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Jicama: An Appetite Taming Tuber

September 5th, 2009

jicama-root-vegetable.jpgEnjoyed for centuries in Central America, a little-known tuber called Jicama (pronounced Hick-a-ma), is gaining in popularity and finding its way onto grocery store shelves. Jicama is topping lists of Best for You Foods for two simple reasons: it’s loaded with fiber, and it’s low in fat and protein. And with approximately 85% water and 32 grams of fiber per medium-sized tuber, it’s a food that will fill you up fast without leaving you with excess calories.

Indigenous to Mexico, jicama is also known as Mexican Potato, Mexican Turnip, or Yambean. It tastes like a crunchy cross between mild radishes and water chestnuts. You can recognize jicama by its yellowish-brown skin which is similar to a potato skin. Select tubers that are small to medium in size without any sort of wrinkling, and ones that feel firm and heavy for their size. Wrinkly and lightweight jicamas can be an indication that they’ve been sitting around on the shelf for an extended period of time. The larger the tuber the woodier (more fibrous) it becomes and will also have a higher sugar content.

Preparation of a jicama tuber is as simple as peeling it and munching it. With a vegetable peeler, peel it down until you come to the creamy white flesh and remove any blemishes much as you would a potato. Then slice it or dice it; wonderfully versatile jicama can be eaten raw in salads or on a vegetable tray, or add it to stir fries at the last minute to retain some of the crunch, or even toss it into soups and stews. Braised jicama will cook much like a turnip, and will cook until there’s no crunch left in it.

Based on a 2000 calorie per day diet, one cup of raw jicama (120 grams) has approximately 45 calories, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 40% daily recommended dose of vitamin C, and 4% daily recommended iron. It is very low in sodium and is a zero cholesterol food.

Jicama, once only enjoyed in Central America, is becoming more widely used in the USA and Canada, and is considered to be a nutritional powerhouse in a culture where we don’t as a rule eat enough fiber. It is also very popular in Vietnamese cooking and is slowly gaining influence in Chinese cooking as well. Pick some up next time you’re at the grocery store; it will keep well in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks!

Jennifer Allen is a professional writer and chef who has now managed to achieve a total of 35 articles and 21 sales at Constant Content.

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