Potato fries are rather powerful. They lure us in with their crispy outer coating. They continue to entice us with their soft, tender interior. They beg to be drowned in condiments that make such a mess of our fingers that has no fathomable remedy other than savagely licking them clean. Like most potato products, they urge us to have another…and another…and another…and we just cannot refuse.
Must we let these devious little starch-bombs have the upper hand, or is there a way to have large portions of fries without sending our blood sugars into a spiraling tizzy?
Jicama to the rescue…
Of all the lovely root vegetables that this good earth has to offer, I undoubtedly have the greatest affinity for jicama. Native to Mexico and South America, these taproots can typically be found in the produce section of many major grocery and health food stores. With their refreshingly crisp and juicy texture that falls somewhere among that of an apple, a melon, and a water chestnut, I most often enjoy them raw. Being slightly sweet and slightly savory, they are an ideal choice regardless of whether you have a hankering for fruits or vegetables. They make an exceptionally unique addition to salads, slaws, and vegetable platters. When I was recently craving potato fries, however, I came to realize a terrific variant in the potential of these beloved tubers.
While I may have initially regarded the potato as a villain, I truly do not have any legitimate qualms with the classic candidate for fries. I do, however, find jicama to be the preferable option when it comes to high-volume eating. Even when prepared in the oven with minimal oil (as opposed to actually frying in a bath of it), potatoes are comparatively calorie-dense. A 10 ounce russet potato, for instance, has approximately 225 calories and 48 net grams of carbohydrates, whereas an equal portion of jicama has 140 calories and 14 net grams of carbohydrates. That means you can enjoy a much larger serving without that nagging “oh, I shouldn’t have” feeling.
Jicama can actually be prepared very similarly to potatoes when it comes to oven “frying,” with just a few added steps. They yield an impressively indistinguishable result in terms of texture, where a crisp exterior envelops a soft center. Flavor-wise, they are even a bit reminiscent of their potato cousins once baked, although a touch of their natural sweetness remains. You will also get a generous dose of both fiber and vitamin C as an added bonus.
By all means, eat the whole batch and douse them in your dip of choice. As the potato fry becomes a mere memory of days past, your ketchup bottle will likely be clung to its new mistress far more often.
Makes: One decent-sized plateful
Equipment: Baking sheet; cooling rack
1-10 ounce jicama or 10 ounces pre-sliced sticks
Sea salt, freshly ground pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper to taste
Dipping sauce of choice
If using a whole jicama, carefully remove skin with a sharp knife (the skin is inedible); cut into approximately 1/4-1/2 inch-wide sticks.
Place the jicama in a large microwave-safe bowl and add 2 tablespoons of water. Microwave on high for about 15 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°; fit a baking sheet with a cooling rack.
Place jicama in a medium-sized bowl and coat with cooking spray; toss with desired amount of seasonings.
Align the jicama on the prepared baking sheet, making sure there is separation between each piece. Bake for approximately 30 minutes until lightly golden and crisp on the outsides.
Serve with dipping sauce if desired, and please eat every last one of them.
Per entire batch (without sauce and approx. 1/8 teaspoon salt) –140 calories; 0g total fat; 0mg cholesterol; 215mg sodium; 550 mg potassium; 32g total carbohydrate (18g dietary fiber, 8g sugar, 14g net carbs); 3g protein Bonus: Vitamin C (120% dv); Iron (10% dv)
Nutritional information provided by caloriecount.com