One of the reasons to try new vegetables you may or may not have noticed at the grocery story is to get out of the rut that mealtimes can bring over time. There’s an tan-colored, oval, root vegetable you maybe have seen at the store and not known what it is or how to pronounce its name. It’s called jicama (pronounced “hee-kah-mah”). Some may call it a yam bean or a Mexican water chestnut. It is part of the legume (bean) family. This is a tuber like a potato, but it is less starchy. However, the tough skin on a jicama needs to be peeled with a knife (not a vegetable peeler – the skin is too tough) because it contains a toxin (that is NOT found in the fleshy part of the tuber).
What does a jicama taste like?
A jicama is sweet like a pear or apple, but it is starchier. When eaten raw, it is quite crunchy, making it ideal for nut butters, hummus and other dips.
How do you chose a jicama?
Choose smaller jicamas because they are less fibrous. Choose ones with smooth skins because shriveled skin is a sign of an older tuber. They do not need to be refrigerated until they are cut open. If you find a jicama that is too large, ask the produce worker to cut into half or fourths.
How do you eat a jicama?
You can eat a jicama either raw or cooked, as you would eat an apple, pear, or kohlrabi. Some ideas for using it are:
How nutritious is jicama?
Jicama is low in calories (46 calories for one cup of sliced, raw jicama) and high in soluble dietary fiber. Soluble fiber can help lower your blood LDL levels and can normalize blood glucose levels. Jicama is also very high in vitamin C (40% of your daily needs). Vitamin C supports your immune system and provides powerful antioxidants to aid your body’s cells.
Mealtimes don’t need to be boring if you add new vegetables into the rotation. Drop us a comment and tell us about your adventures with vegetables you haven’t tried before, such as jicama, celeriac, or kohlrabi.
For a quick tutorial in how to prepare a jicama, click here.
~Nancy Miller, MS, RDN
A place for our consultant Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) to share nutrition science, yummy and healthy recipes, tips on seasonal ingredients, and other nutritional musings. Enjoy!