Ever felt afraid of cooking with unfamiliar ingredients, like jicama? Well fear not because we’re digging into the health benefits of this versatile food, and showing you several cooking techniques and recipes so it can become a healthy staple in your kitchen in no time.
What is it?
Jicama (pronounced HEE-KA-MUH) is a round, bumpy root vegetable that’s actually in the legume family. It can be recognized by its brown, paper-like skin and white starchy flesh. It’s similar in texture to an apple or celery and takes on the flavor of the dishes it’s added to incredibly well, much like water chestnuts in Asian food. Jicama is also commonly referred to as a yam bean or Mexican turnip or potato.
Jicama has fewer carbohydrates than a potato, making it a great option for those watching their weight. And it’s also high in fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and contains a lot of water to help you stay hydrated.
One cup of sliced jicama has approximately 45 calories, 0 grams of fat, 6 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein, making it a great diet food that keeps you full on fewer calories.
Jicama can be eaten raw or cooked, but it’s mostly commonly seen in salads – especially bean salads. To prepare fresh, simply rinse, peel the outer skin and discard it. Then dice the flesh thinly with a mandolin, or chop into french-fry like strips with a knife. You can add jicama to cole slaws, chilled salads and even treat it like celery and snack on it with an appetizer dip. And you can also bake a whole jicama just like a potato – just don’t eat the skin. Or slice them up like carrots and bake them in with soups or alongside meat in roasts. It’s extremely versatile in terms of preparation.
If you’d rather have baked fries than raw, simply peel and slice the jicama into strips, toss with olive oil and seasonings like salt and pepper, and bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until tender and golden brown. This is a much lighter option than traditional potato fries to serve alongside your hamburgers.
And that’s jicama in a nutshell. Branch out and try this versatile veggie. These yummy recipes are a great place to start.
top photo from gourmet sleuth
March 24th, 2012