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November is Jicama

Jicama is the most interesting seasonal vegetable at the market right now. Have you tried?

The produce aisle can be an adventure. Exotic veggies, like Jicama, surpass their more traditional counterparts in wonderment and curiosity. What is this odd-shapen root, and how do I eat this thing? These are all questions that pass through the curious shoppers mind, and for good reason. The Jicama is delicious, with a taste profile similar to a sweet potato and with the crunch and texture of an apple.


The Jicama

Jicama, otherwise known by various nicknames such as the ‘Mexican potato,’ ‘Mexican turnip’ and ‘yam bean,’ are root vegetables native to Mexico.[i] Jicama is less common in the United States but can usually be found near the turnips and beets within the produce section of the grocery store and at some farmers markets. [ii]

Jicama is nutritious. The tuber is rich in antioxidants like vitamins C and A, and dietary fiber including prebiotic inulin [iii].  Inulin is a type of soluble fiber that feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut [iv] which may promote beneficial physiological advantages throughout the body, such as reducing systemic inflammation [v].  For those with cancer, Jicama can be a beneficial part of the diet. The rich dose of antioxidants help to blunt the trauma of treatment and the disease. It is an excellent source of iron, and can be prepared to fit the need of the individual, whether that be spiced, herbed, mashed or pureed. Use it in place of potatoes.


Shopping Strategy

Play a simple game. Introduce a weekly foreign fruit or vegetable to the list of purchases. Once a week, while browsing the produce, look for something intriguing, that you have never tried before, and grab it! “Google” a recipe or two, and cook it. This will open up the palate to new tastes, new experiences, and interesting stories that are perfect for conversation and the dinner table. The mystery purchases may turn into a new tradition, and will broaden your taste.


Cook It

Jicama is very versatile, sweet and crispy and can be eaten raw or cooked. First peel it, and then create! Prepare it to eat raw by slicing into veggie sticks or dicing into slaw and salads and pairing it with a protein. Cooking works too. Add it to your favorite stir fry, bake them like potatoes, or baste and grill them.  While the tuberous roots are perfectly fine for consumption, the leaves of this plant are poisonous and should not be consumed.

November is Jicama, and we couldn’t be more excited for this exotic new addition to the Food of the Month.

[i] Strynkowski, B. (2009, February 12). What is Jicama? Retrieved November 10, 2017 from http://www.cookinglight.com/cooking-101/essential-ingredients/jicama
[ii] Bender, A. G. (2016, May 10). Jicama- A new veggie for your cancer fighting diet. RetrievedNovember 11, 2017, from http://blog.aicr.org/2016/05/10/jicama-a-new-veggie-for-your-cancer-fighting-diet/
[iii] Jicama Fact Sheet 2012. (2012). Retrieved November 10, 2017 from https://www.usd402.com/sites/default/files/jicama.pdf
[iv] Harvest Team, O. (2015, July 25). Jicama, The Root of Digestive Health. Retrieved November 11, 2017, from https://www.jicachips.com/blogs/orto-foods-blog/14942785-jicama-the-root-of-digestive-health
[v] Slavin, J. Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits. Harvest Team, (2013) Nutrients. 5(4) 1417-1435.  Accessed at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705355/



Jessica Iannotta, MS, RD, CSO, CDN

Jessica is a registered dietitian and certified specialist in oncology nutrition (CSO). She studied nutrition at Cornell University and completed her dietetic internship at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center. She obtained her Master's degree through the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Jessica has worked in inpatient and outpatient oncology settings since 2001 in the North Shore-LIJ Health System. Jessica is in charge of all operations including clinical and culinary operations ranging from menu development to evidence-based website content, relationships with registered dietitians and social workers and developing processes and protocols for intake, management and outcomes analysis of patients.

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