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14 Apr

The Low-Carb Wonders of Jicama

Jicama is that white, crispy tuberous root that the fruit cart guys always douse in chile power and lime and serve on a stick. The naturally-occurring oligofructose inulin lends it a slightly sweet flavor. It’s tasty, refreshing, and seemingly innocuous – but is it loaded with carbs? It seems a little carby, and I’ve mostly avoided it (a difficult task in Southern California where fruit carts beckon from every other street corner) for that very reason, but a couple reader comments have prompted an investigation.

If my informed, Primal readership was supporting jicama consumption, surely there was more to it.

A FitDay analysis reveals that a cup of jicama contains a relatively paltry 11.5 g carbohydrates (with 6.4 g being fiber), about equal to a carrot. For comparison’s sake, a cup of white potato contains 31.2 g of carbs. The other stats (49 calories, 0.12 g fat, 0.94 g protein) are inconsequential, and, except for vitamin C (44% of the daily allotment in a cup of jicama), it has only trace amounts of vitamins.

While it may not be a wealth of nutritional content, at least it’s not a source of cheap, simple carbs that will unleash a torrent of insulin to undermine your progress. Instead, it’s a simple, enjoyable foodstuff that can be used as a vehicle for dips, a crunchy addition to salads, or a substitute for traditional starches. It may not help provide nutrients, but it certainly won’t hurt you.

One reader, marci, suggested we use jicama as a “grain substitute: just chop it up, put it in yr food processor for a minute. Then put it into a colander and press down to extract excess water & voila – jicama ‘rice’!” while damaged justice suggests “slicing it thin, drizzling with olive oil and baking until brown and crispy around the edges.”

I can vouch for both of these recipes, with a few slight modifications. For the rice, I used a food dehydrator after pressing it in the colander. Just using the colander, I couldn’t seem to get enough water out. An hour in the dehydrator did the trick. If you’re in desperate need of “rice,” try Marci’s jicama rice – it’s tasty stuff. Went well with the coconut chicken curry I made the other day.

Damaged justice’s thinly sliced, oven roasted jicama was delicious, but I added a bit of salt and pepper in addition to the olive oil (although I bet he did too, I just wanted to mention it). The same slices also fried up nicely in a pan with butter. Try that method if you don’t have time to wait for the oven to heat up.

Jicama Hashed Browns

One of the foods I missed (and still do, to some extent) since going Primal years ago were hashed browns. Anything crispy, salty, and cooked in fat triggers the taste receptors, so even till this day I’ll occasionally steal a bite or two from a plate of hashed browns. Of course, eating them simply isn’t sustainable, but shredding some jicama, frying it up in fat, and salting it, I’ve found, is a pretty decent approximation of good hashed browns.

1 cup shredded jicama
2 tablespoons high heat fat (like bacon fat, tallow, or duck fat)
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Slice your jicama and soak it in hot water overnight to soften. In the morning, remove the skins and shred the jicama in a food processor. Use the pulse function – you don’t want to pulverize it. Dry the shredded jicama (either using a colander or dehydrator) and heat your fat in a pan over medium heat. Form patties and pan fry. After about ten minutes, flip them and cook for another five. When they’re golden brown and crispy, they’re ready. Salt and pepper to taste. Delicious with bacon and eggs (fry the bacon first and use the fat for the browns). Jicama patties won’t stay together like potatoes, but don’t worry if they fall apart. Just add a few eggs and some cut up sausage and make it a scramble.

FitDay says the whole serving is:

297 calories
11.5g carbs (6.4g fiber)
1g protein
28g fat

Yet another low-carb addition to the Primal pantheon of culinary diversity, jicama is proving to be an interesting little root. Anyone else got any good jicama recipes?

Further Reading:

Alternatives to Grains? What About Quinoa?

Primal Pie Recipes – That’s Right. Pie.

Processed Soy and Meat Alternatives

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I’ve used raw jicama slices in place of chips and crackers for dips like salsa and guacamole for years. Discovered it in Mexico back in the 80’s when it was often served as a salad sliced and drizzled with lime juice.

    And, despite few people having heard of it, it’s available in ordinary supermarkets everywhere — betterways.

    Betterways wrote on January 1st, 2012
  2. I LOVE raw jicama dipped In guacamole and salsa. It’s mild enough, and it has the crunch I miss, but it’s lower carb than tortilla chips and also lacking all those nasty vegetable oils.

    Danielle wrote on February 5th, 2012
  3. I like jicama coz this is crunchy, I snack it like a carrot,is this good in our health, thanks let me know.

    mimi wrote on May 17th, 2012
  4. I had some pickled jicama at a restaurant that served it in a salad and it was excellent. It wasn’t fully sour and had a nice spicy flavor. I thought it was an interesting take on jicama; which retained the same crunch as raw jicama yet had the added fermented flavor boost. I’m not sure what they fermented it in, but gave it a shot tonight and made a batch with celeriac skin, fennel stalks & greens, black cardamom, pink & black peppercorns, and coriander seeds (using saltwater fermentation, with some smoked sea salt added as well).

    MK wrote on June 10th, 2012
  5. We made nachos out of one and it was AWESOME. We were really light on the cheese, and heavy on the goodies. It was awesome

    sarah wrote on December 22nd, 2012
  6. mandolin-sliced jicama soaked in chili water makes for an excellent taco shell substitute as well.

    Mattsonkjell wrote on June 28th, 2013
  7. I also do a variation of Jicama hash browns, I shred the jicama, then boil it a salted water for about 10 min, drain really well…mix in a bowl with sour cream, shredded cheese, salt pepper and diced cooked bacon…Then spread into a casserole dish, top with more cheese and bake! Yum….

    Chris wrote on March 9th, 2014
  8. I like to cut the jimica into match-stick size and add a bunch of chopped cilantro, a bit of garlic salt and then a small drizzle of honey and a big splash of lime juice. Nice by itself or as a topper for grilled Mahi Mahi.
    I just added it, diced small, to my latest batch of Pico de Giallo ( spelling?! ) gave it a great crunch!

    Stacy wrote on January 4th, 2015
  9. We just tried Jicama for the first time earlier this month. We slice it as thin as possible with a chef’s knife. if thin enough it can be bent like a taco shell (thicker is fine too as a tostada-type shell)–so our primal taco night now has a vehicle for the taco meat and toppings to ride upon (as opposed to our Chipotle-style salads)

    PhilD_IT_GUY wrote on January 14th, 2015
  10. I slice jicama thin and fry in oil, then dust with either a barbecue dry rub or a mix of salt, garlic powder, cayenne, cumin, etc. Makes a damned good chip. I really miss that crunch. Carrots don’t have the same feel as a salty fried crispy chip!

    kate wrote on March 15th, 2015
  11. Question for Mark or any one else:

    Doesn’t heating the jicama raise the glycemic load from the conversion of
    starches to sugars?

    I love raw jicama stix and eat them at work several times a week, but have avoided eating roasted or cooked Jicama for this reason.

    I know raw carrots more than double their glycemic load after being cooked.


    Surfdancer wrote on April 30th, 2015
  12. HI Mark

    I love raw jicama, bringing jicama stix to work several times a week.
    However, never have eaten if cooked. Doesn’t the starches covert to
    sugars while cooking it, just like potatoes, plantains and carrots?

    Carrots’ glycemic load more than doubles when cooking.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    Thanks in Advance!!

    Surfdancer wrote on April 30th, 2015
  13. Mmmmm, I love jicama. My favorite way to eat it is to cut it in strips and dip it in raw zucchini hummus. Any time I do a crudite and dip, jicama features prominently on the platter. My only issue is that I sometimes have a hard time stopping at a low-carb serving.

    Suze wrote on May 28th, 2016

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