"What is jicama?" Does anyone have the answer? I always buy jicama at Trader Joe's and when I frequently pull those watery-tasting sticks out of the refrigerator I'm thankful I did. OK, but what exactly is jicama? Where does it come from? What's the best way to eat it? Is it good for you? Let's contemplate.

What is jicama?

Jicama is a root vegetable that resembles a very large potato or turnip. Of course, that's why I like jicama. How could you not like a pseudo-potato product?! 

It's shaped like a golden globe (hey, think of the awards) with white-colored flesh on the inside but beware, you should only eat the root (underground) portion of the vegetable. The rest of it (aka the flowers, vines, and leaves of the plant) could give you a toxic reaction. No, thank you.

Started from Mexico now we're here.

Also known as the yam bean root and a relative of the sweet potato, jicama is native to Mexico and South America. In the US, jicama is grown in Florida, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, since it's more prone to thrive in warm, tropical areas. These south of the border veggies can grow to 6 pounds and grow underground. Keep in mind that they must be peeled before eating or cooking them; the skin of jicama is tough and toxic to prevent against underground critters reaching the juicy flesh inside.

Ya, but what does jicama taste like?

Jicama is a crisp and crunchy snack that tastes like you've bitten into a watery veggie not unlike eating a watermelon but with a milder taste. It doesn't really have much of a distinctive flavor, although it has been described to taste similar to a water chestnut. If you're curious to try it yourself (as you should be), jicama is available year-round, although peak season is in the fall.

Any health benefits?

Most definitely. We're Spoon University here, people. We wouldn't steer you wrong. Eating these jicama tortillas will not only taste good, but they'll make you feel good, too. One cup of jicama has only 49 calories and basically zero fat. And on top of that, jicama provides 40 percent of your daily value of Vitamin C as well as being naturally high in fiber. One cup of jicama contains 16 percent of the recommended amount of fiber per day for men and 25 percent for women. And a half cup serving counts towards your suggested two to three cups of veggies per day.

Great! But how do we eat them?

If you want to eat like Queen Bey, include some jicama in your diet. And there are so many ways to eat the highly nutritious vegetable. For one, as seen above, you could make sweet, tangy straws out of jicama by mixing it with horchata. Or, you could eat your jicama raw like munching on celery or carrot sticks. Jicama is often sautéed, roasted, and stir-fried, too, since they still retain their juiciness as they soften. You can also bake jicama chips for a creative way to cook the crunchy veggie.

So, what is jicama? A nutritious, juicy, crispy, and crunchy root vegetable with origins in Mexico and South America. Next time you feel like setting out a vegetable platter for a cocktail party, don't forget to include jicama alongside your carrots and ranch.