Vegetable Series: When we changed our eating two years ago, I resolved to be afraid of no vegetable. Not knowing how to cut it or cook it was NOT going to keep it out of my cart. For a long time I’ve wanted to do a series of posts on all the different vegetables we have tried and what we do to the poor things. May you, too, vow to try any and all vegetables in your supermarket! Go get ’em, tiger.
If you’ve had Spanish, remember the letter “i” is always pronounced like an English long “e.” So ideally, it’s pronounced “HEEK-ah-mah,” but annihilating language, like vegetables, is always fun and “HICK-ah-mah” will work too! Honestly, you don’t have to know how to say it (or even cook it) to eat this crunchy root vegetable.
Texture: It’s a very crunchy vegetable that reminds me of the crispness of a water chestnut. Or maybe a crisper and juicier potato, as it is actually very moist.
Flavor: Slightly (and only very slightly) sweet and a bit nutty. Its flavor is not very pronounced at all so it lends itself well to being a filler in stir-fries, salads, and salsas.
Preparation: There is nothing to it. Wash the skin under warm water. Peel the brown skin off like you would a potato. Then, depending on what you’re going to use it for, slice it into long slices like carrots, small cubes like you would for potato salad, or grate it as for cole slaw.
Uses: My kids prefer it sliced and raw, cut like carrots, and I have to admit, its crunchiness is delectably lovely. But you can also toss it into a stir-fry like you would water chestnuts, roast it with onions and garlic for an hour in the oven, or my absolute favorite, mix it with fruit and lime juice and make a unique fruit salad.
What do I usually do with it? I make a lime juice based jicama fruit salad or salsa that I think is very refreshing on a hot, summer day served as a side at any summer picnic or barbecue. I think the key is lime juice and any good sweet fruit, such as mango, strawberries, or pineapple. Sometimes, depending on the fruit used, you may need a little sweetener of your choice. Be fancy if you want and add in onion, cilantro, or mint to give it the flair! (Please note: If you are following a special diet, please see my notes at the end of the post.)
Jicama Pineapple Mint Salad
- 2 jicama roots, cut into 1/4 inch sized cubes (or smaller if you would like)
- 1/2 pineapple, cut into pieces as small as or smaller than the jicama (I used the store’s pre-cored pineapple with juice in bottom of container and added the juice for sweetness)
- 4 tablespoons of lime juice
- Blueberries, about 1 cup
- Mint, about 6 small sprigs, chopped finely
- A touch of sweetener to taste if needed. I used a little orange juice but maple syrup, honey, or Stevia would work. (And I think there is no shame in adding just enough to sweeten it to your liking. No shame.)
Mix all ingredients together and allow to chill, letting the flavors meld together. And remember, this would be great with ripe, sweet mango instead of pineapple or as is with some ripe, sweet, in-season strawberries tossed in. Some people like to dash in chili powder or red pepper. I like that, too. But no matter. Go on. Try jicama. Live a little.
Family “gustar” report: 3/5 of us gobbled up this jicama salad, two adults and one adventurous child. Of the two culinary-cautious children, one will eat plain jicama slices and the other spits jicama in the trash. So there you go!
While the Experts Quibble, Eat Whole Foods
We here in the States are heading into a much-needed summer. Summer is a great time to commit to a whole foods diet! The produce is abundant and flavorful! Barbecue grills lend themselves wonderfully to easy, flavorful meals. The weather brings about desire for fresh, simple foods rather than the heavy, rich comfort foods of winter. If I could implore you once again to look at the items you place in your cart at the supermarket–are the items as simple as they can get? Are most of them label-free? The experts will argue about the best diet for the human body. You let them. Until they figure it out (which will be never), know that the BEST diet is based on simple, whole, real foods that YOU mix, match, and create masterpieces from and which allows you to feel your best.
Note: Jicama is not suitable for the GAPS and SCD diets. People with FODMAPS and SIBO should take caution, too. But each person’s GI tract is different! Although I have to lay low (even “no”) on cauliflower and asparagus because of FODMAPS, jicama and I get along okay! Jicama’s sweetness comes from inulin, an FOS–and FOS can be problematic to GAPS/SCD/FODMAPS/SIBO patients. However, I think that jicama’s inulin can be a great addition to GI health once symptoms are improving and foods are being reintroduced! But no matter, be patient, patient, patient, and eventually things slowly do improve! Although, I adhered to GAPS for 18 months, I have transitioned into allowing more foods (while keeping all the other premises) and paying close attention to any symptoms. I am much happier with the diversity. But it took a couple of years, and I’m still working on it!