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jicama plant recipe

  • Readers and patients keep asking for more ideas to dress up their favorite salads, dishes, and to use as marinades… you asked, here are three of our test-kitchen favorites:

    Papaya Salad Variations:
    • Avocado-Papaya
    • Papaya-Mango
    • Papaya-Jicama***
    • Peaches-Papaya
    • Papaya-Avocado

    For this dish, you want ripe papayas, tender but not mushy. The skin should be bright yellow with a few mottled spots, and the fruit should be sweet-smelling and aromatic. The papaya has small black seeds that look a little like capers or caviar. These seeds have a little heat in them, and they can be used for a garnish or to add a little zip to salad dressings.

    If you have mangoes that are ripe, they are wonderful here as well. If you would like to try something other than hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, macadamias, pine nuts or pistachios would all be really nice, but when our test kitchen used walnuts we didn't like the flavor—don't know why.

    Papaya Seed Dressing

    • 2 Tbs. papaya seeds*
    • 3 Tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice
    • 3 Tbs. rice vinegar
    • 1 Tbs. plus 2 teaspoons honey
    • 2/3 cup olive oil
    • 2 small cloves garlic
    • 1/2 tsp. toasted ground cumin seeds
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • Think sliced lime wedges for garnish



    • 4 cups baby mâche, or endive, lamb's lettuce, butter lettuce Bibb lettuce or your choice of greens
    • 2 or 3 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced in small cubes or thin slices
    • 1 1/2 Tbs. toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped Freshly ground black pepper

    Split the papayas in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds, and set aside 2 tablespoons of seeds for the dressing, picking-out any membranes attached to the seeds. Peel the papayas and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch-thick slices.

    To make the dressing, combine all the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. To serve, toss the greens with half the dressing. Add remainder on top of served plates. Sprinkle the nuts and some freshly ground black pepper.

    Cactus/Prickly Pear** – Lemon Vinaigrette

    This recipe is great poured over avocado and papaya with a bed of your favorite greens. It's also a great marinade for other fruit and/or chicken. Makes about 1 cup


    • 3 cactus pears
    • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
    • 1/4 tsp. each: sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and granulated sugar or Stevia to taste
    • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

    This recipe is great poured over avocado and papaya with a bed of your favorite greens. It's also a great marinade for other fruit and/or chicken. Makes about 1 cup

    1. Place a fine mesh strainer in a slightly larger mixing bowl and set it aside.
    2. Peel and cut the cactus pears into quarters; add them to a blender and pulse until you have a smooth purée.
    3. Pour cactus pear purée into the strainer and, use the back of a large mixing spoon to help you drain all of the liquid into the bowl. (All of the tiny seeds will be held back in the strainer.) Get as much of the juice as possible—you need approximately 2/3 cup.
    4. Add lemon juice, vinegar and seasonings to the juice and mix. Then gradually whisk in the oil.

    Please note that the vinaigrette prep time takes about 15 minutes.

    * Papaya Seeds contain nutrients that have been reported to help heal cirrhosis of the liver and improve kidney health, preventing renal failure. Its anti-inflammatory properties help treat arthritis and joint disease. In addition, they contain an alkaloid called carpaine that kills intestinal worms and amoeba parasites.

    ** Cactus/Prickly Pear is the common name of the fruit that grows on top of the leaves of Nopales cacti—botanical name is Opuntia. Throughout North and South American there are about 200 specifies of Nopales but not all varieties are edible. The most common for eating and cooking is O. ficus-indica also known as the Indian Fig Opuntia. Before eating a prickly pear, it is very important to remove the skin and peel it off so all of the spines are removed. If they aren't, the glochids can lodge themselves in your lips, gums, and throat, which can be very painful. After that, however, the fruit can be used for a variety of things, either eaten raw or dry and made into various jellies and jams, candies or alcoholic beverages like vodka. Reported health benefits include, but are not limited to:

    • Boost immune functions—a single serving of prickly pears contains more than 1/3 entire daily requirement of vitamin C;
    • Strengthen bones and teeth—because of its high level of calcium;
    • Aids digestion—because of significant level of dietary fiber, helping to eliminate constipation, bloating, and serious GI disorders such as colon cancer and gastric ulcers;
    • Protects heart health—high levels of fiber help lower "bad" cholesterol, significant levels of potassium to help lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels and reducing cardio stress. Additionally, they contain betalains which have been connected directly to strengthening blood vessel endothelial walls;
    • Cancer prevention—because of the high levels of flavonoids,
    • polyphenols, and betalains, all of which act as antioxidant
    • compounds and neutralize free radicals before they cause
    • healthy cells to mutate into cancerous cells;
    • Antioxidant protection—antioxidants do more than prevent cancer, they also protect the skin, lower chances of premature aging, improve vision, prevent macular degeneration, and increase strength and functionality of your brain. Free radicals are partially responsible for the oxidation of neural cells that often lead to dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Polyphenolic compounds such as those in prickly pears have been linked to increase cognitive activity;
    • Reduces inflammation—topically, prickly pears were mashed and applied to parts of the body that were inflamed. When consumed, it's been reported that some of the antioxidants and minerals have lowered overall inflammation, particularly in conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, gout, or muscle strain. It is also a great remedy when applied topically to eliminate the swelling of bug bites, a method that has historically been used for hundreds of years.

    *** Jicama's health benefits are mainly derived from the unique mixture of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and other organic compounds, including dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, and a small amount of protein. The following are specific health benefits reported:

    • Digestive aid—an alkalizing food
    • Boosts immune responses—helps prevent and/or shorten duration of colds and flu
    • Aids in managing blood pressure
    • Helps prevent cancer and heart diseases
    • Improves brain and cognitive function and abilities
    • High antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
    • Helps maintain circulatory health.

    NOTE: ONLY the ROOT of the jicama plant is edible, the rest of the plant matter is toxic.

  • This month as an alternative to providing a Nightshade-free recipe, I'm sharing information about an exotic vegetable that has stirred way too many questions from my readers and patients—"is it a nightshade, and can I consume it if I have inflammation?" Since numerous questions were asked, naturally the Health Detective in me went on a mission; this article is the result of my research. The following questions and answers reflect what my patients and readers have asked. That said, before I share with you the reasons why you should not consume this vegetable, let's look at its qualities.

    Jicama's Health Benefits
    Jicama's health benefits are promoted, and mainly derived from, the unique mixture of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and other organic compounds, including dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, and a small amount of protein.

    Jicama, also called the yam bean, arrowroot or Chinese turnip, is a globe-shaped, gold-brown-colored root vegetable. It has white-colored flesh that can be eaten raw or cooked, and like the potato, grows underground. With its crisp, juicy texture, and nutrient-rich content, jicama has many nutritional benefits, however, there are some safety and health considerations you should watch out for, that's where Health thru Education™ comes into play.

    Edible Portion of Jicama
    ONLY the root portion of jicama is edible. The leaves, flowers and vines of the plant contain rotenone, a natural insecticide designed to protect the plant from predators. Eating any of these parts of the plant can cause a toxic reaction. While the seed pods can sometimes be eaten when young, the mature pods are toxic. To be safe, it's best to only eat the root—underground—portion of the plant.

    Uses For Jicama
    Jicama is often used as a substitute for water chestnuts in Asian cooking because it retains its crisp texture even when exposed to heat. The inside can be sliced into sticks to use as crudités, as it will not discolor when exposed to air. It also makes for a refreshing snack when simply sprinkled with seasonings and some lemon or lime juice. Jicama can also be sautéed or roasted, much like turnips or parsnips; they will soften but retain their natural juiciness.

    How Do You Pronounce Jicama?
    There are two ways: "HICK-ah-mah" or "HEE-kah-mah"—both are correct and equally fun to say. You might also see this vegetable called "yam bean," "Mexican yam," or "Mexican turnip."

    Jicama vegetable health benefits

    Health Benefits—(if you don't have inflammation)—You Should Know

    • As a veggie high in fiber, jicama supports weight loss and blood sugar control because it also has a low glycemic index. It's a great starchy vegetable choice for anyone struggling to balance blood sugar or who has diabetes and can be helpful with losing weight fast, too. That said; remember it is a Nightshade so all the warnings regarding the side-effects and its propensity to accelerate inflammation need to be taken into serious account.
    • It has a high water content and is low in calories with only 25 calories per half-cup serving. It's also a good source of fiber, providing three grams per half cup.
    • Nutritionally speaking, this vegetable is low in carbohydrates compared to a potato. One-half cup of raw jicama provides 25 calories with less than six grams of total carbohydrates. It is also rich in fiber, with three grams per serving, and vitamin C, with 20 percent of the recommended daily intake for a 2,000–calorie diet.
    • While you can eat jicama raw, you need to peel the plant before eating. Not only is the outer skin thick and fibrous, it also contains a toxic compound to protect the tuber from underground predators. Peel the jicama with a vegetable peeler as the skin is very tough, revealing the fleshy white insides. Be sure to thoroughly wash the peeler or any tool used to peel.

    Is Jicama a Fruit Or Vegetable?
    First grown in South and Central America, and used in all sorts of flavorful dishes, Pachyrhizus erosus, also known as Jicama or the Mexican yam, is a delicious, sweet-tasting and crunchy food similar to a sweet potato, though without edible skin—AND—jicama IS a Nightshade where sweet potato is NOT.

    Can You Cook Jicama?
    It's a wonderfully juicy, sweet, and nutty tuber with a distinct crunch. It is most commonly enjoyed raw, but you can cook jicama, too. Its white flesh stays crisp when cooked briefly.

    Is Jicama A Prebiotic?
    Jicama is often called by nutrition professionals the "root of digestive health" however, the fiber in jicama is not just any fiber. Jicama is a natural source of a soluble fiber called inulin, which acts as a prebiotic. Other natural sources of inulin include chicory root, burdock root, dandelion root, raw onion, raw garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, and yacon radish.

    Mashed Potatoes Out Of Jicama?
    Mashed jicama can be used as a substitute for mashed potatoes. Simply peel the jicama, then cube it and boil it in lightly salted water. Simmer the jicama until it is fork tender, drain it and mash it with a potato masher.

    Can You Store Jicama In Water?
    If not stored properly, jicama will quickly mold. If you do not use all the jicama, peel it, cut in slices or cubes, place in an airtight container cover with water to maintain crispness, and store refrigerated for up to three days. Cooked jicama will keep for three days refrigerated.

    Now To The BIG Question: Is Jicama A Nightshade Vegetable?
    Jicama spuds are part of the nightshade family, a group of vegetables that contain alkaloids, which have an impact on nerve-muscle function, joint function and digestive function—accelerating an existing inflammatory condition. Some great substitutes for white potatoes are sweet potatoes, mashed cauliflower and parsnip (Zanora Blanca in Latin America).