By Dina Eliash Robinson
If you like to snack on crunchy raw root vegetables, you’ll probably forsake most others in favor of a few satisfying bites of the delicious jicama—preferably grown in organic soil and with certified organic methods. Also known as Mexican turnip, the somewhat flattened sphere covered with a thin, coarse, brown skin, serves up a slightly sweet crunch with a mighty dose of healthy nutrition.
A medium size jicama root has only 250 fat-free and cholesterol-free calories, which makes it an ideal weight-loss food, especially when turned into a large bowl of shredded slaw.
Recipe: Just add to the fragrant and hydrating mound of shredded jicama as many of the following organic ingredients as appeal to you: Apple cider vinegar—enough to soak or just moisten it to your preference; a quarter teaspoon of honey, a table spoon of dry parsley, half a table spoon dry basil, half-teaspoon of powdered turmeric, a dash of powdered ginger, a knife-tip of cayenne pepper (if you like a kick), half-teaspoon sweet red paprika and Himalayan pink salt to taste or optional.
As an improvising “jazz” cook who likes to intensify flavors, I add chopped red onions and garlic (or dry versions when I need to save time), a small splash of Worcestershire sauce and a couple of table spoons of extra virgin olive oil. But if you do not subscribe to my “everything including the kitchen sink” school of cooking, feel free to eliminate as many of the above ingredients as you like.
To prove its versatility, a half-cup of shredded jicama is perfect for livening up green salads, while cooked in a chicken or turkey stew it adds volume, flavor and nutrients. A whole, thinly sliced jicama coated with olive oil and your favorite spices can be baked, crisped and kept in the fridge for lasting crunchy snacks. Also, since jicama is about 85% water, bringing a few chunks of it in a plastic baggie when you hike will quench your thirst as effectively as any liquid.
Beyond mouth and tummy satisfaction, jicama is a highly effective health-aid for a variety of deficiencies and medical problems.
- It is rich in probiotic elements that keep the human microbiome (i.e. the friendly bacteria in the gut) well-supplied and balanced;
- It contains a generous 128% of dietary fiber, the inulin in which acts as a prebiotic helper to the gut flora so it can do its duty as an immune system booster and a shield against colorectal cancer and type 2 diabetes.
- This amazing root also contains 28% of potassium that lowers the risk of strokes and helps seniors maintain more youthful muscle mass.
- It also boasts 22% iron—especially useful to protect menstruating women from anemia.
- Jicama’s 19% magnesium works to keep one’s mood in the optimistic zone.
- But perhaps the root’s most useful ingredient is its hefty (221%) dose of Vitamin C, which helps to lower blood pressure and the risk of heart attack.
Last but not least: Having discovered the great nutritional benefits of this wondrous and delicious root, I’m adding it to my list of super-foods: blueberries, Brussels sprouts and the latter’s anti-cancer warrior relatives, the cruciferous vegetable protectors, such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
Please email me at [email protected] with any additional information you might discover about the nutritional benefits of JICAMA.