What is Jicama?
This bulbous tuber might be a vegetable you’ve never heard of, but once you learn about its versatility, we have no doubt it’s end up on your grocery list. And aside from its uses, this little guy LOVES your gut! That’s right…a true 131 Method superstar for gut health.
Jicama is native to Mexico. Known by its nickname, the “Mexican water chestnut,” it’s similar in appearance and texture to a water chestnut (1). Picture this: a root vegetable that looks very similar to a turnip, but with the texture of an apple. The taste: much less sweet than an apple; more subdued. That’s the best way to describe it.
When it comes to nutrition, jicama stands out for its fiber content. Not only is this root high in fiber, but it’s high in prebiotics, namely oligofructose inulin. A mouthful to say and even more to say about it, oligofructose inulin benefits digestive tract health. This prebiotic fiber promotes a healthy gut microbiome because it promotes the growth of good bacteria in the intestine (2).
This prebiotic fiber is also not digested in the upper gastrointestinal area, so calorically it has a low impact. One cup of jicama yields about 50 calories. Jicama also contains a generous amount of vitamin C, a bit of potassium, some b-vitamins, and a lot of water (3).
Is jicama low carb? The answer is yes. There are less than 9 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams. The high amount of fiber in this tuber makes it low on the glycemic index, which means it has little effect on your blood sugar. A serving of jicama will not significantly affect your insulin levels. It also provides bulk to your stool (4). Being high in fiber, it is also a food that will actually leave you feeling full – without having to deal with the carb coma after. We know what you’re thinking: finally, a low-carb option that isn’t cauliflower.
How to Choose your Jicama
The jicama plant actually has a root, stem, and leaves. The edible part available at your grocery store is the root. When it comes to choosing one from the store, look for a medium sized jicama root that is firm and round. If it’s soft and wrinkled, it might be past its prime. For storage, remember to keep it in a dark, cool place, much the way you store potatoes (4).
How to Prepare Jicama
The prep is the most important part in enjoying this veggie. First, wash and peel the outer skin. The peel, as well as other parts of the plant like the leaves, contains rotenone. Rotenone is a naturally occurring organic poison, so be sure to slice off the peel and discard (4). That being said, the root itself is quite versatile and delicious, so don’t let that bit of preparation discourage you from giving it a try.
Jicama root has been traditionally eaten in Mexican culture by cutting the root into sticks and topping the slices with fresh lime, salt, olive oil, and paprika. This is just one classically delicious way to enjoy jicama, but we’ve also brought you a few other creative ways to eat it.
5 Unique Ways to Use Jicama
1. As a Side in a Salad, Slaw, or Soup
Jicama’s texture really lends itself well to soups and salads, especially when you’re looking for that crunch factor. It can be diced and added into any salad, or cut into small matchsticks and made into a slaw. Jicama and apple slaw is a common combination. Simply add your favorite nuts, herbs and dressing, and call it a day.
Jicama adds a denseness to soup that is actually jam packed with fiber, and thus makes a great lower carbohydrate main ingredient. You can keep it simple by just blending it with the broth and spices of your choosing. If you’re trying to keep it low carb, a creamy jicama and leek soup is a great option. (Bonus points for the double prebiotics in the leeks and jicama!) If you want to keep with its roots, try it Mexican style and add it to your favorite tortilla soup recipe with jicama spirals as noodles.
2. The Star of Your Salsa
Salsa is one of those no-brainer party appetizers that comes together in minutes, but if you really want to wow your guests, try putting a spin on it with jicama. Not only will your salsa go further with the addition of this crunchy veg, but it also adds an unexpected element of texture to pleasantly surprise your guests. If you really want to get out of the box, forgo the typical tomato salsa and add it to a pineapple salsa instead. Add it to this recipe…YUM!
3. A Stand-in for Potato
Jicama can be a great low-carb stand in for your typically potato-based dishes. You can easily make hash browns by finely dicing or even grating jicama vegetable, adding some extra virgin olive oil, your favorite spices and some salt, and sautéing it in a stove-top pan.
Don’t let your mind limit you, if a potato can do it, jicama can do it too! Try it scalloped with ghee or mashed with garlic for a low carbohydrate spin on your old favorites. You can even cut the root into strips and bake them, just like french fries.
4. A Raw Rice Alternative
If you’re looking to add more raw foods into your diet, jicama stands up to the challenge, acting as rice. The easiest way to do this is to blitz your jicama root in a food processor, pulsing until grainy. This could be a base for any meal, raw or otherwise. You could top it with your favorite stir fry, or even roll up some low carbohydrate sushi!
5. Add Crunch to Your Salad Rolls
Salad rolls are a fun and easy bite to meal prep ahead of time for lunch or prepare as an appetizer for guests. Jicama and shrimp salad rolls with veggies and peanut sauce is a great combo. If you enjoy a plant-based option, try jicama with peppers and avocado. Want a wrap low in carbohydrates? Jicama tortillas just burst on the scene at Whole Foods and other grocers. (These are just thinly sliced and perfectly circular sheets of jicama the size of a corn tortilla). Try dicing or shredding for toppers to bowls or in rolls the way you’d use carrots.
Impress your foodie friends with your extensive knowledge on jicama, or, try some of our meal ideas. You’ve got everything you need: nutritional information, selection and storage tips. Great for your gut and light on calories, jicama benefits abound. Let us know below which recipe you might try first!