy says:

    My pleasure. I love your blog and am looking forward to getting your cookbook.

    • Hanna says:

      I’ve never tried or seen Jicama before. I wdoenr if high end supermarket carries this (I don’t think regular one does). I’m curious to try. This looks very refreshing and I love the dressing as well. Beautiful pictures!

  5. I was in the area of Whole Foods yesterday – there was a ‘hole’ where they should have been. The produce guy was going to see if he had any out back. I shopped – was there for 15 minutes – they never were replaced! I stopped at S&S on way home – it’s on the roll where you put in produce numbers so know they carry it – but it was also unavailable. A very popular item.

  6. Bummer. I picked up two yesterday. I was going to cut one up for part of dinner last night but I ended up roasting beets instead. Roasted beets is my next post, used to hate them now I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them.

  7. I was also at Roche Bros. and they were out! I think everyone is reading Simplicity of Wellness! At least I’ve learned how to pronounce it properly!

  8. Margit says:

    Great snack idea. Jicama has become my new favorite food, too. I’m thinking of making jicama sushi tomorrow.

  9. Kevin says:

    I tried jicama for the first time last week and it blew my mind. It’s… juicy, crunchy, refreshing, sweet, and a little earthy. Unique, and so, so addictive. It’s really surprising how good its health benefits are. Do you think a sort of sweet pickle could be made with it? Hrm, new ideas. 😉

  10. Carol McKenzie says:

    Love your post. I discovered jicama a few days ago. I did eat the entire thing, diced in a salad with cantaloupe (the flavors meld beautifully, as do the textures) and yes, there was a bit of tummy distress if you overindulge. Actually, a couple hours of oh-my-heavens, what the heck is happening in there. I plan on adding jicama to my raw foods inventory; I’ll just refrain from eating the whole darned thing in one sitting.

  11. Yvonne Castillo says:

    Does it cause a bad case of Gas??

    • amy says:

      Short answer, yes. Jicama is one of the FODMAP foods. FODMAPs is short for fermentable, oligosaccharides (fructans, galactans), disaccharides (lactose), monosaccharides (fructose), and polyols (sugar alcohols). Basically, fermentable carbohydrate/sugars. Those that are bothered digestively by FODMAPs are usually people who don’t fully digest these sugars in the small intestine so they then ferment causing intestinal gas and bloating. Good news, if one type of FODMAP causes you trouble it doesn’t mean they all will. It’s best to get a good list of common FODMAPs and experiment with favorite foods on that list. You may want to go a couple of weeks with no FODMAPs and see if your gas subsides. Hopefully it will. You can then try one food item at a time and see how you feel. Keep a list and make note of the foods that cause trouble.

      Jicama is an oligosaccharide. Some other common foods in this family are wheat, asparagus, onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, artichokes, jerusalem artichokes, chicory root, cabbage, legumes (beans etc…), brussels sprouts and broccoli. It would be interesting to notice if you have any trouble with any of these foods.

      Here is a link to a FODMAP list. There are many lists out there and most have the same foods but if you look at a number of different lists you’ll notice things on some lists that aren’t on others. Most are trying to list what they consider common foods which is somewhat subjective hence the differences in lists.
      http://www.ibsdiets.org/fodmap-diet/fodmap-food-list/

  12. D. Sutton says:

    Be warned. Jicama can leave you very bloated and gassy After eating about 5 jicama wedges, I woke up about 1am and had to go to bathroom. This happened an additional 3 times within the next 6 hours. I was so tired the following morning from lack of sleep I barely made it to work. I finally recovered about 10am after drinking coffee and eating more food.

  13. Marilyn says:

    Would taking beano help? I love jicima and had no idea what was giving me such toxic gas.

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