Jicama-The Healthy Snack
We all know that food along with water are important to us; particularly if we want to maintain health and vigor. In addition we are all supposed to eat at least three balanced meals a day. Supposed to is a big word however, because most of us find ourselves snacking in between. And for the most part, the snacks that we do eat are often sugary, or just not that healthy to begin with. Some may agree with me that an occasional snack in between meals is okay to ward off a hunger attack. This may be true to a degree and on the other hand it may not. It all depends on what you call a healthy snack.
Now if you have been munching on some Jicama lately, than you know what is a healthy snack and what's good for you. A few of us may have never even heard of the word Jicama, or may not even know what it means. But if your are Mexican in descent or have lived in Mexico at one time in your life, or anywhere in the vicinity of Central America, you will know what Jicama is. This legume has also been cultivated in many other lands including Nigeria, the Philippines and China.
For the rest of the audience, Jicama looks like a plant or even an oversized, ugly looking radish or beet. It is not a plant, but is classified as a legume, belonging to the bean family (Fabaceae). Jicama has been called a variety of other different names as well. Chinese potato, Yam bean and Mexican potato. While most of the Jicama is not edible, it is the tuberous root, which lies below the soils surface, that is edible. These edible roots come in a variety of sizes. They also weigh anywhere from over two pounds down to about ten ounces. This edible root has been consumed since ancient times by the Mexican people. In the Nahuati language, Jicama means-"what is tasted." And when you taste a piece of Jicama, you will know immediately that it is good for you.
To give you an idea of the caloric content of Jicama, just compare it to a salty, greasy, unhealthy bag of potato chips. Potato chips are a quick empty snack, that some of us may eat with a sandwich for lunch. A 3.5 ounce of chips for example contain 540 empty calories. On the other hand, the Jicama sliced up in pieces much like that of an apple or pineapple, contain forty calories. And this is for the same amount of ounces as the potato chips mind you. So far Jicama may sound good to you right? But before you throw away that bag of chips or put down that snicker's bar, your probably asking yourself..."How great can something taste, that is supposed to be so healthy for you"? In other words...most of us are not ignorant and know that if something tastes good, than it can't be good for you, isn't this usually true? This is not the case when it comes to Jicama, as you'll see as you read further.
If you are familiar with the taste of chestnuts or even apples, than this is what the Jicama roots taste like. It's taste can be compared to that of an apple and chestnut mixed together. Not bad for something that comes from a root and is considered a legume huh? Besides being low in calories, Jicama is very high in Vitamin C, phosphorus and calcium, which are also essential nutrients for overall health. To add, Jicama has an additional two percent of iron and three grams of fiber. So by now I'm sure I have everyone's mouth beginning to water over Jicama. I bet a lot of you at this very moment, want to run to your local market and pick up some Jicama. Remember that it may or may not be available at your local market. It sometimes depends if this edible legume is cultivated in your country. But if it is available, than there is no better time than now to introducing your salivary glands to its juicy roots.
Jicama besides being used as a snack can be placed into and boiled in soups. It is also used on salads and prepared in many other different ways. It can be grilled or pickled and depending on the country in which you reside, there are many different ways to prepare and cook with Jicama. As a replacement for water chestnuts, Jicama is often used in Oriental cooking. And to add, Jicama after cooking retains its crispness.
There are many other uses that the Jicama plant provides. And even though only the roots of this plant are edible, there are other parts of it that employ other uses. For example-effective insecticides, have been made from a series of compounds found within the pulverized seeds of Jicama. Also certain dermatological preparations have been made from these seeds. Fishing nets have been crafted from the strong fibers that are found on the stalks of the Jicama as well. Jicama should be kept refrigerated if you have any leftover from a previous meal or snack. Usually three weeks tops is the longest that extra Jicama will keep. And the best thing about Jicama is that it is easy to prepare. All you do is wash, peel and remove the outermost fibrous layer and its ready to be eaten.
Jicama will be more appealing to the taste buds if you have a taste for some of the following. Cayenne pepper, lemon juice, piquin pepper or just plain salt. These added ingredients make the Jicama really come to life. So if you are in the need for a little change when it comes down to your snacking habits, why not spice up your life a little and try some Jicama. It's the ideal snack that can go with you anywhere you go. Its not messy, but is crunchy, juicy and also easy to digest. It probably will be one of the healthiest food choices that you will ever make. And another good point to remember, is that you do not have to be Mexican or from Mexico to enjoy this wonderful healthy snack.