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

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending more than three decades educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates flavorful and delicious kitchen staples crafted with premium ingredients like avocado oil. With over 70 condiments, sauces, oils, and dressings in their lineup, Primal Kitchen makes it easy to prep mouthwatering meals that fit into your lifestyle.

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